Most of us know what the word “heat” entails, but many might not know how it originates. Heat isn’t just a “thing” that warms up your hands when placed next to a warm source.

There is a science behind it. As such, there exists a great many facts about heat that might surprise even the most avid enthusiast of its study. Here are six interesting facts about heat and temperature that you may not know about:

Fact #1: Heat is a process

If heat isn’t an actual entity, then what is it? In the most simplistic of explanations, it is actually a process of energy transference. The warm sensation that we call heat is created by the movement of molecules within an object.

Many individuals used to believe that it was an inexplicable thing that moved from a hot object to a cold object. Heat isn’t like the Force from your typical Star Wars film; it is much more scientifically-based. The process of heat between two or more objects continues until everything is the same temperature. This is distinct from the “cold,” which is more or less the absence of heat.

Fact #2: Heat can be used to foster energy

The great thing about the process of heat is that it can be used as a foundation for other energy sources. Although the energy transference of warmth remains the same, it can be used in a variety of ways. For example, solar rays generate heat, which can subsequently be used in objects such as solar energy panels. Or, thermal heat in the form of steam can be exploited to create other sources of energy as well.

As technology advances, many devices seek to use heat as a means to power objects vital to our lives. Don’t be surprised to see innovators using heat in a way to source more eco-friendly initiatives in the future!

Fact #3: Heat is distinct from temperature

It is important to note that heat itself is different from temperature. Whereas heat is known to be a process of energy transference, think of temperature as a sizing instrument. Temperature, by all accounts, is the measurement of how much heat is present within any given object. Heat will increase or decrease a selected temperature. Raising it will increase the temperature and vice-versa.

If two objects with the same temperature are brought within close proximity of each other, there will be no energy transference between them. Remember, heat is a process and not a thing. However, if one object’s temperature is higher than the other, energy will transfer until both reach the same temperature.

Fact #4: Heat can transfer in three ways

The process of heat can occur in one of three ways. Each of them is unique to each specific set of circumstances, but more or less have the same end result.

  • Conduction: Conduction occurs through the handing-off of heat through a given material. Molecules in one object shake as they heat up, which then transfer to a neighbouring object to continue the process.
  • Convection: Convection is heat transfer through the movement of liquids or gases, such as when a lighter is used to light a match.
  • Radiation: Radiation is heat transferred through a combination of electromagnetic waves and visible light. Think of the sun “heating up” your car on a sunny day; energy from the sun is simply transferred to your vehicle.

Fact #5: Insulators can trap heat

Sometimes, we need objects or materials to trap heat in its place to sustain a good source of warmth. In other circumstances, you need to determine which materials you own that don’t conduct heat well and replace them.

These objects are known as insulators, which are materials that don’t conduct heat well. For example, if you are shopping for some warm clothing for the winter, sweaters made from wool would be your best bet. Wool fibres trap air and does not allow heat to transfer.

Different types of high temperature insulation materials exist, such as using fiberglass or fiberglass sleeve to minimize the heat transfer. It’s just up to you on how you aim to use them in your everyday life.

Fact #6: Extreme heat can be dangerous

In what is probably the most obvious of all known facts about heat, too much of it can result in some dire circumstances. Prolonged exposure to inordinate amounts of heat can physically impact your body in negative ways.  Your body can become overheated due to heat exhaustion. Early symptoms of this include nausea, dizziness heavy sweating, and fatigue. If continued, you may find yourself becoming vulnerable to a risk of heat stroke.

It is critical to move yourself to a cooler environment and remain hydrated to prevent any unwarranted disasters. A bit of heat can contribute to your body’s self-regulating temperature, but too much of it can potentially be fatal.

Heat is so much more than just a process of energy transfer. The more you learn about it, the more interesting it becomes. Just be sure adapt accordingly; like the cold, too much of it can prove to be anything but helpful!