We measure the temperature in degrees, of course. Celsius. Or is it Fahrenheit? Haven’t we also heard something about temperatures in Kelvin? What does it all actually mean on a scale of zero to one hundred?
At zero degrees Celsius, it’s cold if we’re not properly dressed. And we’re better off not knowing what it’s like at one hundred degrees Celsius – because then we’d be dead.
At zero degrees Fahrenheit we’d say: really pretty cold. To be precise, almost –18 degrees Celsius. We did have that just now, it’s true, but it wasn’t much fun.
At 100 degrees Fahrenheit, on the other hand, we’d be searching for shade. But nothing worse, either, as our usual thermometer would be showing nearly 38 degrees Celsius.
Still stranger for most of us is calculating the temperature in degrees Kelvin. As a reminder, Kelvin is the unit of temperature which starts with zero as the absolute lowest temperature which can be measured on Earth: –273.15 degrees Celsius. It’s very easy to answer how we’d experience this low temperature: we wouldn’t.
If you’re now hoping that one hundred degrees Kelvin would mean a noticeable improvement – unfortunately not. Because the Kelvin scale counts upwards with exactly the same unit sizes as the Celsius scale. So one hundred Kelvin means, calculated as degrees Celsius, –173.15. And the same is true for this temperature as for zero degrees Kelvin: nothing would survive.
It’s obviously time for us to get better acquainted with the Fahrenheit scale.