The Abyss liquid oxygen-possible?

There was a liquid oxygen scenes where this goop was poured down into a guys lungs so that he could breathe in extreme pressures. First off, is liquid oxygen feasible (the only time I have seen it is in a supercooled state which would effectively kill the person. So is it something to (uggh) looking forward too. Having to change out our lungs like a oil change?

It wasn’t liquid oxygen. It was water with a much higher than usual amount of oxygen added in. But yes, it is possible and has been done.

There were a series of experiments run back in the '70s (I think) involving highly oxygenated flourocarbon liquids. Animals placed in the liquid could continue to “breath”. I don’t know for how long or how they got the fluid out of their lungs so they could breath air again. I’ll see if I can dig up a cite.

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Dennis Matheson —
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I think I saw an article on one such experiment recently. (My seeing the article was recent. The article may not have been. The experiment was probably not recent.)
In the experiment I read about, the rat or mouse was put into a container filled with some substance that had a lot of oxygen in it. The rodent lived (and breathed) for 20-30 minutes, at which point it died due to the extreme toxicity of the substance it was in.

I have no doubt that humans could breath oxygenated liguid, but the effort involved in breathing it would certainly limit the amount of time someone could do it. I strongly suspect breathing liguid would be the equivilent of a bad case of asthma, and that it would have to be sustained through ‘conscious’ effort as opposed to our natural ‘involuntary’ respiration.

I have read about a case (can’t lay my hands on the cite right now) where this technique was used, successfully, on a very premature baby. The lungs were so under developed as to be useless, so the Drs. filled the them with a highly oxegynated liquid. The lungs could “rest” and continue to develop while the blood was oxygenated by the fluid. Seems like doctors were also researching this technique for other lung injuries such as burns. I’ll look for the cite.

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you will suck forever.

A quick Medline search (no, I’m really not a doctor) netted several cites. The one that fits my example above is “The use of liquid perfluorocarbons for neonatal lung ventilation” authored by ML Constantino in a May 1996 Italian medical journal. He states that liquid lung ventilation in neonatal humans is a proven alternative to standard ventilation techniques. Also found numerous cites for continuing animal tests as those mentioned by tanstaafl and also as a treatment method for damaged/injured lungs.

BTW - also found several articles on “liquid oxygen”. The term is used in repiratory medicine as a synonym for “portable oxygen”. Why? I don’t know, I TOLD you I’m not a doctor.

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you will suck forever.

Interesting…so could a guy feasible fall into a abyss such as it is (Marinas Trench) breathing this higher state oxygen? Just wondering since I plan on getting away for the weekend

That liquid oxygen won’t do anything for your ability to withstand water pressure that great; looks like you’ll be taking a long vacation.

“Give a man a match and he’ll be warm for an hour… Set him on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

Well, filling your lungs with liquid would help prevent them from collapsing under deep ocean pressures. So you’d be able to breathe for a longer period while descending-- perhaps long enough to experience the collapse of your sinuses and the crushing of your skull.

I remember seeing this on the Discovery channel not too long ago. They showed a mouse breathing “underwater” in a beaker. Totally freaked me out. It was so ALIEN.

That said, I believe there was no problem with toxicity. The mouse was removed, dried off, and was soon scampering around its cage again, none the worse for its short swim.

– Sylence.

“A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space. On the back it said, ‘Wish you were here’.” - Steven Wright

      • Tanstaafl has it right - re: oxygenated flourocarbons. About the time the movie came out I read an article about the stuff. It said that they made animals breathe it, but no humans. sorry, I have no cite either - MC

Okay, anyone else remember the UFO series by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson from the early '70s? I clearly remember one episode where they recovered a kidnapped (they didn’t know the word “abducted” then) member of their team from one of the alien flying saucers. His lungs had been filled with oxegenated liquid to withstand the stresses of acceleration (or some such other technobabble) and the transition back to atmospheric breathing was described as being uncomfortably like drowning.
:::pleasant memories of purple-haired women on the moonbase:::

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I’ve seen a film of a rat immersed in this fluid. It breathes the water into its lungs, and survives. Later on it is held by its tail, empties its lungs by coughing, and returns to normal breathing. This film was called The Abyss.

Okay, I’m presenting this in a goofy way to try to be funny, but I did hear (rumour alert) that the way the rat-in-the-fluorocarbon-emulsion seen was filmed was by using the actual stuff on an actual rat. Nothing theoretical about it. I’m going to try and find that in writing somewhere…

I mean, if you’re going to fill a nuclear cooling tower with water to simulate the bottom of the ocean, soaking a rat seems like pretty small potatoes. And think of training all those actors to use scuba gear…

First, your sinuses would be full of fluid as well. Second, the idea isn’t to go down ‘naked’ but to fill a rigid suit with fluid, so that it has minimal compressability (reducing the pressure applied to the diver).

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Okay, the breathing fluid quickly fills your sinuses and inner ears, and all the other cranial air spaces. You can keep the interior and exterior pressure equalized as you descend. So assume that neither your ears, sinuses, nor lungs will structurally fail at any depth.

Given that assumption, what other part of your body will fail first? My guess is that it would be the circulatory system. Pressure against the skin would correspondingly increase blood pressure, and at some point the heart would be unable to pump it efficiently.

Of course I don’t fit in; I’m part of a better puzzle.

There’s a fluid called perflubron that’s been used successfully in the “partial liquid ventilation” of premies. See

By the way according to the IMDB trivia section about “The Abyss”:

Oh yeah, check this out:

Wanted to make a side point here: liquid oxygen at normal atmospheric pressure is really, REALLY cold. Touching it, even for a second, would cause severe tissue damage; you almost certainly would not survive if it were poured into your lungs.

Cool fact (er… sorry) about liquid oxygen: it’s very slightly magnetic, and you can suspend it between the poles of a strong magnet. I’ve actually seen this done, and it’s a bizarre sight: a clear liquid, hanging apparently unsupported in midair, and boiling like mad.

The stuff you guys are talking about is called nitric oxide. It has shown some promise in ventilating babies and adults with acute respiratory distess syndrom.

People with acute lung disease may require very high barometric pressures to ventilate their alveoli ( the air sacs where the actual respiration occurs ). This prolonged barotrauma can and does cause more harm than good. It’s a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

Laminar flow of nitric oxide, a liquid that has been shown to hold dissolved O2 and CO2 as effectively as air, significantly reduces the pressues required to exchange gasses in the alveoli, however this mode of respiratory therapy is in it’s infant stages.

Now, that said, I don’t know if that would help one dive deeper than if one used conventional SCUBA gear. I would imagine that the bends is still a risk. I would also think that people being ventilated with a liquid like nitric oxide would require total sedation.