Experts debate whether Fahrenheit is the right choice
Monday, March 23, 2015, 11:37 - The gauntlet has been thrown down.
Despite the U.S. being one of the last countries to officially use Fahrenheit, a post from Gawker is making the rounds online making a passionate defence for the unpopular temperature scale.
"Celsius is a scale, as Very Serious Scientists enjoy pointing out, that revolves around the freezing and boiling points of water. It's nice and even: 0°C is freezing and 100°C is boiling," said Gawker's Dennis Mersereau on his blog, "Since Celsius is based on water, it would make wonderful sense to use Celsius for the environmental temperature if we lived in water."
It's freezing cold out there today. It looks like this thermometer is not to far off from what it feels like outside. pic.twitter.com/Rwjrtj5YlX— PowerStream Inc. (@PowerStreamNews) February 15, 2015
For Mersereau, Fahrenheit is better for practical uses since our planet's temperature usually range from -20 F to 110 F if you exclude the deserts and polar regions (as opposed to -28.8 C to 43.4 C).
"With Fahrenheit, you're really cold at 0 F and really hot at 100 F," Mersereau wrote. "With Celsius, you're cold at 0 C and dead at 100 C."
Additionally, Mersereau argues that the scale used in the U.S. is more accurate.
"Fahrenheit gives you almost double—1.8x—the precision* of Celsius without having to delve into decimals, allowing you to better relate to the air temperature," Mersereau argues.
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But this last point quickly became a point of contention for those passionate about Celsius.
"[Mersereau] confuses accuracy with precision," American Geophysical Union's Dan Satterfield counters. "The higher precision of the Fahrenheit scale is really worthless, and the thermometer attached to your house or car cannot measure with an accuracy that matches the precision of the scale. In other words, I really have no use for a thermometer that measures in thousandths of a degree if the thermometer has an accuracy of 2 degrees."
Satterfield argues further that 0 C is an important number.
"Strange things happen on our planet when the temperature reaches the freezing point of water at standard pressure," he explained. "Lakes freeze, roads sometimes get very icy and Boston gets buried in ice crystals,so a case can be made that freezing is by far the MOST important temperature. Let’s make it an easy number to remember, like say ZERO!"
In Canada, metrication started happening in the 70s. The change to Celsius from Fahrenheit didn't occur until April 1975.
Fahrenheit vs Celsius pic.twitter.com/Cwt3JMto6k— Facts (@facts_weird) March 22, 2015
The Weather Network's Brett Soderholm isn't shy about which scale he prefers.
"I refuse to acknowledge a temperature scale that is only used by five of all the countries in the world," Soderholm joked.
He recognizes that Fahrenheit has its advantages.
"One of the advantages is that it has a bigger perceived difference," Soderholm explains. "The difference between -20 and 110 is 130 degrees whereas the equivalent in Celsius about 70 degrees."
But ultimately, Celsius is easier to understand for more people.
"The fact that 0 is the freezing point makes it easier to figure out if you should expect it to be too cold or not, as opposed to 32 F," he said. "It's a lot more intuitive."
But ultimately if you find yourself in the middle of the debate there might be a perfect temperature for you.
"A fun little quirk is that the scales are the same at -40," Soderholm said.
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