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Why do leaves feel cooler?

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Uploaded on Feb 14, 2012

One way to tell if an indoor plant is a plastic or a real one is to touch its leaves. Have you wondered why real leaves feel cooler? If you look at the leaves, artificial or real, through an IR camera, you will see neither because both are at ambient temperature. So why does a real leaf feel cooler?

The key is the water in real leaves. This experiment uses a dry sponge and a wet sponge to illustrate this point. In real leaves there are sponge structures that hold water. So this is a good model. To stop water evaporation from the wet sponge, use plastic wrap to wrap it up.

In this video, the sponge on the left was the wet one. The video shows that it absorbed more thermal energy from the finger than the dry on on the right, which is why you feel cooler when touching a leaf of a real plant. The ability of storing more thermal energy comes from the water, which provides higher heat capacity.

See this video for similar thermal patterns with a dry leaf and a fresh leaf: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I2eAU...

Visit http://energy.concord.org/ir for more.

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