History Analysis / SpaceIsCold

7th Jun '15 9:54:21 AM Anorgil
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There are however two caveats to keep in mind. First, this temperature will only be as low as 3 kelvin if there aren't any other radiation sources (like, say, stars) anywhere nearby: anyone exposed to sunlight in space is actually in danger of roasting to death, not freezing. (For proof, go outside on a hot day, and keep in mind that you have a lot of atmosphere protecting you while you do so. In orbit, it'd be worse.) Second, the "prolonged period of time" required for the human body to freeze in a totally dark vacuum is measured in hours, not the seconds (and definitely not the instant flash-freezing) usually shown in movies.
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There are however two caveats to keep in mind. First, this temperature will only be as low as 3 kelvin if there aren't any other radiation sources (like, say, stars) anywhere nearby: anyone exposed to sunlight starlight in space is actually in danger of roasting to death, not freezing. (For proof, go outside on a hot day, and keep in mind that you have a lot of atmosphere protecting you while you do so. In orbit, it'd be worse.) Second, the "prolonged period of time" required for the human body to freeze in a totally dark vacuum is measured in hours, not the seconds (and definitely not the instant flash-freezing) usually shown in movies.
29th Jul '13 5:50:55 AM SeptimusHeap
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Hottip cleanup
However, the idea that anything exposed to space will instantly freeze has ''some'' basis in reality, though for different reasons. Since there is no pressure in a vacuum, the boiling point of water will plummet, causing any water to immediately begin boiling (the boiling point of a liquid is dependent on the ''pressure'' around it). Since some extra energy is needed for water to change from liquid to gas (aside from the energy needed to reach the boiling point), it will sap a little heat from anything it happens to be in contact with. This evaporative cooling will likely cause some freezing on a person ThrownOutTheAirlock -- the eyes and mouth, for instance -- but will just make their death slightly more unpleasant (and blurry), rather than instantly turning them into a HumanPopsicle. [[hottip:* : Misinterpretation of that last point has led to the oddly contradictory but still widespread belief that your blood would boil in space. In truth, the blood inside your body would remain at a high enough pressure to keep it liquid. It would boil if your blood happens to be ''outside'' your body when you're spaced... but, if it is, frankly you've got larger problems to begin with.]]
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However, the idea that anything exposed to space will instantly freeze has ''some'' basis in reality, though for different reasons. Since there is no pressure in a vacuum, the boiling point of water will plummet, causing any water to immediately begin boiling (the boiling point of a liquid is dependent on the ''pressure'' around it). Since some extra energy is needed for water to change from liquid to gas (aside from the energy needed to reach the boiling point), it will sap a little heat from anything it happens to be in contact with. This evaporative cooling will likely cause some freezing on a person ThrownOutTheAirlock -- the eyes and mouth, for instance -- but will just make their death slightly more unpleasant (and blurry), rather than instantly turning them into a HumanPopsicle. [[hottip:* : [[note]] Misinterpretation of that last point has led to the oddly contradictory but still widespread belief that your blood would boil in space. In truth, the blood inside your body would remain at a high enough pressure to keep it liquid. It would boil if your blood happens to be ''outside'' your body when you're spaced... but, if it is, frankly you've got larger problems to begin with.]] [[/note]]
11th Jun '13 11:24:58 PM Withoutaname
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Down here on Earth, the main way we transfer heat is through convection, from our body into the air around us. Again, the problem with doing this in space is that there's nothing to transfer ''to''. (This actually makes space a very good insulator; consider the vacuum flask, [[BlandNameProduct popularly called a Thermos]]. ''Cooling'' is actually the biggest difficulty in designing modern spacecraft.) The only way you can get colder is by transferring heat into another object (say, by applying your face to a handy asteroid) or by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body radiating it out into the vacuum]]. Heat exchange through radiation is a fair bit slower. [[note]] "Vastly" can be tricky. A human with surface area 1.5 meters squared, an emissivity of .85 and a skin temperature of 300 K will emit 3000 joules in five seconds which is akin to walking out naked towards the south pole on its coldest day. Using information from [[http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/human-body-specific-heat-d_393.html here]] and a few simple assumptions seen [[http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&safe=off&q=3000+J+%2F+5s+%2F+%283470+J%2Fkg%2FK*60+kg%29+in+K+%2F+hour&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=f5d0e3cd46a35ba9 here]], you'd lose about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Farenheit) per hour. The reason we don't feel this tremendous heat loss ordinarily is because we are ourselves receiving a comparable amount of black body radiation from the matter surrounding us. Assuming this person is in space near the earth and has half their body facing the sun, they are also receiving about 500W of solar radiation, roughly the same as the 600W they are radiating. [[/note]]
to:
Down here on Earth, the main way we transfer heat is through convection, from our body into the air around us. Again, the problem with doing this in space is that there's nothing to transfer ''to''. (This actually makes space a very good insulator; consider the vacuum flask, [[BlandNameProduct [[BrandNameTakeover popularly called a Thermos]]. ''Cooling'' is actually the biggest difficulty in designing modern spacecraft.) The only way you can get colder is by transferring heat into another object (say, by applying your face to a handy asteroid) or by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body radiating it out into the vacuum]]. Heat exchange through radiation is a fair bit slower. [[note]] "Vastly" can be tricky. A human with surface area 1.5 meters squared, an emissivity of .85 and a skin temperature of 300 K will emit 3000 joules in five seconds which is akin to walking out naked towards the south pole on its coldest day. Using information from [[http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/human-body-specific-heat-d_393.html here]] and a few simple assumptions seen [[http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&safe=off&q=3000+J+%2F+5s+%2F+%283470+J%2Fkg%2FK*60+kg%29+in+K+%2F+hour&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=f5d0e3cd46a35ba9 here]], you'd lose about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Farenheit) per hour. The reason we don't feel this tremendous heat loss ordinarily is because we are ourselves receiving a comparable amount of black body radiation from the matter surrounding us. Assuming this person is in space near the earth and has half their body facing the sun, they are also receiving about 500W of solar radiation, roughly the same as the 600W they are radiating. [[/note]]
21st Jan '13 8:47:57 AM Lenoxus
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vacuum flask means thermos (linked to bland name product)
Down here on Earth, the main way we transfer heat is through convection, from our body into the air around us. Again, the problem with doing this in space is that there's nothing to transfer ''to''. (This actually makes space a very good insulator; consider the vacuum flask. ''Cooling'' is actually the biggest difficulty in designing modern spacecraft.) The only way you can get colder is by transferring heat into another object (say, by applying your face to a handy asteroid) or by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body radiating it out into the vacuum]]. Heat exchange through radiation is a fair bit slower. [[note]] "Vastly" can be tricky. A human with surface area 1.5 meters squared, an emissivity of .85 and a skin temperature of 300 K will emit 3000 joules in five seconds which is akin to walking out naked towards the south pole on its coldest day. Using information from [[http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/human-body-specific-heat-d_393.html here]] and a few simple assumptions seen [[http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&safe=off&q=3000+J+%2F+5s+%2F+%283470+J%2Fkg%2FK*60+kg%29+in+K+%2F+hour&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=f5d0e3cd46a35ba9 here]], you'd lose about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Farenheit) per hour. The reason we don't feel this tremendous heat loss ordinarily is because we are ourselves receiving a comparable amount of black body radiation from the matter surrounding us. Assuming this person is in space near the earth and has half their body facing the sun, they are also receiving about 500W of solar radiation, roughly the same as the 600W they are radiating. [[/note]]
to:
Down here on Earth, the main way we transfer heat is through convection, from our body into the air around us. Again, the problem with doing this in space is that there's nothing to transfer ''to''. (This actually makes space a very good insulator; consider the vacuum flask.flask, [[BlandNameProduct popularly called a Thermos]]. ''Cooling'' is actually the biggest difficulty in designing modern spacecraft.) The only way you can get colder is by transferring heat into another object (say, by applying your face to a handy asteroid) or by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body radiating it out into the vacuum]]. Heat exchange through radiation is a fair bit slower. [[note]] "Vastly" can be tricky. A human with surface area 1.5 meters squared, an emissivity of .85 and a skin temperature of 300 K will emit 3000 joules in five seconds which is akin to walking out naked towards the south pole on its coldest day. Using information from [[http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/human-body-specific-heat-d_393.html here]] and a few simple assumptions seen [[http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&safe=off&q=3000+J+%2F+5s+%2F+%283470+J%2Fkg%2FK*60+kg%29+in+K+%2F+hour&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=f5d0e3cd46a35ba9 here]], you'd lose about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Farenheit) per hour. The reason we don't feel this tremendous heat loss ordinarily is because we are ourselves receiving a comparable amount of black body radiation from the matter surrounding us. Assuming this person is in space near the earth and has half their body facing the sun, they are also receiving about 500W of solar radiation, roughly the same as the 600W they are radiating. [[/note]]
18th Dec '12 7:50:19 AM EpicScizor
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Fixing a footnote+URL link=Incomplete footnote
Down here on Earth, the main way we transfer heat is through convection, from our body into the air around us. Again, the problem with doing this in space is that there's nothing to transfer ''to''. (This actually makes space a very good insulator; consider the vacuum flask. ''Cooling'' is actually the biggest difficulty in designing modern spacecraft.) The only way you can get colder is by transferring heat into another object (say, by applying your face to a handy asteroid) or by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body radiating it out into the vacuum]]. Heat exchange through radiation is a fair bit slower.[[hottip:* : "Vastly" can be tricky. A human with surface area 1.5 meters squared, an emissivity of .85 and a skin temperature of 300 K will emit 3000 joules in five seconds which is akin to walking out naked towards the south pole on its coldest day. Using information from [[http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/human-body-specific-heat-d_393.html here]] and a few simple assumptions seen [[http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&safe=off&q=3000+J+%2F+5s+%2F+%283470+J%2Fkg%2FK*60+kg%29+in+K+%2F+hour&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=f5d0e3cd46a35ba9 here]], you'd lose about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Farenheit) per hour. The reason we don't feel this tremendous heat loss ordinarily is because we are ourselves receiving a comparable amount of black body radiation from the matter surrounding us. Assuming this person is in space near the earth and has half their body facing the sun, they are also receiving about 500W of solar radiation, roughly the same as the 600W they are radiating.]]
to:
Down here on Earth, the main way we transfer heat is through convection, from our body into the air around us. Again, the problem with doing this in space is that there's nothing to transfer ''to''. (This actually makes space a very good insulator; consider the vacuum flask. ''Cooling'' is actually the biggest difficulty in designing modern spacecraft.) The only way you can get colder is by transferring heat into another object (say, by applying your face to a handy asteroid) or by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body radiating it out into the vacuum]]. Heat exchange through radiation is a fair bit slower.[[hottip:* : [[note]] "Vastly" can be tricky. A human with surface area 1.5 meters squared, an emissivity of .85 and a skin temperature of 300 K will emit 3000 joules in five seconds which is akin to walking out naked towards the south pole on its coldest day. Using information from [[http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/human-body-specific-heat-d_393.html here]] and a few simple assumptions seen [[http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&safe=off&q=3000+J+%2F+5s+%2F+%283470+J%2Fkg%2FK*60+kg%29+in+K+%2F+hour&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=f5d0e3cd46a35ba9 here]], you'd lose about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Farenheit) per hour. The reason we don't feel this tremendous heat loss ordinarily is because we are ourselves receiving a comparable amount of black body radiation from the matter surrounding us. Assuming this person is in space near the earth and has half their body facing the sun, they are also receiving about 500W of solar radiation, roughly the same as the 600W they are radiating.]] [[/note]]
18th Sep '12 5:03:19 AM robert
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scientific inaccuracy removed - see discussion page
It may help to consider what heat actually is: a measure of the molecular excitement in matter. There's generally not much energy to cause excitement in empty space, but also not much matter to be not-excited, or "cold". There's simply nothing in a vacuum which has a temperature, high or low, and therefore nothing which would immediately freeze you. With this in mind, we approach [[LiesToChildren an approximate]] truth: vacuum is not a thing (it is, in fact, the ''opposite'' of "thing") and, since only things can ''have'' temperature, space is not cold and, really, cannot ''be'' cold.
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