PDA

View Full Version : Human body responding to extreme heat and cold simultaneously


Velocity
08-09-2014, 11:39 AM
Suppose there were a medical experiment in which a willing volunteer were put in a partitioned tube chamber in which half of his body was subjected to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the other half was subjected to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A barrier surrounding the torso prevents the hot and cold air from mixing.


Would he sweat and have goosebumps simultaneously? Would his body be precise enough to only shiver at the chilled half and only sweat at the heated half?

Senegoid
08-10-2014, 01:02 AM
Ask a statistician: He will tell you that, on the average, the experimental subject is very comfortable.

astro
08-10-2014, 11:56 AM
Assuming we're talking upper lower body not side to side it makes big difference which half you are talking about. The upper torso with the head, lungs is going to be stressed by heat much more than the lower torso. There also the issue that IIRC when flesh / surface skin gets very cold as in marathon swimmers even a normal body temperature hand placed on the skin will leave a "burn" print so your experiment may result in serious cell damage at or near the junction point.

I think that rather than being comfortable you would be very uncomfortable per the above. It may even be quite painful.

LawMonkey
08-10-2014, 12:10 PM
Not sure if the "Thermal Grill Illusion (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_grill_illusion)" would come into play here or not.

Velocity
08-10-2014, 03:43 PM
Assuming we're talking upper lower body not side to side it makes big difference which half you are talking about. The upper torso with the head, lungs is going to be stressed by heat much more than the lower torso. There also the issue that IIRC when flesh / surface skin gets very cold as in marathon swimmers even a normal body temperature hand placed on the skin will leave a "burn" print so your experiment may result in serious cell damage at or near the junction point.

I think that rather than being comfortable you would be very uncomfortable per the above. It may even be quite painful.

Right, I'm sure it would be uncomfortable. What I was wondering was whether the body has the precision to multitask by sweating on one half, while shivering+goosebumps on the other half.

engineer_comp_geek
08-10-2014, 08:02 PM
Not my field of expertise, but as I understand it, sweating and shivering are both controlled by the hypothalamus and both are more related to the body's core temperature than skin temperature. Since the unfortunate test subject in the OP is presumably being heated and cooled at roughly the same rate, just to different parts of the body, their core temperature would remain largely the same and therefore neither shivering nor sweating would occur.

Goosebumps, as I understand it, can be caused by the body's core temperature dropping, but can also be a reaction to local stimuli, and so could occur on only the cold side of the body.

ETA: One interesting thing that I do know for certain will happen (having spent some time working in a neurobiology test lab many years ago) is that when the test subject is returned to a normal temperature room, the side that was hot will feel cool and the side that was cool will feel warm. The human body is good at sensing changes in temperature but really sucks at sensing absolute temperature. You can do this experiment yourself with some hot water and cold water. Stick one hand in each and then run both hands under medium temperature water.

Digital is the new Analog
08-10-2014, 09:31 PM
How much will the circulatory system help to even out the temperature? Enough to make a difference at all, or is it insignificant?

boffking
08-10-2014, 09:44 PM
Are you measuring in Kelvin? Because air at 60F is actually quite comfortable, not "extreme cold".

DooProcess
08-11-2014, 01:45 PM
I've never had a problem in the outdoor hot tub during December...

chacoguy
08-12-2014, 01:06 AM
This video is pretty relevant. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nom51fpUYgc&list=WL&index=29)