It’s a frosty night in winter. The bedroom is chilly, but you’re snuggly wrapped up in a comforter, right on the verge of the best night’s sleep of your life, when two dainty little female feet, at a temperature infinitesimally above absolute zero, are applied to your warm toasty thighs. This is a tragedy not only of personal proportions, but of a biblical level of danger as it is scientifically verified that earthquakes are triggered by male roars/screams of anguish from a female application of freezer feet. When the San Andreas ruptures and California slides off into the Pacific depths, at least now you’ll know the cause.
OK, we’ve all experienced it, but we need to cut the ladies some slack as science is on their side and they really can’t help it. They don’t do it just to torment half the human population.
Turns Out, It’s Not Just Women.
Something else to consider is that as you approach my age, you may well develop your own debilitating case of personal freezer feet. Our guy affliction is from poorer circulation as we age and if you experience it, you may well find it impossible to sleep if your feet are too damn cold. Preferred solution: electric mattress pad. It’s much better than an electric blanket because the heat is below you. The girls who find it hard to sleep with cold feet decided their preferred foot warming solution is us.
The Science Behind Women’s Cold Feet
To see why females of all ages develop freezer feet we need to start with (sound the trumpets) the Three Laws of Thermodynamics. They are the most fundamental laws of the universe. Everything else from quantum mechanics to the relativistic effects of billions of stars in speeding galaxies all follow them perfectly. We can sum them up as follows:
First Law – You can’t get something for nothing. Energy (and matter is a very condensed form of energy) can’t be created or destroyed. All the nonsense about “free energy sources” is as impossible as a winning baseball score of 3 ¾ to 2 ⅝. There’s no fractional runs in baseball by the rules of baseball. There’s no free energy by the rules of the universe.
Second Law – You can’t even break even. Anytime you change one form of energy to another form there is always a loss of some of the original energy as heat. For example, when we exercise, our bodies use the chemical energy from our food and convert it to motion (mechanical energy) but some of the energy is lost as heat and we get hot (and sweat trying to rid our bodies of the excess heat.)
Third Law – You can’t get out of the game. There’s no way you can avoid the laws, no sleight of hand, no tricks, no nothing. You are stuck with the universe and the way it works.
Time for a bit of math. Let’s consider a 110 pound female and a 220 pound male. Our bodies, even at rest, are always producing heat because they are continuously converting the chemical energy of our food into other forms of chemical energy inside every single one of our cells, supplying the mechanical power for our heart, lungs, digestion and whatever movement we make, keeping our nervous system going with electrical energy, etc. Every time we make the conversion, some of the energy is lost as heat. As a rough approximation, we are about like a 100 watt incandescent light bulb. (We’re not as hot as the typical bulb because that heat is spread over a larger area which leads to a lower temperature.)
So the female has got 110 pounds of body producing heat and the male has 220 pounds doing the same. All of that heat produced has to go somewhere (our temperature would keep going up if it didn’t) so we lose the heat through our skin. Because both sexes have about the same density, we can say that we produce heat based on our volume (pounds) and lose it based on our surface area (skin.)
To simplify things again, our density is about the same as sea water, 64 pounds per cubic foot. And to further simplify, let’s suppose both are squeezed down into cubes. The female weighs 110 pounds, so dividing by 64 pounds per cubic foot would turn her into a cube with a volume of about 1.72 cubic feet. Doing the same with the guy produces a cube of about 3.44 cubic feet. Those two volumes are where the heat is being produced.
To see where the heat is going, we need to know the surface area of the cubes. The length of each side of a cube is the cube root of the volume. So for the female, the cube root of 1.72 produces a side length of about 1.20 feet. Doing the same for the male gives us 1.51 feet.
Each side of a cubes is a square and there are six sides to a cube. The surface area for the female is 1.20 × 1.20 × 6 = 8.64 square feet. Doing the same for the male gives us a surface area of 1.51 × 1.51 × 6 = 13.68 square feet.
|Volume Producing Heat||1.72||3.44|
|Surface Area Losing Heat||8.64||13.68|
|Ratio Surface to Volume||5.02||3.98|
The key numbers are the bottom two. They are the Surface Area Losing Heat divided by the Volume Producing Heat. We males have more volume, but we disproportionately have less surface area losing heat. In other words, she’s losing heat faster than we are. If we divide 5.02 by 3.98 to get about 1.26 that tells us that the female is losing heat 26% faster than the guy. Her body has to work harder just to keep it at 98.6°F. Not only do her feet get cold, her whole body gets cold. I always kept a couple of light jackets in the car for the “meat locker” restaurants, theaters, etc. we frequented.
The foot problems get worse. Take a look at a typical female foot and a typical male foot. Remember that bones and toenails don’t count. By observation, she doesn’t have as much heat producing “meat” wrapped around her foot bones. In my particular case, I wear a 13EEEEE, (skip the jokes about rabbit feet and skis – I’ve heard them all,) while the darling wore a 6A pixie shoe.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, just as my circulation isn’t as efficient at my age, the girls suffer the same way and all of our feet get colder.
And one last item. I won’t guarantee the veracity of it, but a book I read on cold weather survival stated that “A female will get frostbite first while a male will freeze to death before her.” The argument was that female bodies will “sacrifice” the extremities to keep the torso core warm and thus protect the all important specie preserving baby making stuff. It makes sense, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.
The long and the short of it, when she shoves those ice cubes against you, she’s not doing it out of meanness. She’s just trying to get her poor long suffering tootsies warm.
Maybe also recommend a nice cozy fire!