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What warms up a piece of paper when it is above a cup of tap water?

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Uploaded on Feb 10, 2012

A piece of paper approached (but not touched) the surface of water from the perpendicular direction and was warmed up (in the IR video, the process was as if the paper caught a fire). The water was cooler than room temperature because of the evaporative cooling effect.

What caused this strange phenomenon? (A hint: There is no such heating effect when you do this with a plastic strip. If you dip a plastic strip into the water, it will actually cool down a little bit above the water line.)

Also see my previous experiments and explanations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib3nwY...

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

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