(Lansing State Journal, May 26 1996)
Yes, everone knows that wearing light colors in the summer keeps you cooler and if you wear black you get really hot. It's not just a fashion thing, it really works! But why is that? Well, before we can answer this question we must think about what we mean by white and black. For that matter what does it mean when something is red, or blue, or any color at all ?
You see, what we percieve as white light is actually all different colors, or frequencies, of light mixed. So when you look at a red sweater, what has actually happened is that white light consisting of all colors has hit the sweater, then the sweater has absorbed all the colors except the red, and only red light bounces off and hits your eye. Likewise if you see a blue T-shirt, it looks blue because the T-shirt has absorbed every color except blue. Following this reasoning, things that look black must absorb all frequencies of light, because just like the night time, black is a complete absence of light. And evidently white things must not absorb any light because in order to look white, the object must reflect all those colors.
So now that you know what black and white really are, I ask you; when it gets really hot this summer, would you rather be wearing clothes that absorb the sunlight or clothes that reflect it?