Friday, March 16, 2007

Cooling your hand instead of your house

Interesting article in Stanford Magazine about a technology that applies cooling and a vacuum to the hand. It allows the body to recover more quickly from heat-related exhaustion and improves performance. This technology was also mentioned in the Boing Boing Boing podcast the other day when they talked to Noah Shachtman, who writes on military issues for Wired's military blog Danger Room. The technology can also be used for heating. If you heat up the hand, the core body temperature heats up and a person is less vulnerable to hypothermia. Shachtman described an amazing scene in which he sat in a tub of 40 degree ice water for 70 minutes and felt fine!

Anyway, the people working on this technology have been thinking of it in terms of military and athletic applications -- basically performance enhancement for jocks and fighters. But, tree hugger that I am, I was thinking that this could be a solution to global warming! We use so much energy heating and cooling our houses -- we could remain comfortable merely by heating and cooling our hands! The energy savings would be huge -- presumably comparable to the difference in volume cooled, which is several orders of magnitude.

One thing I wonder -- why doesn't it work to just grab a cold can of beer? Next time there's a heat wave, I'll give that a try. :)

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