An Observation of Sorts II

100619_142315_0.pngAn Observation of Sorts II -

While we may be self-confusing in weights and measures, we are also confusing in measuring temperatures in relation to the rest of the world.

In America we use the Fahrenheit scale - except in most science classes - while the rest of the world uses the Celsius scale.  

There's a short anecdote that serve to illustrate the confusion that this can cause.  When I recently moved back to Maine, my California friends wanted to know the temperature here, and of course that was the occasion for several phone calls and expressions of sympathy for having moved to Maine.  In Maine, we can always discuss the weather.

It turns out that several of my California friends are Israeli and/or European in origin, and the expression of temperature became a point of discussion.

"What's the temperature there today, Roger?"
"Well, it's cold at 10 below zero."
"Well, that is cold -that's 10 degrees below freezing.  We just don't have temperatures 10 degrees below freezing."
"Wait, it's not 10 degrees below freezing, it's 10 degrees below zero."
"What's the difference?"

It was only then it dawned on me that my California friends were thinking of the Celsius scale.

"Hold on there.  Ten below zero is 42 degrees below the point of freezing because freezing is at 32 degrees."
"You mean you are 42 degrees below the point where water freezes?"
"Well, not exactly, but more or less."
"Roger, that is more degrees below freezing than we are above freezing."
"Well, it's a bit chilly out side."

The conversation was wonderful, the appreciation great, but the confusion palpable as two different systems of measurement conflicted.  

Again, is it better to have one or two systems?

Again, how do we teach that to children?

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