Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit

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Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit[1] (23 June 1686) [2] – 16 September 1736) was a German[3][4] physicist, engineer, and glass blower who is best known for inventing the alcohol thermometer (1709), the mercury thermometer (1714), and for developing a temperature scale now named after him.[3]



Fahrenheit was born in 1686 in Danzig (Gdańsk), the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but lived most of his life in the Dutch Republic. The Fahrenheits were a German Hanse merchant family who had lived in several Hanseatic cities. Fahrenheit's great-grandfather had lived in Rostock, and research suggests that the Fahrenheit family originated in Hildesheim.[5] Daniel's grandfather moved from Kneiphof (in Königsberg, now Kaliningrad) to Danzig and settled there as a merchant in 1650. His son, Daniel Fahrenheit (the father of the subject of this article), married Concordia Schumann, daughter of a well-known Danzig business family. Daniel Gabriel was the eldest of the five Fahrenheit children (two sons, three daughters) who survived childhood. His sister, Virginia Elisabeth Fahrenheit, married Benjamin Ephraim Krueger of an aristocratic Danzig family.[6]

At age 16, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit began training as a merchant in Amsterdam after his parents died on August 14 in 1712 from eating poisonous mushrooms. However, Fahrenheit's interest in natural science led him to begin studies and experimentation in that field. From 1717, he traveled to Berlin, Halle, Leipzig, Dresden, Copenhagen, and also to his hometown, where his brother still lived. During that time, Fahrenheit met or was in contact with Ole Rømer, Christian Wolff, and Gottfried Leibniz. In 1717, Fahrenheit settled in The Hague as a glassblower, making barometers, altimeters, and thermometers. From 1718 onwards, he lectured in chemistry in Amsterdam. He visited England in 1724 and was the same year elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[7] Fahrenheit died in The Hague and was buried there at the Kloosterkerk (Cloister Church).

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