Do Different Colors Absorb Heat Differently? How And Why? | Kidadl

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Do Different Colors Absorb Heat Differently? How And Why?

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You have often heard your parents asking you to wear dark colors in winter and light-colored clothes in summers.

It is all to do with the absorption and reflection of light and heat by the different colors. While dark colors absorb more light, the white light is reflected more by the lighter colors.

The sun is the source of all energy on the Earth's surface. It not only radiates light energy in the form of white light but also provides heat energy to the Earth's surface. The interaction of this sunlight after it strikes any object is what makes us see the different colors around us. As the sunlight travels through the less dense atmosphere and strikes on a denser medium, the object acts as a prism, separating the visible white light into an arena of colors with different wavelengths. The colors we get to see are a result of the phenomena of reflection and absorption of light that fall on different materials. Suppose we see a red-colored object placed on a table, it means that the object has absorbed all the other colors of the visible spectrum, leaving only the red light to reflect back, giving us the appearance of red color.

Aren't these facts intriguing enough? Find out more insightful information for your upcoming science experiment on why do different colors absorb heat differently.

You can also give a read at these fun yet fact-filled articles about the origin of Christmas colors and do people see colors differently here.

Black And White

Black and white light are two opposite colors, one fully absorbing the light while the other reflecting it back wholly.

When light falls on a white-colored object, all the colors assembled inside the white light, get reflected back at the same speed and at the same time, making no particular color among VIBGYOR stand out. As all the light energy is reflected back from the surface of the object, the least thermal energy is emitted by it. On the contrary, black color absorbs the visible light, allowing no light to reflect back from the object, making it appear black to our eyes.

Color And Heat Absorption

There is a unique relationship between color and heat absorption.

Along with light energy, the sun also emits heat energy. As the radiated heat and light energy falls on a surface or object, it either gets reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through it. When light falls on a surface having darker colors, as all the light energy is absorbed in it, more heat is generated by it. Colors closer to black are darker, absorbing more heat. So a person wearing a black shirt or standing on a black surface like black tar will feel more heat. Contrastingly, cooler or lighter colors reflect more energy and lower the temperature of the surface.

You can conduct an experiment for your science fair project where you make two people stand out in the sun with one wearing a black shirt and another wearing a light-colored fabric. Both should initially have the same temperature of their body before standing outdoors. After an hour, it will be found that the body temperature of the one wearing black has risen by a few degrees while the other person doesn't show any significant temperature change. This proves that light-colored clothes keep us cooler and is summer appropriate and darker colors keep us warm and cozy in winters.

How heat is absorbed?

When the light falls on any colored object, the light energy transforms into thermal energy, depending on the lightness or darkness of the color.

As every glowing object emits both light and heat energy, the radiated heat energy is absorbed differently by materials having different colors, emitting different temperatures. The incident light energy when falls on an object turn into heat energy, raising its temperature.

If you place a white paper and a dark-colored paper side by side under the sun for several hours with both having the same temperature initially, the white paper will reflect the light while the dark-colored paper absorbs the light energy. As a darker color absorbs all the light, its temperature will rise, heating it up more than the white paper or lighter color paper. Hence, the more light energy an object absorbs, the more it will get heated up. While the light colors reflect back the light energy will result in lesser heat absorption by the object, keeping it comparatively cooler.

Know about which colors with different wavelengths absorb or reflect heat more.

Colors Used In Interior Decoration

Choosing the right shades of colors plays an integral role in interior decoration.

For making a room look cooler and refreshing, light colors or cool-toned colors like violet, blue, or green should be used. As the blue, green, or violet light has shorter wavelengths, they reflect back the light, giving an illusion of a big room, saving it from the warmth of heatwaves. Shorter wavelengths of light (violet and blue) are delayed more and, therefore experience more bending than do the longer wavelengths (orange and red).

For a vibrant and warm feeling, warm-toned bright colors like shades of yellow, red, or orange can be used in the dining and kitchen area. As colors nearer to the red light have longer wavelengths, these absorb the light energy and enhance the warmth of the room. Shades of violet and green can be used along with contrasting warm colors like yellow, pink, or orange for enhancing the vibrancy of the interiors. For example, a cool-colored room can have dark-colored furniture, giving it a luxurious look altogether.

Colors And Energy

The colors that we see through our naked eye are a result of the interaction of the visible white light that falls on an object and splits into various colors of differing wavelengths.

Colors represent the emissivity of an object. As different colors like violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red have different wavelengths, so the light and heat absorption differs accordingly. Violet light reflects the maximum heat energy owing to its short wavelength while the colors nearer to the red light have longer wavelengths. Hence, darker colors absorb light, evenly spreading the light energy to the surface of the object, converting it into heat energy, thereby raising its temperature. While a cool-colored object absorbs light in the least amounts having insufficient heat energy to raise its temperature.

We get to identify colors in an object as it absorbs all the other colors, except the color we see. For example, if we see a yellow-colored paper, it means that all the other colors of the visible spectrum have been absorbed by the paper, except yellow, which reflects the yellow color.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for do different colors absorb heat differently then why not take a look at facts about how do we see color, or how many colors are in the rainbow

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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