This work describes the evolution of temperature measurement in the last four centuries using thermometers based on the thermal expansion of liquids such as ethyl alcohol and mercury. The concept of temperature was strongly dependent on the researcher and there was no systematic temperature scale for universal use. The precursor of the common thermometer was the thermoscope, probably invented at the end of the XVIth century. In the XVIIIth century the instrument was greatly improved and several thermometric scales were proposed some of which have been in use until now. These scales were based on arbitrary points. Mercury and ethyl alcohol were the most employed thermometric fluids. In the XIXth century, the concept of absolute zero was a great advance in this field. The most important contribution during the XXth century was the establishment of international temperature scales. The design of the thermometer has been essentially the same along the last 300 years, but many models were proposed for industrial and research purposes. Its association with the densimeter was of great importance for control of industrial chemical processes and also for teaching purposes in the past. Nowadays, there is a clear tendency to replace mercury-based thermometers by electronic digital models. Thermochemistry is the natural relationship between temperature and chemistry.
This work describes some aspects on the evolution of the temperature measurement. In the XIXth century, the concept of absolute zero was a great advance since no arbitrary points were needed, in contrast to the current thermometric scales based on the volumetric expansion of liquids such as mercury and ethanol. Other temperature measurement methods were developed, being the principle of thermocouples and the pyrometers. The construction and use of a thermometer were early recognized as fundamental steps in teaching experimental physics in secondary schools and universities. The association between the thermometer and the densimeter was of great value for control of industrial processes and teaching purposes. The instrument found new designs in order to cover its new applications in science and industry. The most important contribution in the XXth century was the establishment of international temperature scales. The design of the classical thermometer based on the thermal expansion of a liquid has been essentially the same along the last 300 years. However, there is a clear tendency to replace such models by digitals versions.
Este trabalho descreve alguns aspectos da evolução da medida da temperatura. No século XIX a concepção do zero absoluto rompeu com a arbitrariedade das escalas termométricas então em uso, que eram baseadas na dilatação volumétrica de líquidos como mercúrio e etanol. Novos métodos de medição de temperatura foram desenvolvidos, sendo a base do funcionamento de termopares e pirômetros. A construção e o uso do termômetro foram reconhecidos como etapas fundamentais no ensino da física experimental em escolas e universidades. A associação do termômetro com o densímetro foi de grande importância no controle de processos industriais e como ferramenta de ensino. Novos formatos foram propostos para novas aplicações na ciência e na indústria. A contribuição mais importante ao longo do século XX foi o estabelecimento das escalas internacionais de temperatura. O formato do termômetro clássico baseado na expansão térmica de um líquido se manteve essencialmente o mesmo nos últimos 300 anos. Contudo, existe uma clara tendência à substituição dos termômetros de mercúrio por modelos digitais.