The Travelers' Temperature Predicaments (2)

by Wacek Kijewski - Date: 2007-01-18 - Word Count: 476 Share This!

Temperature measurement is very important to a whole range of areas and activities: science, scientific research, manufacturing, medicine and travel. Many European, Asian and African businessmen and tourists often travel to the USA and UK. These countries have not adopted the use of the modern metric system of measurement i.e. the SI system.

The accepted base SI unit of temperature is the Kelvin. A change of 1K is the same as 1 degree Celsius. As the degree Celsius is a convenient, easy to grasp in every - day - life metric unit, therefore both units are used in parallel. The Kelvin is used by scientists and engineers and the degree Celsius by everybody else worldwide. There are however, two prominent exceptions: the USA and UK who commonly use the Fahrenheit scale.

Daniel, Gabriel Fahrenheit, a German physicist was born in 1686 in Gdansk, Poland. The concept of the thermometer for measuring temperature changes is credited to Galileo. Fahrenheit is known for inventing the alcohol and mercury thermometers. His temperature scale is based on affixing 32 for melting point of ice and 212 for the boiling point of water under normal atmospheric pressure. The interval between two affixed points is being divided into 180 equal parts (the degrees Fahrenheit). The Fahrenheit scale was generally in use by English speaking countries up until 1970. Travelers to the USA and UK are often faced with the problem of how to efficiently convert the temperature in the degree Fahrenheit to the temperature expressed in the degrees Celsius without making a mistake and with a sufficient approximation.

The conversion formula "Fahrenheit to Celsius" is:

C = 5/9 (F - 32); read:

"In order to express the temperature in the degrees Celsius, I need to divide 5 by 9 and the result multiply by the temperature in Fahrenheit lowered by 32".

Quite awkward, isn't it?

A much simpler way to remember and easier method to do mentally is to memorise the four following steps:

F→→→C : "Subtract 32, divide by 2, add 10% ( or 1/10) of the result and add 1% of the total".

Let us see how it works:

E.g. 1: 98 F (your normal body temperature) →→→66 →→→33 →→→36.3 →→→36.7 C (rounded off to one decimal place).

E.g. 2: 102 F (your possible body temperature) →→→70→→→35→→→38.5→→→38.9 C

(High, pay a visit to the doctor!).

E.g. 3: 68 F (pleasant, refreshing outdoor temperature)→→→36→→→18→→→19.8→→→20 C

If you in a good mood, hum these four steps before the travel: "su-di-a-a", "su-di-a-a", "su-di-a-a"...!

Have a nice trip and keep warm!


PS.: Have you read my former article: "The Travelers Temperature Tips"?

If so, you will be able to find the answer to the following puzzle:


A student solving a problem on transfer of heat found a correct temperature change. However, he presented the answer without a unit. As it turned out, it did not matter whether he gave the temperature in the degrees Fahrenheit or the degrees Celsius. The answer remained the same. What temperature was it?

Related Tags: metric, si, metric units, celsius, fahrenheit, celsius conversion, measurement conversion, fun facts

Wacek Kijewski is the author of the 2007 edition - "SI Units, Conversion and Measurement Skills" (186 pp); USD 19.95 (Amazon USD 218 and USD 361). Stimulating and entertaining resource material on experimental science matters. Strongly recommended for students and lecturers of post-16 science and engineering courses. Read seven reviews: UNESCO, UK, South Africa, Botswana, United States, Hungary. Subscribe to free "SI Newsletters"; solve "The da Vinci code" puzzle, buy one copy and get the second copy free. Website: The book from other boksellers/websites is illegal. His former articles: "How to Measure Cultural Differences in Metric Units", "Is IQ the Metric Unit of Intelligence and ... Stupidity?", "Al - Gebra and Illuminati Linked Discovered". Born in Poland, Wacek Kijewski studied electronics, telecommunication, acoustics and pedagogy. He taught science in Poland, Hungary and became Lecturer and Principal Tutor in Nigeria and Botswana.

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