Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit from Gdansk

Born in Gdansk, worked mainly in the Netherlands, known as the creator of the first reliable thermometers and the Florentine and Romer thermometric scales.
A member of the Royal Society of Science in London, he tried to create perpetual motion.

Facts of life

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was born in Gdansk on May 14, 1686. His father, Daniel Fahrenheit, was a respected merchant and shipowner and had shares in several ships. Mother Konkordia, from Schuman, a well-known Gdansk family.

He was baptized in St. Mary’s Church, he finishes St. Mary’s School and was supposed to continue his education for which he had “a special enthusiasm” in the Gdansk Gymnasium. However, the death of his parents when he was only 15 changes his plans. His legal guardians ship him for an accounting course and then for a merchant apprenticeship to Amsterdam. Young Daniel Gabriel develops a scientific passion instead of a mercantile one. He takes out a loan for the inheritance he will receive at the age of 18 and buys materials to build instruments and conduct experiments.

Around 1706 or 1707 in Amsterdam he builds the first alcohol thermometers with repeatable indications, in which he still uses the Florentine scale. When he reaches the age of majority, he receives his inheritance from his parents. He is still trying his hand as a merchant in Königsberg and Mittawa. However, he delegates commercial affairs to his brother, and he can take care of science, contacts with scientists, experiments and research.

In 1713, he builds the first mercury thermometers in Berlin and measures the thermal expansion of mercury, which will enable him to measure the boiling point of water. A year later, he leaves Gdansk and moves first to Berlin, then to Amsterdam.

Some achievements and inventions

1715 he constructs a mercury chronometer, perfects Huygens’ double barometer, and attempts to construct a perpetual motion machine.

1716 in Dresden, he improves the Newtonian reflecting telescope and builds a heliostat (a reflector device to keep the image of the Sun in a fixed position).

1717/1718 he improves his scale, using the boiling point of water to gauge thermometers, develops a new type of hydrometer to measure the density of both liquids and solids.

1718 – 1729 gives paid lectures in chemistry and physics for amateurs.

1721 describes the phenomenon of supercooling of water.

1723 At a meeting of the Royal Society of Science in London, he presents a double mercury and spirit thermometer with a common scale, discovery of the dependence of boiling point on atmospheric pressure.

1724 Reaches a record temperature of -40°F (= -40°C). Conclusion on the existence of the eutectic point of the mixture;

1733 presents a model of the human eye to guests from Gdansk and medical thermometers. He produces medical thermometers in Amsterdam and sells them for 2 guilders

1736 He receives a patent in Hague for a centrifugal pump to clean canals and drain polders.

At the age of 50, after a short illness, he dies on September 16, 1736.

He was buried in the crypt of the monastery church of St. Vincent in The Hague, where his remains rested until 1857. Currently, the final resting place of the physicist is unknown.

Fahranheit scale

the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahranfeit (F), which is equal to 100 degrees Celsius (C);

freezing point of water 32’F, equal to 0 degrees C;

the eutectic point of a mixture of ice and salt 0’F, which is equal to -18 degrees C

Temperature conversion formula

Degrees Fahrenheit to degrees Celsius (°F – 32) x 5/9 =°C

Celsius to Fahrenheit (°C x 9/5) + 32 =°F

The text was based on A. Januszajtis “From the history of science in Gdansk” and A. Januszajtis “Mr. Fahrenheit, a gentleman from Gdansk”.



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