The age-old question of why cold things get warm and hot things get cool is a topic often questioned. Although it may seem obvious to most, others may not be aware.
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How come when you leave a hot chocolate out on it cold day for a while, it isn’t so hot anymore? Or maybe it is a hot summer day and you get a bowl of ice cream, but after 10 minutes it turns to soup? Well, it all has to do with room temperature.
The average room temperature in a house is about 21C or 70F. When you have a bowl of ice cream that is 0C or 32F, it will melt because the room temperature is warmer than the actual object. When the two clash together, they will average out, but since the room temperature is such a larger air mass you won’t feel it get any colder. Because of this mix in temperatures, the ice cream warms up after time, and as it passes freezing point it will begin to melt.
The same thing goes for a hot drink. On a cold day, you can feel the drink heating up the air, but since the air mass is so large the hot air spreads out so that the change isn’t noticeable. When the hot water goes into the air, the cooler room temperature displaces into the drink, and cools it down.
So, next time your ice cream melts or your hot chocolate cools, although it is a bummer, you will know scientifically why!