This mistake was printed almost a year ago, but it’s still relevant, and math mistakes never go out of style. This was posted by Richard Fuhr, who I believe is the original author.
The author was looking at an article about the Gobi desert in China, which read in part: “Temperatures may vary up to 95°F (35°C) in one day in the Gobi.” It also indicated that the average temperature in winter was -40°F (-40°C) and in the summer could be 122°F (50°C)
The -40°F being equal to -40°C is correct – it’s the only place the two temps have equal numerical designation, and I am a little sad that I’ve never gotten to experience it except in windchill form. The 122°F being equal to 50°C is also correct, and something I have exactly no desire to experience, although it’s still lower than the 129.2°F (54°C) recorded in Kuwait last month. Both of those conversations can be found by using one of the formulas
- Temp in °C = (5/9) (Temp in °F – 32)
- Temp in °F = (9/5) (Temp in °C) + 32.
The issue is that these are temperature readings, not changes in temperature. For a change in temperature, the 32 in either formula will disappear, leaving
- Δ°C = (5/9) (Δ°F )
- Δ°F = (9/5) (Δ°C)
This means that a variation of temperature of 95°F would actually correspond to a change of about 52.8°C, not 35°C. And a variation of 35°C would be a change of “only” 63°F, not 95°F. It’s not possible to tell mathematically whether the correct variation was 95°F (53°C) or 63°F (35°C), but looking through The Internet at temperature variations, it appears to me that although either one is possible, the printed variation was likely intended to be 35°C, not 95°F.
The photo above is by Doron, with a Creative Commons license. Thanks to YG for bringing the original article to my attention!