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water and ectothermy



actually that it is water does make a difference.  water can conduct
heat about 85 times as effectively as air at 15oC.  therefore, if
you throw a naked human into water at 15oC they become hypothermic
much more rapidly than if you put that same naked human into air alone.
(fritos would conduct heat about as fast as air, because mostly
the space containing the fritos is air).  yes the temp differential
is important, but the heat conducting ability of the colder medium
controls the amount of time before the animal dies!  For example, 
snow is the same temp as near freezing water, but a human encased
in snow will live longer than one in water because the air trapped in
the snow will act to insulate rather than transmit heat, thereby slowing
the temp drop in the body.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bonnie A.B. Blackwell,                          bonn@qcvaxa.acc.qc.edu
Dept of Geology,                                off: (718) 997-3332
Queens College, City University of New York,    fax: (718) 997-3299
Dept of Earth \& Environmental Sciences,        fax: (718) 997-3349
The Graduate Center, CUNY,                      fax: (718) 997-3513
Flushing, NY 11367-1597                         messages: (718) 997-3300