Weather Fundamentals

Early Weather History

Who invented the modern thermometer

Ferdinand II de Medici (1610–1670), Grand Duke of Tuscany, was also an accomplished physicist. He is generally credited with inventing the first modern thermometer in 1641. It consisted of a sealed tube containing alcohol. This type of thermometer was called a “spirit” thermometer, possibly because alcoholic drinks are sometimes referred to as spirits. Today, alcohol thermometers are still referred to by this quaint label. Ferdinand II improved on his design in 1654; ten years later, Robert Hooke (1635–1703) adapted the duke’s thermometer, standardizing the measurements in a more logical way (the duke had arbitrarily divided his thermometer into 50 degrees), using the freezing and boiling points of water as standards.


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