How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 939

How does a thermometer work? — DL
A common liquid in glass thermometer takes advantage of the fact that liquids generally expand more than solids as their temperatures increase. The glass envelope of the thermometer contains a fine hollow capillary with a sealed reservoir at its base that's filled with a liquid such as alcohol or mercury. If both the liquid and glass expanded equally as they became warmer, the thermometer would simply change sizes slightly as its temperature increased. But the liquid expands more than the glass and can't simply remain in place. Some of it moves up the capillary. That's why the level of liquid in the thermometer rises as the thermometer's temperature rises.
         

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