Q. 5

On a cold winter night you are asked to sit on a chair. Would you like to choose a metal chair or a wooden chair? Both are kept in the same lawn and are at the same temperature.

Answer :

It would be better to choose the wooden chair over the metal chair, on a winter night. This is because of the fact that wooden chair transfers less heat into the human body than the metal chair. These behaviors can be quantified by the difference in the conductivity between the two materials of the chairs. Metal has more thermal conductivity than wood. Hence metal chair will tend to transfer more heat or cold to one’s body while in contact with it.


This can also be explained by the concept of specific heat capacity. The specific heat capacity of metal is lower than that of wood. Hence, it is easier to increase the temperature of the metal, by one degree, compared to that of wood. So, when the human body comes in contact with a metal and a wood, both having the same lower temperature than the human skin, the metal will absorb heat at a faster rate than wood. This will result in the cooling of the human body. Since the metal chair with a lower temperature has a faster rate of heat transfer, the wooden chair will be comfortable on a winter day.


So, on a winter day, it is preferable to sit in the wooden chair, which transfers comparatively less cold, hence helps to avoid the high cold of the surroundings.


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