The Physics of SCUBA Diving

University of Alaska Fairbanks
Physics 212- Spring 2011
Nicole Wade


 Putaruru Dive and Scuba

Cave Diver


SCUBA diving:
the modern day exploration of the underwater world.

    This is by no means a formal definition of the sport, but for many of us in the recreational diving community, it works just fine. SCUBA diving allows us to explore watery communities while being unencumbered by a tethering to the surface. The physics of this sport, while unchanging, has a rich history of discovery. Although it is intriguing and worth investigation, one need not understand the history of SCUBA diving nor it's course of discovery in order to be a safe diver. It is essential, however, that every individual donning a tank and regulator understand the SCUBA-relevant physics of the following subjects:
More gases
Light and sound

While I have only listed a handful of subjects here, it must be noted that there are a multitude of physical properties and laws that dictate occurrences and perceptions while diving. For the sake of those of us divers without physics degrees, I have attempted to keep explanations as simple and as straightforward as possible while still conveying the necessary physical ideas and formulas.