Stumped by a three year old

Reading Time: 2 minutes

My three year old has stumped the Internet.  Or at least stumped my use of the Web to answer what might have been a straightforward, albeit geeky, question.

How you might ask?  Like most pre-K children, mine frequently has "Why?" days where everything is open to questioning, learning, and exploration.  Why is it raining?  Why do I have to drink my milk?  Why do leaves fall off trees?

We were having one of those days.  The family was enjoying a lazy weekend morning playing in the living room and watching Jeff Corwin talk about Alaska and its animals.  Why do whales jump out of the water like that?  What is it called?  Breaching?  Why is it called ‘breaching’?

Jeff went behind the scenes at an aquarium and was visiting an octopus when the why-bomb dropped:  "Mommy, how do octopuses stay warm?"

My wife dodged with, "Ask daddy".  I didn’t know off hand either, so I turned to the trusty Internet, the one place you can find an answer to any question no matter how mundane or bizarre.  Pausing the show, I pulled out ye old iPhone and searched the Web for "How does an octopus stay warm?".  Realizing octopi are cold-blooded, I also searched for "How does an octopus survive cold water?"

Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  My wife got out her laptop and began searching as well.  Still zilch after several more minutes of investigation.  I was just getting into the meat of a page discussing "New Brains from Old Genes" including octopi copper-based oxygen transport (using hemocyanin instead of hemoglobin) when I realized that my child had long ago moved on, unaware of the new parental obsession with octopi and cold temperatures.

For the first time, we had been why-stumped.  Even if we found an answer now, it wouldn’t matter, there were new questions to be asked.  And so we gave ourselves permission to fail and moved on.  But deep deep down, I’m still hoping to unravel the mystery of cephalopods in cold water.  Exactly how do they handle the icy northern ocean?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Light the Geekdad beacon!

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