Sunday, December 02, 2007
Here, it's cold enough outside to kill you. If you sat outside in regular clothes in this -30oC (-22oF) ambient weather, you would be dead (or near death) by morning. Out in the uninsulated garage, there is a small heater to take the sting off the cold, but it only heats things really close to it. My hands were particularly cold, so I took off my glove and put it as close to the glowing heater as I could stand, just on the edge of pain.
The other side of my hand was in the heat shadow, and there it's around -30oC. Cold really hurts, too. A lot. At a place I once worked, a tech came up from the USA to install something during a cold snap. He had worked in freezing environments before, but after coming here he told us "I figured that when it's colder than -10oC (+14oF) you don't really notice the difference anymore... I just didn't know how painful cold really is!" He also said things like "holy shit is it fucking cold out here!! Son of a bitch!"
Anyway, out in the garage, my hand was simultaneously in pain from proximity to a 1200 Watt heater on one side and the stinging -30oC on the other. The planet Mercury faces one side to the sun for a long time (although it's not tidally locked), with surface temperatures ranging from -193oC to 427oC. This is simultaneously about 6.5 times colder and 8.5 times hotter than my bare hand experiences out in the garage. If Mercury were somehow alive, as some people suggest is true of the Earth, I know what Mercury is thinking. Mercury is thinking "Great god-damn this hurts!"
Burton MacKenZie www.burtonmackenzie.com
(Original Image of Sol/Mercury by Mbz1, released under the GNU Free Documentation License)