What would happen if you tried to toast a piece of bread inside a freezer?
Which appliance would win – would the toaster be able to toast the bread despite the below freezing temperatures, or would the freezer be able to keep the toast from ever heating up?
I have to admit it wasn’t me who came up with this hypothetical question (I wish it was, since it’s an interesting question), but I found it on the what if web site.
The web site is based on the book What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, and it seems to live up to its title.
Here are some examples of other questions which it has explored:
- What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?
- What if everyone who took the SAT guessed on every multiple-choice question? How many perfect scores would there be?
What would happen if everyone on earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?
Anyway, getting back to the toaster vs freezer showdown.
For those who can’t wait any longer, the toaster wins, and fairly easily.
As the site points out, we just can’t think of a toaster as something that gets hot, and of a freezer as something that gets cold.
Apparently toasters get a lot hotter than freezers get cold. Toasters reach temperatures of over 600°C, while a freezer might get as low as minus 15°C .
Of course the researchers do not recommend trying this experiment. One danger would be that as the toaster is left on, it would begin to melt the ice in the freezer. If this happens, you would have an electrical appliance sitting in a pile of water. Again, I don’t know much, but this sounds like a major problem just waiting to explode.
They do note that one could probably simply try this out in a cold spot, like northern Canada and see what happens.
Just like the outcome above, the toaster would win.
In addition to the knowledge gained about toasters and freezers, I also learned that a fire poses a serious threat to researchers in Antarctica. The place is dry, windy, and doesn’t have a lot of liquid water sitting around to douse a flame with. A perfect storm for a devastating fire.
So today counts as a good day. Not only did I learn a thing or two, but I potentially have a laundry list of blog ideas.
I look forward to checking out more of their hypotheticals, such as “What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single giant drop?”