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Which colors absorb the most heat? Why is this? Does a bright color like yellow absorb a lot of heat?
Question Date: 2013-04-01
Answer 1:

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.

Answer 2:

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.

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