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# Thread: Today it was so cold in Los Angeles that …

1. Originally Posted by Truzi
We were supposed to have switched in the 80s. It didn't quite work out. BTW, 0 degrees is as arbitrary as 32 (unless we're talking Kelvin). It is the increments where metric makes more sense.
0 for the freezing point of water and 100 for the boiling point is hardly arbitrary. Seems pretty well thought out to me.

2. Originally Posted by hoffy
0 for the freezing point of water and 100 for the boiling point is hardly arbitrary. Seems pretty well thought out to me.
Why is 100 the boiling point of water? Why not 1,000?
Why does freezing have to be zero, especially since it is not "absolute zero" as in the Kelvin scale. In other words, there is something below it.
Why water? At the typical temperature ranges we experience, water is a convenient thing to measure due to freezing/boiling points, and it is abundant, but it certainly is not some non-arbitrary choice.

The Fahrenheit scale used the freezing point of salt-water (brine) as 0. Considering the majority of water on this planet is brine (though a different salt than what Fahrenheit used), why would that be more arbitrary than anything else? The other points in the Fahrenheit scale were (to me) odd choices, but that is beyond the point.
Celsius also chose to standardize on water, and to call it's freezing point 100 and it's boiling point 0 (now reversed). Keeping the divisions base-10, and using three phases of water for the points of standardization, is more consistent - and as you said, well thought out.
It is, none-the-less, arbitrary.

3. Water is used because it is universal, and pure water is used because it is easy to make through distillation. Brine must be of a specified salt, and the salt must be itself pure, both of which complicate things needlessly. Then the brine would have to be fully saturated to be consistent, and that varies with temperature- more complication.
Elevation of course lowers the boiling point, but that can be corrected mathematically.

I don't see how using a known, consistent, reproducible reference is arbitrary, except that any type of measurement can be considered arbitrary on some level.

4. Originally Posted by Truzi
Why is 100 the boiling point of water? Why not 1,000?
Why does freezing have to be zero, especially since it is not "absolute zero" as in the Kelvin scale. In other words, there is something below it.
Why water? At the typical temperature ranges we experience, water is a convenient thing to measure due to freezing/boiling points, and it is abundant, but it certainly is not some non-arbitrary choice.
I don't mind if people engage in mental masturbation. I just don't want to watch them do it.

5. LOL - this thread is hysterical!

I see you guys are in prime form! Thank god things haven't changed!

6. This is California we never till any it get cold here
I live in the center we got in to the teens here and no know it rain here too.
Oh yes never till about how cold the water to swing
WE ONLY say it is sunny all day.

Dave

Originally Posted by Sirius Glass
Today it was so cold in Los Angeles that …
we had to close the windows
I put up the top on my convertible
I saw people wearing socks with their sandals
I bought a sweater today
I took the ice out of my coffee

7. Originally Posted by lxdude
Water is used because it is universal, and pure water is used because it is easy to make through distillation. Brine must be of a specified salt, and the salt must be itself pure, both of which complicate things needlessly. Then the brine would have to be fully saturated to be consistent, and that varies with temperature- more complication.
Elevation of course lowers the boiling point, but that can be corrected mathematically.

I don't see how using a known, consistent, reproducible reference is arbitrary, except that any type of measurement can be considered arbitrary on some level.
I am only disagreeing with the use of "arbitrary." Otherwise, I quite agree with you.

An aside: living in a country that primarily uses Fahrenheit and other non-metric scales, I obviously have difficulty interpreting the more logical measures in day-to-day life because of what I am used to, familiar with, and exposed to. I do, however, find metrics far more logical. When reading scientific studies (which I sometimes do for fun), or mixing photographic chemicals (I suppose also recreationally), metrics are easier for me. If you tell me the outside temperature in F, I know if I consider it comfortable. When someone in Europe posts the temperature in C, I have to cross-reference. I would be fine if the U.S. finally completed its conversion to metric, though would feel nostalgic for what I'd grown up with.

The best way to do things is, as you say, to use a known, consistent, reproducible reference. The Fahrenheit scale (and others) have also done this. However, there is nothing written by any deity on any stone tablets or flaming letters on a mountain stating what that reference must be, or what the 0 and 100 points must be (or whether those numbers must be used at all). It had to be standardized on something, and what was chosen was abundant and _easy_ (relative to other choices - though I'm sure a chemist would prove me wrong). Water should be "pure," etc., to be consistent; and "pure" water is not universally available on this planet without complicating things.

Absolute zero is less arbitrary (though still theoretical) - it is the cessation of molecular activity and has nothing to do with what kind of molecules we standardize on. Of course, one could argue it's still arbitrary, lol.
Just because it is now a standard, and we (presumably) agree a good and logical one, does not mean it is not arbitrary, that is all.

Tangentially related to onanism, they had statuary back when these scales were created, so 0 could have just as easily had something to do with a brass monkey. Actually, there are circles around here where the brass-monkyometer does seem to be an unofficial standard.

8. Truzi,

I am fairly certain that if one cannot obtain pure water, one (or more than one, for that matter--one is so arbitrary) is not going to be concerned about establishing an exact measure of temperature which can be applied to an agreed-upon scale of measure. That is, if one (or more) is in the Sahara desert or Death Valley in mid-summer without a supply of water to distill into pure using the the sun's heat and a few simple items, the terms "hot", "\$#@% hot", and so on through to "\$%@&!!# HOT!!!", and finally "gack", are sufficient for the purpose of quantifying the amount of heat present.

As for measures of cold: one good thing about cold snaps around here, being that SoCal brass monkeys are no hardier than we SoCal people are, is that for a few days the meth-heads forage their fix-funding metallic recyclables off the ground instead of by stealing electrical wire, manhole covers, and bronze plaques. In fact, it is now difficult to use a brass-ball-on-the-ground count to determine coldness-- they have tweaked the scale, so to speak.

9. Originally Posted by VaryaV
LOL - this thread is hysterical!

I see you guys are in prime form! Thank god things haven't changed!
Wow! Been a while. First Walrath returns, and now Varya. Cool!

10. Basically all the discussion about the basis for the standards is bogus since none of us will go back to the standards to get the temperature. Instead we will check a thermometer or a brass monkey.

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