How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 342

How does light create heat?
Actually, some light is heat. Heat is the energy that flows from one object to another because of a difference in their temperatures. The sun is hotter than you are so that it sends heat toward you. Sunlight is heat; it is the sun's heat being sent toward you as electromagnetic radiation. When it strikes the surface of your skin, this radiation is absorbed and becomes the more familiar form of heat: kinetic and potential energy in the atoms and molecules. From the surface of your skin, this heat flows inward to warm the rest of your body. Any material that absorbs light usually converts it to heat. The charged particles in that material move under the influence of the light's electric field and these moving charged particles transfer their energy here and there as heat.

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