A degree of change

The weather has taken a turn for the better – it has not suddenly become spring or anything joyous like that, but it is warming up during the days, and it is once again nice to be outside if suitably dressed. You feel that it will soon be spring, that things cannot be put off much longer. I would love to tell you how much warmer it is, but I can’t.

During the exceptionally cold weather I thought it would be fun to keep an eye on the outside temperatures. I looked around and saw that a firm on ebay was selling old fashioned looking maximum and minimum thermometers. I ordered one.

Now these thermometers depend a little bit of metal which sits on top of the measuring material which expands and contracts, thus leaving the metal bit at the highest point in the cycle – maximum one side and minimum the other. You can then go back and see how cold it was at three am and one pm. In happy far off days this substance was mercury, and the metal was a flat headed pin. When my new thermometer arrived, not only was the substance some kind of alcohol, but the metal was a naff straight bit of metal. On the minimum side it had got stuck in the bulb so it was only a maximum thermometer. I reported this and the nice company sent me out another one, telling me to keep the old one.

The new one had the alcohol stuck behind the maximum marker. So it was a minimum marker. I put the two outside in a good place out of direct sun. It then became plain from comparison with my car’s internal thermometer that the minimum was far too optimistic. And then the daytime temperature rose above five, and engulfed the inadequate metal bit on the ‘good maximum thermometer, distorting the maximum temperature reading by an unknown factor.

So, gentle reader, I cannot tell you how much warmer it is by day, nor yet how cold by night.


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