Physical Science

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The sand on the beach heats up faster each day than the water does. You know this because when you walk on the beach in the early morning, your feet are cool. By noon, the beach is so hot, you cannot walk on it in bare feet . The ocean, however stays cool. Which one has the higher specific heat, the sand or the water, and why?

  • Physical Science -

    Let's use an example.
    The specific heat of most metals is about 0.3 J/g*C which means it takes 0.3 J to heat a metal 1 degree C. That means it takes very little heat to make the metal hot. If I stick a match to a piece of metal and stick the metal to your arm, it will burn your arm. Right? right!

    The specific heat of H2O is a little above 4 J/g*C which means you must add much more heat to the water to make it hotter. If I hold a match under a pan of water and splash the water on your arm will your arm be burned? No, because that match didn't move the temperature of the water up very much. Did it? NO!
    So the low specific heat materials get hotter with just a little heat than high specific heat materials. Now apply that lesson to the sand and water.

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