Friday, November 4, 2011

cold, wind, and temperature

Since it seems as if winter temperatures will finally arrive, a word about wind chill.

Wind chill was developed to describe how wind velocity changes the way temperature feels to exposed skin.

We hear about wind chill so often that many people have become confused. Only warm blooded animals with bare skin, humans basically, are affected. If the temperature is 35 but the wind chill is 16, a container of water placed outside will not freeze.

Wind might make the water freeze more rapidly at an ambient temperature of 32 degrees by carrying away heat. Entropy always increases, after all.

So fear not. Your car will die equally well at 16 degrees or minus 10 with the wind chill.

Is Everybody Happy?

Speaking of ridiculous nonsense -- and why not? -- we have Harvard scientists concluding that  happiness depends on the contentment of friends of friends, or neighbors you may not even know.

This may apply to some people, but it is demonstrably false for the vast majority. If it were true, after all, as long as one person on Earth is happy, so should everybody. The happy fellow is friends with another, who is friends with another, and so on, ad absurdum.

Besides, how can you possibly characterize someone as happy or unhappy? Some people are unhappy most of the time, and others are in as good mood most of the time, but no one is joyful at all times. 

Part of adulthood is learning how to keep these emotions private. If you found a $100 dollar bill, would you walk around with a broad smile and tell everyone you pass on the sidewalk? Would you call up your friends?

Perhaps $100 isn't sufficient to cause elation. Suppose instead that you won $50 million in a lottery. You're ecstatic. Is this going to make all of your friends jolly?

Some of them, sure. Most of the others will curse their luck, feel sorry for themselves, and/or ask you for money, since you now have an endless supply. Decline any of these requests and you've made an enemy for a long time.

Moreover, most people don't appear to be happy. At best they're able to maintain a guarded equilibrium. Next time you're at a store look around. See many smiling faces? No. 

And finally, what kind of society aspires to be happy all of the time? 

Only one in which people are losing their jobs left and right, banks are collapsing, businesses are failing, auto companies are on the brink of bankruptcy, newspaper chains are going under,  and people are afraid to spend money.

Good times. Happy people.