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I was arguing with my colleague about this matter (I'm not going to mention which side I fall on).

Would death be immediate in the vacuum of space? For example, if I was suddenly teleported into the vacuum of space would I die straight away? Or would I experience a suffocating sensation?

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Sounds like a perfect candidate for what-if.xkcd.com! :) –  Daniel Standage Sep 20 '12 at 13:18
    
Please see skeptics for an answer: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/8521/… –  rwst Sep 20 '12 at 14:55
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Nope, you wouldn't die instantly. While explosive decompression has never been tested on humans (for obvious reasons), the dangers of a vacuum have mostly to do with the pressure differential between your body and the now pressure-less void around you. The most fragile parts of the biological system would be the lungs and ears, and the instantaneous transportation would cause a severe case of the Bends if you were rescued quickly enough. You would pass out within a few seconds stated by NASA when an experiment went awry, and death might be from lack of oxygen to the brain, although after a few minutes everything bad starts to happen so nobody really knows what you would die of:

At NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center (now renamed Johnson Space Center) we had a test subject accidentally exposed to a near vacuum (less than 1 psi) in an incident involving a leaking space suit in a vacuum chamber back in '65. He remained conscious for about 14 seconds, which is about the time it takes for O2 deprived blood to go from the lungs to the brain. The suit probably did not reach a hard vacuum, and we began repressurizing the chamber within 15 seconds. The subject regained consciousness at around 15,000 feet equivalent altitude. The subject later reported that he could feel and hear the air leaking out, and his last conscious memory was of the water on his tongue beginning to boil.

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"While explosive decompression has never been tested on humans..." Love it! –  Daniel Standage Sep 20 '12 at 14:32
    
not until somebody does the test with a chimp first –  Robinabo Sep 21 '12 at 12:22
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