Thursday, 29 January 2009

Amazing scientific discovery

You read it here first, scholars: the answer to an enigma that has perplexed physicists for centuries: how do fans work? To Galileo and Newton, the operation of the fan presented a mystery less soluble than indifferent calculus and the laws of Jupiter and the heliothingy view of the thingy. Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schödinger maintained an embarrassed silence on a subject they couldn't begin to fathom.

"Ah, the fan question," Albert Einstein famously remarked. "If I could answer that, they'd call me one of the finest minds of the twentieth century."

Now, at the dawn of a new age, an age that shall henceforth be known as almost-February 2009, I, I have answered the question, "how do fans work?"

It goes like this, see: When your sweat evaporates, it cools you down. This is because of atoms. But once you've cooled down, the air around you is sodden with your evaporated sweat, and it won't absorb any more of your sweat, so you stop being cooled down through evaporation, and you get hot again. A fan, see, it shoves the sodden air away from you. It does this by exerting a force. (Note, technical physics term. Force.) And it pushes new dry air into proximity with your skin. This is called the Theory of Special Relativity. And now your sweat can evaporate again and cool you down, through the action of atoms. And that, ladeez and gennulmen, is how fans work. It also explains why it's harder to cool down when it's very humid, even if you have a fan, because ALL the air is sodden, but this is a point I'm going to save up for my second book.

UPDATE! I've figured out how clothes work!

UPDATE THE SECOND! My armpit hairs are at peak curliness!

UPDATE THE THIRD! If it doesn't cool down soon, I'm going to do my lolly. Not that that's a threat or anything.


Mark said...

Why does sweat evaporating cool you down?

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

You, Mark, the scientiest person I know, are asking me, Alexis, if not the unscientiest person I know then certainly a comparatively unscienty person, why evaporation cools things down?

The answer is something to do with the fact that it takes heat energy to turn a water molecule into gas (i.e., to allow the molecules to expand and drift off away from the concentrated area they were in as a liquid), and the heat energy is turned into kinetic energy, i.e., moving the atom off into the wild blue yonder, and the loss of heat [duh duh duh duuuum] cools you down.

That's my understanding, anyway, based on our year six science unit on evaporation and condensation, possibly with a bit of year 9 atomic chemistry thrown in.

I'm open to correction and/or clarification from wiser, more knowledgeable and less heat-addled minds than mine. Such as your own.

nat said...

"I am going to do my lolly" The only other person i knew that ever said that was my Grandma. You are not my Grandma, are you? But my Grandma is dead. Grandma is that you?
Christ it's hot.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

To the best of my knowledge I have no descendants, though who can be sure in this day and age.

Martin Kingsley said...

I feel that the succinct explanation, "This is because of atoms," should be used henceforth in all communiques, regardless of relevance or context.

War on two fronts not working out the way you planned? 's 'cos of the atoms. Russian winter getting you down? Atoms, baby, atoms. Shark got y'r leg? You heard it here first: atoms.

In other news, I am entirely uncertain what physical, geographical and socio-political ramifications the act of doing one's lolly would come to involve. I'm trying to picture it in my head, and I just can't manage to intuit all the kinetic forces involved simultaneously. Phwoar, as they say.

TimT said...

I'm one of the aspirational classes. I don't have descendants, I have ascendants.

On a related note, did Oedipus Rex's children regard their parents as ancestors, or incestors?

Anonymous said...

Quite a scienty explanation. Positively thermodynamic, in fact.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I note that I change my story half way through, from molecules to atoms. Bah. It's hot.

TimT said...

Aspirational atoms! With an up 'n' atom attitude!

Mark said...

My earlier question was a poor attempt to act like a four year old and ask, in my whiniest possible voice, "...but why?"

Sadly, my attempt was foiled by your misunderestimated scientiestness to provide a perfectly good answer.


(Of course, I knew the answer all along. Really!)

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Nup, sorry, haven't been doing irony this week. Hope you Canbearanians have been finding a shady corner to lie in.

Ampersand Duck said...

Even the shade is hot. We have been scraping the barrel for movie theatres to sit in. The bathroom is almost as good, though not as entertaining.

sexy said...