Feeling Hot and Cold

While it’s certainly true that being too hot is an unpleasant feeling, it’s not something we tend to think about. If we’re hot, the usual reaction is to throw on some shorts, or turn on the air conditioning. Canberra can get unpleasant in the middle of summer, especially if it’s been a particularly dry spring. This still leaves the question of why coldness works the way it does.

At its most basic (that is, the most sciency), we have cold fibres underneath the layers of our skin that detect how cold we are. This is quite a specific process related to our sensory neurons. They can even categorize themselves based on pleasurable cold (like air conditioning) and unpleasant cold (lost in a  snowdrift).

Getting even more sciency, TRPM8 is the protein you have to thank for all of your cold needs. This is what detects all forms of coolness, from strong air conditioning to frostbite, and can even have a hand in making us feel burns. This is actually quite useful, as it alerts us as to the negative aspect of cold and provides us with the motivation to seek warmer climes. That’s why getting the best air conditioning service Canberra residents recommend is always going to be best is done regularly. You don’t want it pushing out too much cold air and causing a chill.

On the flip side, what is warmth? This one is simpler, as we naturally produce heat. The only reason we’re alive is because of the numerous functions taking place in our body, and all of these need power, which produces body heat.

We lose heat fairly quickly in cold temperatures, because our personal heat will naturally flow into the surrounding cool air. Insulated clothing, or regular clothing to some degree, is what stops this from happening, keeping the heat sealed close to us so that we don’t turn into icicles.

The way we sweat is also a factor: dry heat will cause the moisture to be retained, as the sweat won’t vanish into the atmosphere and sticks around to keep us cool, and wet heat will cause the sweat to leave us for good, causing dehydration.

So next time you reach for that good old air conditioner, spare a thought for how your body feels, as well as how hard it has to work to keep the chills away. Then turn on the cooling anyway, because it’s far too warm to suffer in a pool of sweat. That’s what air cons are for after all.