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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Legend of the Frog Leg Soup 

(AKA, "Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?)

We've all heard the story, reminding us to watch out for some dangerous factor creeping in and slowly degrading us. Supposedly, because the change is gradual, we don't notice it and allow it to continue to the point where it becomes fatal. The poor frog, unaware that his cool swim is slowly turning into a deadly bath, doesn't know better than to jump out of the pot. While the story makes a nice point, it is biologically untrue. Here are the results from this week's authoritative google search -

University of Oklahoma's Professor Emeritus of Zoology, Victor H. Hutchison, PhD, says:
The 'critical thermal maxima' of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.

See also:

I think this holds true in humans as well. We'll sit in an uncomfortable room just so long before we reach a point where we get up, adjust the thermostat, get a blanket, shed a sweater, grab a space heater or open a window. We will ignore an odor just so long before we do something about either the source or the symptom. I believe there is also a point at which a certain amount of sin, compromise, or error raises alarms and causes us to react. Just like that frog, we will sense that something is wrong, and we will jump out of the pot. At least that's my opinion. And you know what they say about opinions.

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