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and#8220;The Armpit Temperature of a Healthy Englishmanand#8221; Measurements of Temperature in the Context of Thermal Trauma. | OMICS International | Abstract
ISSN: 2167-1222

Journal of Trauma & Treatment
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Review Article

“The Armpit Temperature of a Healthy Englishman” Measurements of Temperature in the Context of Thermal Trauma.

John Pearn*
Physician and Paediatrician to the Burns Unit and the Queensland Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
Corresponding Author : John Pearn
, Department of Paediatrics & Child Health
Royal Children’s Hospital
Brisbane Qld 4029, Australia
E-mail: [email protected]
Received November 30, 2011; Accepted February 23, 2012; Published February 27, 2012
Citation: Pearn J (2012) “The Armpit Temperature of a Healthy Englishman” Measurements of Temperature in the Context of Thermal Trauma. J Trauma Treatment 1:116. doi:10.4172/2167-1222.1000116
Copyright: © 2012 Pearn J. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Both therapeutic and preventive approaches to thermal injuries necessitate an understanding of the physics of temperature measurement and heat transfer. The severity of burns depends on four primary factors, three of which are (a) the heat energy of the burning agent, (b) its specific conductance and (c) its temperature. The fourth is the infinite variability of tissue vulnerability of the victim. The measurement of temperature is fundamental to each of these; and is inherent in all disciplines involved in thermal injury. The French Jesuit, Jean Leuréchon (1593-1670) coined the term “thermometer” in 1624. The early calibration of thermometers was achieved by the designation of fixed (but arbitrary) upper and lower calibration points on earlier temperature scales. In the twenty-first century, clinical thermometers read to an accuracy of 0.1 degree Celsius and are calibrated against fixed points. The upper fixed point evolved from that of “the greatest heat of a summer’s day” used by Francesco Sagredo to Isaac Newton’s “armpit temperature of a healthy Englishman”. Anders Celsius (1701-1744) proposed a hundred-point scale with the boiling point of water designated as 0 degrees Celsius. This was inverted by Carl Linnaeus (he of the binomial system of nomenclature) in 1745 to give us the universal scale of temperature used today. All who work in trauma disciplines use scales of temperature in clinical management, in prevention advocacy, in design and in legislative decisions to reduce the morbidity and mortality of thermal injury.


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