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First of all, DON’T DO IT! But if you WERE to stick your tongue to a cold flagpole, why would it stick?

Hosted by: Hank Green
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Sources:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-your-tongue-gets-stuck-to-an-icicle/2014/02/03/dad2eb64-89fc-11e3-833c-33098f9e5267_story.html
http://www.nytimes.com/1996/04/09/science/q-a-cold-eyes.html
http://www.livescience.com/32237-will-your-tongue-really-stick-to-a-frozen-flagpole.html
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/thermal-conductivity-d_429.html
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/tables/thrcn.html
http://www.peacesoftware.de/einigewerte/luft_e.html
You may have noticed that when it’s really cold out, your skin seems to get sticky.

Touch your finger to a piece of ice, and suddenly it’s like it’s glued to you.

Touch your tongue to a cold flagpole outside of your school, and you’ll become a legend. But not in a good way.
 
They’ll probably dedicate a whole page of your yearbook, just full of embarrassing pictures from that fateful day.
 
But why? Why did your tongue stick to the flagpole? 
 
The reason is actually really simple, even if the effects aren’t pleasant: There’s saliva between your tongue and that flagpole, and it freezes on contact. 
 
The newly-formed ice acts as a bond between tongue and flagpole, almost like superglue. 
 
And unless you figure out a way to melt the ice -- like by pouring hot water on it -- the only way to separate that tongue and that flag pole is through the path of least resistance. 
 
And your tongue is gonna put up less resistance than the flag pole.
 
The brute force method can get… messy. And painful.
 
But here’s the thing: Why is the flagpole on your 'Do Not Lick' list for winter, but not, like, wooden telephone poles?
 
Well, you only freeze to certain types of materials -- specifically, the ones that are best at conducting heat.
 
Let’s start with the fact that the inside of your body, even in winter, is always nice and warm.
 
That’s because your body is doing its best to keep your organs and fluids at around 37 degrees Celsius, even when parts of you are exposed directly to frigid air.
 
This is, for example, why your eyes don’t immediately turn into eyeball-snow cones in cold weather. The warmth of your tissues and the blood flowing through the vessels in your head keep them and other parts of your face from getting below freezing.
 
And most of the time, this same heat-generation is happening on the surface of your skin, including your tongue.
 
As long as your body can heat up your skin as fast as that heat is transferred away to something colder, it’ll stay above freezing.
 
But things like metal and ice are good conductors of heat, and after a short time, your body can’t keep up.
 
In the case of the flagpole, the metal is able to siphon the heat out of your tongue faster than your body can replenish it. 
 
So your skin gets below freezing pretty quickly, and the saliva turns into ice.
 
But since other materials, like wood, aren’t good conductors, your body can replace the heat fast enough to keep your tissues warm.
 
So, if you want to lick a cold, wooden telephone pole, you’ll probably just end up with splinters on your tongue.
 
But if there were a doctor or a lawyer in the room, they’d probably tell you just to not go around licking stuff… summer or winter.
 
It’s gross and dangerous, and the whole reason I’m telling you this is so you don’t end up being labeled 'Most Likely to Lose the Tip of their Tongue' in your school yearbook.
 
Thanks for asking, and thanks especially to our Subbable subscribers who get these answers a little bit early.
 
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