Fahrenheit

Fahrenheit

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Fahrenheit is the temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686–1736). Within this scale, the freezing of water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 into ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

 is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees. The temperature scale was replaced by the Celsius
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 scale in most countries during the mid to late 20th century, but it remains the official scale of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica...

 and Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

. The Rankine temperature scale was based upon the Fahrenheit temperature scale, with its zero representing absolute zero
Absolute zero
Absolute zero is the theoretical temperature at which entropy reaches its minimum value. The laws of thermodynamics state that absolute zero cannot be reached using only thermodynamic means....

 instead.

Definition and conversions



On the Fahrenheit scale, the freezing point
Freezing Point
Freezing Point is a news journal in the People's Republic of China which has been the subject of controversy over its criticism of Communist Party officials and the sympathetic ear it lent to a Chinese historian who had criticized official history textbooks...

 of water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) and the boiling point
Boiling point
The boiling point of an element or a substance is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid equals the environmental pressure surrounding the liquid....

  (at standard atmospheric pressure). This puts the boiling and freezing points of water exactly 180 degrees apart. Therefore, a degree on the Fahrenheit scale is of the interval between the freezing point and the boiling point. On the Celsius scale, the freezing and boiling points of water are 100 degrees apart. A temperature interval of 1 degree Fahrenheit is equal to an interval of degrees Celsius. The Fahrenheit and Celsius scales intersect at −40 °F ( and represent the same temperature).

Absolute zero
Absolute zero
Absolute zero is the theoretical temperature at which entropy reaches its minimum value. The laws of thermodynamics state that absolute zero cannot be reached using only thermodynamic means....

 is defined as −273.15 °C or −459.67 °F. The Rankine temperature scale was created to use degree intervals the same size as those of the Fahrenheit scale, such that a temperature difference of one degree Rankine is equal to a difference of , except that absolute zero is – the same way that the Kelvin
Kelvin
The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

temperature scale matches the Celsius scale, except that absolute zero is . The Fahrenheit scale uses (in the same manner as the later Celsius scale) the symbol °
Degree symbol
The degree symbol is a typographical symbol that is used, among other things, to represent degrees of arc or degrees of temperature...

 to denote a point on the temperature scale and the letter F to indicate the Fahrenheit scale is being used (e.g. "Gallium
Gallium
Gallium is a chemical element that has the symbol Ga and atomic number 31. Elemental gallium does not occur in nature, but as the gallium salt in trace amounts in bauxite and zinc ores. A soft silvery metallic poor metal, elemental gallium is a brittle solid at low temperatures. As it liquefies...

 melts at "), as well as to denote a difference between temperatures or an uncertainty in temperature (e.g. "The output of the heat exchanger experiences an increase of " and "Our standard uncertainty is ").

History


According to an article Fahrenheit wrote in 1724, he based his scale on three reference points of temperature. In his initial scale (which is not the final Fahrenheit scale), the zero point is determined by placing the thermometer
Thermometer
Developed during the 16th and 17th centuries, a thermometer is a device that measures temperature or temperature gradient using a variety of different principles. A thermometer has two important elements: the temperature sensor Developed during the 16th and 17th centuries, a thermometer (from the...

 in brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

: he used a mixture of ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

, water, and ammonium chloride
Ammonium chloride
Ammonium chloride NH4Cl is an inorganic compound with the formula NH4Cl. It is a white crystalline salt that is highly soluble in water. Solutions of ammonium chloride are mildly acidic. Sal ammoniac is a name of natural, mineralogical form of ammonium chloride...

, a salt, at a 1:1:1 ratio. This is a frigorific mixture
Frigorific mixture
A frigorific mixture is a mixture of two or more chemicals that reaches an equilibrium temperature that is independent of the temperature of any of its component chemicals before they are mixed...

 which stabilizes its temperature automatically: that stable temperature was defined as (−17.78 °C). The second point, at 32 degrees, was a mixture of ice and water without the ammonium chloride at a 1:1 ratio. The third point, 96 degrees, was approximately the human body temperature, then called "blood-heat".

According to a letter Fahrenheit wrote to his friend Herman Boerhaave
Herman Boerhaave
Herman Boerhaave was a Dutch botanist, humanist and physician of European fame. He is regarded as the founder of clinical teaching and of the modern academic hospital. His main achievement was to demonstrate the relation of symptoms to lesions...

, his scale was built on the work of Ole Rømer, whom he had met earlier. In Rømer’s scale
Rømer scale
Rømer is a temperature scale named after the Danish astronomer Ole Christensen Rømer, who proposed it in 1701.In this scale, the zero was initially set using freezing brine. The boiling point of water was defined as 60 degrees...

, brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

 freezes and melts at 7.5 degrees, body temperature is 22.5, and water boils at 60 degrees. Fahrenheit multiplied each value by four in order to eliminate fractions and increase the granularity
Granularity
Granularity is the extent to which a system is broken down into small parts, either the system itself or its description or observation. It is the "extent to which a larger entity is subdivided...

 of the scale. He then re-calibrated his scale using the melting point of ice and normal human body temperature (which were at 30 and 90 degrees); he adjusted the scale so that the melting point of ice would be 32 degrees and body temperature 96 degrees, so that 64 intervals would separate the two, allowing him to mark degree lines on his instruments by simply bisecting the interval six times (since 64 is 2 to the sixth power).

Fahrenheit observed, somewhat inaccurately, that water boils at about 212 degrees using this scale. Later, other scientists decided to redefine the degree slightly to make the freezing point exactly 32°F, and the boiling point exactly or 180 degrees higher. It is for this reason that normal human body temperature
Normal human body temperature
Normal human body temperature, also known as normothermia or euthermia, is a concept that depends upon the place in the body at which the measurement is made, and the time of day and level of activity of the person...

 is approximately 98° (oral temperature) on the revised scale (whereas it was 90° on Fahrenheit's multiplication of Rømer, and 96° on his original scale).

Usage



The Fahrenheit scale was the primary temperature standard for climatic, industrial and medical purposes in English-speaking countries until the 1960s. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the Celsius
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 scale (known until 1948 as centigrade) replaced Fahrenheit in many countries, typically during their metrication
Metrication
Metrication refers to the introduction and use of the SI metric system, the international standard for physical measurements. This has involved a long process of independent and systematic conversions of countries from various local systems of weights and measures. Metrication began in France in...

 process.

Fahrenheit is still used in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands of the United States are a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an insular area of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.The U.S...

 for everyday applications. For example, U.S. weather forecasts, food cooking, and freezing temperatures are typically given in degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists, such as meteorologists, use Celsius or Kelvin
Kelvin
The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

 in all countries. In some states, both measures are quoted.

Various reasons are given for the resistance to the Celsius system in the U.S., including the larger size of each degree Celsius (resulting in the need for decimals where integer Fahrenheit degrees were adequate for much non-technical work). Another reason is the lower zero point in the Fahrenheit system which reduces the number of negative signs when measurements such as weather data were averaged.

In some countries, Fahrenheit may still be used in daily life alongside Celsius. For example, Canada has passed legislation favouring the International System of Units, while also maintaining legal definitions for traditional Canadian imperial units. This means that Canadian weather reports are often conveyed using degrees Celsius yet virtually all Canadian ovens still make legal use of the Fahrenheit scale. Thermometers, both digital and analogue, sold in Canada usually employ both the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales.

Unicode representation of symbol


The Fahrenheit symbol has its own Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 character: "℉"(U+2109). This is a compatibility character
Unicode compatibility characters
In discussing Unicode and the UCS, many often refer to compatibility characters. Compatibility characters are graphical characters that are discouraged by the Unicode Consortium...

 encoded for roundtrip compatibility with legacy CJK
CJK
CJK is a collective term for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, which is used in the field of software and communications internationalization.The term CJKV means CJK plus Vietnamese, which constitute the main East Asian languages.- Characteristics :...

 encodings (which included it to conform to layout in square ideographic character cells) and vertical layout. Use of compatibility characters is discouraged by the Unicode Consortium. The ordinary degree sign (U+00B0) followed by the Latin letter F ("°F") is thus the preferred way of recording the symbol for degree Fahrenheit.

See also

  • Comparison of temperature scales

External links