January 26, 2007

Just how cold is it really?

My friend Niles once told me the precise temperature at which the mucus in your nose undergoes a phase change from liquid to solid. Now Niles is a pretty smart guy - I mean he says he is currently working on, "the genetic regulation that S. aureus uses to control its two alternate sigma factors, sigB and sigH, in order to successfully adapt to stressful and challenging environments, both in the host and out." So there you have it.

He said that mucus in your nose freezes at -17F if memory serves. That struck me as a particularly exact number as I was walking the 100 yards to work today and my nose was all hard and crunchy inside. I mean - what if I have a fat nose? Less mucus than your average guy? Hot breath? Seems like a lot of variables here.

So I did a little google search to find out more. It turns out there is quite a lot of discussion on the topic. First of all people seem divided over calling this issue booger freezing or snot freezing. Perhaps this like the linguistic variation that gives us hoagies and subs? Pop and soda? There is even an ice climb named Frozen Booger.

And come to find out data ranges from -20F to -5F! Well Niles - I guess the research gauntlet has been thrown down - what is the actual freezing point?

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