What I Think Tank

Archive for October 2015

The Superior Temperature Scale

leave a comment »

The Fahrenheit scale often gets a lot of grief for being an arbitrary and weird looking temperature scale, while Celsius is often touted by the rest of the world as the superior scale. Of course, there is little difference between the two, really, other than people not grasping why the melting point of water should be 32 degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the 0 degree Celsius.

The snobbery and self-glorifying in the rest of the world for using the Celsius scale is quite unfounded, however. The Fahrenheit scale gives much more accurate measurement in whole numbers, when we talk about the temperatures that we normally operate within, and could easily be regarded as the superior temperature scale of the two.


As one can see, the Celsius scale is merely a temperature scale calibrated to the Kelvin scale, where 1 degree up or down on the Celsius scale is the same difference as 1 Kelvin on the Kelvin scale. This means that absolute zero, which is 0 Kelvin, is put to -273.15 degrees Celsius, and the melting point of water is 0 degrees Celsius, which would be 273.15 Kelvin.

The same kind of logic is found in the Fahrenheit scale, which is calibrated to the Rankine scale (or rather, it could be seen as the other way around in this instance, but let’s press on for argument’s sake…), where 1 degree up or down on the Fahrenheit scale is the same difference as 1 degree Rankine. This means that absolute zero, which is 0 degree Rankine, is put to -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature of a frozen brine solution is 0 degree Fahrenheit , which would be 459.67 degrees Rankine. The melting point of water, on the other hand, is put to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be 32 degrees Rankine hotter than the frozen brine solution, and the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which gives exactly 180 degrees of difference to work on here.

The Fahrenheit scale, like the Celsius scale, operates within a similar set of exact and meaningful measurements, and actually does so with a higher degree of accuracy in day to day temperature measurements. But it’s also true that it holds less symbolic meaning for us. Fahrenheit lacks the link between the meaning of cold as minus or negative, given the color blue, and hot as plus or something positive, given the color red. For all the strengths of the Fahrenheit scale, it lacks this inherent meaning of language and symbols, that Celsius seems to include. On the other hand, it holds a superiority over Celsius, in terms of daily usage accuracy.

I think there should be room for a temperature scale that combines the strengths of both and corrects the supposed arbitrary nature of the Fahrenheit scale. Since Wikipedia doesn’t inform me of a scale that does this, and because I’m too lazy to research the landscape of temperature scales any further, let me introduce my own scale, the Rolland scale.

The Rolland scale is calibrated to the Fahrenheit/Rankine scales, with Rolland as the unit of measurement, meaning 1 Rolland up or down on the Rolland scale is the same temperature difference as 1 degree Fahrenheit or 1 degree Rankine. In addition, the Rolland scale applies a Celsius-like way of defining temperatures, which links minus/negative temperatures with frost, and plus/positive temperatures with heat. For that reason, absolute zero, which is defined as 0 degree Rankine, becomes -491.67 Rolland, and the melting point of water (at standard pressure), which is 491.67 degrees Rankine, becomes 0 Rolland. This also gives us a boiling point of water at ~180 Rolland, an average body core temperature for humans at ~66 Rolland, and an average surface temperature on Earth at ~27 Rolland. These numbers are perfectly viable and easy to remember, working within a good and fairly wide spectrum of numbers that people will be able to make sense of.

In other words, the Rolland scale is like the Fahrenheit scale, but re-calibrates itself for the melting point of water, rather than the temperature of an ice brine solution. With Rankine as R and Rolland as Ro, the math would be the following:

[°C] = [K] − 273.15
[°F] = [°R] − 459.67
[K] = [°R] × 1.8
[°C] = ([°F] − 32) × 1.8
[Ro] = [°F] – 32
[Ro] = [°R] – 491.67
[Ro] = [°C] × 1.8

As an end note, I should consider the fact, that there are a number of temperature scales that begins with R, which means the Rolland scale must adopt an Ro symbol to be able to differentiate between them. I may need to rename it for that reason, but I’ll make that decision when the day comes that the world hungers for a new temperature scale to work by. For now, the Rolland scale, with Rolland (R or Ro) as the unit of measurement, is defined and ready, making your day much easier. If you have a Fahrenheit thermometer, you can simply change the numbers around, so that 0 is where 32 used to be, and so on. It’s that easy. Now you too can use the truly superior temperature scale.

Written by Morten Rolland

October 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm