2877: Fever

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Hypothermia of below 98.6 K should be treated by leaving the giant molecular cloud and moving to the vicinity of a star.
Title text: Hypothermia of below 98.6 K should be treated by leaving the giant molecular cloud and moving to the vicinity of a star.


This comic mimics charts on fever temperatures and actions that are indicated as a result. However, rather than dividing the normal body temperature range of a febrile (fever-having) patient into subtle grades, it quickly progresses beyond these to specify treatment for increasingly high temperature ranges, culminating with the most extreme temperature range ever achieved in the universe.

After the first two entries in the table, the rest refer to temperatures caused by the surrounding environment, rather than by conditions internal to the body (or the vapor/plasma cloud you would turn into if you reach this temperature...). Hence the 'treatments' consist of removing yourself from those environments.

Randall uses the SI related unit Celsius for all entries in the table, giving the temperature in Fahrenheit only for the first entry in the table about a normal fever temperature range.

The title text uses the real SI unit Kelvin, and suggests that those with temperatures under 98.6 Kelvin (-173.55 Celsius or -280.39 Fahrenheit) are in a molecular cloud and that they should get near a star to warm them up. 98.6 Fahrenheit (=37°C) is the average human resting body temperature, explaining why Randall chose this number, but 98.6 Kelvin is a good deal colder than this, and a temperature at which it would be very hard for a human to survive. By way of comparison, the normal boiling point of liquid oxygen is 90.19 K (−182.96 °C; −297.33 °F).

Taking an everyday situation to its logical extreme is a common humor trope, often used by xkcd.

Table of fever temperatures

Treating a Fever
Fever Temperature in Celsius (Fahrenheit) Treatment Additional notes
38-40 (100-104) Fluids, rest, normal doctor stuff Normal fever temperatures.

"Normal doctor stuff" refers to routine medical consultation at an outpatient clinic or through telemedicine.

40-45 (104-113) Hospital, advanced doctor stuff A severe fever level at which humans might start experiencing brain damage from fever.

"Advanced doctor stuff" refers to hospital care, likely in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

45-100 (113-212) Exit that steam cloud immediately A temperature range that is uncomfortable and injurious. (Imagine keeping your hand right above the spout of a steaming kettle.) For the rest of the table, the prescribed treatments presume that the fever temperature is due to one's environment.

Note that this range maximum is 100 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which water boils. After this point, the water in the body would soon boil, causing quick and painful death.

100-400 (212-750) Stop, drop, and roll The subject is probably on fire. Stop, drop, and roll is a recommended method for putting out flames on your clothing.
400-500 (750-930) Return to Earth from Venus ASAP 464°C (867°F) is Venusian atmosphere temperature.
500-1,500 (930-2,700) Please climb out of that volcano Magma is about 700°C (1,290°F). Therefore, if someone is at that temperature, they are probably in lava/magma.
1,500-5,000 (2,700-9,000) Turn your tunneling machine around and come back up to the surface 4,400-6,000°C (7,950-10,830°F) is the estimated core temperature of the Earth. Another reference to the 2003 movie The Core, at least the 6th comic to do so.
5,000-6,000 (9,000-10,800) No, the surface of the Earth, not the Sun 5,500°C (9,930°F) is the approximate temperature of the surface of the Sun. The Sun's photosphere has a temperature between 4,400 and 6,600 K (4,130 and 6,330 °C) (with an effective temperature of 5,772 K (5,499 °C)).
6,000-50,000 (10,800-90,000) Wait, that's not the Sun. What star are you visiting? Come back right now. Surface temperatures of main-sequence stars larger than the Sun can go up to 50,000 (Kelvin and degrees Celsius are indistinguishable at this point). Though some stars can be even hotter.
50,000-20,000,000 (90,000-36,000,000) At least stay on the surface of the star instead of diving down to the core Core temperatures of main-sequence stars like the Sun are usually around ten million kelvins, while larger and hotter stars can reach up to a hundred million.
20,000,000-10,000,000,000 (36,000,000-18,000,000,000) You know, you could've picked a normal star instead of one that's exploding Supernovae can reach temperatures of billions of degrees for brief periods, with type II supernovae even reaching hundreds of billions of degrees. This is the first of two comics in a row that mentions exploding stars, with 2878: Supernova the next comic. That comic is like this comic also a Charts comic.
10,000,000,000 or higher
(18,000,000,000 or higher)
I hope you're enjoying your visit to the Big Bang but you should really come back home immediately 1032 °C (or K), the highest physically meaningful temperature, is the estimated temperature at the Planck epoch (10-43 s) after the Big Bang


[A table is shown with two columns with twelve rows. The columns are labeled and there is a heading above table:]
Treating a Fever
[Column labels]:
38°C-40°C (100°F-104°F)
Fluids, rest, normal doctor stuff
Hospital, advanced doctor stuff
Exit that steam cloud immediately
Stop, drop, and roll
Return to Earth from Venus ASAP
Please climb out of that volcano
Turn your tunneling machine around and come back up to the surface
No, the surface of the Earth, not the Sun
Wait, that's not the Sun. What star are you visiting? Come back right now.
At least stay on the surface of the star instead of diving down to the core
You know, you could've picked a normal star instead of one that's exploding
10,000,000,000°C or higher
I hope you're enjoying your visit to the Big Bang but you should really come back home immediately

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I was feeling a bit cold, actually, but now I'm back down to around 94.5 °De... 22:11, 5 January 2024 (UTC)

I edited this wiki for the first time :) Well, it was just the transcript but a first time is still a first time DNA diva (talk) 22:33, 5 January 2024 (UTC)

Welcome on board (I have the most edits ;-) --Kynde (talk) 10:01, 6 January 2024 (UTC)
The only complaint I have about the Transcript is that... it isn't really a Transcript if it has a table rather than explaining how it has a table. We can, and do, essentially have a tabular table in the Explanation. The Transcript really should be there so that text-searches or screen-readers that aren't advanced enough to understand the formatted layout get a 'free text' description to look at.
I know other Transcripts use html/mediawiki tables, perhaps where you got the idea. But they shouldn't. Check out those that "do a table without the markup". For some, it's simple, for others it's not as simple (or it's very simple but almost takes more effort to descripe in Transcript prose than in the wikimarkup version). And there are others with formatting issues creeping into the Transcript that I might take against how it was done (Transcripts that actually reproduce text effects (boldness, colour, justification, size) should also ":[describe the text effect]" too, but that one introduces bold title (actually a "definition list" markup, which sort of increases context of the content).
...sorry, long message. I absolutely love that we're getting new editors. I think you can probably "detabularise the table" easy enough, though, without having wasted too much effort (you seem like got the actual table-markup right enough that you didn't have to think too much, so I count most of your 'effort' being the actual transcription of the comic text - and that's exactly what a re-Transcription effort would straight up preserve as most important!). Just thought I'd opine that in order to adhere to practices here (long standing; long enough to have gained a few long-standing 'wrong ways to do it', as in the ones I note above!) you might like to consider tweaking it accordingly.
Or I could do it, but that might be plain rude. (Ruder?)
Leaving it open to your choice (or the huge argument between descriptivists and formattists!)... 01:05, 6 January 2024 (UTC)
Thank you so much for the feedback! I reformatted the transcript DNA diva (talk) 03:09, 6 January 2024 (UTC)
I disagree that tables cannot be used in the transcript or that formaling cannot be used. As long as the text is written correctly you search for it! We have used formaling in the transcript all the time. And yes we do not describe where the text is bold or italic. But use formatting. But the description of the image or the format of the table is important for those who need it to understand the comic! --Kynde (talk) 10:10, 6 January 2024 (UTC)

Another reference to the 2003 movie The Core. We should add a category. -- 00:03, 6 January 2024 (UTC)

Actually we should! --Kynde (talk) 10:01, 6 January 2024 (UTC)
And now we have it: Category:The Core! --Kynde (talk) 10:30, 6 January 2024 (UTC)

45°C–100°C: Only a few people could survive such external temperatures, for extended periods, ... Wow, I am glad that I survived the 65°C at Filsen in summer 2019. Although temperatures dropped below 40°C at night, not everyone survived it. :( —Actually I was thinking about Saunas, they reach 80°C, but are used much shorter than I always thought (15 minutes, thank you Wikipedia). -- 00:36, 6 January 2024 (UTC)

I contributed the above. I did originally have it much longer than "for extended periods", but cut it back to just that. Really, once you get above an ambient temperature of 42.somethingDegreesC (that covers most of the operational ranges that the usual references give), you're getting parboiled. At best. Sweating just doesn't help enough to keep most bodies cool in an environment that hot. (If the body is doing it to itself, then you've got something bad going on. Or you've decided to make your body 'burn hotter', artificially...)
I'm open to it being reworded (how could I not be?), but I cut it back from a "loadsa-links" version to the rather short and snappy (and linkless, I now realise!) assertion you see before you. I'm sure you (plural-you!) will run with whatever you (ditto) think best. I was actually originally just going to mark the point at which the rather short list of core-body temperature ranges was being subtly(?) changed into environmental temperature ranges, anyway. (i.e., somewhere within the 45-100 range, you definitely stop being the former and (apart from some rather (un)fortunate survivors of fires/atom-bomb-blasts) pivot very much into being the latter). 01:05, 6 January 2024 (UTC)

My view is that the "Fahrenheit" equivalent column should be deleted; it's more unhelpful than helpful, and thus gets in the way. Getting rid of it would clean up the table to focus more on the actual explanation. No one is being helped by translating large Celsius temperatures into Fahrenheit equivelants. But before doing, I'd like to see if there's strong disagreement. Laser813 (talk) 02:50, 6 January 2024 (UTC)

I see no problem in it being there. It is a US page and a US based comic. That Randall is all for SI units doesn't mean we should not include the scale in US temperature range even if it is one of the most stupid of the units they cling on to. I'm from Denmark where we use SI units (Celsius is just a Kelvin scale plus 273,15 degrees). So I would say no to removing it. Also Randall includes it in the first entry! --Kynde (talk) 10:01, 6 January 2024 (UTC)
Just looking at how Fahrenheit was defined and redefined (changing the value in process) makes obvious how stupid unit it is. I really don't understand why anyone is using it. Compared to it, foot makes much more sense. -- Hkmaly (talk) 17:58, 7 January 2024 (UTC)

At our current technological level, the conversations in a few of the treatments are impossible. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 01:52, 8 January 2024 (UTC)

I think 37 Celsius is a round number for MAXIMUM normal core temperature - you're probably lower just now - and 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is a precise conversion of an imprecise figure. It's worth knowing your personal normal temperature - across the menstrual cycle, if that applies to you - to be able to say that you have a fever significantly above your personal norm. Your norm probably is lower than 37 / 98.6. Also, these days, you're likely to aim an electronic thermometer onto or into a body part which is naturally cooler, and only estimate the temperature of your insides. However, this is not what Planned Parenthood recommends, and that's between you and them. Robert Carnegie [email protected] 12:54, 6 January 2024 (UTC)

Per wikipedia, a study in the 19th century pegged the mean (without mentioning the variance) at 36.88 C / 98.38 F, which are equally precise. That got commonly reported as 37 C / 98.4 F, which loses more precision on the Celsius value than on the Fahrenheit value, but those are both reasonable ways to round the values in and of themselves. Then apparently someone noticed that precisely 37 C converts to precisely 98.6 F, and started reporting 37 C / 98.6 F. So, yes, the Fahrenheit value is overly precise. (But the typical range now is reported as 36.5–37.5 C / 97.7–99.5 F, and given that body temperature is generally higher when we're awake, it seems likely that "you're probably *higher* just now." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_body_temperature#Historical_understanding 22:33, 8 January 2024 (UTC)