OK, so maybe it’s unfair to blame Paul Siple for the cold weather blanketing the country this week, including below-freezing temps from Washington State to the Florida Panhandle and all across the Northeast.
But Siple, who earned the Eagle Scout rank in 1923, is responsible for coining the term we use to describe just how cold it feels out there: “wind chill.”
The Sea Scout, Silver Buffalo Award recipient, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and Antarctic explorer died in 1968 at age 59. But his legacy lives on every time we check the weather apps on our phone before stepping outside.
As this Order of the Arrow writeup explains, Siple was chosen among 600,000 Scouts to join an Antarctic expedition in 1928. Siple’s place on the expedition had to be publicly funded; “pennies, nickels and dimes” were raised by the Weekly Reader “to help send Paul to the Antarctic.” His companion on the trip was none other than Admiral Richard Byrd.
Siple later wrote four books, appeared on the cover of Time magazine and became a hero to all Scouts.
But “wind chill” is his most lasting legacy. Siple did doctoral thesis research on the ways in which wind affects how humans feel outside. So the next time you check the weather to decide whether to add another layer, think of this great Eagle Scout.
H/T: Thanks to Eagle Scout and Scouting magazine contributor Mark Ray for the post idea.