How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 356

Why do dark clothes absorb heat more than light clothes?
Dark fabrics or surfaces are very good at absorbing and emitting light. That is why they are dark. They must contain electric charges that move fairly easily (making them good antennas) and these charges must be good at exchanging energy with the surrounding material as heat. When light strikes these charges, the charges begin to move and absorb the light's energy. This energy flows into the material as heat. Since the light is absorbed, the material appears dark (no light is reflected back toward you). But the material will also emit light very effectively when hot. If you heat a black object up, heat will flow into the charges, which will begin to move and will emit light. Thus black objects are good at both absorbing and emitting light.

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