The thermodynamics of wet pants
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
An unusual piece of thermodynamics research is presented in a paper: Impact of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort in the cold. Academics recruited eight male volunteers who were willing to wear wet underwear in a climate-controlled space whilst having their skin and rectal temperatures monitored for an hour. Every ten minutes, the volunteers completed a questionnaire reporting how much they were shivering and sweating. The researchers, unsurprisingly, concluded that men with wet underwear felt colder and less comfortable than men with dry underwear. They report that the construction of underwear has an effect on the rate of evaporation and hence cooling and that the thickness of the underwear has a more significant effect on thermal comfort than the material it is made from.