Celsius and Fahrenheit explained
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a man's portrait
Daniel Fahrenheit
a man's portrait
Anders Celsius

September 2016 - There are two main ways of measuring temperature. One is called Fahrenheit (after the man who invented it) and the other is called Celsius (after the man who invented that). They measure the same thing, only they start counting at different temperatures and the size of the degrees is different. Celsius degrees are bigger than Fahrenheit degrees.

thermometer marked in both fahrenheit and celsius

The United States is the only country that still uses Fahrenheit, and even in the United States all scientists use Celsius. In Fahrenheit, the temperature where water freezes into ice is called 32 degrees, and the temperature where water boils into steam is called 212 degrees. Normal human body temperature is 98.6 degrees in Fahrenheit.

Everybody else in the world uses the Celsius scale. In Celsius, the temperature where water freezes into ice is called 0 (zero) degrees, and the temperature where water boils is called 100 degrees. Normal human body temperature is 37 degrees. Celsius invented his system some years before the French Revolution, but it got a boost from the adoption of the metric system by the revolutionary government.

Learn by doing: thermometer project
More about temperature

Bibliography and further reading about temperature:

The Celsius Thermometer (An Early Metric Book), by William J. Shimek, George Overlie (1975).

Temperature (Measuring the Weather), by Alan Rodgers, Angella Streluk (2002).

Science Projects About Temperature and Heat, by Robert Gardner, Eric Kemer (1994)

More about temperature
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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