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Measuring Temperature ReadingThere are two requirements for taking a measurement of something. The first is a tool for taking a measurement. The second is scale for making sense of the numbers of the measurement. For example, a ruler is often used to measure short lengths. It is the tool for measurement. On the ruler are one or more number scales with equally spaced numbers. These numbers can be compared with numbers from any other ruler that is accurately set to the same scale. Measuring length is far simpler than measuring temperature. While there is evidence of tools for measuring length at various times in human history, tools and scales for measuring temperature do not appear until more recent human history. Early thermometers, called thermoscopes, first appear in the 1500's. They were crude instruments that were not at all accurate. Most did not even have a number scale associated with them. This made them useless for most practical purposes. Gabriel Fahrenheit created the first accurate thermometer in 1714, and the Fahrenheit temperature scale followed it in 1724. The thermometer s accuracy was based on its use of mercury, a silver colored substance that remains liquid over a wide range of temperatures but expands or contracts in a standard, predictable way with changes in temperature. To set the scale, Fahrenheit created the coldest temperature that he could. He mixed equal parts of ice, water, and salt, and then used this as the zero point, 0 degrees, of his scale. He intended to make 30 degrees the freezing point of water and 90 degrees the temperature of the human body, but he had to later revise these temperatures to be 32 degrees and 96 degrees. In the final version of the scale, the temperature of the human body became 98.6 degrees. 19th century thermoscope
Document ID
20040010593
Document Type
Other
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Space Science Reference Guide, 2nd Edition
Subject Category
Meteorology and Climatology
Report/Patent Number
NASA/EG-2002-10-001-ARC
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20040010556Analytic PrimarySpace Science Reference Guide, 2nd Edition
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