Monday, March 12, 2012

Philosophy = walking with a thermometer

Just taking a winter stroll with a thermometer can be an enlightening experience. Temperature is invisible and  the detailed differences are overlooked. But is the measurement accurate? Does it measure "reality"?

The same applies to just being in the landscape. Do I really see the landscape? Or do I see myself? Are my thoughts inspired by the landscape or are they just coming from the inside? Am I really seeing the outside world or am I just seeing what I expect to see?
+1.7 - What am I measuring? Is this the real temperature or am I measuring the behavior of the measuring device? Is this the "real" reality or is this the subjective impression of the observer? - It will become clear that the room thermometer is unsuitable for outside use. It adapts very slowly to outside temperature. It can take many minutes to cool from 15 to -3 degrees. 
+ 0.6 - Still measuring the thermometer temperature. But - we are *always* measuring the thermometer temperature. That's the way it works. There is no other temperature to be measured.
It would be very nice if this was a real measurement. It would prove that the suburbs are warmer than the open country. But if a difference exists it is probably smaller than this.
- 3.2 - This looks approximately right. From now on the measured temperature will sway around this temperature.
- 2.8 - Why is it warmer here? Is it because there is no wind? Because of the sunshine? Is it the way I'm holding the device? Is it measuring the real outside temperature or is it measuring me? 
- 2.9 - With all the possibility for error, how much does a difference of 0.1 degree really mean? How accurate is this thermometer actually? Am I seeing real differences or is it the inaccuracy of the device?
- 4.4 - This is in the middle of the open country. Here it is really cold. But maybe it is just that I'm shielding the thermometer from the sun and it is exposed to the wind. 
- 1.1 - It is unclear what explains this huge difference. Is it because there is more water around this area? Or is it just the orientation of the device with respect to the sun and wind? I'm walking in a North-West direction. Is that a possible clue?
- 3.9 - It looks like I measure a much lower temperature when I'm walking in a North-East direction than when I'm walking in a North-West direction. This would support the theory that I'm measuring myself.
- 4.2 - It is in this area that we measured one of the lowest temperatures: - 4.7. Maybe it's colder here because I'm in the shadows of the trees? Or has the device cooled sufficiently after leaving the pub where we warmed up? In the pub the device temperature rose to + 15 degrees.
- 4.7 - In this area we measured the lowest temperature overall: -5.7. But I have no photograph of that. Was it the wind blowing from the river? Or a pool of cold air that gathered below the river dyke? Or the wind blowing colder here? Or because we now were walking in a South-East direction? We really felt a difference between the -1 and -5 areas. This is a noticeable difference.

1 comment:

  1. It's easy to fall into being quite obsessive about tracing things like temperatures! When my father-in-law died a couple of years ago, I inherited his weather station. Now, when I come downstairs in the morning, the first thing I have to do is check the meteorological readings and look for patterns.

    My house is quite low-lying and is in something of a frost-pocket. I notice temperatures just 100m away can be 1 or 2c higher.