## Re: Rule needed: expressing temperatures in two units of measurement in text

Subject: Re: Rule needed: expressing temperatures in two units of measurement in text
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2019 21:37:27 -0400

Here's a related issue that is quite off the edge of the original question, but might be of use to someone writing for a magazine.

A good temperature rule is to avoid being "helpful" with temperatures near absolute zero. The journalist who translates 0.15 Kelvin into "roughly -460 degrees Fahrenheit" has unwittingly committed a scientific blunder.

Why? Because the Fahrenheit representation of absolute zero is -459.67, so "-460 F" is actually a temperature below absolute zero.

Would "roughly -459.52 Fahrenheit" be a better choice?

It's doubtful. The physics of things at such an incredibly low temperature cannot be simplified to a heavily negative number on either the Fahrenheit or Celsius scales. A proper discussion of the subject would require at least two or three extra paragraphs. The wikipedia article on absolute zero tells more than most people want to know. Far more.

On Mon, 17 Jun 2019 21:06:32 -0400, Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net> wrote:

I don't know if there is a rule but the convention you describe is common and I've seen it in recipes. I have also seen a slash used but that can be disruptive with measurements.

On 6/17/2019 9:17 AM, Lin Sims wrote:
In most of the companies I've worked at, when providing measurements in
both US and metric units, the style has been to provide the measurements
in one unit with the equivalent being provided in following parenthesis.

So, expressing a length as "1.5 inch (40 mm)", or expressing a range as:
"-4 ÂF to 77 ÂF (-20 ÂC to 25 ÂC)".

But is there an actual rule for that? And if so, where? I've been googling,
but so far all I've been able to find is a page on Nat Geo that provides
the above style in an example but provides no actual rule. My Gregg, Sun, and Microsoft Style Guides don't address it at all.
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Re: Rule needed: expressing temperatures in two units of measurement in text: From: Lauren

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