Fahrenheit is a temperature measurement scale that uses the degree Fahrenheit symbol (°F). This system of temperature measurement is based on a scale proposed by Dutch-German-Polish physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1724. The scale is defined by two fixed points: 32 °F (the freezing point of water) and 212 °F (the boiling point of water). These two points are separated by 180°F and assume the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.
History of the Fahrenheit Scale
Fahrenheit introduced an initial temperature scale in 1724, which included two points of reference: a zero point and 96 degrees. He obtained the 0 point by placing a thermometer inside a solution of ice, ammonium chloride, and water, while the 96 degree point was the approximate temperature of a healthy human body. Fahrenheit’s temperature scale was based on the work of Danish astrologist Ole Rømer, who Fahrenheit had previously met. On Ole Rømer’s scale, the freezing point of brine was zero, water melted and froze at 7.5 degrees, the average body temperature of a human being was 22.5 degrees, while the boiling point of water was 60 degrees. Fahrenheit multiplied these values by four to expand the scale’s granulation and to get rid of fractions.
Fahrenheit recalibrated the scale by using the point of melting of ice (30°) and the normal body temperature of a human being (90°). He then modified the scale to 32 and 96 degrees, giving a 64 point separation. Employing this scale, he observed that water’s boiling point was at 212 degrees. In the Fahrenheit scale, the freezing and boiling point of water are 32°F and 212°F, respectively.
Countries That Still Use the Fahrenheit Scale for Temperature Measurement
English speaking countries previously used the Fahrenheit temperature scale for medical, industrial, and climatic purposes until 1960, when it was replaced by Celsius scale. The Celsius scale is named after Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius, who developed a similar scale in 1742. However, the United States continued to use of Fahrenheit scale.
Today, countries that use the Fahrenheit include the Bahamas, Palau, Belize, the Cayman Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the United States and its territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.
In Canada, temperature measurements are conveyed predominantly using the Celsius scale, but references to the Fahrenheit scale sometimes occur. This is explained by the fact that the Canadian government passed laws in favor of using the International System of Units (SI), while still upholding the official use of traditional Canadian units. Examples of temperatures expressed using the Fahrenheit scale in Canada include cross-border weather broadcasts, oven temperatures, thermostats and thermometer scales.
In the European Union (EU), temperatures are primarily expressed using the Celsius or Kelvin scale. The Fahrenheit scale is only used as an additional unit alongside the Celsius or Kelvin scale.