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Warming Pills

A gentle glow within
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Isabel shivered. The night was cold, and would last a full three months. Life in the Deep South was exciting, but so very, very cold. The survival gear helped immensely--she'd be dead without it--but so far nothing could help her shake the perpetual chill deep in her bones.

Tonight would be different. Isabel rechecked the equations for the fifth time, then turned her attention to a small silvery pellet on the table. A thick layer of sintered platinum encased the payload. Ingredients like this were hard to come by.

All the tests showed it was safe. The gas discharge tube was silent. Fluorescent dyes remained dark. Weeks of hydrochloric acid didn't touch the platinum. Power output remained constant. Even so, Isabel hesitated. The consequences of failure were all too severe.

She poured herself a glass of melted snow, dreaming of being warm for the first time in months. Isabel shivered again, and not from the cold this time. She steadied her resolve, grabbed the pill, and swallowed it.

She didn't feel much of anything, which was good. After an hour or so, Isabel realized she was no longer shivering. It was still chilly, but not the biting cold she had almost become used to. So far, so good. Isabel wasn't looking forward to swallowing the pill a second time, but the results were worth it.

Isabel debated whether or not to publish her test. The findings were significant, but there would be many questions about where the plutonium came from. But all this could wait. Right now, she was warm!

Aq_Bi, Dec 05 2018

General-purpose heat source https://en.wikipedi...purpose_heat_source
Mentioned in my anno [notexactly, Dec 07 2018]

Human Heat Reclamation Heat_20Exchanger_20...)arctic_20Explorers
[bs0u0155, Dec 07 2018]

[link]






       This sounds disturbingly like "The Little Match Girl". You may not like how it turned out in the end (Let's just say, never use your own product)
4and20, Dec 05 2018
  

       A radiothermal emitter capable of significantly augmentating a human's energy budget isn't going to fit in a // small pellet // form factor. The fissile implosion core of the Trinity gadget - a just-subcritical mass - was described as being "warm, like a live rabbit". Warm - not hot. And that was a sphere, with the best achievable volume/surface area ratio of any solid form.   

       Bad physics [-].
8th of 7, Dec 05 2018
  

       ...and even if you could swallow this amount, as [8th] points out, it is an amount which is nearly critical. I hope the packet has a warning about getting too intimate with someone else who has swallowed one of these pills.

Also, of course, not only "bad physics", but bad physiology too - even when you feel really cold, your core temperature is probably fine. The body will sacrifice skin temperature to protect internal organs - when this fails, you've got hypothermia.
hippo, Dec 05 2018
  

       Yes but, conversely, if there is a source of central heat the body will increase blood flow to the skin, so I suspect you would feel warmer.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 05 2018
  

       It would be technically possible to circulate a warmed, biologically-inert fluorocarbon fluid through the lower bowel.
8th of 7, Dec 05 2018
  

       And you know this how?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 05 2018
  

       The Intercalary's YouTube channel - where else ?
8th of 7, Dec 05 2018
  

       You shouldn't believe anything other members of my family tell you.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 05 2018
  

       The video is pretty convincing (unfortunately). We would actually prefer to be informed that it's fake.
8th of 7, Dec 05 2018
  

       // A radiothermal emitter capable of significantly augmentating a human's energy budget isn't going to fit in a // small pellet // form factor. //   

       Really? A single GPHS pellet [link] appears to be about 3 cm wide by 3 cm long and produces 62.5 W when new. IIRC (and I'm saying this here for the second time in as many days), the human body's idle power consumption is about 100 W.
notexactly, Dec 07 2018
  

       [8th of 7], I believe the confusion arises from the different isotopes of plutonium. Atomic weapon pits are made of Pu-239, which has a much longer half-life than the Pu-238 used in atomic heaters. This means Pu-238 decays faster, producing greater power for a shorter period of time.   

       It's not bad physiology, either. A few Watts of internal heat will greatly reduce the need to produce said heat from shivering. The same effect can be observed when drinking a cup of hot cocoa.
Aq_Bi, Dec 07 2018
  

       //the human body's idle power consumption is about 100 W//   

       //It's not bad physiology, either. A few Watts of internal heat will greatly reduce the need to produce said heat from shivering.//   

       Heat is generally a by-product of normal physiology. Most energy is used to generate then maintain a series of ion- gradients, Na+/K+/Ca2+/H+ that sort of thing. That 100W of idle is a by-product of keeping those gradients maintained, a bit like a float charger on a battery - we're in a high energy state while resting. Mammals maintain a high body temperature so when they feel like doing a bit of chemistry, like eating/growing/moving it's fast and consistent. Occasionally that requires deliberate heat generation for which there are many existing methods. Most studied are the uncoupling proteins that partially short-circuit mitochondria, and trade heat for efficiency. Some mitochondria, like those in people of northern latitudes, are naturally a bit leaky - heat is a free bonus but marathon times may suffer.   

       Shivering is deliberately dissipating ion gradients in muscles so that mitochondrial heat generation occurs while they work to re-establish those gradients, and is something of an emergency method. If you want to be warmer, then insulation, activity, and dinitrophenol are all more sensible than plutonium. Or maybe try a heat exchanger to reduce waste <link>.
bs0u0155, Dec 07 2018
  

       I can vouch for DNP - shirtsleeves in November, no problem.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 07 2018
  

       That's not the dnp, you were just in the tropical wing of the greenhouse.
bs0u0155, Dec 07 2018
  

       _The_ tropical wing? You make it sound like there's only one.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 07 2018
  

       //The_ tropical wing? You make it sound like there's only one.//   

       Mere discression. If I had accidentally established a breeding colony of saltwater crocodiles I'd be tempted to "forget" about the southern hemisphere collection until a suitable Australian could be blamed.
bs0u0155, Dec 07 2018
  

       Any Australian will do. After all, they're probably all guilty of something, and if not them personally, one of their ancestors.
8th of 7, Dec 07 2018
  

       //breeding colony of saltwater crocodiles//   

       *saltwater* you say? Damn. Well, that would explain why they kept swelling and bursting. On the plus side, if you can catch them just before they explode, you get twice as many handbags out of one of them.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 07 2018
  

       // Pu-239, which has a much longer half-life than the Pu-238 //   

       Yes, we know.   

       Rather than ingesting the nuclide, why not microencapsulate it and integrate it into clothing ? Everlasting self-heating motorcycle gloves would sell well.   

       But don't shake hands with anyone wearing the same thing ... Pu will go prompt critical (although not supercritical ) from intrinsic neutron flux alone.
8th of 7, Dec 07 2018
  
      
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