Choose values and generate scale

A Better Temperature System

There are 3 standard temperature systems (at least that are talked about in public discourse): Kelvin, Celsius, and Fahrenheit.

Kelvin is impractical for every day use but excellent for scientific purposes though, I feel, primarily physics/physical systems. The problem is standard temperatures range from 268.15K to 313.15K. Huge numbers with little changing between them.

Celsius has wide spread use across the globe (barring a few countries). It’s neat, 0°C freezing point and 100°C boiling point for water. Definitely a useful system expecially in scientific applications (especially with its direct relation to Kelvin) and cooking applications. But standard human temperatures range from -5°C to 40°C. A weird range where a value changing by 3 can have huge effects.

Fahrenheit! This is awful, this is not about how we should switch to Fahrenheit. Typical temperatures range from 23°F to 104°F which is fairly impractical but it is very close to a “percentage temperature scale” for humans. Think 0°F = -18°C and 100°F = 37.8°C. This is close to a good system.

The better system

A better system:

  • * neatly covers the typical temperature range (-5 to 40) wrapping it ~-1 to ~1.
  • * places room temperature (or comfortable temperature) at 0.
  • * places a fever (though not sure if this will stick around) at ~1.
  • * places (water) freezing temperature at ~-1.
  • * places (water) boiling temperature at some whole number.

If we go with a first attempt of fitting a linear curve to 2 of the above points we have:

  • * typical temperature range is -1.27 to 1.12 (which is okay)
  • * room temperature is ~0 (depends on definition but cool it popped out!)
  • * a fever (~37.8°C) is 1 (one of our chosen points)
  • * water freezes is -1 (one of our chosen points)
  • * water boils at 4.29 (Oh no! that’s not great)

This is fine though, because now we have some scale that gives a good percentage for humans. Some cool temperature points:

  • * 0.5 means its not boiling but it’s warm and starting to get uncomfortable if you’re not careful. 28.5°C pretty spot on
  • * -0.5 means its not freezing but it’s cold and you should wrap up. 9.5°C is pretty close
  • * 1 means its boiling and you should deal with it appropriately
  • * -1 means its freezing and you should deal with it appropriately

The small issue is that 28°C to 32°C is far larger a temperature jump (subjectively) than 10°C to 5°C. This non-uniformity will be addressed as this system improves.

For now (if you are in Cambridge) here is a little temperature guage for you.