Saturday, December 11, 2010

Freezing myths

Sitting trapped home by a heavy snow storm, a blizzard to be precise, I thought again of a list of myths about cold. I know that the legendary Mythbusters at Discovery Channel are very busy and less likely would shoot an episode based on my humble list. So I'm just publishing it here for your entertainment. Any comments are welcome. Assume the basic condition for each item as "It is so cold over there that..." and here the list...

1. "A human body without protection can freeze alive so it will not even fall down"
In the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" a pilot peeks out of his helicopter, and because it is so cold outside he freezes so fast, so his body stiffens before it even has a chance to fall on the ground. Edge cases: at what temperature of the air (at normal pressure) it's possible that 100-200 pounds of live flesh freezes so rapidly so it wouldn't have time to collapse from standing position? A challenge: is there a not-normal conditions, like higher pressure or liquidized air (Ni, O) or strong wind to make it plausible at least?

2. "Hot water thrown up in the air explodes"
Hello, Mythbusters, it explodes! This is a fairly popular myth, because it's not quite an explosion, strictly speaking. But it is so damn spectacular. Youtube-google it and then try to reproduce with a professional video setup.

3. "If you spit down, your saliva will freeze into an icecube before it hits the ground"
This is actually a very plausible myth. I've heard from real people that they succeeded with it. If spitting down under one's feet doesn't work one may try to spit up in the air to give the spit more time to freeze.

4. "Take a stick to take a leak outdoors"
This one is just a joke to make fun of inexperienced visitors of the places. After a quite expected question "why?" follows the answer "Well, don't you know? To snap your stream off". The faces of the people are usually worth to look at at the moment. However, a process of finding the edge cases could be even more fun.

5. "The whisper of the stars"
When it's cold enough and it's quiet enough one can hear the stars talking to each other in a very faint whisper. Yes, it is true. Well, there are scientific explanations of the phenomena, and curious readers can do further research on their own. I choose to end on this romantic note.

Thank you for reading.