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Wisconsin Historical Society

Drawing

John Muir's Thermometer

John Muir's Thermometer | Drawing | Wisconsin Historical Society
A sketch of a thermometer. Quoting from Muir's autobiography "My Boyhood and Youth" he described the thermometer as "made of an iron rod, about three feet long and five eighths of an inch in diameter, that had formed part of a wagon-box. The expansion and contraction of this rod was multiplied by a series of levers made of strips of hoop iron. The pressure of the rod against the levers was kept constant by a small counterweight, so that the slightest change in the length of the rod was instantly shown on a dial about three feet wide multiplied about thirty two thousand times. The zero-point was gained by packing the rod in wet snow. The scale was so large that the black hand on the white painted dial could be seen distinctly and the temperature read while we were ploughing in the field below the house. The extremes of heat and cold caused the hand to make several revolutions. The number of these revolutions was indicated on a small dial marked on the larger one. This thermometer was fastened on the side of the house, and was so sensitive that when any one approached it within four or five feet the heat radiated from the observer's body caused the hand of the dial to move so fast that the motion was plainly visible, and when he stepped back, the hand moved slowly back to its normal position. It was regarded as a great wonder by the neighbors and even by my own all-bible father".
DESCRIPTION
A sketch of a thermometer. Quoting from Muir's autobiography "My Boyhood and Youth" he described the thermometer as "made of an iron rod, about three feet long and five eighths of an inch in diameter, that had formed part of a wagon-box. The expansion and contraction of this rod was multiplied by a series of levers made of strips of hoop iron. The pressure of the rod against the levers was kept constant by a small counterweight, so that the slightest change in the length of the rod was instantly shown on a dial about three feet wide multiplied about thirty two thousand times. The zero-point was gained by packing the rod in wet snow. The scale was so large that the black hand on the white painted dial could be seen distinctly and the temperature read while we were ploughing in the field below the house. The extremes of heat and cold caused the hand to make several revolutions. The number of these revolutions was indicated on a small dial marked on the larger one. This thermometer was fastened on the side of the house, and was so sensitive that when any one approached it within four or five feet the heat radiated from the observer's body caused the hand of the dial to move so fast that the motion was plainly visible, and when he stepped back, the hand moved slowly back to its normal position. It was regarded as a great wonder by the neighbors and even by my own all-bible father".
RECORD DETAILS
Image ID:32861
Creation Date: 1863
Creator Name:Muir, John
City:
County:
State:
Collection Name:
Genre:Drawing
Original Format Type:drawings
Original Format Number:PH 4145 (5)
Original Dimensions:8 x 12 inches
SUBJECTS
Inventions
Meteorological instruments

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Reference Details
Location:Wisconsin Historical Society Archives, 4th Floor, Madison, Wisconsin

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