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Who Invented Scuba Diving?
Scuba is the acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan are considered to be the inventors of the scuba diving kit we have today.The key terms in SCUBA are ‘Self Contained’, since the alternative forms of diving gear depend on a hose, which leads to the surface of the water. The hose is attached to a pump which forces down air through the hose at such a pressure, which will cancel out the pressure, exerted by the water on the diver’s chest. One such equipment is the diving bell. The earliest versions of diving bells could be called self-contained in one sense of the term because it lacked a hose, and the total air supply available was whatever was already inside the bell. However, the limited air supply constrained the movement and length of time, which the diver could spend under water.Before Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan designed the prototype for the modern scuba diving gear, there were some important inventions, which led up to it. Several people tried to develop a self-contained apparatus for divers, such as:Aristotle is said to have described a diving bell in 360 BCE, and Alexander the Great apparently made several dives using a crude bell in 332BCE.Sieur Freminet developed the very first self-contained air equipment in 1772 - a ‘rebreathing’ apparatus which would recycle the air inside the diving bell which had been exhaled. However, Freminet died after being in his invention for twenty minutes due to sever lack of oxygen.William James invented a self-contained air device in 1825. It consisted of a cylindrical iron belt, holding sufficient air for a seven- minute long dive, attached to a copper helmet.Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouse designed a device in 1865 which consisted of a horizontal steel tank of air attached to the diver’s back and connected to a mouth-piece.Henry Fleuss built a pure oxygen ‘rebreather’ and it was a closed-circuit device.Dr. Christian Lambertsen developed a 'Self-Contained Underwater Oxygen Breathing Apparatus' for the U.S. military war effort, code-named 'SCUBA’ in 1939. Even though this apparatus worked well for shallow water diving, the oxygen toxicity made it unsafe for greater depths.Finally, researchers such as Cousteau decided that filtered and purified compressed air was the best gas mixture to use in self-contained breathing devices. During World War II, around 1942-43, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan reworked a pressure regulator which Gagnan had initially developed to enable automobiles to run on vegetable oils due to acute shortage of petroleum during the war. The new regulator would send compressed air at the correct pressure to counteract the pressure put on the diver’s chest by the water. They called their device the ‘Aqua-lung’, and this has been the originator for the scuba diving gear of today.
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