The Spangler Effect - The Science of Whales Season 01 Episode 20

Uploaded by TheSpanglerEffect on 27.06.2012


STEVE SPANGLER: My hand is freezing.
How do whales stay in ocean water that's this cold?
Which got me to thinking, why is there a tub of lard sitting
right here and how does it relate to this ice water?
I have no idea.
But I have about 30 seconds to figure it out
while you watch this.
I'm Steve Spangler, and I'm all about making science fun.
For the last 20 years, I've been teaching ways to turn
ordinary science experiments into unforgettable
I have an amazing team who will do whatever it takes to
affect the way people think about science.
And to do that, I live in one motto--
make it big, do it right, give it class.

So here's the challenge I have for you.
Get a bucket, get some water, get some ice-- not any kind of
ice, glacial ice.
It's straight from Alaska, costs $50,000.
If you want extreme cold, pour some salt in there.
It'll drop the temperature to about 17 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then plunge your hand into the water like this and see how
long you can keep it there.
You don't want to stick your hand in?
Get a friend like Higginsworth.
Higginsworth, put your hand in.
Now leave it there for a long time.
See, this got me to thinking--
how is it that whales can stay in this incredibly cold
Well, the answer is all the blubber that's around them.
So we're going to create ourselves a little blubber bag
that will allow you to be able to stay in
the water for hours.
So how you doing now, Higginsworth?
See, kids?
He tapped out.
You'll always do better than Higginsworth.
See, I'm not the only one thinking about whales.
A hundred science enthusiasts joined us for an experience
called Science at Sea.
It was a cruise to Alaska with Holland America, where we got
to see whales breaching and ice calving and some of the
most amazing things in Alaska.
The naturalists are the ones that pointed out this quick
little demonstration that you can do with vegetable
shortening, a Ziploc bag, and some duct tape to understand
how whales withstand these incredible temperatures.
Step one, find yourself that vegetable shortening and put
it inside of a Ziploc bag.
So you're going to try to get it down inside this little
Ziploc bag.
You've just got to try to keep it away from the little top
here so that it doesn't get real greasy at the top.
You're going to want to put three or four really good
scoops in the Ziploc bag.
See, all this vegetable shortening is going to
simulate the blubber.

Now you take the second bag.
This is the bag that your hand will go in and stay clean.
And this now goes into the first bag with all of that
vegetable shortening.
Flatten it out.
Push it down.
And now you have the start of a blubber bag.
Once you have all of that shortening spread out, then
you're going to want to take the top bag here and actually
fold it inside out, trapping all of the shortening inside.
And now, to make sure that nothing comes out you take
some duct tape and you seal it up.
You got a blubber bag.
Take a look at this.
You see, all of the shortening is trapped between the two
layers here of plastic bag, allowing you to put your hand
inside and feel it, yet it doesn't get dirty.
Remember the challenge at the very beginning-- how long can
you keep your hand in?
Well, just stick your hand in the blubber glove and now
plunge it down inside, you can stay there forever.
It really is very, very warm down inside.
See, that the layer of fat really is a great insulator,
keeping the heat in and the cold out.
You can stay here for the longest time.
If you've ever heard the term "barrel of oil," it actually
came from the whaling industry.
See, whaling was huge and whale oil was a big deal.
In the early 1800s, they were a little concerned about what
would happen because the supply of whales kept on
diminishing until about 1865.
Whales were nearly extinct and we had to move to petroleum.
Now that you know how these creatures can withstand these
incredible temperatures, just imagine seeing them up close.
Well, that's what happened with a hundred science
enthusiasts as they joined us for Science at Sea.
See, using a blubber glove, I could have my hand in this
water forever.