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Endothermic Reactions

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Sweet Sweat

How does sweating help cool us down?

Credit: curran.kelleher
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10604632@N02/1392920069/sizes/m/in/photolist-3865Bg-3Bdypc-3FjzAo-42ryhN-4wf6Qb-4ztUdH-4DJxd1-4W6oe2-4ZeK9k-52k2uA-57ZTu1-57ZYhN-5aotKt-5aoubt-5aoump-5aouze-5aouFK-5asJAm-5asKrj-5asKzA-5asKYW-5m1c3P-5nSc9T-5nWrhW-5nWs11-5roqCn-5ubS37-5wa9jg-5FJxGX-5L8tBz-5L8vZe-5LWq9H-5LWqCk-5LWB7e-5R61Pb-5Wtvwo-647nVs-6oyaHy-6pJ9NG-6ytxbt-6HiMCY-6XUMUX-77X3Ls-7ey2rb-7mRXkd-7neDJx-f6MjVA-9g9CEo-98e3b1-akWnzU-9EYcFZ/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

[Figure1]

Unlike our cold-blooded, reptilian friends who need to go find a temperature that agrees with them, us warm-blooded primates can regulate our body temperature using sweat glands.  When our bodies overheat, we get sweaty, but the sweat evaporates using the heat from our bodies.  The key factor to how perspiration cools us down is the endothermic element of water evaporation.  Because water evaporation is an endothermic reaction, the sweat absorbs our heat energy in order to evaporate and cools us down.  However, the price we pay for these sweat glands is stinky body odor and possible dehydration.  

Creative Applications

  1. What kind of reaction (endothermic or exothermic) causes us to heat up and why?
  2. How do we know that water evaporation is an endothermic reaction?
  3. Why do we sweat when we are nervous?

Resources

http://prezi.com/vxic0dkzfpwv/exothermic-and-endothermic-reaction-in-the-human-body/

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