A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.




Surviving in a Vacuum

It is possible to survive exposure to a vacuum, for a short time at least – and you wouldn't 'explode', as happens in films. Experiments with animals, and accidents involving humans, have shown that you can survive with no appreciable long-term problems for a couple of minutes.

The first sensation will be the moisture on your tongue boiling (the loss of taste may continue for days); after around 15 seconds you will lose consciousness. The longer you stay in the vacuum, the less likely you are to make a full recovery; gas escaping from your body will make you simultaneously defecate, projectile vomit and urinate, and your body will begin to bloat.
The worst thing to do if you can see a potential vacuum situation is to hold your breath; air in your lungs will expand, tearing the tender gas-exchange tissues. Nevertheless, your skin is strong enough to keep you from exploding. And your eyes would not go 'pop'. 

One of the first vacuum cleaners was invented as a door-to-door service in 1903. It was horse-drawn.


I'm not going to vacuum 'til Sears make one you can ride on.

A 1965 study showed that dogs exposed to a vacuum for up to 90 seconds always survived.

The speed of light in a vacuum is 186,000 miles per second.

Sounds in Space

In Space, no one can hear you scream, but that's not to say that there can't be any noise in space. There are still atoms to carry the noise, but they're just further apart; close to the earth, you get an almost-vacuum with atoms about 1cm apart. Between galaxies, on the other hand, the molecules are around 10m apart - so if the sound is loud enough, it can be carried a certain distance. If the Sun blew up tomorrow, and we had a microphone sensitive enough, there's no reason that we wouldn't be able to pick up a small noise. (Of course, that would be the least of our worries).

A theoretical 'perfect vacuum' is not absolutely empty; according to the laws of quantum physics, it is filled with virtual particles that constantly come in and out of existence, not to mention light and gravity waves. The particles always come in particle and anti-particle pairs and annihilate each other almost instantaneously. There is a theory that the entire universe could be a gigantic fluctuation, and could have been created out of a vacuum.

Vacuum Tunnels

Isambard Kingdom Brunel had an idea to extend the Great Western Railway from Exeter to Plymouth, using vacuum tunnels to transport trains using nothing but air pressure. All that's left of the idea is a section of pipe in Didcot Railway Centre. 

Today, there are teams in the US, China and elsewhere working on the concept. Some people are predicting their arrival within 10 years. These transporters could theoretically hit speeds of up to 4,000 km/h (2,500 mph), cutting the commute from Europe to North America to just one hour.


Because…you have believed from childhood that a box was empty when you saw nothing in it, you have believed in the possibility of a vacuum.

In Denver, it is illegal to lend your vacuum cleaner to a neighour.

It is impossible to cry in space.


Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.


Peeling sellotape in a vacuum creates x-rays. This 'triboluminescence' was first discovered in 1605 by Francis Bacon.

Vacuum coffins to preserve the body so distant friends could attend the funeral were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

People can survive in a vacuum for at least a couple of minutes.