Some objects feel colder to the touch than others at the same (room) temperature. But explaining why by linear, single-factor reasoning is inadequate because the time-dependent thermal energy transfer at solid interfaces initially at different temperatures is determined by the thermal inertia kρc, a function of three thermophysical properties: thermal conductivity k, density ρ, and specific heat capacity per unit mass c. In time-dependent problems 1/kρc plays the role of a resistance. As an example, although the thermal conductivity of aluminum is 16 times that of stainless steel, this does not translate into a 16-fold difference in interfacial thermal energy flux densities. Nor does it result in a markedly greater perceived coldness of aluminum; the difference is barely perceptible. Similarly, despite the 600-fold difference in the thermal conductivity of iron relative to that of wood, the ratio of thermal energy flux densities is only about 4.6.

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