Here's how thermal radiation, the sun's heat, works

Your microwave, antique radiator, and campfire actually use thermal radiation.
Loukia Papadopoulos

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Have you heard of thermal radiation? It's the type of heat used by your air fryer, your microwave, your
 antique radiator, your campfire, and your modern patio heater system. This means thermal radiation is responsible for keeping you fed and warm.

There's another even better, and perhaps more obvious example of thermal radiation that everyone is guaranteed to be familiar with: the sun. The process of thermal radiation is how the sun's heat manages to travel millions of miles across the vacuum of space and to all our homes.

This brings us to the question: how does this powerful form of heat transfer work?

The first thing you should note is that thermal radiation does not require a medium to transmit heat. Instead, heat travels directly from its source into its surroundings via electromagnetic waves. These waves can range from the shorter ultraviolet waves all the way up to the longest infrared waves and can cause the bonds between molecules to move, releasing energy as heat.

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What makes thermal radiation the most efficient, and fastest, method of heat transfer? How is it possible that everything radiates some form of thermal radiation? How is the sun's heat felt all the way from Earth? This video answers all these questions, and more.


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