CHEST CONTRACTION WITH INCREASING HEIGHT
beings need oxygen and air pressure in order to live. Breathing
is made possible by the oxygen in the atmosphere reaching the air
sacs in our lungs. As elevation rises, however, atmospheric pressure
goes down as the atmosphere becomes thinner. Therefore, the amount
of oxygen entering the blood stream declines and it becomes harder
to breathe. As the air sacs grow narrow and contract, we feel as
if we cannot breathe.
If the amount of oxygen in the blood is less
than the body needs, several symptoms emerge: extreme fatigue, headaches,
dizziness, nausea, and loss of judgement. When a certain height
is reached, it finally becomes impossible for a human being to breathe
at all.173 This is
why we need oxygen bottles and special clothing in order to survive
at such elevations.
Someone at 5,000-7,500 metres (16,500-24,500 feet) above sea-level
may faint and go into a coma because of breathing difficulties.
That explains the presence of oxygen equipment in airplanes. There
are also special systems that regulate air pressure when planes
fly at 9,000-10,000 metres (29,500-33,000 feet) above sea-level.
Anoxia occurs when oxygen fails to reach the tissues. This oxygen
deficiency occurs at heights of 3,000-4,500 metres (10,000-15,000
feet). Some people even lose consciousness at such elevations, but
can be saved by immediate oxygen treatment.
In the comparison made in the verse below, this physical truth,
the changes that take place in the chest with increasing height,
is indicated in these terms:
When Allah desires to guide
someone, He expands his breast to Islam. When He desires to misguide
someone, He makes his breast narrow and constricted as if
he were climbing up into the sky. That is how Allah defiles those
who have no faith. (Qur'an, 6:125)
173. Medical Encyclopedia,
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, www.rwjhamilton.org/Atoz/Encyclopedia/article/000133.asp.