Vail Daily column: Celsius or Fahrenheit? |

Vail Daily column: Celsius or Fahrenheit?

Butch Mazzuca
Butch Mazzuca |

The Celsius temperature scale was created in the mid-18th century and is part of the metric system. It’s also the planet’s “official” form of temperature measurement and has been adopted by the majority of countries around the world.

Who among us doesn’t recall learning how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius in science class? Truth be told, I always wondered why this was such a necessary bit of knowledge to acquire because the only time I was even remotely aware of the Celsius scale was when a teacher asked us to convert temperatures to Celsius.

Fast-forward about 50 years to a time when my wife and I were on a safari in Botswana and I noticed the camp’s thermometer read 42 degrees. We didn’t have a clue about the exact temperature other than knowing it was “hot!” But I wanted to know “how hot” and could not for the life of me recall the formula to convert one to the other and wished there was an easy way of making the conversion.

Not so fast

Shortcuts are great, but research has found that in the long run, we actually make ourselves smarter by doing things the hard way because every time we learn a new skill, solve a problem or complete a task that needed to be thought through (for example, planning your route rather than relying on your car’s GPS to do it for you), we boost our working memory.

But regardless of boosting working memory, if mentally trying to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit in your head (F = 9/5C + 32) doesn’t quite work for you, then there is a simple process to quickly make the conversion without a calculator.

After you determine the temperature measured on the Celsius scale, take that “factor” (in multiplication, the numbers we multiply are called factors and the answer is the product) and multiply it by two. Next, subtract the first digit of the product, and lastly, add 32.

For example: Suppose you’re visiting Jazon City, Saudi Arabia, in July (I don’t know why you’d want to be there in July, but for the sake of this discussion, just say you are) and you come across a thermometer that reads 44 degrees Celsius. But you want to know what the temperature is in Fahrenheit, so you can tell your friends back home simply how hot it was. Here’s an illustration.

Step 1: Double the Celsius temperature: 44 x 2 = 88.

Step 2: Subtract the first digit of the product: 88 – 8 = 80.

Step 3: Add 32: 80 + 32 = 112 degrees Fahrenheit.

While this method of converting Celsius to Fahrenheit isn’t quite as precise as the formula we learned in school, you’ll never be more than one degree Fahrenheit off. So give it a whirl and impress your wife, business associates, friends or whomever you’re traveling with the next time you’re outside of the country. And in case you’re wondering, the temperature where the two scales intersect is 40 below zero.

Quote of the day: “Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait, the grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.” — Henry Ford

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at