On the last day of 1980, 19-year-old Jean Hilliard lost consciousness outside when it was 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-30C). She was found six hours later, seemingly frozen solid. Her face was covered with frost, her body was stiff, and her skin was too hard to inject a needle into. Yet just a few hours after she was brought indoors, she began to recover! Soon she was talking and moving around. The only after effects of her ordeal were blistered, numb toes, and Hilliard faced no particular health problems afterward that could be linked to being frozen.
We know that cold temperatures slow down a body's metabolism and need for oxygen. However, that's only used as a very controlled therapy. Actual ice crystals will tear cells apart, leaving frostbite and sometimes gangrene. Hilliard suffered no such effects, so how could she have been frozen? Going from the descriptions of her case from witnesses, scientists can't conclude that she was literally frozen solid, but can take her symptoms one-by-one and explain them by what science has learned about folks who endure extreme cold. The fact that all these reasonable explanations happened in the same person makes Hillard's case truly unique, but not impossible. Find out how Jean Hilliard came in from the cold like a popsicle and recovered completely at ScienceAlert. -via Damn Interesting
(Image credit: Remi Longva)
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