The Man Who Invented the Celsius Scale

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Anders Celsius was a Swedish-born astronomer who made one of the most important contributions to science to this day. He spent most of his life working as a professor for Uppsala University in Sweden, but also visited Italian observatories frequently to study the stars.

His interest in astronomy led him to publish a collection of observations of Aurora Borealis. In 1742, however, his real work was done. He create the Celsius Temperature Scale, whichw as presented to the Swedish Academy of Sciences that same year. Using a simple scale of 0-11, Celsius hoped to provide some form of scientific measurement that could precisely tell the freezing and boiling points of water.

Originally, boiling was set to 0 while freezing was set to 100. That scale was reversed by Carolus Linnaeus in 1745. Linnaeus was utilizing the scale for precise scientific experiments, and began advocating for the tool’s wider adoption on the international stage.

One of the experiments that helped to sell the device as a precise instrument involved showing that the freezing point of water would remain consistent, regardless of the atmospheric pressure or latitude the water was placed into. There was a great deal of opposition to scales that could be used internationally, because it was widely believed the boiling and freezing points for water differed wildly depending on where the measurements were conducted. Linnaeus was able to successfully utilize the Celsius scale to disprove these beliefs.

Celsius succumbed to tuberculosis in 1744, and was buried at the Old Uppsala Church. In honor of his contributions, scientists and astronomers have named the Celsius crater of the moon after him.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.

Leave a Reply