Monday, December 19, 2011

Flannel Sheets and Google

Every night when I slip into bed the same thought runs through my mind: I am so glad I bought these flannel sheets! They aren't fancy or expensive (I think I bought them on clearance at Target several years ago for a ridiculously low price like $10.) But they sure are warm. It's the coziest feeling in the world. I hate the feeling of getting into bed on a cold winter night if the sheets are regular cotton because they feel like ice for about 10 minutes until your body heat finally warms them up. This got Cody and me discussing why in the world flannel sheets feel so much warmer than cotton sheets. I mean, the sheets are the same temperature.

This led to what is quickly becoming a pattern in our house...a joint google search. It seems like Cody and I are always raising strange questions (usually in the evening after the kids have gone to bed and we're hanging out talking) which we then try to look up on google to satisfy our curiosity.

We've looked up the definition of fruits and vegetables and discovered that almost all the vegetables we eat are really fruits. We have looked up whether or not people can make cheese out of human milk. (The answer is yes, and it has been done with mixed reviews...) We look up famous people we happen to think about...incidentally, Jonathan Taylor Thomas has graduated from college, from Columbia to be exact. I knew he was way old enough to have graduated from college but Cody was unsure. I won that bet.

Some things are simple to look up, but other things are nearly impossible. It's hard sometimes to figure out the right phrase to type into google in order to find the information needed. Typing in "why are flannel sheets warmer than cotton?" revealed nothing. I had a similar problem last night as I tried to figure out why the planes that hit the twin towers did not go completely through the towers. I got to thinking that a huge heavy plane traveling hundreds of miles per hour would come out the other side of a building as thin as those towers. I want to read something that explains why it would become lodged inside without exiting. But I could not figure out a phrase to type into google that would bring up anything even remotely like this.

It's amazing to have this kind of information at our fingertips any time we raise some kind of random question. We usually don't even have to get up. We just grab the ipad that is sitting somewhere near one of us and start searching. Even the times that I am not able to find the answer (which is rare) I'm sure to find something else just as interesting.


Roger Cook said...

Incidentally, flannel sheets are warmer because they trap more air than percale sheets do. The percale sheets put you in direct contact with the other bedclothes, and so to warm up the sheets, you have to warm up what's beneath them as well. The fluffiness of the flannel sheets traps a lot more air and puts more material between you and the other bedclothes, so you only have to warm up the sheet before you start feeling toasty.

The reason the planes didn't go all the way through the WTC towers is multifold. Have Cody correct me if I'm wrong (he's the structural engineer).

1. The buildings were built with thin skins, so they penetrated easily, but the core of the building is reinforced concrete and extremely strong.

2. Planes are fragile. When they started hitting the buildings, the planes were probably deforming more than the buildings. The wings would have sheared off, and if you remember, one of the engines did make it all the way through. You can think of the airplane as a coke can with wings.

Anonymous said...

I believe you are asking all the right questions.
Flannel sheets trap more air. Okay. Then why are they warmer when you initially touch them after they have sat folded in your closet for months? If they are trapping the ambient air, why do they selectively trap more hot air than cold? I don't have the answer, but I can tell you you're asking the right questions.
A coke can with wings will crumple against a steal structure. It won't even make it inside. Isn't it funny how one plane can pierce all the rings of the hardened pentagon, yet another will stop after piercing only one wall of the WTC? Doesn't quite add up, does it?
I would postulate that there are reasons you can't find answers to these questions. Good luck!