Tags:

A delicious way to die
July 13, 2009 7:29 PM   Subscribe

Would you drown in a pool filled with honey?

More generally, which liquids are swimmable and which would lead you to your doom?
posted by typography to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
lava = doom
posted by patnok at 7:31 PM on July 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


Are you asking if honey is too viscous to swim in, or are you asking if, inhaled, it would prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs?

Incidentally, oxygenated liquids can be breathed by mammals: http://itotd.com/articles/559/breathing-liquid/
posted by orthogonality at 7:34 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


It depends on the honey.

Tupelo honey, by comparison, is probably much more swimmable than spun clover honey.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:36 PM on July 13, 2009


Are you asking if honey is too viscous to swim in

This.
posted by typography at 7:36 PM on July 13, 2009


Mythbusters recently did an episode about swimming in syrup.
posted by boeing82 at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2009


Honey, with a density of about 1.36 kg/L, is more dense than the water of the Dead Sea, at about 1.24 kg/L. This means that you would easily float on the surface of a pool of honey.

Both density numbers are from Wikipedia.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Horses died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper. The more they struggled, the deeper in the mess they were ensnared. Human beings — men and women — suffered likewise.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Swimming in syrup at the U of Minnesota.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2009


Are you asking if honey is too viscous to swim in

This.


OK. Fluid viscosity doesn't have any effect on your ability to swim through the fluid.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:43 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The density of honey is 1.35 g/ml, the Dead Sea is 1.25 g/ml. You float in the Dead Sea => you float in honey. I don't think you could die unless you couldn't roll over. I will go on the record as saying it is impossible.
posted by gensubuser at 7:44 PM on July 13, 2009


Who says Wolfram Alpha is useless? Booyah.
posted by cmiller at 7:48 PM on July 13, 2009


Molasses is slightly denser than honey, so I suspect the fatalities in the Boston Molasses Disaster had more to do with the height of the wave (8 to 15 feet), the high speed of the molasses (35mph), and the attendant crushing force (28psi or about 2 atmospheres) than the density of the liquid involved.
posted by jedicus at 7:50 PM on July 13, 2009


More generally, which liquids are swimmable and which would lead you to your doom?

I'm not sure if this qualifies as liquid, but I still believe it's a worthy response to your question.

(In my book, definitely not doom.)
posted by alms at 8:10 PM on July 13, 2009


Could it depend on temperature? I did a physics experiment years ago to do with the viscosity of honey at different temperatures.
posted by AnnaRat at 8:20 PM on July 13, 2009


Hm. All very curious. But I think there's a significant difference between trying to swim in Jello and trying to swim in molasses or mud.

The question also depends on whether you are set on top of the liquid, or dropped into it suddenly (like the molasses victims). I doubt you could swim up through a couple meters of honey in time to survive.
posted by FuManchu at 8:42 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


^ Good point, but the above evidence seems to suggest you'd be able to swim just as fast in honey as in water. Plus, you'd fall much less deeper into the honey because it's denser.

Any thoughts about this new scenario?
posted by typography at 9:11 PM on July 13, 2009


In your "general liquids" category: I remember hearing about a large tank of mineral oil (for cooling an experiment of some sort). If you fell in, since the oil was less dense than you, you would sink like a stone to the bottom. But there were ladders on the side of the tank, on the inside: if you had your wits about you, you could walk across the bottom and use the ladder to climb out.

I swear I read about this on usenet but can't find the article at the moment.
posted by IvyMike at 9:31 PM on July 13, 2009


the above evidence seems to suggest you'd be able to swim just as fast in honey as in water. Plus, you'd fall much less deeper into the honey because it's denser.

I'm not a science-tician, but think about it - the same density that'd hold you up would work against you when you tried to swim. Put your arm and shoulder in water and you can pull your arm and shoulder back out with little resistance. Honey, though...? Would make for a sticker situation! (Get it?)
posted by moxiedoll at 9:32 PM on July 13, 2009


I'm not a science-tician, but think about it - the same density that'd hold you up would work against you when you tried to swim. Put your arm and shoulder in water and you can pull your arm and shoulder back out with little resistance

But this works both ways for something like the breaststroke - the increased difficulty in the recovery stroke is compensated by the increased forward efficiency in the propulsion phrase.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:26 PM on July 13, 2009


Some fluids are walkable - plain old custard (corn starch, essentially) being a non-Newtonian fluid. Honey, however, doesn't seem to be one of these.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:15 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would you drown in a pool filled with honey?

Would I ever! Are there lesbians?

I think a common unspoken link in many of the above answers is that people can swim in almost anything, no matter how thick or thin... and people can also drown in almost anything, especially if they panic.

Sure, it's easy to sit here and theorize on how fun and easy it would be to swim in a thick syrup, but when you add a good dose of panic to that, I'm sure it's a lot less simple.
posted by rokusan at 11:57 PM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


One slightly oblique factor would be the temperature of the honey. As rokusan point out it is the combination of immersion plus panic that often causes people to drown. This is exacerbated by cold. Most fatalities from people over about 30 who fall off boats are not by drowning but because the combination of panic (raised heart rate) plus cold water (vaso-constriction at the extremities) raises the blood pressure enough to cause heart failure. You might say you want your honey bath to be "room temperature" - but try setting your shower to be 20 degrees Celsius for a moment and see how warm you feel.
posted by rongorongo at 1:09 AM on July 14, 2009


Here is a front page post that collects some links on the Great Molasses Flood.
posted by OmieWise at 6:21 AM on July 14, 2009


It helps to imagine under what conditions a man would be swimming at, say, the same Reynolds number as his own sperm. Well you put him in a swimming pool that is full of molasses, and the you forbid him to move any part of his body faster than 1 cm/min. Now imagine yourself in that condition; you're under the swimming pool in molasses, and now you can only move like the hands of a clock. If under those ground rules you are able to move a few meters in a couple of weeks, you may qualify as a low Reynolds number swimmer.
- E. M. Purcell, Life at Low Reynolds Number

i'll let you decide for yourself what it means to swim well enough to not drown, but this paper is fun and may illuminate the situation, if thinking about this kind of stuff is what you think of as fun.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 9:41 PM on July 14, 2009


« Older How do I keep my dogs from pee...   |  How to simply create an instal... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.