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The Science Behind Staying Cool

The Science Behind Staying Cool

Posted: Jul 14, 2021 6:08 PM
Updated: Jul 15, 2021 12:45 PM

Staying cool during the summer in Acadiana can be a struggle but surprisingly doing something has little as wearing a different colored shirt can really help out so, let’s talk about the science behind staying cool.

We talked to locals at Girard Park about what color shirt they would think would lead to the coolest temperatures. With a white, gray, and black shirt out in the Louisiana sun we measured each using an infrared thermometer.

“I would say the white would be the coolest, and that (the black) would be the hottest because I am wearing a black shirt and it is pretty hot” said Jeff Baudoin of Lafayette.

Briana Robinson of Pecan Island agreed “ I feel like the darker you wear, you should be hotter.”

While both were correct on which shirt would be hottest they both severely guessed just how hot the shirts would be. To put everything into perspective and to show just how important color plays a role let’s go over the numbers.

Outside Temperature: 90F
White Shirt: 108F
Gray Shirt: 127F
Black Shirt: 161F

As you can see, the temperatures drastically rise the darker the fabric becomes. The reasoning behind this all comes down to how color works.
White is great at reflecting visible light from the Sun and because of this most of this light energy is sent back into the atmosphere. A small amount is absorbed and is why the shirt was still warmer than the air.
Black on the other hand, absorbs all of this visible light and because shirts clearly can’t radiate their own visible light they convert this into infrared energy which is more normally known as heat!

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