Would You Like Some Ice for That Burn?

Alex Parry


This paper aims to determine how much energy would have to be imparted in one spoken sentence to inflict a third-degree burn on a nearby person. Using an average skin temperature of 33.2oC, the power of normal human speech as 1.25x10-5 W, and the understanding that it is necessary for 60oC water to be in contact with skin for 5s to cause a third-degree burn, it was calculated that 2.32x103 J would be needed to cause this damage to the recipient of the ‘burn’. This would mean 5.88 years of continuous normal speech or five seconds of speech at 172.7 dB.

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