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Charming Fahrenheit

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Infraction

On the Fahrenheit scale, water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. That huge range may explain why most of the world uses the Celsius scale. Still, there's no denying that the Fahrenheit scale has its own charm.

The first thing to keep in mind is that Daniel Fahrenheit was improving on a scale invented by Olaus Roemer, and according to Roemer's scale, water freezes at 7.5 degrees.

Zeroing In

Fahrenheit started out with the same zero as Roemer's scale, but because he didn't like fractions, he divided each original degree by 4, and set his reference points so that they would be divisible by four as well. So the freezing temperature of water became 32 degrees, and body temperature was arbitrarily set to 96 degrees. It was only later, when scientists calibrated the Fahrenheit scale according to the boiling temperature of water, that it turned out that body temperature is actually 98.6 degrees.

The real charm is in Fahrenheit's choice of zero. Most of the earth's moderate temperatures fall between zero and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And if you look at the extreme high and low temperatures on earth, you'll see that they occur at just about the same distance from zero. And the same is true for the moon's temperatures.

Read More:

"Daniel Fahrenheit, Anders Celsius Left Their Marks" (Alaska Science Forum)

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