Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Hot Cars

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
What is the most common color of car that would attract more heat in the sun then any oter, and why?
- Amber (age 12)
Barren County Middle School, Kentucky
Amber -

Think about this... What color of sweatshirt do you imagine would be the warmest? Think about what happens when the sunlight hits the shirt... Some of it bounces off and some of it is absorbed by the shirt. The part that is absorbed translates into heat that warms you up. So what color absorbs the most light?

Well, when you look at a color, what you see is only the part of the light that bounces off and comes back towards your eyes. So if a sweatshirt is red, that means that the red light bounces off and all the other colors from the sunlight (which is a mixture of all the colors) are absorbed. How about blue? Well, a blue sweatshirt bounces blue light back at you and absorbs everything else.

So let's sum up... We're looking for the warmest color - the one that absorbs the most heat - the one that absorbs all the colors - the one that reflects none of the light back to your eye - the one where you see no color. So which color is the one made up of no colors? Look at this list and I'll bet you can figure it out:


Got it yet? If you're still confused, check out the answers to these other questions:


(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.