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Selecting a Thermometer
Reading the Temperature from a Therometer
Measuring the Temperature of a Liquid
Measuring the Temperature of a Solid
Measuring the Temperature of a Gas
Additional Topics
Self Check Exercises
Related Modules
Hot Plate/Magnetic Stirrer

Measuring the Temperature of a Solid


Since a thermometer can only measure the temperature in a small area, measuring the temperature of a solid directly is difficult. Powders or granular solids can be stirred at a very high rate and can be treated in the same manner as liquids, but it is difficult to feel confident in the observed temperature. For bulk solid materials (like a metal cube), the temperature is measured indirectly by performing a calorimetry experiment.

To heat a solid to a desired temperature, place the solid in a liquid or solution heated to the desired temperature and allow the system to reach thermal equilibrium (when the liquid or solution is the same temperature as the solid). Thermal equilibrium is observed when the temperature of the system does not change for several minutes.

check How would you heat a block of aluminum to approximately 100°C? Answer

It is often convenient to select a liquid that boils at the desired temperature. When a liquid is selected in this manner, reaching a desired temperature is easier since the temperature of the liquid does not have to be controlled by adjusting the setting on a hot plate or hot bath.

Set up a hot water bath and heat the water to boiling. Measure the temperature of the boiling water. Place the aluminum cube in the boiling water. Allow 5-10 minutes for the aluminum to heat up. Observe the temperature of the boiling water again. When the aluminum is removed from the water, the temperature should be the same as the observed temperature of the boiling water.