"I like fiery passion, actually." - Olympus
Question #45559 posted on 06/14/2008 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I notice that the milk in my ceramic bowl of Marshmallow Mateys gets warmer much faster than the milk in my husband's plastic bowl of Marshmallow Mateys. I thought ceramic was a terrific insulator, so what's the deal?

- fatuglyperson

A: Dear person,

According to this page, ceramics are actually more like metals in terms of thermal conductivity. Of course, the term "plastic" or "ceramic" can cover a range of materials, but these ceramics have a thermal conductivity value which is anywhere from 10 to 100 times that of this plastic. If the values of your cereal bowls are at all similar, then your milk is going to heat up that much faster. (Props for noticing that kind of thing in the first place; I'm usually too tired in the morning to be formulating intriguing scientific questions over my breakfast cereal.)

- the occasional physics chick