Watercooler Ammo: Hot Hot Heat

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Now that you've had your 1,354th conversation about the weather, you're probably running a little low on things to say about it -- so let us drop some trivia like it's, er, hot:

* The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth most likely occurred in Death Valley, California in high summer, 1913. During that time, the national weather service recorded 56.7°C (134°F). Other sources report an even toastier day of 136°F or 58°C in Al Aziziyah, Libya, in September 1922.

* The surface of the sun, also called the photosphere, averages about 6,000°C (11,000°F), which doesn't even begin to compare to the temp at the core (15,000,000°C; 27,000,000°F).

* The universe as a whole is actually pretty cool -- it averages 2.725 +/- 0.002 degrees Kelvin (think Celsius but starting at absolute zero, or -273°C/-459°F). The Milky Way is about 0.0001°K warmer on average, which is one of the many reasons you're not wearing mittens right now.

* Apparently, "a freak heat wave hit the central coast of Portugal on July 6, 1949, sending the temperature up to 158°F for a period of about two minutes. Moments later the mercury slid back down to the mid-120s. No explanation for this bizarre heat wave has ever been offered." (Caveat: We're not sure we believe this. Anyone here from Portugal?)

* In August 1995, farmers in Missouri reported that fresh bales of hay were spontaneously combusting due to the high temperature -- the methane emitted inside was catching fire.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to share one of my all-time favorite (and surprisingly easy) tips from Lifehacker: how to make your own $30 air conditioner.

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August 3, 2006 - 11:50am
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