Today I Learned… About Decompression Sickness!

Decompression sickness (DCS; also known as divers’ disease, the bends or caisson disease) describes a condition arising from dissolved gases coming out of solution into bubbles inside the body on depressurisation. DCS most commonly refers to a specific type of underwater diving hazard but may be experienced in other depressurisation events such as caisson working, flying in unpressurised aircraft, and extra-vehicular activity from spacecraft.

The hero of this story is no doubt scientist J.S. Haldane. His dangerous self-experimentation gave us the first true insight into the cause of and solutions to decompression sickness.


My favorite books on the subject include:

  • Suffer and Survive: Gas Attacks, Miners’ Canaries, Spacesuits and the Bends: The Extreme Life of J.S. Haldane by Martin Goodman. (2007)
  • Manual for Divers by the Government Printing Office (1905)
  • Diving With & Without Armor: Containing the Submarine Explots of J.B. Green, the Celebrated Submarine Diver (1859)

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