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Heat and Temperature - Convection currents

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Overview         (For age - group : Above 16 )

Conductivity varies for different materials , most of us have unknowingly touched hot metal object sometimes in our life, we know it gets hot quickly. The e-learning animation shows the determination of conductivity of different materials.

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Category : Science

Type : Animation

Conductivity : The interactive e-learning animation details thermal expansion and explains its intricacies in detail using illustrative examples.

Why cooking vessels are not provided with metal handles ?
How do we compare the thermal conductance of different materials ?

Explanatory Notes contain :

Why are gases better insulators than liquids and liquids better insulators than solids?
Why metals are good conductors of heat?

container with a metal handle and a wooden handle are put on burner
metal handle is too hot to touch
Two container one with a metal handle and a wooden handle are put on burner
Metal handle is too hot to touch
Conductivity depends on material
wax on copper melts more than wood
Conductivity depends on material
Wax layer on copper melts more than wood
Details of the animation/ movie /software


Suppose an experiment is conducted by taking a container with water inside having rods of different materials attached to it. The rods have a coating of wax on them, the length of the wax is same on each rod.

Now if a heating elements introduced into the water and after sometime the water will be heated. Simultaneously the wax will start melting and dripping from the rods. The wax will drip quickly from the copper rod and the amount of dripping will decrease successively for each rod, being least for the wooden one.

This is because each element has different conductivity.

Similarly If we touch the metal handle utensil we instantly remove our hand as we suddenly touched something hot.

Metals being good conductors of heat, transfers heat from one end to the other very quickly. Hence, the metal handle becomes too hot to touch.

Now if we touch the plastic or wooden handle utensil we'll be able to lift it from the oven.
Plastic and wood are insulator (a bad conductor of heat) and hence even though the metallic part of the utensil gets heated, the handle remains cold enough to be touched.

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Q & A
Q1: The compact disc play head UV bulb if you put two together directly oppsitethe sensors will it burn a paperon sunlight rays like convergeing lens with out electricity? Uziel B'nai Noach O'shobek 14/4/2010
Q2: How do we protect moving parts from rusting? ZOYA 23/10/2009
Q3: effect of temperature on conductivity of materials hyde wiiliam 26/2/2008
Ans: Electrical conductivity is strongly dependent on temperature. In metals, electrical conductivity decreases with increasing temperature, whereas in semiconductors, electrical conductivity increases with increasing temperature. Current is the sum effect of electrons moving through the copper wire. When the wire heats up, for example, by a torch, it causes the electrons to collide around more than before. Therefore, flow is with less ease. This means that the copper wire now has a higher resistance. The general rule is "the higher in temperature the wire is, the higher the resistance to electrical flow.
Q4: Thank you for replying to our questions. abc 10/2/2008
Ans: You are welcome
Q5: I had asked a question earlier regarding the properties of an electron moving in a magnetic field.You have said that the direction changes. Can you please explain how. lyra 10/2/2008
Ans: It moves along a curved path in a magnetic field hence its direction changes continuously
Q6: Why is rubber a bad conductor of heat? Is it that the molecular structure is more dense? dreebabe 9/2/2008
Ans: No it is not due to density of molecules but the fact that it consists of long chains of monomers of isoprene molecules linked into loosely twisted chains. These chains do not have any free electrons. This makes rubber an insulator i.e. it does not conduct electricity.
Q7: Why have you stopped replying to our questions? abc 8/2/2008
Ans: We request you to wait for some days, sometimes the overload of questions becomes too much for our research team to answer and their is a delay in answering them. We will definitely reply within a few days time.
Q8: Which of the following properties of a proton can change while it moves freely in a magnetic field? (a)mass,(b)speed,(c)velocity,(d)momentum Give reason. lyra 5/2/2008
Ans: Even though for all-purpose a proton is made up of three quarks that can behave independently when subjected to force but for present we will consider them as one. The mass of the proton will not change due to the field as the effect of field has no bearing on mass, neither the speed will change but the velocity will change as the direction is changing and also momentum will change as it is related to velocity vector.
Q9: What is the difference between short circuiting and overloading? shreya 5/2/2008
Ans: A short circuit is an accidental low-resistance connection between two nodes of an electrical circuit that are meant to be at different voltages. In overloaded wires, larger than intended electrical current flows through a conductor, leading to excessive generation of heat. It can also overheat, sometimes causing damage to the wire's insulation thus creating a condition for short circuit
Q10: What happens if only a voltmeter is connected to a battery? pearl 25/1/2008
Ans: It will measure the voltage across the terminals
Q11: which is the most bad conductor of heat ,glass water or rubber shaukat 26/5/2007
Ans: Thermal conductivity in W/m K at given temperature of 293 K is highest for pyre glass is 1, next is liquid water at 0.598, wood is 0.14 (included from our side), sponge rubber is 0.05, so rubber is worst conductor. However Plastics are the worst with celluloid at 0.02, polystyrene foam at 0.033, mylar foil at 0.0001. Wool also has 0.04 index, making it better than rubber.
Q12: is wax a good conductor of heat? sardine 1/3/2006
Ans: Wax is a poor conductor of heat, Thermal conductivity @ 20C, w/m C lies between 0.170-0.190

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