The Physics of Hypothermia, Hyperthermia and Other Outdoor Problems

Dr. John E. Sohl
Weber State University

Our bodies can withstand extreme ambient temperature ranges, but only so long as the brain has prepared it to do so. It is  
much easier to get the body into trouble than it is to recover from that trouble. The reasons are easy to understand with simple first-year physics.

The complex thermo-regulatory systems our bodies employ will be discussed, and what happens when they fail. Both physics and physiology determine how our body temperature varies. But, when the going gets tough, physiology loses and physics wins.

How not to become hypothermic or hyperthermic yourself will also be discussed, and what the options are if you do.