Thermometer, Uses

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Summary

A thermometer is a device that measures temperature or a temperature gradient using a variety of different principles. A thermometer has two important elements: the temperature sensor (e.g. the bulb on a mercury-in-glass thermometer) in which some physical change occurs with temperature, plus some means of converting this physical change into a numerical value (e.g. the visible scale that is marked on a mercury-in-glass thermometer).

Details

Thermometers utilize a range of physical effects to measure temperature. Temperature sensors are used in a wide variety of scientific and engineering applications, especially measurement systems. Temperature systems are primarily either electrical or mechanical, occasionally inseparable from the system which they control (as in the case of a mercury-in-glass thermometer). Thermometers are used in roadways in cold weather climates to help determine if icing conditions exist. Indoors, thermistors are used in climate control systems such as air conditioners, freezers, heaters, refrigerators, and water heaters. Galileo thermometers are used to measure indoor air temperature, due to their limited measurement range.

Alcohol thermometers, infrared thermometers, mercury-in-glass thermometers, recording thermometers, thermistors, and Six's thermometers are used in meteorology and climatology in various levels of the atmosphere and oceans. Aircraft use thermometers and hygrometers to determine if atmospheric icing conditions exist along their flight path. These measurements are used to initialize weather forecast models. Thermometers are used in roadways in cold weather climates to help determine if icing conditions exist and indoors in climate control systems.

Bi-metallic stemmed thermometers, thermocouples, infrared thermometers, and thermistors are handy during cooking in order to know if meat has been properly cooked. Temperature of food is important because if it sits in environments with a temperature between for four hours or more, bacteria can multiply leading to foodborne illnesses. Thermometers are used in the production of candy.

Medical thermometers such as mercury-in-glass thermometers, infrared thermometers, pill thermometers, and liquid crystal thermometers are used in health care settings to determine if individuals have a fever or are hypothermic.

Such liquid crystal thermometers (which use thermochromic liquid crystals) are also used in mood rings and used to measure the temperature of water in fish tanks.

Fiber Bragg grating temperature sensors are used in nuclear power facilities to monitor reactor core temperatures and avoid the possibility of nuclear meltdowns.

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External Links

  • WikipediaHistory of Temperature and ThermometryThe Chemical Educator, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2000)History Channel – Invention

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