Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Temperature discovery

During the first psychogeophysical summit in London I performed two temperature walks:
It was a good first try and I should have perfected my techniques since then. But somehow I got sidetracked and I've neglected temperature and measurement.  Then we got a spell of cold winter weather. The cold reawakened my interest in temperature - as a phenomenon to be investigated by psychogeophysical and psychogeographical methods. 

In recent weeks I've been playing with the four thermometers that are in my possession and they are all very different. They have very different characters and I don't understand them yet:

  • The "garden variety" thermometer (the long one) is the easiest to grasp. It measures air temperature. Marcel Minnaert says that you have to swing it through the air "carefully but vigorously" to get a good reading. It is not very accurate but it is quite fast.
  • The digital thermometer (white) is quite accurate but very slow. And when I hold it in my hand I never know if I'm measuring the air temperature or my body temperature. Or a mix of both.
  • The infrared thermometer (pistol shape) is very accurate and extremely quick, but I'm not sure what I'm measuring exactly. Do I measure real temperature (black body radiation) or just the radiation properties of the object? Or a mix of both?
  • The thermocouple that came with my voltmeter (red). Sometimes it gives the same results as the other thermometers and sometimes not. I don't know why.

I have taken my thermometers for walks, but I don't have an intimate relationship with them yet and I cannot write about them as lovingly as Luke Howard does in his "Climate of London" - using scientific but florid Victorian prose:
A Thermometer should be mounted at about five feet from the ground and screwed on a fixed support; not hung up free and liable to swing and strike with violent gusts of wind.
The Thermometer may be set facing that part of the general North exposure, where, from the disposition of the surrounding objects, the heat may have the freest radiation to the open sky; a point which late discoveries show to be important.
To the above mounting, it will in some situations be proper to add a small shelter above the instrument, which shall suffice to keep off direct showers at least — and, at a suitable distance on the West side, a shade moveable on hinges, to be interposed, in the heat of summer, between the instrument and the rays of the afternoon sun.
There will be more about temperature in future posts. This was just a "warm up" exercise. 


  1. I think you would enjoy explorinf the video cited below.--- A new form of scying and divining answers from the vastest expanses. Could name it it "pychoalgorythmphyics"

    I'd Skip the firt 2.5 ninutes of babble. Watch and listen to Stephen Wolfram on "Computation and the Future of Mankind" at Singularit...: http://t.co/1cT03AOv via @youtube I found this on another blog http://monismo-contemporaneo.blogspot.com

  2. This is fascinating the combination of weather/temperature with walking. Looking forward to reading more.

  3. Thanks for the encouraging comments. That's what keeps me going :-)

    Another proof of the importance of temperature measurements - and doubt about the accuracy of temperature probes:

    Possible sensor failure throws Fukushima reactor temp. data into doubt


    TEPCO concludes thermometer is broken, says no cause for alarm


    New Fukushima scare blamed on faulty thermometer


    The antics of that thermometer -– one of six key gauges that tell the outside world how hot the fuel in the crippled No. 2 unit likely is — have transfixed Fukushima Daiichi watchers this month.