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Thermometer

Page history last edited by Ann-Katrin Philipp 8 years, 12 months ago

1. OED Definition

 

     An instrument for measuring temperature by means of a substance whose expansion and contraction under different degrees of heat and cold are capable of accurate measurement.

 

 

2.History

2.1 Development of the thermometer 

 

     The word „thermometer“, which comes from the Greek is compounded from „thermos“ (hot) and „metron“ (measure). It was developed by various researchers over centuries who decreased the  error rate and improved its reliability. The device experienced the improvement since the 16th and 17th century. Galileo Galilei built the first thermometer with the ability of measuring and showing temperature in 1593.

Fig 1: Thermometer of Galileo Galilei,1593 

 

     Galilei's thermometer contained a thin glass tube in which glass ball was blown. The glass tube had to be placed in a bowl with coloured water. The glass ball inside of the tube was heated up so that the air spreaded out. When the air cooled down, the coloured water was drawn into the glass tube, since there was less air in the tube. When the temperature rises, the air in the glass ball expands. The expanded air suppresses the water out of the glass tube and the water level sinks. When the tube cools down and the air shrinks, the water is drawn into the tube.

    Galilei discovered the concentration difference of liquids in various heat conditions. That principle was the basis for the second thermometer by Ferdinand II in 1641 developed in Florence, Italy, where a liquid was filled into a glass cylinder and 5-10 glass balls were blown into.

 

Fig 2:Improved thermometer by Ferdinand II, 1641

 

     The glass balls were attached to small plates with engraved temperatures on it. In those glass bodies were different liquids. The bodies swam, hovered or sank to the ground of the outer liquid. If the temperature of the outer liquid changed, the bodies moved up or down, in the opposite direction of the starting position. The opposite happened when the outer liquid cooled down.The concentration of the outer and inner liquid is aligned, so the concentration changes when the temperature changes which makes it possible to recognize temperature changes. The temperature can be read of the plate of the free-floating body. If none is free-floating, the midpoint of the upper and lower number had to be calculated. 

     Galilei developed reliable devices, but they were no actual thermometers. The term „thermoscope“ was introduced, because it was possible to see heat changes, but without a scale that showed the actual temperature.

 

     The thermometer had to be improved since it did not only react on temperature changes, but also air pressure changes. So when the temperature stayed the same but the air-pressure changed, the shown temperature was incorrect.

     The third thermometer was developed by the french doctor Jean Rey in 1631. He discovered the mistake and improved the thermometer that was built up on the older one. The position  of the glass bodies was changed. They lay on the bottom oft he thermometer and were also filled with coloured water. Since the thermometer was filled with water, it could not show temperatures under 0°C. The measurement accuracy was still imprecise, but it improved to the first thermometer.The ensuing thermometers were filled with alcohol to avoid that side effect, except Sir Isaac Newton's thermometer. This was filled with linseed oil to measure the volume changes within the thermometer against his own researched calibration points (further information: 2.2) . 

 

     Every manufacturer used another scale on their thermometers. A student of Robert Boyle, who was a member of the Royal Society, had the idea to use the boiling point of water as the highest and the freezing point of water as the lowest reading. This had the advantage that every person could calibrate the own thermometer, since everyone had access to water.

 

 

2.2 Development of the temperature scales in the 18th century

 

     The three most important scientists working in temperatures scales were Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736), Anders Celsius (1701-1744) and René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683-1757) and Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726). 

 

     Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was born in 1686 in Danzig, Poland and died in 1736,  in Den Haag, Netherlands as an influential physician and inventor of the temperature scale „Degree Fahrenheit °F“. In 1717 he moved to the dutch city Den Haag as a glass blower and worked on the improvement of barometers, altimeters and thermometers. He developed precise thermometers with a three point calibration with a scale divided into 180 segments:

  1. Zero point 32°F
  2. Body temperature healthy person 98,6°
  3. Boiling point of water: 212°F

First he used alcohol and water as fluids for his thermometers, since 1714 also mercury. He got his idea from reading Guillaume Amonton’s scripts about the scale change of mercury barometers with which the temperature was described. Mercury was also used in many other instruments, for example the Chronometer. The thermometer itself was build before by Ole Romer in Copenhagen, but it could only be used with his calibration.

 

 

Fig 3: Fahrenheit working von his thermometer

 

     René-Antoine Ferchault Réaumur was born in 1683 in France. He worked on his alcohol scale around 1730, but it was unprecise since alcohol does not show a linear volume expansion. This leads to the fact that a one degree difference is never similar in different parts of the thermometer.

 The scale showed two reference points in „Degree Réaumur °Ré“:

1. Melting point of ice: 0° Ré

2. Boiling point of water: 80°Ré 

Réamur divided the scale into 80 different gradations between those points. The Réamur scale was mainly used in Europe, especially France and Germany and it was displaced by the Celsius scale.

 

 

Fig 4: Portrait of René-Antoine Ferchault Réaumur

 

 

     Anders Celsius was born in 1701 in Uppsala, Sweden. Since he was a child he was known for his mathematical talent. He was a professor at the University of Uppsala for astronomy, even though there was no astronomical observatory in Sweden. He campaigned  to built an observatory, what was built some years later and where he became the leader of the team.

     His scale was developed in 1742. The boiling point of water is 0°C and the freezing point 100°C, exactly the opposite of today’s thermometers. It arised the proposal to use the Celsius scale all over the world, to be able to compare temperatures all over the world. A student of Celsius had the idea to invert the scale , which did not change until today.

 

Fig 5: Portrait of Anders Celsius 

 

 

     Sir Isaac Newton was born in Woolthrope, England in 1642. He used to be one of the most influential physicists and mathematician. His scale called "Newton scale" was developed around 1701 and uses °N(N=Newton).

 

Fig6. Page1, The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne

 

     The paper "The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne" provides important information about the scale and probably refers to a paper read by Newton before the Royal Society in 1701 entitled 'Scala graduum caloris'. "Gradus caloris" means "degrees of heat" and distinguishes Newton's scale by using that term instead of "temperature". His scale starts at 0°N which describes the freezing point of water and is similar to the Celsius-scale. 

Fig7.: Page 9, The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne

 

     Nevertheless there is a difference in the Celsius-scale to the Newton-scale: Celsius boiling point of water is 100°C, Newton set the boiling point of water between 28 6/11°N and 34°N as seen in Fig8

 

Fig8.: Page 10, The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne

 

3. Usage of Thermometers

 

     The progression of the thermometer allowed to use it in different areas of life and helped to further the medical and physical research in the 18th century.

 

3.1 Journals

     Through the progressive development of the thermometer within the 18th century, it became possible to research the temperature changes over a certain period of time to promote the climatic understanding of the world.

     John McBride taped the thermometer to keep journal the of the winds and weather, and degrees of heat and cold at the Falkland Islands, from 1st February 1766, to 19th January 1767 published in: 'A collection of voyages chiefly in the Southern Atlantick Ocean', London, 1775.

 

Fig9.: Journal cover

 

 

Fig10.: Page 1, Journal of the winds and weather, and degrees of heat and cold by the thermometer, at Falkland Islands, from 1st February 1766, to 19th January 1767. John McBride,1775, London.

 

     The excerpt Fig10 shows one page out of eleven journal pages with detailed information about the temperature in °Fahrenheit of the Falkland Islands in South America. The public knowledge about temperatures of far off places in the world could be extended by the thermometer and it was possible to record temperature changes over many decades until today

 

     Another journal is "A treatise on the culture of the cucumber: shewing a new and advantageous method of cultivating that plant, with full directions for the management thereof and the heat it requires on every day." by James McPhail, who is a gardener. The possibility to collect trustworthy temperature data over a long period of time makes it possible to improve the propagation of seed, by planting vegetables at the most effective germination temperature. More information: https://data.historicaltexts.jisc.ac.uk/view?pubId=ecco-0815500300&terms=thermometer&pageTerms=thermometer&pageId=ecco-0815500300-10  

 

3.2 Medicine

 

     The thermometer was revolutionary for the medicine in the 18th century, since it was now possible to measure the body heat by holding a thermometer in the hand, under the arm pit or in the mouth. The diagnoses "fever" became a new symptom which could be diagnosed faster and be treated more efficient.

 

Fig11.: Excerpt from "A companion to the weather-glass"

 

 

3.3 Metaphor 

3.3.1 Moral Thermometer

 

     "An inquiry into the effects of spirituous liquors on the human body. To which is added, a moral and physical thermometer" written by Benjamin Rush in 1790 shows the usage of the term "thermometer" from a new point of view. He creates the term "moral thermometer" as metaphor to warn against the irresponsible usage of alcohol.

 

 

Fig12.:A Moral and Physical Thermometer by B. Rush

 

     The writing was originally first published as a newspaper article in 1784. Later on the book was published and became very famous. Rush clarifies in his work that people who are morally depraved through strong drinking habits cannot be free. He writes that he has known many great men and women, with excellent characters and principles, who have been betrayed by a occasional doses of Gin or brandy and fell into a love for spiritous liquors insomuch that they have fallen sacrifices to their fatal effects. Therefore he tried to start a movement against the excessive consumption of alcohol. 

     The sixth volume of the "Medical society of London"  by J.C. Lettsom (1744-1815) also broaches the topic of alcohol side effects and introduces the "Moral and Physical Thermometer" in the edition "History of some of the effects of hard drinking" published in 1791 in London.

 

Fig13.: Lettsom's Moral Thermometer

 

     The drawing Fig13 shows the scale from temperance to intemperance, beginning at one end with the healthy effects of alcohol and ending with the immorality outcome of excessive drinking.

The scenes on the top are idyllic, a nature setting and healthy people are shown who consume milk and water, shown on the left on the moral thermometer. But there are also alcoholic drinks that can be enjoyed without being disrespected by the public. Cider and wine are enjoyable drinks in a certain amount and ale and stout even have the reputation of improving the strength when they are consumed with meals or in small amounts. 

     Further down the scale, the normal life is losing its balance. Uncontrolled punching and fighting, hangovers in the morning control daily life. The people spend all their money for alcohol which disturbs their minds and makes them angry and violent. They also suffer from serious health problems like epilepsy or go to jail for the consumption of Gin

 

More information: https://data.historicaltexts.jisc.ac.uk/view?pubId=ecco-0426200400&terms=thermometer&pageTerms=thermometer&pageId=ecco-0426200400-10

 

3.3.2 Church Thermometer

 

     Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) used the term "ecclesiastical thermometer" in his 1731 published proposal "A proposal humbly offer'd to the P------------t, for the more effectual preventing the further growth of popery. With the description and use of the ecclesiastical thermometer, very proper for all families." to spotlight the catholic church in Ireland. Swift mentions that he ordered a parcel of "ecclesiastical" or "church" thermometers, one for each Parish Church. The "Church Thermometer" was invented during the reign of Henry the Eighth when he killed some people for owning the pope's supremacy. The glass was designed to calculate the different degrees of heat in religion, for example a rising temperature in popery or a cooled down temperature in the reformation.

 

Fig14.: Scale of the "Church Thermometer" by J. Swift 

 

     Fig13. shows the church as the middle point of the scale, between "Zeal" and "Moderation", which are both still admirable tempers. But when the temper rises or sinks too much, it always ends up in "Ignorance".

Closer information can be found at the following link: https://data.historicaltexts.jisc.ac.uk/view?pubId=ecco-0064501600&terms=thermometer&pageTerms=thermometer&pageId=ecco-0064501600-10

 

3.3.3 Political Thermometer

 

In politics, the population is often described as the "political thermometer". So uses the letter collection "Letters concerning the present state of England. Particularly respecting the politics, arts, manners, and literature of the times." printed for J. Almon in 1772 the term. Nonetheless the term "barometer" is more common to represent politics, an instrument to measure pressure.  

 

3.3.4 Female Thermometer

 

     "The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny (Ideologies of Desire)" by Terry Castle written in 1995 describes the view of the contemporary writers in the eighteenth-century. They made "surreal connections between mercury and blood, glass and flesh. In comico-macabre fantasias such as Joseph Addison's Spectator 281 (1712), in which liquid from a dissected "coquette's Pericardium" is used to make a thermometer measuring feminine lasciviousness, or Hogarth's satirical engraving "Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism"(1762), in which a gruesome "Spiritual Thermometer" measuring religious fanaticism rises out of the anatomized brain of Wesley, the impinging strangeness of the weather-glass was revealed: its body was a living body, its "blood" our own vital, pulsing fluid."(Castle 16) 

     The Female Thermometer itself is an invention to measure the lady's passions. "It consisted of a glass tube filled with a chemical mixture derived from distilled extracts of lady's love and maidenhair and "wax of virgin-bees." When acted on by "the circulation of the blood and animal spirits," this liquor would invariably "rise and fall according to the desires and affections of the wearer." (Castle 21) 

Fig15. Calibrations on the Female Thermometer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annotated Bibliography

 

Primary Sources

 

Journal of the winds and weather, and degrees of heat and cold at the Falkland Islands, from 1st February 1766, to 19th January 1767 published in: 'A collection of voyages chiefly in the Southern Atlantic Ocean', London, 1775.

 

An inquiry into the effects of spirituous liquors on the human body. To which is added, a moral and physical thermometer. By Benjamin Rush, M.D. professor of the theory and practice of medicine in the University of Philadelphia.1790,Boston

 

A treatise on the culture of the cucumber: shewing a new and advantageous method of cultivating that plant, with full directions for the management thereof and the heat it requires on every day. James McPhail, 1795. London

 

A proposal humbly offer'd to the P------------t, for the more effectual preventing the further growth of popery. With the description and use of the ecclesiastical thermometer, very proper for all families. Jonathan Swift,1731.Dublin

 

History of some of the effects of hard drinking. The sixth edition. By J. C. Lettsom,1791. London

 

Six, James. The construction and use of a thermometer, for shewing the extremes of temperature in the atmosphere, during the observer's absence. Together with experiments on the variations of local heat; and other meteorological observations. By James Six, Esq. F.R.S. Maidstone,  1794. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Warwick Library. 30 Dec. 2014 

<http://find.galegroup.com/ecco/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=ECCO&userGroupName=warwick&tabID=T001&docId=CW3308718399&type=multipage&contentSet=ECCOArticles&version=1.0&docLevel=FASCIMILE>.

 

 

 

Secondary Sources 

The history of the Royal Society of London for improving of natural knowledge, from its first rise. ... As a supplement to The philosophical transactions. By Thomas Birch,London,1760, printed for L. Davis and C. Reymers

 

The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne

 

A companion to the weather-glass: or the nature, construction, and use, of the barometer, thermometer, and hygrometer, with a short account of aqueous meteors, the form of a register of the weather, &c. Selected from the most approved authors, 1796. Edinburgh

 

Adams, George. A short dissertation on the barometer, thermometer, and other meteorological instruments: together with an account of the prognostic signs of the weather. By George Adams, Mathematical Instrument Maker to his Majesty, and Optician to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. London,  M.DCC.XC. [1790]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Warwick Library. 30 Dec. 2014 

<http://find.galegroup.com/ecco/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=ECCO&userGroupName=warwick&tabID=T001&docId=CW3306809787&type=multipage&contentSet=ECCOArticles&version=1.0&docLevel=FASCIMILE>. 

 

   

The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed. Dublin,  M.DCC.XXXI. [1731]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Warwick Library. 1 Jan. 2015 

<http://find.galegroup.com/ecco/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=ECCO&userGroupName=warwick&tabID=T001&docId=CW3308897833&type=multipage&contentSet=ECCOArticles&version=1.0&docLevel=FASCIMILE>.

 

 

 

Martin, Benjamin. Thermometrum magnum: or, grand standard thermometer. Expressing all degrees of heat and cold, from that with which Mercury boils, to that which congeals it into solid Metal. To which are adjusted the celebrated scales of Sir Isaac Newton, Fahrenheit, De L'Isle, and Reaumur, for comparing observations made in every part of the globe, and in all Degrees of Temperature in the Air, or any other Bodies. The whole delineated on, and illustrated by, a large copper-plate. By Benjamin Martin. London,  1772. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Warwick Library. 4 Jan. 2015 

<http://find.galegroup.com/ecco/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=ECCO&userGroupName=warwick&tabID=T001&docId=CW3307504353&type=multipage&contentSet=ECCOArticles&version=1.0&docLevel=FASCIMILE>.

 

Letters concerning the present state of England. Particularly respecting the politics, arts, manners, and literature of the times." printed for J. Almon,1772.London

 

The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny (Ideologies of Desire)" ,Terry Castle,1995, Oxford University Press

 

 

Oxford English Dictionary

http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/200595?redirectedFrom=thermometer#eid,04.01.15;12:30

 

Images

Fig1.:

http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/galileo-thermometer-granger.jpg,06.01.15;18:05

Fig2.: 

http://www.vde.com/de/ausschuesse/geschichte-elektrotechnik/documents/vortrag_irrgang.pdf/06.01.15;19:50

Fig3.:

http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.geocities.ws%2Fprofecossoli%2Ffotos-varias%2Fd-bernoulli.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.geocities.ws%2Fprofecossoli%2Fbiografias3.html&h=296&w=243&tbnid=kR80uJEh

EionrM%3A&zoom=1&docid=M3kgsua8gyV3UM&ei=pNOsVJ2XBZG8aZrggvgJ&tbm=isch&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=1594&page=2&start=24&ndsp=35&ved=0CM4BEK0DMDQ,07.01.15;06:40

Fig4.:

http://www.summagallicana.it/lessico/r/Reaumur_Rene.htm;07.01.15;07:35

Fig5.:

http://www.leifiphysik.de/themenbereiche/temperatur-und-teilchenmodell/geschichte,05.01.15;19:40

Fig6.:The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne

Fig7.: Page 9, The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne

Fig8.: Page 10, The nature of the thermometer deduced from Sir Isaac Newton's scale of degrees of heat hereunto annexed, Dublin, 1731, printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne

Fig9.: Journal of the winds and weather, and degrees of heat and cold by the thermometer, at Falkland Islands, from 1st February 1766, to 19th January 1767. John McBride,1775, London. 

Fig10.: Journal of the winds and weather, and degrees of heat and cold by the thermometer, at Falkland Islands, from 1st February 1766, to 19th January 1767. John McBride,1775, London. 

Fig11. A companion to the weather-glass: or the nature, construction, and use, of the barometer, thermometer, and hygrometer, with a short account of aqueous meteors, the form of a register of the weather, &c. Selected from the most approved authors, 1796. Edinburgh

Fig12.: A moral and physical thermometer: or, a scale of the progress of temperance and intemperance. B.Rush, 1780. London

Fig13. https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/update/moral-and-physical-thermometer, Wilkey.B, 10.03.15,08:26

Fig14.: A proposal humbly offer'd to the P------------t, for the more effectual preventing the further growth of popery. With the description and use of the ecclesiastical thermometer, very proper for all families. Jonathan Swift,1731.Dublin

Fig15.:The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny (Ideologies of Desire)" ,Terry Castle,1995, Oxford University Press

 

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