To be clear, I do not know James Nestor, but I was intrigued recently after reading the NY Times review of his new book Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves. In it, the review states he explores the mysteries of the mammalian dive reflex observed in humans who depth dive. Nestor tells us that depth diving was once something scientists warned would result in lung collapse at a certain depth, according to Boyle’s law. Robert Boyle’s 1660s work led him to develop an equation that predicted the pressure of gasses at various depths.
But in 1949, Italian Raimondo Bucher defied Boyle’s law and dove to a depth of 100 ft off the coast of Capri and returned smiling. The stunt won him a fifty-thousand-lira bet and allowed scientists to begin rethinking the aquatic applications of Boyle’s law for breath-hold divers.
Today, freedive record attempts continue to amaze and astound and are an important reason we have seen a global popularity surge in the sport of freediving. Nestor was inspired to explore the physiological phenomenon that occur when a diver descends to depth after observing a freediver in Greece reach a depth of 300 ft and return to the surface unharmed. The release of his newest book, Deep, is a the result of that experience. To quote his bio, “The book follows clans of extreme athletes, adventurers, and scientists as they plumb the limits of the ocean’s depths and uncover weird and wondrous new discoveries that, in many cases, redefine our understanding of the ocean and ourselves.”
Want to know more? Read the NY Times review.
DEEP: Life, Death & Amphibious Humans at the Last Frontier on Earth by James Nestor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).