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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Grace F. asks, "Why does 98 degrees Fahrenheit feel hot to us even though our bodies are around that temperature?"
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Hi, I'm Craig. My average body temperate is 99 degrees Fahrenheit 'cause I'm hot! And this is Mental Floss on YouTube. Today I'm going to be answer Grace F.'s big question: Why does 98 degrees Fahrenheit feel hot to us even though our bodies are around that temperature? Let's get started. Tsss.


First, let's talk a little about what body temperature is. So, as Grace mentioned, the average internal temperature of a human body is 98 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius, though it fluctuates. And our bodies stay around 98 degrees, or in sync, thanks to thermoregulation. Even if you're out in the cold like a Backstreet Boy heading down the street in One Direction. To the lake. The Timberlake.

Basically, we're able to maintain that body temperature even when we're in an environment that has a very different temperature. Interestingly, some other organisms are thermoconforming which means they just take on the temperature of their environment. A big part of why thermoregulation works is that our bodies are constantly producing heat from our organs, like the liver, brain, and heart.

In order to keep our bodies at 98 degrees we're constantly getting rid of excess heat which is done in a few different ways: exhaling hot air, circulating blood near the skin's surface, sweating. The absolute best outside temperature to keep these things working properly is something quite a few degrees away from our internal body temperature, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

So it's a problem when it's hot out, like 98 degrees for instance, and our body can't get rid of the heat it keeps generating. When it's hot sweating is the only function that helps our body cool down. The other two functions just make us even hotter because we're trying to release excess heat into already hot air. Our body is unable to cool itself as fast as we're accustomed to so we sweat which cools the body down. The fancy term for this is evaporative cooling.

High humidity makes us feel even worse because it makes it so the sweat on our skin has to absorb even more heat before it's able to evaporate. Huh!

Thanks for watching Mental Floss on YouTube which is made with the help of all these sweaty people. If you have a big question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it below in the comments. See you next week.