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How an igloo keeps you warm

For thousands of years,

humans, and plants and animals long before that,

have been using frozen “sky water” to keep warm.

Which sort of doesn’t make sense.

to make sense - иметь смысл

Because snow is cool.

You might even say it’s… ice cold.


No one knows for sure who built the first igloo,

but with the right fit and the right physics,

fit - форма (подходящая по размерам и форме)

snow can actually warm you better than the inside of a tauntaun.

You'll be ok, Luke!

So, how can something cold keep you cozy?

cozy - уютный, удобный

The vast, frozen Arctic is one of the most forbidding environments on our planet,

vast - огромный, обширный
forbidding - запрещающий, неприступный; непривлекательный, отталкивающий (to forbid - запрещать)

yet, the Inuit have managed to live there for about 5,000 years.

Out on the pack ice, winter temperatures reach 50 degrees below zero,

and when it’s that cold, surviving means finding shelter.

shelter - убежище, приют

It’s not an area known for its forests,

so nomadic hunters learned to build with the only thing available:

nomadic - кочевой, кочующий


Eskimo languages really do

have dozens and dozens of different words for snow,

dozen - дюжина (набор из 12)

because there are a lot of different types,

and the type of snow you choose

can dictate whether your igloo keeps you warm,

to dictate - диктовать, продиктовать, предписывать

or turns you into a Homo sapiensicle.

to turn - превращать (ос. знач. - поворачивать)

To understand this,

we need to know a little something about being cold.

When your body temperature starts to plummet

to plummet - стремительно падать

– you’re feeling heat leave you.

heat - тепло, жар

Cold can’t move into your body –

in fact, there is no such thing as cold.

Where have I heard that before?

Oh, right!

Think of heat as an actual quantity of stuff:

quantity - количество

The more you give away, the colder you feel.

And this trading of heat can happen three different ways:

trading - торговля

by convection, conduction, and radiation.

All three are at play in an igloo.

A person inside will radiate body heat,

to radiate - излучать

which moves around the igloo by convection,

convection - конвекция

and is lost through the walls by conduction.

conduction - проводимость

This is exactly what happens in your house.

Living insulation does the same thing.

insulation - изоляция, изоляция в жилых домах

Fatty tissues like blubber

fatty - жировой, жирный (fat - жир)
tissue - ткань
blubber - ворвань (жидкий жир, добываемый из сала морских млекопитающих)

help stop heat transfer in whales and seals,

whale - кит
seal - тюлень

but for animals who don’t have as much junk in the trunk,

junk - мусор, барахло
trunk - чемодан, сундук, багажник

they cover themselves in air.

Sea otter fur, for example,

otter - выдра

is about a thousand times denser than human hair.

dense - плотный, густой

It’s snuggly stuff

snuggly - уютный (схоже с cozy) (to snuggle - помещать себя в удобную и уютную позу, например на диване)

This is the softest thing I've ever felt in my life.

You are adorable!

but the secret to its insulation power is in its texture.

texture - текстура, фактура

Otter fur is spiky, so it traps insulating air molecules.

fur - мех
spiky - остроконечный, колючий, заостренный
to trap - улавливать (так же можно сказать о ловушках)

And that is exactly what snowflakes do.

snowflake - снежинка

Powdery, fresh snow can be up to 95% trapped air.

powdery - порошкоообразный, пудровый (powder - порошок, пудра)

This makes it an excellent insulator,

but the same way you have to pack it in your hands to make a snowball,

snowball - снежный ком

it isn’t dense enough to build with.

Solid ice, on the other hand,

solid - твердый, сплошной, прочный, солидный, цельный

makes a good windbreaker, but it’s too heavy to lift.

windbreaker - ветровка (то что защищает от ветра)

Inuit hunters took the Goldilocks approach:

the secret to good igloo snow is somewhere in the middle.

Traditional igloo blocks aren’t molded,

to mold - формировать, лепить

they’re cut out of the ground.

That tightly-packed ground snow is dense enough to hold up,

but because it still has far more air pockets than a block of ice,

it’s light, and still a pretty good insulator.

As usual, animals figured this one out long before humans.

Polar bears, groundhogs, even birds like grouse

groundhog - сурок

all make snow burrows to stay warm.

burrow - нора, норка

Even before that,

plants were tucking into snow to avoid death by freezing.

to tuck - заправлять, засовывать, подгибать

During the warm months,

heat energy from the sun builds up in soil,

it's just like the the roof above your head,

a deep covering of snow prevents that heat from escaping

onward and upward.

onward - вперед, далее
upward - вверх, выше, кверху

This snowy blanket above stops

blanket - одеяло

ice crystals forming inside plant roots, and shoots, and seeds.

Not freezing to death is a pretty good motivator for any animal to get crafty,

but our big primate brains took it one step further with igloos.

Their engineering maximizes warmth and stability.

warmth - тепло, теплота

Cartoon igloos look like flat-bottomed half-spheres,

but in reality, they’re neither of those things!

If you were to slice a real igloo in half,

to slice - нарезать, делить на части

you’d see a shape called a catenary.

This gradually sloping shape is the same one that would form

gradually - постепенно, понемногу
sloping - наклонный, пологий, покатый

if you held a chain from both ends and let it droop.

A catenary arch distributes weight

to distribute - распостронять, распределять

more evenly than a half circle, without bulging or buckling.

to bulge - выпирать, деформироваться
to buckle - пристегивать, сгибаться, застегивать пряжку

In fact it’s one of the most stable arches in nature,

arch - арка

so sound that we still use it today.

Inside, snow houses are carved in different levels.

to carve - вырезать, высекать

The hot air rises, and the cold air sinks down into the lower part,

away from where you would eat, sleep, and chill.

To boot, body heat melts the innermost layer of the walls,

innermost - сокровенный, глубочайший
to boot - в придачу (boot - ботинок)

strengthening the barrier between you,

to strengthen - усилять, укреплять

your airy snow-block insulation,

and the frigid great beyond.

frigid - холодный, фригидный, безразличный

When you live in an igloo, you act as a living furnace.

furnace - печь, топка

Over time, the temperature in your icy abode

can hover some 40-60 degrees

above the surrounding air,

to surround - окружать

but bring a friend to your igloo party,

and you’ll get warmer, faster.

Stay cozy, and stay curious!

Hey, you remember that thing I said about eskimos having all those different words for snow?

Well our friends from Idea Channel made a video about that.

Here's an idea, you should go check it out.

It's pretty cool.