Monday, 10 February 2014

New Research Reveals How Polar Bears Stay Warm

Cat Ferguson, ISNS Contributor | February 07, 2014 06:48pm ET

(ISNS) -- A polar bear’s pelt seems simple. The white color serves as camouflage, and the dense fur acts as a fuzzy blanket, keeping the cold out and the warm in.

But how the coat insulates is surprisingly complex - and the subject of some debate. One suggestion, thoroughly debunked, posited that each hair served as a tiny heat pipeline, funneling the sun’s rays down to the skin like a fiber-optic cable. Scientists widely accept that warm coats (and fiberglass insulation) protect against the elements by trapping warm pockets of air in tiny pores. Now, it seems the pelt might have another way to insulate. Body heat that radiates from the bears’ skin as infrared light – the waves of warmth that night-vision goggles pick up –bounces around inside the coat, according to a paper in last month’s Optics Express.

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