What is temperature?

What is temperature? In order to define temperature, we use a quantity. This quantity will then tell us how hot or cold something is compared with a standard temperature. 

Now you may wonder what we mean by standard temperature. The standard temperature is the temperature at which water freezes.

After careful experimentations and observations, Celsius defined the standard temperature as 0 and we write 0°C.

Once we have 0 degree, which is the freezing point of water as our standard, any temperature that is colder or warmer can be measured relatively to 0 degree.

Notice that while 0 degree is the freezing point of water, 100 degrees is the boiling point of water.

What is temperature according to the United States of America

Celsius is not the only scale that we use to measure temperature. Another commonly used scale specially in the United States is the Fahrenheit.

0 degree in the Celsius scale corresponds to 32 degrees in the Fahrenheit scale.

0°C = 32°F

This means that the freezing point of water in the Fahrenheit scale is 32 degrees. We show you below an example of a thermometer with some Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature. 


Right now this thermometer reads 50 degrees Celsius or 122 degrees Fahrenheit. 

What is temperature in relationship to kinetic energy?

We can also define temperature in terms of its kinetic energy. Recall that kinetic energy refers to energy in action or energy of something that is moving.

Recall also that we explained all matter is composed of atoms moving about lightly and quickly.       

Therefore, the atoms in matter have kinetic energy.

This kinetic energy in atoms or molecules is what causes something to become warm.

The warmer something is, the higher the kinetic energy generated by the atoms of that thing. 

Recall also that the kinetic energy depends on the mass and the speed. 

Since the mass of an atom is not likely to change, the magnitude of the kinetic energy will depend mostly on the speed. 

This means that the warmer the object gets, the faster the movement of the atoms or molecules of that object.

What is temperature? Another scale

The Kelvin scale is used mostly in scientific experiment. In this scale, the number 0 is assigned to the lowest possible temperature.

Notice that it is not feasible to reach this lowest temperature in real life.

If we could, it would correspond to -273.15 °C or -459.67 °F

For such lowest temperature, atoms or molecules in objects will not move and have no kinetic energy.

What is temperature? Take this quiz to see how well you understand the concept.

Take the temperature quiz below to see how well you understand the concept of temperature. After completing this quiz with 100% accuracy, you will know exactly what we mean by temperature in physics terms. You will not need to use a paper and pencil to complete this quiz.

First, read this lesson about temperature and then take this quiz.

Objective of the temperature quiz:

  • Know what standard temperature is.
  • Know what temperature will freeze or boil water.
  • Know the scale used to measure temperature.
  • Match situations with it corresponding temperature.
  • Understand temperature in terms of kinetic energy.
  • Know what the Kelvin scale is.
Test your knowledge with the quiz below:

1. A standard temperature is

A temperature used in the UK
The temperature that will freeze water
A temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit
A temperature that can boil an egg.

2. The temperature at which water will boil is

100 degrees Fahrenheit
0 degree Celsius
100 degrees Celsius.
0 degree Fahrenheit.

3. 32 degrees Fahrenheit corresponds to

10 degrees Fahrenheit
10 degrees Celsius
0 degree on the Kelvin scale
0 degree Celsius

4. The temperature that will freeze water is

32 degrees Fahrenheit
32 degrees on the Kelvin scale
32 degrees Celsius
None of the above

5. Which statement is false

Atoms in matter have no kinetic energy
The lower the Kinetic energy, the colder an object
The faster the atoms are moving, the warmer an object
None of the above

6. When you are very cold, your body no longer have any kinetic energy

May be

7. Which temperature is the coldest?

0 degree Celsius
1 degree Celsius
30 degrees Fahrenheit
31 degrees Fahrenheit

8. The temperature in your room is likely to be

60 degrees Fahrenheit
24 degrees Celsius
98 degrees Fahrenheit
20 degrees Celsius

9. The temperature of ice cream is likely to be

30 degrees Celsius.
1 degree Celsius
-24 degrees Fahrenheit.
60 degree Celsius

10. The temperature outside is 0 degree. You don't know if it is Celsius or Fahrenheit. What would you wear?

A T-shirt
A coat
A long sleeve shirt
None of the above

Score =

I strongly recommend you try your very best to complete this temperature quiz on your own. Resist the urge to see the answers. Review the lesson about temperature again. However, if you still cannot get 100% on your own, click here to see the answers.

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