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Tube Suit

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Disparaged by real boaters as *Michelin Men*, these happy tubers have gone high tech, donning suits that, when inflated, resemble the Michelin icon. Snorkels on hands and feet allow the wearers to breath even when jammed upside down between rocks in the rapids.

Old-timer: There were all these orange legs in the rocks there, waving and wiggling like crabs. Thought they were aliens at first, but it was kids, just kids.
Reporter: And their heads were underwater?
Old-timer: Yep. Jammed in there. Should’ve drowned, the bunch of them. Snorkels in their feet what saved ‘em.
ldischler, Jun 17 2004


       Upside down on outer-inner-tube outing.
FarmerJohn, Jun 17 2004

       As someone who spends hours at a time breathing through a snorkel, I welcome snorkel innovation.   

       That said, there are a few technical problems to be resolved.   

       The distance from your mouth to the tip of your snorkel constitutes a column of stale air after you exhale. If the volume of that column is anywhere near the volume of your lungs, then you will just re-breath your original air until you exhaust the oxygen.   

       And when you dip the tip of your snorkel in the water, it fills, and must be forcibly expelled with a breath, or drained by disconnecting the snorkel from your mouth.   

       Pending some update to the story, I suspect your kids were using SCUBA, and made up the snorkel story.
normzone, Jun 17 2004

       True, but you’re unlikely to be completely submerged, since the suit is so buoyant. On occasion you might be inverted, waist deep. Still, it could happen—anything can happen in the rapids. That’s reflected in our motto: “Likely to delight, unlikely to drown.”
ldischler, Jun 17 2004

       You can get around the long tube problem using two tubes and check valves so you always inhale through one tube and exhale through the other (or skip the second tube and let the exhaled air go into the water near your mouth). Of course it doesn't allow you swim deep because you still have the water pressure, but it does allow a longer tube without asphyxiating.   

       Since there are multiple snorkels, some of which are under water all of the time, there would need ot be some mechanism at eh end of each snorkel to block the tube when it is submerged. Typically this type of thing is done wiht a mechanical float the operates a valve, but those usually rely on gravity and might be affected by thrashing around, so some new type of valve system will probably need ot be developed. You could always have an electrical valve with a water sensor, but that sounds overly complex and prone ot failure.   

       I still think it's a bad idea though because people might feel invincible in these suits, but then discover some situation where they don't work and drown.
scad mientist, Jun 17 2004

       There have been some two-tube snorkels marketed, with flapper valves to seal out the chop. But the lung effort required to actuate the flapper valve makes using it uncomfortable, and they failed to catch on with the SCUBA and freediving groups.   

       I'm also told there was a try at a mask-mounted nose snorkel....I wish I could solve this one, but technical problems prevail. Water up your nose spoils your fun.......
normzone, Jun 17 2004

       + but no one would be caught dead in one of these suits. Cool but at least make it look good...
youngtimer, Jun 27 2004

       //The distance from your mouth to the tip of your snorkel constitutes a column of stale air after you exhale. If the volume of that column is anywhere near the volume of your lungs, then you will just re-breath your original air until you exhaust the oxygen.// [normzone]   

       Average lung capacity is 3.4 L for women and 4.7 L for men. A 2 meter long snorkle 2 cm in diameter would be about 630 mL, so there would be a small percentage of rebreathed air. If you reduce the diameter to 1 cm, then the capacity would drop to 160 mL.
GenYus, Jun 28 2004

       [GenYus] the suit is to be used during stressful and strenuous activity. this means that the long slow breaths required to fill one's lungs through a 2m*1cm pipe wouldn't supply oxygen quick enough. as the diver's O2 requirement increased, so would the speed of their breathing. this would reduce the proportion of O2 in the inhaled air, exacerbating the problem. your pipe would be suitable for reading quitely underwater, or gentle fish watching, but hurling oneself down rapids would bring hyperventilation.
stilgar, Jul 11 2004


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