22 Feb /13

Celsius vs Fahrenheit

Celsius vs Fahrenheit? With the cold temperature not showing any signs of shifting in the next few days, we hope to lure spring with today’s word of the day.

Celsius vs Fahrenheit? They both measure the same thing but use a different scale. Which one are you more familiar with?

Fahrenheit goes back to a German physicist Daniel Fahrenheit who came up with the idea of a mercury thermometer in 1714 and published an article in 1724 which introduced his scale to the world. Appropriately enough so that all the scientists of his time could understand what he was saying, he wrote in Latin. Ten years after this the word found its way into English via a translation of a work on chemistry by the famous Dutch doctor Herman Boerhaave. Obviously the Fahrenheit measurement is already being used frequently, because it is stated “Make a charcoal fire of 85° measured by Fahrenheit’s thermometer”. The first reference in English which was not translated is that water is always fluid at certain levels of temperature which should be measured using “Fahrenheit’s thermometer”. This was only 20 years later.

Celsius was a Swedish astronomer who introduced his temperature scale in an article in 1742, two years before his death. It took somewhat longer for his ideas to be taken up in English. It was only in 1790 is William Nicolson made the first English reference to Celisus in his The First Princples of Chemistry. He provides the formula for converting between Fahrenheit to the Celsium scale. 

So the first time Celsius is mentioned in English, it is a question of Celsius vs Fahrenheit. The question is still being asked whether a German or a Swedish measurement is more English!