Transformation of energy

Biography of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, Thermometer's Inventor

Biography of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, thermometer's inventor

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit is the inventor of the degree Fahrenheit and the temperature scale that bears the same name.

Daniel Fahrenheit was a physicist, engineer, instrument maker, and glass blower born in Poland on May 24, 1686, of German origin. However, he lived most of his life in the Dutch Republic.

Their parents died on the same day in 1701 (Concordia Schumann and Daniel Fahrenheit). Afterward, he became apprenticed to a merchant who took him to Amsterdam as a bookkeeper.

He is the physicist responsible for creating the scale named after him for measuring temperature. He is also known for the invention of the alcohol thermometer (1709), the mercury thermometer (1714), and the development of a scale for measuring temperatures.

He pioneered exact thermometry by inventing the mercury-in-glass thermometer and the Fahrenheit thermometer scale.

From the early 1710s until the beginning of the electronic age, mercury-in-glass thermometers were among the most reliable and accurate thermometers ever invented.

The end of the biography of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit comes on September 16, 1736, with his death.

How Was the Degree Fahrenheit Invented?

Fahrenheit wrote in 1724 that, on his scale, 0º corresponded to the temperature of a mixture of water, salt, and ice, while 100º was the temperature of the human body. However, we can see that the temperature in these two environments is not totally accurate, so the Fahrenheit scale is considered quite arbitrary.

Fahrenheit was based on the Rømer scale, proposed by the Danish astronomer Ole Christensen Rømer in 1701. According to this scale, 0º was the freezing point of brine, and 60º was the boiling point of water.

Fahrenheit adjusted the Rømer scale so that water would freeze at 8º and human body temperature would be 24º.

The first Fahrenheit thermometers used this scale, but at some point, he multiplied the number of divisions by 4, giving rise to the current Fahrenheit scale where the freezing point of water is 32ºF, body temperature is 96ºF, and the boiling temperature of the water is 212. In 1714, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit published these results in the Acta Editorum.

Who Invented the Thermometer?

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit is also responsible for the invention of the mercury thermometer. Fahrenheit knew mercury was a better measuring liquid than the alcohol used in other thermometers since it boiled at a much higher temperature (357ºC versus 78ºC). 

His thermometers became the most reliable of the time. For these achievements, in 1724, Fahrenheit was formally accepted into the Royal Society of London in the United Kingdom. This same year he published several works in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.


Published: October 11, 2022
Last review: October 11, 2022