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14 February, 2008

Cold strikes

I've always been interested in the perception of cold (I'm easily amused).

Specifically, it fascinates me that people of my grandparents' generation apparently believed that 'cold' was a thing, to be blocked out by walls, windows & thick clothes. The reverse is true, of course: 'cold' is the absence of heat, and insulation is to keep heat in, rather than cold out.
Think about that for a moment. They believed that when one touches a cold surface, 'cold' is coming into one's body, rather than heat being drawn out.

Cycling to work this morning, though, I could see their point. Passing patches of heavy frost, it did seem as if they were radiating cold: the leg nearer the frost felt colder than the other, exactly like I was passing the negative of a fire. Weird sensation – easily rationalised, but I can see how people interpreted it differently.

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