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"Firewalk" redirects here. For other uses, see Firewalk (disambiguation). Firewalking in Sri Lanka Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers or stones. Firewalking has been practiced by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to Iron Age India – c. 1200 BC.[1] It is often used as a rite of passage, as a test of an individual's strength and courage, or in religion as a test of one's faith. Today, it is often used in corporate and team-building seminars and self-help workshops as a confidence-building exercise. Firewalking implies the belief that the feat requires the aid of a supernatural force, strong faith, or on an individual's ability to focus on "mind over matter".[2] Modern physics has largely debunked this however, showing that the amount of time the foot is in contact with the ground is not enough to induce a burn, combined with the fact that coal is not a very good conductor of heat.[1] Contents 1 History 2 Explanation 2.1 Factors that prevent burning 2.2 Risks when doing firewalking improperly 3 See also 4 References 5 External links History Firewalking is practised by a various clans in the Fijian Islands by the followers of Shia sect in Islam on the 9th and 10th days of the Muharram (First Month in the Islamic Calendar), to mourn the death of Hussain Who was the son of Hazrat Ali and Sayyeda Fatima (The daughter of Muhammad) by Eastern Orthodox Christians in parts of Greece (see Anastenaria) and Bulgaria (see nestinarstvo), during some popular religious feasts. [3] by fakirs and similar persons, !Kung Bushmen of the African Kalahari desert have practiced firewalking since their tribal beginnings. (The !Kung use fire in their healing ceremonies.) by (mainly) Hindu Indians in South Asia and their diaspora in South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore who celebrate the Thimithi festival by little girls in Bali in a ceremony called Sanghyang dedari, in which the girls are said to be possessed by beneficent spirits. [1] by Japanese Taoists and Buddhists by tribes throughout Polynesia and documented in scientific journal (with pictures and chants) between 1893-1953. [2] [3] in management seminars and motivational seminars as in the case of Alan Lowis, Peggy Dylan, Tolly Burkan, Martin Sterling, Motivation In Business, Anthony Robbins, Stu Wilde, Fred Shadian, Charles Horton, Kevin Montes,Scott Bell,Vincent j Kellsey. Walking on fire has existed for several thousand years, with records dating back to 1200 B.C.[4] Cultures across the globe, from Greece to China, used firewalking for rites of healing, initiation, and faith.[4] Firewalking became popular in America during the 1970s when author Tolly Burkan began a campaign to demystify the practice. He offered evening firewalking courses that were open to anyone in the general public. The demand for firewalking classes became so great that in 1984 Burkan began training instructors.[5] Recently, in the United States, firewalking is used by businesses to build teamwork and as a so-called alternative health remedy.[4] Explanation When two bodies of different temperatures meet, the hotter body will cool off, and the cooler body will heat up, until they are separated or until they meet at a temperature in between.[6] What that temperature is, and how quickly it is reached, depends on the thermodynamic properties of the two bodies. The important properties are temperature, density, specific heat capacity, and thermal conductivity. The square root of the product of thermal conductivity, density, and specific heat capacity is called thermal effusivity, and tells how much heat energy the body absorbs or releases in a certain amount of time per unit area when its surface is at a certain temperature. Since the heat taken in by the cooler body must be the same as the heat given by the hotter one, the surface temperature must lie closer to the temperature of the body with the greater thermal effusivity. The bodies in question here are human feet (which mainly consist of water) and burning coals. Due to these properties, David Willey, professor of physics, says he believes firewalking is explainable in terms of basic physics and is not supernatural or paranormal.[7] However, he adds, "The 120 foot walk done by Sara Raintree and Jim Jarvis, and reports of longer walks and people remaining stationary for extended periods on the coals are currently under investigation by the author." Willey notes that most fire-walks occur on coals that measure about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (550 degrees Celsius), but he once recorded someone walking on 1,800-degree (1,000 °C) coals.[4] Additionally, Jearl Walker has postulated that walking over hot coals with wet feet may insulate the feet due to the Leidenfrost effect.[8] Factors that prevent burning Factors that act together to prevent the foot from burning Water has a very high specific heat capacity (4.184 kJ/K kg), whereas coals have a very low one. Therefore the foot's temperature tends to change less than the coal's. Water also has a high thermal conductivity, and on top of that, the rich blood flow in the foot will carry away the heat and spread it. On the other hand, coal has a poor thermal conductivity, so the hotter body consists only of the parts of the coal which are close to the foot. When the coal cools down, its temperature sinks below the flash point, so it stops burning, and no new heat is generated. Firewalkers do not spend very much time on the coals, and they keep moving. Calluses on the feet may offer an additional level of protection, even if only from pain; however, most people do not have calluses that would make any significant difference. Risks when doing firewalking improperly There are risks when doing firewalking improperly People have burned their feet when they remained in the fire for too long, enabling the thermal conductivity of the coals to catch up. One is more likely to be burned when running through the coals since running pushes one's feet deeper into the embers, resulting in the top of the feet being burnt. Foreign objects in the coals may result in burns. Metal is especially dangerous since it has a high thermal conductivity. Coals which have not burned long enough can burn feet more quickly. Coals contain water, which increases their heat capacity as well as their thermal conductivity. The water must be evaporated already when the firewalk starts. Wet feet can cause coals to cling to them, increasing the exposure time. Therefore, even if firewalking is explained with simple physics, there are still hazards. Notably in 2002, twenty managers of the KFC fast food chain in Australia received treatment for burns caused by firewalking.[9] However, this exercise in firewalking was practiced over timber, a more efficient heat conductor than charcoal. [10] See also Fire eating Thimithi References ^ a b Willey, David. "Firewalking Myth vs Physics". University of Pittsburgh. http://www.pitt.edu/~dwilley/Fire/FireTxt/fire.html. Retrieved June 29, 2010.  ^ DeMello, Margo (2009). Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Macmillan. pp. 30–32. ISBN 9780313357145. http://books.google.com/?id=5QdKSxajwP0C&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&dq=barefoot+middle+ages&q=barefoot%20middle%20ages.  ^ Xygalatas, Dimitris, 2011. “Ethnography, Historiography, and the Making of History in the Tradition of the Anastenaria”, History and Anthropology 22 (1): 57-74 ^ a b c d Binns, Corey (2006-08-14). "World's Watch and Learn: Physics Professor Walks on Fire". Livescience.com. http://www.livescience.com/othernews/060814_mm_firewalker.html. Retrieved 2007-04-13.  (livescience.com)[unreliable source?] ^ Loring Danforth, Ph.D., Firewalking and Religious Healing (1989), Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02853-2. Chapter 8, page 261. See Amazon Online Reader: Firewalking and Religious Healing. ^ "Can you walk on hot coals in bare feet and not get burned?". The Straight Dope. 14 June 1991. http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_036.html. Retrieved 2007-04-13.  ^ Willey, David (2007). "Firewalking Myth vs Physics". University of Pittsburgh. http://www.pitt.edu/~dwilley/Fire/FireTxt/fire.html. Retrieved 2007-04-13.  ^ Walker, Jearl, "Boiling and the Leidenfrost Effect", Cleveland State University, http://www.wiley.com/college/phy/halliday320005/pdf/leidenfrost_essay.pdf  ^ Kennedy, Les (2002-02-28). "KFC bosses aren't chicken, but they sure are tender". The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/02/27/1014704967158.html. Retrieved 2007-04-13.  ^ Mitchell, 1987. External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Fire walking The Power of Belief (Video includes explanation of firewalking) from ABC News Firewalking from Skeptic's Dictionary Can you walk on hot coals in bare feet and not get burned? from The Straight Dope The Physics and Fantasy of Firewalking - by Robert Novella Medical view of firewalking from Ask Dr. Weil Why Fire Walking Doesn't Burn: Science or Spirituality? from National Geographic v · d · eCulture of Indigenous Oceania List of resources about traditional arts and culture of Oceania Art ahu · Australia · Austronesia · Cook Islands · Hawaiʻi · kapa (Hawaiʻi) · lei (Hawaii) · magimagi · Māori · moai · New Zealand · nguzu nguzu · Oceania · Papua New Guinea · reimiro · tā moko · tapa ["masi" (Fiji), "ngatu" (Tonga), "siapo" (Sāmoa), " ʻuha" (Rotuma)] · tabua · ta'ovala · tattoo · tēfui · tivaivai Broad culture areca nut · Kava culture · kava, [" ʻawa" (Hawaii), "yaqona" (Fiji), or "sakau" (Pohnpei) · Sāmoa 'ava ceremony] · 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