The accurate measurement of temperature is vital across a broad spectrum of human activities, including industrial processes (e.g. making steel), manufacturing, monitoring (in food transport and storage), and in health and safety. In fact, in almost every sector, temperature is one of the key parameters to be measured.
The means of accurately measuring temperatures have long fascinated people. One of the differences between temperature and other physical concepts, such as mass or length, is that it is subjective: different people will have different perceptions of what is hot and what is cold.
To make objective measurements, a thermometer must be used to determine how the physical property of a substance changes with temperature in a reliable and reproducible way. Thermometers that are calibrated and traceable to international standards guarantee the best results.
The first sealed thermometer was made by the Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany in 1641. Later, the scientists Fahrenheit and Celsius both made glass thermometers containing mercury, and used reference points (the melting point of pure ice and the boiling point of water) to improve the accuracy.
Although the Celsius scale has taken precedence over the Fahrenheit scale, the latter is still familiar in weather reports in the United Kingdom: a summer’s day temperature of 75°F seems much more pleasant than one of 23°C. In Guyana, temperature is measured in degree Celsius (°C).
Today, there are many types of thermometers including the Liquid-in-Glass thermometers, which have been in use for almost 300 years in science, medicine, metrology and in industry. There are also platinum resistance thermometers, Thermocouples and Radiation thermometers.
In 1854, Lord Kelvin developed a fundamental temperature scale based on the idea of the absolute zero, the point of no discernible energy, which is independent of any particular material substance. The Kelvin scale is widely used by physicists and engineers to determine and apply fundamental laws of thermodynamics.
Regardless of the type of thermometer being used, it is crucial that its accuracy be determined, especially if it is used frequently and over extensive periods. Currently, the GNBS has the capacity to test liquid in glass thermometers ranging from – 20°C to 90 °C, and digital and bimetallic thermometers from 30 °C to 600 °C. The GNBS encourages all companies, laboratories, and users of thermometers to submit their instruments on a periodic basis for calibration.
For further information, contact the GNBS on telephone numbers: 219-0062, 219-0065 or 219-0069. Please visit our website: www.gnbsgy.org and like our Facebook page: gnbsgy
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