I've always heard that a beard can keep you warmer during the winter months but how can you really know?! After all, if you start with a beard and then shave it off there might be some strange adaptation effect going on. And who knows the memory of cold might be completely inaccurate anyway. That's where Pete Hickey from Canada comes in (of course he lives in Canada).
I had only one choice. Shave half of my beard.
I shaved the right half of my beard. The result can be seen in the picture above. I then proceeded to perform my various outdoor activities.
I encountered several parameters I hadn't previously expected. One side of my face was heavier than the other. In my case, this posed no problem since I'm told that I'm too right brained, the excess weight on the other side balanced things out.
At higher speeds, I found increased wind resistance on the side of my face with a beard. This caused me to have to force the muscles in my neck on one side to counteract the force of the wind.
Is spite of the above inconveniences, I was able to conduct the experiment. I ran, cycled, and skied. Yes, it does feel warmer with a beard. Also more comfortable. The side without the beard felt colder.
Needless to say, I've only scratched the surface. Much work remains to be done in this area. Although I've determined that it felt warmer with a beard, no analytical tests were performed. I did not determine skin temperatures. It is quite possible that I had only thought I felt warmer. I suggest that a better test would be to shave half a person's beard off, but not tell them which half. This would give a fairer test of warmth.
It may also be that one side of my face is less sensitive than the other. I must repeat the experiment with the beard on the other side. It will take a bit of time for it to grow again.
"In my case, this posed no problem since I'm told that I'm too right brained, the excess weight on the other side balanced things out." haha.... that's pretty funny. It's like 'right brained' people (if that were even a legitimate construct) have a heavier right hemisphere. Can anyone think of any good improvements to his study? Maybe I'll grow a big red beard this winter!
Back when I was working with psychiatric patients, we used to up the medication of people who did "experiments" like that. Silly us for standing in the way of scientific progress.
"I suggest that a better test would be to shave half a person's beard off, but not tell them which half."
Oh, yes. That would work.
For about 30 seconds.
Since he's Canadian, did he think to check the incidence of frost-bite on both sides?
I discovered once when night-skiing that snow would land on my beard, melt, and freeze again, creating a pocket of warm air next to the skin. Though it was a bit inconvenient when I got into the warm air and it started melting...
What we really need is some way to quantify temperature.
As a general rule I don't much care for shaving in cold weather, especially if I expect to be outside much. Fun experiment though.