Heat got you listless? Well, here’s a list — a list so cold it gives Björk the shivers. It’ll give you brain freeze faster than a Mountain Dew Slurpee, and is colder than Dentyne Ice. It’ll be the chill room for summer’s Club Meltdown. Let your brain and blood run cold, and ponder the degrees away. Here’s to hypothermia.
78° • Recommended summer air-conditioner setting for L.A.
• Approximate cost of 7-foot-by-9-foot walk-in refrigerator: $5,304
• Matterhorn bobsleds at Disneyland
• Winter Fun Barbie doll
77° • Maximum operating temperature of the average PC Web server
• Sang froid (n.) Composure, imperturbability, from the French sang, blood + froid, cold
34° • Yeti, a.k.a. “Abominable Snowman” stomping ground
32° • Water freezes.
• Paavo Parviainen wins 2001 World Championship Ice Pool Swimming Competition in the age 60+ bracket. Competitors required to doggy-paddle through icy waters in a 25-meter rectangular pool cut directly into the ice in Lake Jyväsjärvi, Finland
• Ice thickness required to support a snowmobile or ATV (all-terrain vehicle): 5 inches
• Top 10 ice cream flavors: vanilla, chocolate, Neapolitan, cookies-’n’-cream, butter pecan, ä strawberry, chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, vanilla-chocolate, marble fudge
• “Let’s go take a look at that trooper,” Frances McDormand, Fargo
25° • Philippe Starck Room, curvy ice chairs, crystalline sofas and frozen fireplace at the Ice Hotel, Quebec, Canada
10° • Temperature at which Sir Ernest Shackleton, after his ship was crushed to bits by ice, sailed 800 miles for 18 months in a lifeboat across the Antarctic Sea to an outpost in South Georgia Island through a blizzard with 60-foot waves
0° • Coldest temperature that German scientist Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit could create with a mixture of ice and ordinary salt
-36° • Human body succumbs to frostbite within 30 seconds.
-51° • Popsicle panda-shaped ice pops
• Jarkov Mammoth, Taimyr, Russia, northern Siberia — thinking he’d found a piece of wood, nomadic tribesman Guenadi Jarkov tugged at a 10-foot-long white “stick” and realized that it was actually one of two tusks still attached to the skull of a woolly mammoth, deep-frozen in a 22-ton permafrost tomb.
-54° • Barrow, Alaska, in the Arctic
Circle (only three months a year when average temperatures rise above freezing)
• Frozen wood frogs — when
Captain Francis Smith landed his ship The California near the Arctic Circle in May 1747, he noted in his log: “An infinite Number of Frogs, with a great croaking.” The frogs
had passed the winter frozen in
holes in the ground. “A remarkable Experiment,” wrote Smith, “is to
take the earth in which the Frog is
so froze, and to break that earth in Pieces without thawing it, the Frog will then break with it as short as a Piece of Glass. But . . . lay that earth at a small Distance from the Fire,
so as to thaw it, the Frog will
recover his Summer activity, and
leap as usual.”
-60° • Metal crystallizes and snaps.
• Plastics — like photographic film and vinyl — become brittle.
• Tires can reach their “glass transition point” and snap.
• Oil turns into Jell-O, and diesel fuel turns into syrup.
• Designer snowflakes, engineered with dry ice
-76° • Emperor penguins lay their
eggs (90 percent mortality rate among chicks).
• Mean midwinter temperature at
the South Pole
-97° to -113° • Magadan, a military port just outside of Siberia, was once called “The Gateway to Hell.”
At least four communities 600 miles away from Magadan (including Ust Nera, Oymyakon, Verkhoyansk) vie for the title of “The Coldest Inhabited Place in the World.”
• British mountaineer George
Mallory (then age 37) led the first
serious attempts on the summit of Mount Everest with his climbing
partner Comyn Irvine (then age 22). They disappeared into the mists of Everest’s North Face in June 1924. Mallory’s reason for deciding to climb Everest: “Because it is there.”
• Yup’ik words for cold: qanikcir, “to get snow on ground”; nutaryuk, “fresh snow”; navcite, “to get caught in an avalanche.”
-321° • Walt Disney’s cryogenically
• Cryonics (n.) the science of the
effects of superlow temperatures on
biological materials such as animals and human organs and tissues, dates back to the early ’60s and refers to the practice of preserving the whole body or brain of persons recently
declared legally dead in the hope of revival at some time in the future.
• The soon-to-be-constructed $180 million Timeship — a cryonics facility that will safely freeze 10,000 people, plants and animals for future
resuscitation. Instead of leaving your money to next of kin, give it to the Timeship. Most life-insurance policies will pay up.
-350° • (2.7° Kelvin)
• Residue heat from the big bang
• Temperature in all of outer space
-378° • Approximate temperature on the surface of Pluto, composed in part of frozen nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane
-459° • (0° Kelvin)
• Absolute zero — All molecular activity ceases. The coldest temperatures in the universe are not found in nature; they are man-made. Though absolute zero is physically unattainable due to the Third Law of Thermodynamics, Helsinki University researchers cooled a silver nucleus to .00000000000280 degrees Kelvin.
• “Karl allowed himself to be hugged by the unknown maiden and a chill ran up his spine as two icy lips touched his forehead. The Snow Queen kissed him again.”
—The Snow Queen,
Hans Christian Andersen