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Science Sunday: Experiment Showcases Danger of Hot Cars

Post Author: Mark Dixon & Aoife Ryle

Good Morning and Happy Fourth of July to everyone. Summer is officially underway and we have seen our first heat wave of 2019, meaning it’s time to talk once again about the danger of hot cars; especially for our furry friends. Mark and Aoife showcase how hot a car can get, and how quickly it can happen on this edition of Science Sunday, using some simple tools– a heat lamp, a glass jar and two thermometers.


In a closed car, the light from the sun comes in through the windows and is absorbed by the seats, dashboard, steering wheel, etc. This is then re-emitted into the air inside the car as heat. This heat cannot escape out of the car the way that the light enters into the car, meaning that the car temperature continues to rise quickly. In just about 2 minutes, there was a difference of about 13 degrees between the thermometer that was inside the jar versus outside the jar. 

Dogs and humans use very different methods of keeping ourselves cool during these hot summer months. Humans have this amazing ability to sweat– even though it may not feel all that great at times. As the sweat evaporates off our skin, it takes heat with it, cooling the blood that is closest to the skin. This cooled blood then circulates back through the rest of our body, keeping us cool. Did you know that humans can sweat up to 14 liters a day!? Dogs can’t sweat, so how do they keep themselves cool? Have you ever seen a dog pant? Well, that works just the same as humans sweating, when the saliva evaporates, it takes heat with it, cooling our furry friends down. The big difference, we can sweat all over our body while dogs cannot. 

We love dogs here at the Connecticut Science Center. Join us for the Dog Days of Summer happening every Friday and Saturday in July, 11AM-2PM. Vist CTScienceCenter.org for more information.