Saturday, January 2, 2010

On Why I Hate the Dead Cold of Winter!

Today I'm talking "COLD"! This morning at 5:20 AM the indoor-outdoor thermometer read Twenty-Three Degrees Below Zero (Fahrenheit)! That's COLD, folks! Deadly Cold!

I am reminded how our very survival as a species requires that we be able to survive Cold! And I am reminded of how cold/hot works in regards to conduction of heat from one piece of matter to another.

You can read the scientific explanation of heat transfer here. I'll try to give you my layman's explanation (by which you will surely know I am no scientist!).

I used to think (decades ago!) that cold traveled...in other words, that cold traveled from cold items to warm items, i.e., from the cold wind to my warm body.

Then I learned that cold is not a "thing" that can travel. It is just the opposite. Heat travels. And it travels from its current place to a cooler place. It travels from a hot coffee cup to my cooler hand. It travels from my warm body to the cold air. The warmth in the air of the living room travels to the cold window pane. And what we experience as "cold" is actually an experiencing of "warmth leaving".

Matter that is warm is warm because its atoms/molecules are vibrating or moving. If those warm vibrating molecules come up against colder molecules which are vibrating in a lesser manner, the vibration of the warmer molecules will affect the colder molecules, causing them to vibrate faster. The warm molecules will begin to vibrate more slowly as the vibration moves from the warm to the cold molecules. This will continue until both molecules are of the same vibration, or the same "temperature". This transfer of heat (conduction) occurs at different rates for different matter. Metal conducts heat pretty fast. Certain other materials conduct heat more slowly. It is pretty clear that we don't use metal for insulating material, neither in a house nor in a winter coat.

I want to restate in regards to conduction, that if I place my warm hand on a cold window pane, the cold is not leaving the window and penetrating my body. Instead, it is the heat that is leaving my body and penetrates the glass. As heat leaves my body, my body tells my brain that I am losing heat faster than my body is producing it.

In other words, and probably not scientifically spoken, the cold sucks the very life out of us!

Maybe that's why I dislike cold weather...I instinctively sense that cold can be deadly...that if I were unprotected by warm house or warm clothing the cold can kill! (Duh!!!)

So to sum up, when I feel cold it is not that "cold is coming to my body" but instead, that "warmth is leaving my body". Yes, my body is getting colder, but it is getting colder only because warmth is leaving faster than my body can generate it.

I am grateful today that we have warm homes and efficient heating systems and warm wool sweaters and good insulation and power plants that enable us to keep our homes warm.

I hope you are blessed with warmth today.

.

8 comments:

HisFireFly said...

It was -28F here this morning before the wind chill!

Staying wrapped up snug in fleece, in the house, not wanting any warmth to depart from my body.

Blessings on you today!

Linda said...

In northern Wisconsin also--It was -25F before windchill. That is too cold. The livestock still need to be fed. Silo unloaders and tractors just don't want to operate the same when it is cold!

S. Etole said...

A whole lot of warmth left here last night ... -33F ... but the sun is shining and it is beautiful ... thanks for the explanation

Pilgrim Mommy said...

Oh my, that's cold! It's a relatively balmy 32F in Virginia.

Stay warm!

Kerry ABOUT ME said...

That is fascinating info. I am going to tell my kids about it. I have one that never wants to wear a coat.

I dread the dead cold of winter too. If we got one good snow in I am always wishing it could be over by Christmas. I am already looking forward to the spring. I hope you have a very blessed New Year! Thanks for the great post!

Kerry Osborne

Debby said...

Eeeee-yow. I guess that we have nothing to complain about here. It has been in the teens all day. Yes. We have a warm house, and plenty of firewood. We are lucky.

Kelly said...

Well, gee... now I feel bad about saying how cold I am when it's not even below freezing!! (It's currently a balmy late afternoon 43 in south Arkansas)

I'm NOT a cold weather person and I think you stated my feelings well when you talked of the cold sucking the life right out of you!

Bundle up!! Stay warm!!

Daria said...

I hate the cold too ... just staying indoors to avoid it.