Wood Frog Dies and Comes Back to Life

By Anupum Pant

Ice Kills

Everybody knows what extremely low temperatures can do to our body. If you aren’t well protected from the cold, unable to retain the heat, the core temperature of your body may drop below 35 degree C and can cause some serious problems, even death.

At even lower temperatures, ice crystals can form in the tissues and puncture blood vessels. Ice crystals may even squeeze, deform and break cells. Otherwise it can leave behind shrunken and destroyed cells by sucking out water from them to form ice. Probably leaving you with a permanently damaged body part.

Due to ice formation inside the cells, this disastrous structural damage that is caused in human bodies, or most other organisms is unavoidable. We were not built to endure horrendous cold. But there are a few organisms who are built to live, or if I may say, die and then live again in extremely cold temperatures.

Meet the Wood Frog

Wood frog, a small variety of frog found in north america is one such creature. You ask what’s so interesting about them?

It is probably one of the most freeze tolerant beings. In other words, extracellular freeze tolerance and intracellular freeze avoidance enables the frog to do what it does.

Well, when it is really cold out there in the Arctic circle or the upper parts of America, they can freeze themselves for weeks, even for months. It does this by first finding out if it is really cold out there. When it touches the first bits of winter snow, a signal sets off in its body and the signal starts the blood freeing process.

All the water is pulled away from the core of its organs and the water gets frozen. Putting all the organs in a shell of solid ice. The whole frog becomes hard as a rock and sits there like that for weeks. Till it sees the spring time.

The most amazing part is that, during this time, the frog doesn’t breathe, its heart stops beating and even kidneys stop functioning. In medical terms it could be called dead. In reality, it is only temporarily dead.

Just like a dead man – without a hear beat – walking.

And then spring comes. It thaws itself out without any cellular injury and starts jumping again. It dies in winter and comes back to life in the next season.

This is probably how carbonite from Star Wars works.

Hit the like button if you learnt something today.

Cryoseism – Frost Quakes in Canada

By Anupum Pant

Note: Remember that the ideas I share on this blog everyday don’t magically get formed in my brain. I’m no genius. What I am, is an average curious person. I read about things and then I experience a burning urge to find out more. I think of this blog as a record of everything I learn – kind of a public journal (NOT an Official gazette). I hope it helps you in some way. If it does, do mention it in the comments section below.

The Polar Vortex

For the past few days, in most of the things I’ve read, I’ve come across a reference to the extremely cold polar winds (incredible pictures) people are experiencing in the United States and Canada. 50 states have gone sub-zero in the US. Similarly, Canada is experiencing even  colder temperatures. While some have decided to stay at home, others are tossing boiling water to try out the Mpemba effect in the open. 8,500 miles away, almost sweating in a room with temperature 30 degrees (Celsius) above zero, I’m learning about new frost related phenomena that I had never heard of before.

My sympathies to the people who are suffering this bitter cold wave. 


Thanks to the frost, I’m coming across some of the never-before-heard things that are appearing in the mainstream media. One of them which I came across yesterday was – Cryoseism or an Ice-quake.

People in Toronto woke up to loud sounds and rattling objects yesterday. People thought that an earthquake had hit Toronto. It wasn’t an earthquake. What they were experiencing was an Ice quake or Cryoseism.

What caused it?

Expanding water can be an extremely powerful force. It can break the strongest materials ever made. Industrial valves and pipes made of thick steel walls can be fractured by water as it expands. In this case, the earth got split open by it.

Unlike most other liquids, water expands on it freezing. Thus, ice formed is of higher volume and lower density. Although we aren’t dealing with density here, it is interesting to know, the phenomenon of expanding water is what makes gargantuan icebergs float on water. Apparently, there is nothing in the world that can contain expanding water without getting fractured (if you know about something that can, inform me in the comments section below). For a live demonstration, you can have a look at the video below, in which a metal pipe is split by freezing water.

This is what happened in Toronto. Water below the surface froze. As a result, it expanded and fractured the surface with a boom to find space for the 10% increase in volume. This was a Cryoseism.

With loud sounds some people have reported distant flashing lights. What was that about?

Electrical changes happen in the rocks when they get squeezed, pushed and rubbed around when pressure stored in the ground is released. The flashing lights are most definitely caused by these electrical changes due to rubbing and squeezing of rocks.

In the past the north and north-eastern parts of US have also reported such quakes.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Flashlight That Uses Body Heat Instead of Batteries

By Anupum Pant

I talked about a light that utilizes the power of gravity to light up a few days back. This flashlight is a bit similar in a way that, it also doesn’t need any batteries. But the underlying mechanism it uses, is completely different.

The winner of this year’s Google Science Fair, in the age group of 15-16, was a 15-year-old girl from Canada, Ann Makosinski. In her project she created a flashlight that, instead of batteries, uses our body heat to light up. She calls it “Hollow Flashlight”

The flashlight uses 4 Peltier tiles to convert the temperature difference (between body and room temperatures) into energy. One side of the tiles is heated by our body heat and the other side is at room temperature. This temperature difference creates electricity using the Thermoelectric effect. The tiles used for this light need a minimum of 5 degree difference of temperature to work.

Peltier Tiles

Peltier tiles utilize thermoelectric effect to convert temperature difference into electricity. When there is a enough temperature difference, charge carriers move from hot area to the colder area. This separation of charges builds up a potential difference across the height of the tile. This potential difference can be used up for various things. In this case, it was used to light up LEDs.

Advantages: The amount of potential difference produced depends on the material. Peltier tiles are great because they are compact and they do not use any moving parts. Elimination of any moving parts eliminates wear and tear. They last long and do not need a lot of maintainance. However, their efficiency is not so great. So, they are used only where long life is essential.
The Voyager space probe and other deep space probes, where long life is of prime importance, use Thermoelectric generators (another image). The heat there is produced by a radioactive isotope. Implanted pacemakers which require long life also use it as a source of energy. All of them work utilizing the same effect – thermoelectric effect. The eco-fan, a wood stove fan, also uses the same effect in a very creative way.

Thermoelectric Generators have a very interesting history.