Thermal Physics

Temperature and Its Measurement

Who developed the Celsius scale?

Mercury is a dangerous metal that can cause great damage, especially to the kidneys and nervous system. Mercury from a broken thermometer should not be touched, but instead scooped up and disposed of as a hazardous substance. Although mercury poisoning will not occur unless larger doses are ingested or it vaporizes and the vapor is breathed, one should take proper precautionary measures when handling it anyway. Mercury is not only found in thermometers but also in barometers, which measure atmospheric pressure.

On the Celsius scale the freezing point of water is 0° and the boiling point is 100°. The Celsius scale is named after a person whose life work was dedicated to astronomy. Anders Celsius (1701–1744), a Swedish astronomer, spent most of his life studying the heavens. Before developing the Celsius temperature scale in 1742, he published a book in 1733 documenting the details of hundreds of observations he had made of the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Celsius died in 1744 at the age of forty-three.


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