Equivalent Temperatures, Different Scales
Date: 05/28/2003 at 22:22:13 From: Linnie Subject: Ratios/Percentages The inhabitants of Xenor use two scales for measuring temperature. On the A scale water freezes at O degrees and boils at 80 degrees; on the B scale water freezes at -20 degrees and boils at 120 degrees. What is the equivalent on the A scale of a temperature of 29 degrees on the B scale? I tried figuring out the ranges of the B scale (140), and the A scale (80). Then I divided 29 by 140 to figure out the percentage of 29 on 140, which was 35 percent. Then I multiplied 0.35 by A's range (80), and got 28 for the equivalent on the A scale, but it turned out to be wrong. I think that the method I used to try to find the answer was wrong, but I was wondering if you knew the corrrect way to solve this problem.
Date: 05/29/2003 at 12:07:10 From: Doctor Ian Subject: Re: Ratios/Percentages Hi Linnie, This is basically the same thing that's going on with the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales: Earth Xenor --------------- -------------- 0 C = 32 F 0 A = -20 B 100 C = 212 F 80 A = 120 B If you search our archive for the keywords celsius fahrenheit you'll find a number of explanations of how to convert between two scales that are defined in this way. Finding the ranges is a good place to start. Note that a change of 80 degrees A corresponds to a change of 140 degrees B. That means that each change of 1 degree A corresponds to a change of 140/80 = 14/8 = 7/4 degrees B. Looking at it in the other direction, a change of 1 degree B corresponds to a change of 80/140 = 4/7 degrees A. Does that make sense? Once you have the scale factor, the easiest way to do conversions is to find the difference between the temperature to be converted and the freezing point of water. That eliminates the offset between the two scales (i.e., the fact that water freezes at different temperatures). For example, a temperature of 50 degrees B is 50 - (-20) = 70 degrees B above freezing. 1 degree B is the same as 4/7 degrees A, so the temperature on the A scale must be (freezing) + 70*(4/7) = 0 + 40 = 40 degrees A. That's a nice check, because 70 is in the middle of the B scale, and 40 is in the middle of the A scale. Going the other way, a temperature of 40 degrees A is 40 - 0 = 40 degrees A above freezing. 1 degree A is the same as 7/4 degrees B, so the temperature on the B scale must be (freezing) + 40*(7/4) = -20 + 70 = 50 degrees B. Again, we went from the middle of one scale to the middle of the other. The problem with the method you used is that when you want to scale a measurement, you have to make sure that the measurement is relative to zero. Instead of computing 29 is what percent of 140? you needed to compute (29 - (-20)) is what percent of (120 - (-20))? To see why, try thinking about two more scales, X and Y, such that X Y Freezing 100 -50 Boiling 200 50 Now consider converting 0 degrees from Y to X. 0 is 0% of 100, but that's not what you need to know. You need to know that 0 is halfway between -50 and 50, i.e., (0 - (-50)) is 50 percent of (100 - 0). This is why you have to compensate for the offset _before_ you do the scaling. And when you do the scaling, you have to make sure you start at the beginning of the other scale. If you just compute 50% of 200, you'll end up converting 0 degrees X to 100 degrees Y. If you think about that for a moment, you'll see that it can't be right. So the basic idea is: 1) Subtract the offset in the first system. 2) Scale the result, using the relative sizes of degrees in the two systems. 3) Add the offset in the second system. An easy way to check this is to consider what happens at the freezing points. If you start with the freezing point in one system, subtracting the offset gets you to zero. (Do you see why this has to be true?) Zero always scales to zero. If you add zero to the offset of the other system, you'll be at the freezing point. Does that make sense? - Doctor Ian, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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