Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Frog boiling

I heard the story in church meeting Sunday, in an argument about global warming. Put a frog into boiling water, and, so it goes, he will jump out immediately. Put a frog into cold water and gradually heat it to boiling. Supposedly the frog will sit complacent until he is boiled to death.

I've never tested this hypothesis, but I would guess that neither assertion would prove correct under all circumstances.

First of all, with any bucket of frogs I've ever observed, the critters are always jumping around trying to get out, any way they can, no matter what the temperature of the water.

Then, in the case of slow heating, I would suppose that any frog has some practical limit for thermal tolerance, no matter how gradually it is approached in the frog environment. Building up a sufficient level of discomfort would motivate the frog to seek to escape.

Likewise, it seems likely that dropping a frog into a deep bucket of full-boiling water could quite possibly overcome any reflexive action, if the frog body was completely immersed and sustained critical core temperatures faster than it could react.

Like so many stories of conventional wisdom, this one contains elements of truth that might be instructive, even though not strictly accurate.

I might also add that although I have no practical experience with
boiling frogs, I have subjected many crabs and lobsters to this
treatment. I can only attest that none of them ever escaped alive
from the boiling pot -- and the results were uniformly delectable,
with just a bit of garlic butter on the side.

1 comment:

Patricia Karamesines said...

Hahahahaha! Thanks, Jim. I needed a laugh!