Monday, January 29, 2007

Less Than Zero

New York radio breakfast shows are obsessed with traffic and weather. From the moment the alarm trips it's a constant deluge of information about the various bridges and tunnels, and the current temperature in Central Park.

I grew up with Celsius. My parents were fond of Fahrenheit, but we principally conversed in the sensible 0 to 100 scale that the rest of the modern world has adopted.

Water freezes at zero and boils at 100C. That's straightforward at any time of day. 20C is comfortable. 30C is hot. Fahrenheit is an altogether different proposition. The numbers are all out of whack, and are hard to translate into a nice, round, metric scale. 32 and 212 anyone?

So, when the man in the radio tells me it's going to crawl up to 36F today, it takes a little while to realise what that means. Sure, there's a little more granularity with Fahrenheit, but that all gets swept under the carpet with terms such as "low" 40s and "high" 70s.

I'm having trouble adjusting to a scale based on the temperature of a bucket of ice water, and the body temperature of a cow.

1 comment:

timjohnston said...

Whilst I agree with your view on the superiority of Celsius as a scale, it has to be said that the American system is pretty consistent.

Garmin satellite navigation systems imported to the UK offer feet/yards & miles, or metres & kilometres - but most English people would (I guess) prefer metres & miles.

I think of soft drinks & wine in terms of metric quantities, but for obvious reasons think of beer in imperial units.

And to return to your original posting, I seem to remember growing up with celsius in winter and fahrenheit in summer...