If I put something at room temperature in an environment that is at roughly half room temperature, does it get colder less quickly than if it were placed into an environment with 1/4 room temperature, assuming all environments are non-liquid and transfer heat mainly through air.

Quintessential example: a can of pop at room temperature, placed into fridge or freezer for the same amount of time. Does the can in the freezer really get colder, or is it just an example of expectation bias?


1 Answer 1


The rate that it cools depends on (is directly proportional to) the temperature difference between the can and the surroundings.

It's called Newton's cooling law and it's the reason our coffee never gets cold. As it cools closer to room temperature the rate at which it cools gets slower until it takes an infinite time to reach the same temperature - at which point no more heat flows

  • $\begingroup$ ...the reason our coffee never gets cold. So much for theoretical physics :D $\endgroup$
    – Nikolaj-K
    Dec 31, 2011 at 23:37

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