Temperature influences a lot of things in our daily life, from the clothes we wear to the amount of time we want to spend outdoors. When it gets too cold, most of us feel like snuggling up under a warm blanket, but when it gets too hot, we have trouble focusing on any task we have to do.
These 18 interesting facts about heat and temperature will surely teach you something new:
FACT #1: The Fahrenheit scale was invented by Gabriel Fahrenheit, a Dutch-German-Polish physicist. He proposed his temperature scale in 1724. The Fahrenheit is the official temperature scale used in the United States.
FACT #2: As for the Celsius scale, it used to be named the centigrade scale, but it was renamed in 1948 to honour Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius who had once established a similar temperature scale.
FACT #3: Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures are equal when they reach – 40°.
FACT #4: Heat is a mechanical property of matter. When an object is hot to the touch, it’s because its molecules are moving and vibrating quickly, and bouncing apart from each other. When the molecules are losing energy, slowing down and getting closer to each other, the object they are a part of will become cooler to the touch.
FACT #5: Because of what happens to molecules when they gain or lose energy, objects and substances can expand when they get hot, and contract when they get cold. This is how the mercury inside our thermometers can tell us the temperature.
FACT #6: The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth is 134.1°F, or 56.6°C. It was recorded in July 1913 in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California. The lowest temperature ever recorded is – 128.6°F, or – 89.2°C, and it happened at Vostok Station, Antarctica in July 1983.
FACT #7: The coldest inhabited places in the world are the towns of Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk, in Siberia. In average, the winter temperatures in these towns are below – 50°F, or – 45.56°C.
FACT #8: The hottest temperature ever created by human activities was 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 billion degrees Celsius. It was recorded when scientists working in a laboratory in New York tried to recreate the conditions of the big bang with gold ions.
FACT #9: The center of the sun is a lot hotter than its surface, and the center of the Earth is almost the same temperature as the surface of the sun.
FACT #10: While global warming is happening on our beautiful planet Earth, the universe keeps getting cooler and cooler as it keeps expanding. There is no need to get alarmed, however, as the universe is only losing 1 degree Celsius every 3 billion years.
FACT #11: A heat wave is when temperatures climb more than 9°F or 5°C above average, for at least five days in a row. This term was first used in New York in 1982.
FACT #12: Heat waves can be very dangerous for human beings. When it gets too hot for too long, we can suffer from hyperthermia, heat cramps, heat rashes, dehydration, or heat syncope. Many people die from excessive heat each year.
FACT #13: Even though polar bears have white fur, their skin is black. Why? Because black absorbs more heat from the sun, which allows polar bears to make the most of each sunny day.
FACT #14: When heat transfers to one substance to another that has a lower temperature, it can be called either conduction, convection, or radiation. Conduction is when the transfer occurs between two solids, and convection is when it occurs between two liquids or gases. Radiation is when energy, or heat, is transferred through space in the form of waves or particles.
FACT #15: Heat can be transferred, but cold can’t. If you touch an ice cube, for example, your hand will feel cold, but it won’t be because the cold from the ice cube is transferring to your hand. It’s the other way around; your hand will feel cold because the heat from your fingers will flow to the surface of the ice.
FACT #16: When heat transfers from one substance to another, it will keep doing so until everything is at the same temperature. If you pour a cup of hot coffee, and wait long enough, the coffee and the cup will eventually be at the same temperature as the air in the room.
FACT #17: Blankets help keep us warm when it’s cold, and some blankets may even be fire resistant, but blankets don’t conduct heat. What they do is that they act as insulation, so our body heat does not transfer to the cold air around us.
FACT #18: When we walk outside and the wind is cold, we feel cold because our body heat flows away from us more rapidly than when there is no wind. The next time you go outside and the wind is very strong, think about convection!