"The State of The World" Number 30
Complete Index Of All Issues
Fahrenheit versus Celsius
The Fahrenheit temperature scale was invented in 1724 by Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736). Fahrenheit, a physicist and inventor, was born in Pomerania (an area contested by Poland and Germany over the centuries) of German ancestry, but did most of his work, including creating his famous thermometer, in what was then the Dutch Republic (today, the Kingdom of the Netherlands).
Fahrenheit's temperature scale has water freezing at 32 degrees and boiling at 212 degrees. There are differing accounts of how Fahrenheit arrived at those seemingly illogical numbers, however his 0 degrees was reportedly based upon the temperature of brine composed of equal parts of ice and salt - hardly precise, and not something that most people encounter in their daily lives.
The Fahrenheit temperature scale was used primarily in English-speaking countries until the 1960s when nearly all began using the Celsius temperature scale, as explained farther below. As of the now, the U.S. is the only country that still uses the Fahrenheit thermometers.
The Celsius temperature scale was invented in 1742 by Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701-1744). It is also known as the Centigrade scale, from the Latin words centum, meaning 100 (the same word is used in cents i.e. 100 cents in a dollar; see also The Birth Of The Dollar), and gradus, meaning steps i.e. the Celsius scale has the "makes sense" freezing point of water at 0 degrees and the boiling point of water at 100 degrees - things that people readily experience in their everyday lives.