Temperature - Temperature Scales

Temperature Scales

See also: Scale of temperature

Much of the world uses the Celsius scale (°C) for most temperature measurements. It has the same incremental scaling as the Kelvin scale used by scientists, but fixes its null point, at 0°C = 273.15K, approximately the freezing point of water (at one atmosphere of pressure). The United States uses the Fahrenheit scale for common purposes, a scale on which water freezes at 32 °F and boils at 212 °F (at one atmosphere of pressure).

For practical purposes of scientific temperature measurement, the International System of Units (SI) defines a scale and unit for the thermodynamic temperature by using the easily reproducible temperature of the triple point of water as a second reference point. The reason for this choice is that, unlike the freezing and boiling point temperatures, the temperature at the triple point is independent of pressure (since the triple point is a fixed point on a two-dimensional plot of pressure vs. temperature). For historical reasons, the triple point temperature of water is fixed at 273.16 units of the measurement increment, which has been named the kelvin in honor of the Scottish physicist who first defined the scale. The unit symbol of the kelvin is K.

Absolute zero is defined as a temperature of precisely 0 kelvins, which is equal to −273.15 °C or −459.67 °F.

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