One of the most common questions that I get is where do I get the ideas for these experiments. Some are old classics that I try to give a new angle. Others are the result of questions sent to me by subscribers. Some of the ones that I like the best are the ones that just pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. This is one of those. It also comes with its own story, which makes it even better.
The story is one of Aesop's fables. If you have never read any of these, go read some. It is well worth the time.
The story we are interested in is The Man and the Satyr. What is a Satyr? It is an imaginary creature like a man, with the legs and horns of a goat and the ears and tail of a horse. Quite a strange thing to imagine.
The Man and the Satyr
A Man and a Satyr once drank together in token of a bond of
alliance being formed between them. One very cold wintry day, as
they talked, the Man put his fingers to his mouth and blew on
them. When the Satyr asked the reason for this, he told him that
he did it to warm his hands because they were so cold. Later on
in the day they sat down to eat, and the food prepared was quite
scalding. The Man raised one of the dishes a little towards his
mouth and blew in it. When the Satyr again inquired the reason,
he said that he did it to cool the meat, which was too hot. "I
can no longer consider you as a friend," said the Satyr, "a
fellow who with the same breath blows hot and cold."
Recently, I heard a news story that referred to a politician as blowing hot and cold with the same breath and it made me think of this fable. That got me thinking about the science behind it. How can you blow hot and cold?