Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Hot and Cold at 80 Degrees
Name: Al G.
Status: other
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 7/14/2003

I had a 9 year old ask me, "Why does 80 degree water feel cool, while 80 degree air feels warm?".

Al -

Your 9 year old has made a good observation. Something feels warm or cool to your body based on how much heat is moved in or out of your body. If both the water and the air are 80 degrees (both lower than body temperature) your body will give up more heat to change the temperature of the water than it gives up to the air. Because the water takes more heat from your body, it feels cooler.

There is more to the story, but that is about right for 9 years old.

Larry Krengel

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory