Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who Would of Thunk?

Well, you learn something new every day...

I'm reading The Know-It-All, the memoir of a A.J. Jacobs who read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. It's such a lofty goal... though I must say it sounds more entertaining than the complete Oxford English Dictionary, which was read by Ammon Shea, though it is just over 10,000 pages longer (EB: 33,000 pgs, OED: 21,730 pgs).

Anyways, today he's talking about Mr. Daniel Fahrenheit, creator of the Fahrenheit system of measurment. Students always wonder what Daniel Fahrenheit was thinking when he set his temperature up. According to The Know-It-All, here's what happened:

First he set the freesing point of a 1 NaCl: 1 H2O solution at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This would then make the freezing point of H2O 30 and the body temperature 90. Only he botched it, leaving us with funky numbers (32 and 98.6 respectively). Crazier things have happened...

I'm contemplating taking on this challenge myself. The first problem is I don't have an encyclopedia, nor the space to keep one if I did get one now. I think the first two things I'm going to buy/ask for when I move into my "own" house is a Encyclopaedia Britannica set and a Britannica Great Books set. I would get them now, but I'd have to pack them all around the continent before I settled back in Texas.

Warning for those who are considering reading this book: It's got language sprinkled throughout it.

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