Thermal Physics


Why is it often cooler to wear white clothes, rather than black clothes?

Heat flow occurs when there is a difference in temperature between two objects. Heat only moves from a warmer to a cooler object. The larger the temperature difference between two objects, the greater the amount of heat flow.

White surfaces reflect all the colors of the rainbow, whereas black absorbs all the colors in the light spectrum. The absorption of this energy heats the black material, increasing its temperature. This, in turn, increases the temperature of the air between the clothing and the person. So white, which absorbs much less radiative energy from the sun, is cooler in hot climates.


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