Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Hot. Fans and Physics.

The air-conditioning was out at St. Mary's this morning. It was as hot as the place we attendees are trying to avoid. Thankfully, Mass was kept short out of deference to the elderly. Me.

Some of the ladies brought out hand fans and others made fans from the hand-out sheet of hymns and Scripture readings.

I thought of four-foot-two-but-tough-as-nails Sister Noreen, my first grade teacher from St Mary Magdalen, who said on one of those hot school days of May, "children, if you fan yourself the effort of fanning only makes you hotter."

So I never fan myself out of obedience to Sister N., now, some 50 years later.

But I was wondering during the lulls this morning when I should have been paying attention. Was she right? Does one get cooler hand-fanning? Or does the exertion of fanning increase the body temperature more than the cooling effect?

I don't know.




John said...

Scientifically speaking, it depends. Factors that may be significant include air temp, body temp, exposed skin area, humidity, strength of your arm, amount of air moved by the fan, etc.

My suggestion would be to take one of those little battery powered personal fans.

Or just do what Sister Noreen says. My aunt's a nun and that strategy works for me.

(I just revealed my ace in the hole. I'm counting on her to get me through the pearly gates.)

Francis Shivone said...

John -- I thought that the answer might be more complicated than I expected.

Yea, I'm going with Sister, you got an in, I'm still working on it.


John said...

I've heard the same thing before. I would suggest that if you feel you must go against the nun and fan... try to get the air blowing where and when you're sweaty. I've also heard that putting ice where the arteries are closest to the skin (neck and wrists) works to cool you off quicker - so fanning your neck may be more efficient than elsewhere (but I'm just guessing).

My feelings about it is that if it makes you feel more confortable, why bother whether you are actually generating more heat than reducing? And since so many people do it, it obviously works to make you confortable.

Francis Shivone said...

John -- thanks for the comment and taking us to the kind of question that plagues modernity, to wit: "if you feel cooler, are you cooler?"

We can all thank Descartes for making our lives much more complicated.

In the 14th century life was much simpler. A medieval man would have said, "I am suffering, therefore, I deserve it."

Also, I'm more of an "embrace the suffering" kind of guy because once you do, the suffering, mild as it is, becomes less noticeable.

Thanks again.