Bear Pastout                 snowy bear

Energy in Hibernation     Temperature in Hibernation     Hormones in Hibernation

What is Hibernation?

what is hibernation

Hibernation is a state of deep sleep that animals naturally go through which allows them to conserve energy and survive the elements when resources are scare.

There are different types of hibernation that vary as much as the animal kingdom, however the same concept applies to all types of hibernation in that heart rate decreases, body temperature decreases, and the body goes in a state of torpor during the winter months.

Click the above links for more detailed information about the biological processes that go into hibernation.

Applying Physics to Hibernation

real heat engine     heat engine

While I could create a quite a larger website on specifically the biology of hibernation, the point of the site is to explain some of the hibernation processes through the eyes of a Physicist.

One process that I compared hibernation to was that of a heat engine. Animals use it's stored fats and hibernating hormones to regulate and fuel the body which acts just like a hot reservoir of energy to use throughout through the process of being dormant for so long. They use this energy for WORK to maintain the body in the lowest state of activity while technically not being dead. I showcase my comparison in the two figures above. More information about energy and hormones is located above.

Another way I quantify hibernation is by graphing the various data found in research of hibernating animals. This includes changes in heart rate, breathing rate, and metabolic rate of an animal during hibernating months. This helps visualize the rate of extreme change each animals goes through and show comparisons between the different types of hibernation.

Lastly, one thing I wanted to theorize on regarding hibernation was the hypothetical activation energy required to "start-up" a sleeping animal after months. The activation energy can be graphed on Energy v.s Time, similar to any chemical reaction that shows the change in energy. To calculate this theoretical energy I will use one of the most common physical equations for kinetic energy; Energy = 0.5(mass)(velocity)^2. Translating this equation to an sleeping animal, mass is the average weight of the animal, making sense that a heavier animal will need more energy. Velocity is the change of heart rate (beats/min) required to restart the animals normal awake state. The larger the change needed to awake a cold animal, the more energy need to activate. 
                      kinetic energy

Hibernation for Different Animals

To fully understand how hibernation works, I will be examining different animals under their standard hibernation states. Each animal has there unique way they go through the long winter months that set them up for success.
    Each animal will have graphed information on it's biological changes that they go through hibernation. Because of different factors, the graphs will reflect the difference in each animal's body, and showcase the adaptability of each creature. 


poster bear
poster squirrel
poster bat
poster hedgehog
poster lizard