Since childhood, I have been haunted by the question: what if suddenly, for one second, the temperature drops to minus 100*С? Will my body feel it? Will it affect the environment? Maybe it will somehow affect the equipment, or factories?

And if not minus 100С, but min us 200С? Not for a second, but for two?

Thank you for your answer, unfortunately I didn't make myself clear right away. What will happen if the temperature drops to minus 200 Celsius for a second or two or five on the whole Earth?

  • $\begingroup$ -100 Celsius or -100 American? (I don't know how to spell far en height). $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2022 at 5:20
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ From our help center: avoid questions where you asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?” $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Dec 1, 2022 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ On the whole Earth? That violates the help center's book rule about reasonably scoped questions. Every insect, every creature-accessible spot on Earth. The entirety of the atmosphere. Every building. Every pipe. Every pencil. Worse, "a second, or two or five" is at least three questions. Asking more than one question is a reason to close posts. Finally, this is a borderline question at best, from the help center we learn that we answer worldbuilding questions, not storybuilding questions. This one is, IMO, too close to storybuilding. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Dec 1, 2022 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Also, what exactly do you mean by "the temperature"? Temperature is not something that just exists on its own, it is a property of matter, so you need to specify which matter is at that temperature (and which things aren't). Is it the air temperature? Everyone's body temperature? The temperature of the core of the earth? etc. All of these will result in very different effects. $\endgroup$
    – Foogod
    Dec 1, 2022 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


I don't know if you are measuring in C or F. A back of napkin calculation tells me that -200 F is about -128 C, so I'll focus on about this range.

You won't find those temperatures naturally anywhere on Earth unless you go to very high altitudes. Even so, I know of one case of a guy who stuck outside a commercial airplane at 23,000 feet up in the air (British Airways Flight 5390, if you're curious), and the temperature he was exposed to was around -20 C (-4 F). So to get to an altitude where your temperature would match what's in the question, the vacuum would probably a greater hazard than the cold.

So how do we get -100C? Use some liquefied gas such as helium or nitrogen (they actually liquefy at much lower temperatures). Some piping and ingenuity will get you any temperature you desire between -196 C (~320 F) and room temp.

Seeing as people are stupid and suicidal, there are people who ingest really cold stuff. I myself have indulged in ice cream that came out of a bucket of liquid nitrogen (had to wait before I could eat it, mind you, but still thought my teeth were going to shatter). This was in a restaurant.

However stupid I may be, there is always plenty of people to one up me. On the other side of the Atlantic a girl drank actual liquid nitrogen at a bar, which led to her stomach being messed up. Which might actually answer your question - while her stomach had to have been removed, apparently her tongue, teeth, cheeks and throat are alright - as there is no mention of damage to them at in this article or any other sources in the internet. The drink should spent just a handful of seconds in her mouth, and didn't cause discomfort enough to keep her from swallowing. Cold smoke even came back up (not as cold as it was when getting in, I figure) and her mouth and nose seemed to be fine.

So one second at those temperatures should cause some discomfort, but not enough to cause harm.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ From our help center: answer only well asked questions $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Dec 1, 2022 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Q: what happens to content like this answer, on the long term ? I upvoted it, nice read.. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 2, 2022 at 13:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not that I recommend it, but you can dunk your hand quickly into a pail of liquid nitrogen. It quickly forms a gas around your hand, limiting heat transfer. So a second or so does nothing too bad… $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 2, 2022 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster that's a real daredevil thing to do though, and there are ways you can mess this up and end up losing your hand. I'd recommend you not try this at home, but then again if you happen to have liquid nitrogen at home you either live in a lab or are running for a Darwin Award. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2022 at 17:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .