When you talk about heat, it can be
transported in three different ways:
- Conduction: molecules crashing into each
other, passing heat from a warm area to a colder
area directly through a material
- Convection: molecules carrying the energy
through a liquid or gas
- Radiation: heat being transferred by
electromagnetic radiation (light)
The color of a material is determined by what
energy light it absorbs and reflects. Dark
colors absorb more light, and thus in general,
can be heated more easily through radiative
processes. This is why dark shirts heat up more
in sunlight than white shirts. However, if you
were to put a dark pan or a white pan (made out
of the same material) into a convection oven,
they will heat up at the same rate.
There are several ways that heat can be
transmitted, but in this case we're talking about
light, so it's helpful to talk about radiative
heat, which is transmitted through infrared
radiation that is invisible to our eye. In
general, the color of something might not be as
significant as the general material of an object.
(For example, is it metal, is it plastic, is it
wood?) However, you could do a simple experiment
with black and white paper. On average when
compared to black paper, white paper reflects more
light, so it absorbs less energy from visible and
near-visible light. Because white paper absorbs
less energy, it may not get as hot.
Click Here to return to the search form.