Did you know that initially the boiling temperature of water was set at 0 degrees, while the freezing point was set to 100? Jean-Pierre Christin, a French physicist born today in 1683, reversed that scale into one we recognize today. In 1742 he published a research paper that showed the design of a thermometer. On that thermometer, the “Thermometer of Lyon” 0 degrees represented the freezing point of water and 100 degrees represented the boiling point of water, a scale that we continue to use today.
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Jean-Pierre Christin was also an astronomer, mathematician, and musician.
Jean-Pierre Christin was just one of many scientists that independently developed a scale for measuring temperature. Around the same time, Carolus Linnaeus also developed a thermometer with the same scale as Jean-Pierre Christin’s.
One of the Thermometers of Lyon is kept at the Science Museum in London.