Fluffy the cat's human caretakers found her frozen and unresponsive last week in a Kalispell, Montana snowbank. From CNN:
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"She was essentially frozen," said Andrea Dutter, director of the Animal Clinic of Kalispell.
When she got to the clinic, her temperature was below 90°F, said Dr. Jevon Clark.
"They used a few different methods to raise her body temperature: warm water, hair dryers, heated towels that were rotated out," Dutter said. "And finally, we put her in heated kennel."
Fluffy spent one night in the ER before returning home with her owners.
Forget bottle flipping. Frozen pants flipping is the new hotness (coolness?).
(via r/gifs) Read the rest
Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof is known for chilly feats like the world's longest ice bath and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in just a pair of shorts. (Hof is the subject of the recent New York Times bestseller "What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength" by Scott Carney.) Now, researchers from Wayne State University’s School of Medicine recently used an MRI scanner to explore the science behind Hof's dangerous stunts. From Smithsonian:
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Hof attributes his success to what he has dubbed the Wim Hof Method, a type of conditioning that involves a series of breathing exercises he says anyone can replicate. Rather than by luck or accident, Hof says he learned his technique by trial and error while going out into nature: “I had to find the interconnection of my brain together with my physiology...."
Musik found that, when exposed to cold, Hof activates a part of the brain that releases opioids and cannabinoids into the body. These components can inhibit the signals responsible for telling your body you are feeling pain or cold, and trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. The result, Musik says, is a kind of euphoric effect on the body that lasts for several minutes.
“Your brain has the power to modify your pain perception,” he says, adding that this mechanism is particularly important for human survival. Pain, and the feeling of cold, are basically your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.
The US Navy's Polar Manual from 1965 may come in handy during this week's blizzards. From the list of "Polar Do's And Don't's":
1. Dares are neither offered nor taken. Necessary risks are bad enough.
25. Heavy and bulky polar clothing makes you clumsy and prone to accidents from lack of normal agility. Plan NOT to have an accident.
26. Do not touch cold metal with moist, bare hands. If you should inadvertently stick a hand to cold metal, urinate on the metal to warm it and save some inches of skin. If you stick both hands, you'd better have a friend along.
PDF: Polar Manual, Fourth Edition, 1965 (via Weird Universe)
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Yakutsk (pop. 269,601), the capital city of the Sakha Republic in Russia, is the coldest city on earth, where temperatures can drop to -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). Lonely Planet has a galley of photos by Amos Chapple. (Photo here is by Maarten Takens from Flickr) Read the rest
Kristin and her kid decorated their frozen walkway with these colored ice-balls, made by filling balloons with water and food-coloring and then letting them freeze outside (it took about 10 hours).
She notes, "They're really pretty close up with cracks and fissures and brighten the front walk. I was using it as a way to introduce formulas and recipes to the kid. She was playing with food coloring in a mixing cup and I was counting drops for her. When she found a color she liked, we put that many drops in a balloon and filled it with water." Read the rest
Cryoseisms are what happens when very wet soil freezes and the water (now ice) in that soil expands — cracking the ground with a boom. In North America, cryoseisms seem to be most common around the Great Lakes. Personally, I'm a little disappointed that none have been reported in Minnesota. Read the rest
Just look at it.
Mag Lev Banana
(Thanks, Philip!) Read the rest
This happened in my friend's henhouse this morning.
My friend Kate Hastings, who took this photo, thinks this egg froze because the hen cracked it slightly. But it also looks like the kind of expansion cracking that you can get when eggs freeze and burst their own shells. When the water in the egg white and yolk freezes, it forms a crystalline structure — and that structure isn't very tightly packed. There's lots of space between the molecules, which means that solid ice takes up more space than the liquid it replaced. If the egg freezes solid enough, it's got nowhere left to expand except outside the shell.
Eggshells, as it turns out, are not a great insulator from the cold. Chicken butts are, but chickens also don't always sit on their eggs consistently enough to keep those eggs from freezing.
One side note: You can actually thaw and eat frozen eggs. But you shouldn't thaw and eat an egg like this. That's because the shell is actually a pretty good barrier against bacteria. If a fresh egg — the kind sitting under a hen — has cracked, there's a higher likelihood of bacterial infiltration.
Thanks to Kate and Grampaw!
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Up north — in Canada and other places where snowy winters are reliable (and reliably heavy) — you find more animals whose fur comes in various shades of white. This is true even for species that are brown or black further south. The difference is obvious. But how does it happen? Carl Zimmer presents two possible paths to paleness — random mutation, and fortuitous cross-species mating. In related news: Golden retrievers are probably getting it on with Canadian coyotes. Read the rest
Architects are turning an old cold storage facility into modern office buildings. But first, they have to thaw it out.
This is Scott's Hut located on Antarctica's Ross Island as it appears on Google Street View. It was built in 1911 by Robert Falcon Scott's British Antarctic Expedition and has been almost perfectly preserved by the cold. Scott's Hut (via John Curley)
Google unveils Street View imagery from Antarctica
Historical photos from Antarctica Read the rest
Plants and animals have to adapt to live in high latitudes and chilly mountain environments. With animals, we kind of instinctively know what makes a creature cold-weather ready — thick, shaggy fur; big, wide snowshoe paws. But what are the features of cold-weather plants? It's one of those really interesting questions that's easy to forget to ask.
At The Olive Tree blog, Tracey Switek has at least one answer. In cold places, you see more plants that grow in little mounded clumps. Of course, plants can't really rely on huddling together to create warmth. So you still have to ask, "Why is it better to grow in a mound when it's cold out?"
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The dome-like shape which the cushions tend to take (made possible by an adaptation that makes all the plants in the clump grow upward at the same rate, so no one plant is high above all the others), and the closeness with which those plants grow, makes these clumps perfect heat traps. The temperature on or inside a cushion can be up to 15 °C more than the air temperature above it. The cushions are able to retain heat radiating up from the soil, as well as absorbing heat from the sun (a very dense, large, clump of green can get surprisingly warm on a sunny day at high altitude). Add to that the fact that the wind speed in and around a cushion can be cut by up to 98% from open areas, you have a perfect recipe to prevent heat loss.
It looks as if this guy filmed this whole crazy clip himself with no one else around. (via The Awesomer) Read the rest
This frozen view of Disneyland Paris's Phantom Manor shows you what Disney had in mind with their old "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House" album!
Spookhuis Read the rest
Applying Earth science to science-fiction scenarios might not be easy (or particularly necessary) but it sure is fun. Here, fans take the cutting-open-a-furry-beast-and-using-its-carcass-as-an-emergency-blanket scene from The Empire Strikes Back and attempt to deduce how long Luke Skywalker could have actually survived on the sweet, sweet warmth provided by Tauntaun entrails.
In a normal environment, a carcass gets cold in 8 to 36 hours losing an average rate of 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit per hour. However, the ice world of Hoth is not an average environment. The Star Wars database lists that Hoth reaches nightly temperatures of -60 F. In a frigid, sub-zero environment, body heat can be lost almost 32 times faster. This means a Tauntaun's body heat could drop almost 51.2 F every hour.
The initial estimate is probably off, as it looks like the author is using human body temperatures to figure how warm the Tauntaun would be when it died and how fast it would lose heat, but some of those issues get hashed out in the comments.
Wolf Gnards blog: How Long Could Luke Survive in a Tauntaun?
Life-sized walking Tauntaun costume - Boing Boing
Tauntaun groom's cake - Boing Boing
Homemade AT-AT loft bed - Boing Boing Read the rest