Engineering Question #983

Phil, a 13 year old male from Ottawa asks on October 18, 2002,

Are there some materials that shrink faster that other materials in cold? If yes, which ones?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on October 22, 2002

Almost all materials shrink when cooled and expand when heated although there are some notable exceptions (such as water/ice). The measure of this is called the Thermal Expansion Coefficient. You can find tables on the web that show the different values for different materials. A good table for metals can be found at The bigger the number, the more it shrinks. You can find similar tables by going to Google and searching for thermal expansion coefficients for glass, stone, wood, or whatever you wish.

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