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Today in History: The Mercury Thermometer was Invented

Today in History: The Mercury Thermometer was Invented

On December 22nd, 1714 Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer.

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was a physicist, inventor and scientific instrument maker of Dutch-German-Polish descent.  Interested in exact thermometry, he was curious about in creating an instrument that could accurately measure temperature.  In 1714, improved glass working techniques and improved understanding of mercury allowed him to create the first mercury-in-glass thermometer.  This was the first practical and accurate thermometer ever invented.  In addition to creating this new thermometer, Fahrenheit devised a new temperature measurement system that he named after himself.  Using the boiling point of water (212° F) and the freezing point of water (32° F), he designed the scale that we continue to use today.

To honor the invention of the mercury thermometer, let’s enjoy these interesting facts about thermometers and temperature.

1) Medical thermometers use the Fahrenheit scale.  A normal body temperature is considered to be 98.6° F.  This temperature is also known as “blood heat.”

2) In addition to the Fahrenheit scale, other popular temperature scales include Celsius and Kelvin.  Interestingly, the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales converge at -40°, meaning that -40° Fahrenheit and -40 ° Celsius are actually the same temperature.

3) While the United States favors the Fahrenheit scale, most of the other parts of the world rely on the Celsius scale.

4) Absolute zero, the coldest temperature is known to man, is -459.6° F or -273.1° C.  Absolute zero is not physically possible to reach, and it is the temperature at which atoms would stop moving.  Absolute zero is the basis of the Kelvin scale and is recorded at zero K.

5) To convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, you would take the degree reading, subtract 32, multiply it by 5, then divide by 9.  To convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit, you would reverse the process by multiplying the reading by 9, dividing it by 5, and then adding 32.  Are you still with us?! 🙂

Fahrenheit’s thermometers were highly esteemed. He used mercury successfully because of his technique for cleaning it, and he introduced the use of cylindrical bulbs instead of spherical ones. However, his detailed technique for making thermometers was not disclosed for some 18 years, since it was a trade secret.

Among the other instruments which he devised were a constant-weight hydrometer of excellent design and a “thermobarometer” for estimating barometric pressure by determining the boiling point of water.

On Sept. 16, 1736, Fahrenheit died, unmarried, in the Netherlands, presumably in The Hague, where he was buried.

We at the at The Maria Sanchez Show hope you enjoyed these interesting facts in honor of the mercury thermometer’s anniversary.  Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown. Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PST/7:00 p.m. EST.

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