Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion
How hot is it today? Well, that depends where you are — in more ways than one. If you are in a hot country, the temperature is higher, and in a cold country the temperature is lower. Okay, so what else is new? Well there is also the issue of how we measure temperature.
In this step we have a look at the important conversion between the Celsius and Fahrenheit systems, illustrating the idea of a linear relation which is not a direct proportionality.
Celsius versus Fahrenheit
In most countries around the world, temperature is measured in the Celsius system, where water freezes at and boils at . Such countries include those in Europe, most of Asia and Africa, and Australia. However there are some countries, including notably the USA, where the Fahrenheit system is used, with water freezing at and boiling at . Canada uses a mix of Celsius and Fahrenheit.
So a natural question is: how do we convert from one temperature to another? One way is with a chart:
A more visual way is to plot corresponding points. Let’s denote the two variables by and , standing (of course) for Fahrenheit and Celsius respectively.
A linear relationship
The value goes with , while the value goes with the value . So let’s make a graph.
Suppose we want primarily to convert from Celsius values to Fahrenheit. Then we would treat as the horizontal variable, and as the vertical variable. Here is then our plane, with the two points that we know:
For the line , the -intercept is , which we can see is . How about the slope of the line? It is
Let’s get some practice converting from one system to the other. You can use the formula, or possibly eyeball things from the graph of the line.
Q1 (E): (room temperature) So using our formula, find when .
Q2 (E): (hot day) Find when .
Q3 (E): (cold day) Find when .
© “Sahara Desert” by wonker/Flickr CC BY 2.0
Q4 (E): (hottest day on record) Find when (recorded on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA).
© “Talkessel von Werchojansk” Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
Q5 (M): (coldest day on record) When find (recorded on 21 July 1983 at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica).
Fahrenheit to Celsius
Q6 (M): Rearrange the equation to find in terms of .
A1. (room temperature)
A2. (hot day)
A3. (cold day)
A4. (hottest day)
A5. (coldest day)
A6. You can (if you already know how) construct the line using the two points on the graph. A faster method is to rearrange the equation into
We could also rewrite this as
© UNSW Australia 2015