The Specific Heat of Humans

Pancake is to waffle as man is to aluminum? Well, yes, actually. Pancakes and waffles have lots in common and as it turns out, so do metals and humans too! What is this shared value? Specific heat! Remember back to high school chemistry class when we would set fire to different metal objects and then measure just how fast or slow the object would heat up and cool down? This value would vary drastically by metal. As a refresher, aluminum foil, just like what you use in your kitchen, heats up very quickly and also cools down very quickly. Aluminum is very different from iron, which on the contrary is slow to increase in temperature and likewise slow to cool off.

When it comes to emotions, humans have their own unique specific heat value too. Some of us get ‘heated’ (see what I did there?) rapidly and then calm down quickly but others exhibit remarkable patience up until a point and then get very heated and take a considerable amount of time to cool off. Think of the difference between a Buddhist monk and a two-year-old child. Which would you rather debate with or confront with an issue or concern? The specific heat of humans is basically a fancy way of saying temperament except that perhaps we can measure, quantify and compare the variance from one person to another in a logical way. There is no right or wrong, good or bad specific heat value. Instead, each has its own place and purpose for different things. For example, aluminum is a terrible conductor of heat but the molecular structure of aluminum allows the element to have rapid temperature changes versus any other metal, which makes great for cooking since you are less likely to get burned! Iron on the other hand, holds on to heat longer so it wouldn’t be ideal in the kitchen but if you are out camping and want your food to stay hot longer in the pot, then it is great!

What if we could calculate what each of our own specific heat value is and then use that as a baseline for comparison to other people. Imagine on your dating profile next to your astrological sign and your age, you also included your human specific heat value to indicate how much of a temper you have? Some people like being around others who are quick to get upset but also quick to reconcile, especially if that is how they are too! Others on the other hand may seek mates who are slow to anger and likewise slow to decompress after an argument if that is how they are. For example, I am a hot-tempered redhead and my husband is an easy-going North African. Naturally, when we argue and I am fine five minutes later ready to move on, kiss and make up, I expect him to follow in this regard too but he does not at all. We have very different specific heats! If we had known each other’s ‘number’, when we first met, it would inform and shape how we react to each other and our different distinct temper needs. This knowledge could help us sooth each other’s burns instead of adding fuel to the fire without realizing it.

For metals, the formula for calculating specific heat capacity is this: c (specific heat capacity) = E (total energy) / m (mass) x †T (change in temperature). As we were discussing earlier, aluminum is very hot to trot with a specific heat capacity of.9 which is high when compared to iron which is around.45 and gold which is a mere.1. If we adapt this formula to humans, it would look something like this: h (specific heat capacity of human) = E (total energy or calories burned) / m (mass) xˆ†T (change in time elapsed over course of argument). If I look at this morning’s example, indicative of most instances, my specific heat value when I plug into this would be.02 and my husband’s would be.01. It turns out, as pancake is to waffle, I am to aluminum as he is to iron.

Who remembers the website Hot or Not when we were teenagers? Well, this is the modern-day ‘Hot or Not’ experiment but more deliberative then assigning a 0 to 10 number to someone’s photo online.

So, what is your number?

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