Frozen Feet


A couple boxes of Christmas presents arrived from America in December and I had fun opening them up. Customs laws take some of the fun out of presents because the sender must write out a declaration of the contents. Fortunately, some items just had general titles like ‘Book’.

‘Book’ turned out to be “Why Don’t Penguins Feet Freeze?” The only failing of this book also turns out to be a strength as well. 115 peculiar questions of some scientific (and sometimes practical) interest are ‘answered’ in the book. Questions are posed on a website and many correspondents try to answer the questions.

The idea that allowing everyone to post will reveal ‘the truth’ is a prevalent concept on the internet popularized by Wiki. I formerly worked with one of the main people driving Wiki and he actually believed that the truth was merely that to which most people agreed. The reason urban legends live on is because most people are willing to believe, and propogate, things that are false.

Fortunately, many of the correspondents for this book are knowledgable in their fields, so the correct answer is usually reached. A number of questions do contain contradictory or inconclusive answers. The strength of this approach is that some correspondents posted answers purely for humor, giving the book an amusing side that goes beyond the nerdy details of physics that I enjoy.

The other package included ‘Book’ as well: Fahrenheit 451 (originally ‘The Fireman’). I watched the Truffaut adaptation to film recently and a remake is expected this year, so I will be happy to read the original.


3 Responses to “Frozen Feet”

  1. Julie Says:

    Hi Erik!

    Just purusing your blog this morning, and deciding that you most likely didn’t get up at a ridiculous hour just to write your blog, but rather, dated your blog last night (my tonight) for the next morning. Reading on I found that to be your habit.

    Japan has taken to you or you to them. So far from home. Do you love teaching?

    Over the holidays I felt oddly separated from family and we mostly all live right here. Everyone’s so busy with their endeavors and new family members, I suppose it’s inevitable that as we get older expectations have to change too. I do miss you and your family though! We saw Tom a few times at David’s due to his developing Belarus ladyfriendship. His girls have grown in a flash.

    The Blog is interesting reading.
    I’d love to hear from you, Julie

  2. kevenker Says:

    Why don’t penguin’s feet freeze? The simple answer is that they’re just good at ignoring really cold feet! It’s not a coincidence that the females leave during the coldest part of winter leaving the males to stand around with an egg on their feet. Females would freeze their feet! 😉

  3. びっくり Says:

    The answer is a bit long, but they have a fairly complex circulatory system that allows them to avoid freezing. (Ignoring the cold is fine until you get tissue damage.) It sounded like one system is circulating blood in the body and one in the legs at a lower temperature. The warmer system and the colder system exchange heat by passing near each other. The feet are kept just warm enough and the body is kept at a healthy level. There were a few other bits to it as well, and I think there were some similarities in the polar bear’s system.

    Julie, good to hear from you. It is strange how a couple hundred relatives nearby can still feel sparse. I think the growing families make the old traditional gatherings harder to organize, and when they do happen it can be hard to interact with everybody on any deep level. I think my family’s traditions are going through a big change now.

    You can email me at no matter where I am in the world. Replace and with my actual names. Anyone who knows how to spell my name can reach me. I hope you are yours are well. Also, I might be heading to Seattle sometime between March and June.

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