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Why Can’t You Open the Windows on a Plane?

ejsisme / Flickr

Yesterday’s “distraction from actual issues” in politics was Mitt Romney talking about how airplane windows don’t open.  And the Twitter world jumped all over him.

He was talking about the fire that grounded his wife’s plane on Friday.  Quote: “When you have a fire in an aircraft . . . you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open.

“I don’t know why they don’t do that.  It’s a real problem.”  It’s not exactly clear what he meant, since adding oxygen would have FED the fire, and it seems obvious why airplane windows don’t open.  But how many people actually know WHY?

Here’s the science.  Because of gravity, air molecules are concentrated close to the ground.  As you get higher, the air thins out . . . so airplane cabins need to be pressurized so we don’t pass out from a lack of oxygen.

They also need to stay pressurized to stay a reasonable temperature, because low-pressure air is cooler.  When you’re at 35,000 feet, the temperature outside is NEGATIVE 60 Fahrenheit.

So if you opened a window, all of the compressed air in the cabin would rush out, you’d lose pressure…and everyone on the plane would die.  And THAT’S why you can’t open the windows on a plane.

(Yahoo News)

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