Keeping homes warm
Heat can be transferred by infrared radiation. Unlike conduction and convection, which need particles, infrared radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation that involves waves.
Radiation can even work through the vacuum of space. This is why we can still feel the heat of the Sun even though it is 150 million km away from the Earth.
Some surfaces are better than others at reflecting and absorbing infrared radiation. The table summarises some differences.
|surface||ability to reflect infrared radiation||ability to absorb infrared radiation|
|dull or rough||poor||good|
If two objects made from the same material have identical volumes, a thin, flat object will radiate heat energy faster than a fat object. This is one reason why domestic radiators are thin and flat. Radiators are often painted with white gloss paint. They would be better at radiating heat if they were painted with black matt paint, but in fact, despite their name, radiators transfer most of their heat to a room by convection.
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