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The Physics of Cold Feet


mathgeek15

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First off, before I even begin, I just got to say that it was really stupid of me to wait to do all my blog posts in the last few days. While I have come up with some really good ones, it's just so much at once. Back onto the topic, I am sitting in my living room watching television and my feet are FREEZING. My mom and my sister both have fuzzy socks, slippers, robes, and blankets to keep them warm, and I've got popsicle feet. However, other than my feet, I feel quite comfortable. So now I am going to explain the physics behind cold feet, and not the commitment issues kind.

Thermodynamics is the heart of this situation, where the answer to our cold feet stands (haha feet joke). First of all, the rate of heat transfer and therefore the amount of heat transferred is described in the equation H= (kAT)/L where L is the thickness of the material barrier, in this case clothing, muscle, and skin; k is the thermal conductivity of the material, A is the area of the barrier, so basically the body; and finally T is the temperature difference between the different environments, so the temperature of the human body minus the temperature of of the outer air. Since my mother likes to keep the heating bill down, the temperature is quite cold, casing the heat transfer rate to be high going from my body to the air.

In comes biology. Because the heat of your body is being transferred to the cold air, your body circulates more blood around the core of your body to keep the vital organs warm. Unfortunately, that means cold piggies.

So now you know why the first thing you run for is a nice fuzzy pair of socks on a cold night. Stay warm!

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