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Thread: Why 37?

  1. #1 Why 37? 
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    Why should our temperature be 37 degrees celcious? I would presume that it is because it is the optimum temperature for reactions in our body (probably wrong) but why?

    I know this question is quite basic for all the people on here but I would really like to know


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  3. #2  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    I don't think it is a basic question, I'm not aware of there being a simple, easy answer to this (but I'm not a biologist). It's probably a trade off between optimum temperature for enzyme reactions (as you say) balanced against the food intake required to maintain the temperature.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    I don't think it is a basic question, I'm not aware of there being a simple, easy answer to this (but I'm not a biologist). It's probably a trade off between optimum temperature for enzyme reactions (as you say) balanced against the food intake required to maintain the temperature.
    I agree it's rather an intriguing question. I thought this, about preventing fungal infection, was interesting: Warm-blooded - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    though not necessarily persuasive.
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  5. #4  
    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    It's probably a trade off between optimum temperature for enzyme reactions (as you say) balanced against the food intake required to maintain the temperature.

    There might also be a connection with the optimum growth temperature of the several bacterial strains in our body.

    Quote Originally Posted by biochem:)
    I know this question is quite basic for all the people on here but I would really like to know

    Honestly, it is not a straightforward question and I could not find answers in scientific textbooks.
    A dive into the medical literature might be required to solve this question.

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    I thought this, about preventing fungal infection, was interesting: Warm-blooded - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    though not necessarily persuasive.

    Too bad that the New Scientist article can only be accessed by those who have a subscription.
    I wonder what evidence they had for that idea.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  6. #5  
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    I also wonder why different animals have different temperatures.
    Why would birds, apparently descended from dinosaurs, have the highest average body temperatures and elephants with their huge mass the lowest body temperatures.

    This paper by Arturo Casadevall might help
    Casadevall A. “Fungi and the rise of mammals.” It is available as a free download at http://www.einstein.yu.edu/labs/arturo-casadevall/page.aspx?id=39552 and is number 7 on the list of papers.

    He suggests it prevents fungus infection.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    I also wonder why different animals have different temperatures.
    Why would birds, apparently descended from dinosaurs, have the highest average body temperatures and elephants with their huge mass the lowest body temperatures.

    This paper by Arturo Casadevall might help
    Casadevall A. “Fungi and the rise of mammals.” It is available as a free download at http://www.einstein.yu.edu/labs/arturo-casadevall/page.aspx?id=39552 and is number 7 on the list of papers.

    He suggests it prevents fungus infection.
    I will read that article asap and that is a really interesting you asked. I look forward to finding out the answer
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  8. #7  
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    Null hypothesis: an historical accident of no relevance.

    It can be dangerous to look at consequences of 37 degrees and conclude that those are the reasons why body core temperature is 37 degrees.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Null hypothesis: an historical accident of no relevance.

    It can be dangerous to look at consequences of 37 degrees and conclude that those are the reasons why body core temperature is 37 degrees.
    Fair enough. However I can quite see why birds might benefit from higher temperature, because of the very high energy expenditure required for flight. A higher temperature will accelerate rates of reaction and lead to higher metabolic rate, won't it?
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  10. #9  
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    A simple answer like that would be nice, but nature often refuses to play along.

    Birds are a diverse group inhabiting all corners and climes the globe offers. Humming birds consume energy at a furious rate, yet other birds lazily ride updrafts and thermals barely using any resources at all. Birds sitting at rest have higher temperatures than mammals at rest. Average body temperatures of birds as well as being typically higher than those of mammals and are also a lot more variable. Perhaps hight body temps in birds is something to with body size and rates of heat loss rather than energy requirements of flight? Or metabolic rates in general, for other (likely numerous) reasons not really connected to flight? Not sure.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    A simple answer like that would be nice, but nature often refuses to play along.

    Birds are a diverse group inhabiting all corners and climes the globe offers. Humming birds consume energy at a furious rate, yet other birds lazily ride updrafts and thermals barely using any resources at all. Birds sitting at rest have higher temperatures than mammals at rest. Average body temperatures of birds as well as being typically higher than those of mammals and are also a lot more variable. Perhaps hight body temps in birds is something to with body size and rates of heat loss rather than energy requirements of flight? Or metabolic rates in general, for other (likely numerous) reasons not really connected to flight? Not sure.
    Yes, a fair point, I suppose. Though I can't help feeling that from an evolutionary viewpoint, higher metabolic rate would have been helpful to birds in developing the attributes needed for flight. The fact that some of them no longer need a high metabolic rate might not necessarily cause their body temperature to drop.

    Any idea what the body temperature of bats is, compared to mice? That would be interesting to know.
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  12. #11  
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    Average Body Temperatures
    Animal Fahrenheit Centigrade
    Elephants 97.7 36.5
    Humans 98.6 37.0
    Whales 98.6 37.0
    Bat 98.6 37.0
    Horse 100.4 38.0
    Seal 100.4 38.0
    Baboon 100.6 38.1
    Rabbits 101.0 38.3
    Cows 101.5 38.6
    Dogs 102.0 38.9
    Cats 102.2 39.0
    Goats 103.4 39.7
    Mice 37.2

    37 could be the result of our energy conservation, plus the choice of our mitochondrian. It would add up to most of the list.
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    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  13. #12  
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    Speculation: there are a handful of metabolic reactions, unique to certain clades, having differing optimum performance temperatures, that constrain the preferred temperature range. One suspects these would most likely relate to reactions within muscles. If correct we should find genera with the same core temperature also have the same family of primary reactants and intermediate metabolites.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Average Body Temperatures
    Animal Fahrenheit Centigrade
    Elephants 97.7 36.5
    Humans 98.6 37.0
    Whales 98.6 37.0
    Bat 98.6 37.0
    Horse 100.4 38.0
    Seal 100.4 38.0
    Baboon 100.6 38.1
    Rabbits 101.0 38.3
    Cows 101.5 38.6
    Dogs 102.0 38.9
    Cats 102.2 39.0
    Goats 103.4 39.7
    Mice 37.2


    37 could be the result of our energy conservation, plus the choice of our mitochondrian. It would add up to most of the list.
    Well, that certainly knocks on the head my hypothesis that creatures expending a lot of energy would have higher temperatures. Cows higher than bats puts the tin hat on it.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post

    Well, that certainly knocks on the head my hypothesis that creatures expending a lot of energy would have higher temperatures. Cows higher than bats puts the tin hat on it.
    Cows have to ferment their food to get nourishment out of it and bats don't. Maybe the digestion process matters here.
    I know turtles need a place to get warm or their digestion slows down too much and they get sick. That is why you must provide a basking station with a heating pad or lamp to aquarium turtles and often see wild turtles sunning on logs.

    When I thought of it I realized most reptiles sun themselves. and out of curiosity I went here Reptile - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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  16. #15  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Er, and why do humans have variations of average body temperature?
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by shlunka View Post
    Er, and why do humans have variations of average body temperature?
    Could be just natural variation, couldn't it? I find it amazing that the variation is so small.
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  18. #17  
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    I first thought it were the number of mitochondria and the total metabolism of a body. However, men have a much higher metabolism than women, but have the same temperature. So it's fixed, not something that just happens.

    So the answer is in our own DNA.. Must be the optimum functioning, survival of protens.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  19. #18  
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    Thanks for all the replies. This is all really interesting. I'm sorry I didn't post sooner but I am in the midst of my mocks for my first state examination...
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  20. #19  
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    I took this from the web, but it is basically what I wanted to say :

    Let's say we only talk about the resting temperature.

    I clearly remember from the time I grew up in the Former Soviet Union
    that 36.6 C was considered to be the normal underarm temperature. And
    37 C underarm temperature was considered to be a threshold for a
    disease (like flu/cold/inflammation). Measurement was quit precise,
    with an error of 0.1 C, and 36.9 C won't get you off from school
    but 37 C would. This "standard" was also very consistent with
    observations. When I was healthy temperature was always below 37 C.
    When I got a flu -- almost for sure 37 C or higher.

    Now in US 37 C is normally cited as a "normal" temperature.

    So is this because they talk about intraoral or intraanal temperature?
    Or is this a result of some kind of rounding or conversion error? Or
    are there many ways to convert C to F?
    I, too, am quite annoyed that a rounded temperature is being taught as fact nowadays.
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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  21. #20  
    precious sir ir r aj's Avatar
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    maybe its the temperature on which our specific soul remains alive for long time.


    (I am joking, dont take it as a scientific reply)
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