Product Type: Galileo in Homeware
Newest Review: ... that have sunk to the bottom are the lower temperatures; 4th Bubble: 20 degree bubble 5th Bubble: 18 degree bubble 6th Bubble: 16 degree... more
Member Name: FridaysArePurple
Advantages: A really cool, nice looking thermometer
Disadvantages: None (but it is made of glass so it is fragile)
I was given my Galileo Thermometer years ago as a gift. I'm really straining my memory trying to think back to when I got it, but I think my uncle may have brought it in a garden centre and gave it to me. If I am being completely honest, I never even knew that was the name for it until I did a bit of internet searching recently as I was trying to describe it to someone and realised I didn't know what they were actually called!
Galileo thermometers consist of a clear, sealed glass tube with a glass base. They are filled with a clear fluid and floating inside there are little glass baubles half filled with different coloured liquids. Each bauble has a little golden tag hanging from the bottom of it with a temperature engraved onto it. As the temperature of the room changes, so does the clear fluid in the thermometer which affects its density. This then affects the buoyancy of the little baubles inside and they float or sink as a consequence. The name Galileo Thermometer originated as Galileo is attributed with the discovery that a liquids density is a function of its temperature.
There are lots of different sizes of Galileo Thermometer available and how you read them varies slightly depending on which you have, but they are all very simple. I have the smallest version which contains 5 glass baubles. The temperature tags on the baubles are in 2'C increments so from top to bottom they are 26'C, 24'C, 22'C, 20'C and 18'C. The lowest of the floating baubles is the one which tells you the actual temperature. So at the moment, my top three are floating and the bottom two have sunk so the temperature of the room is the bottom of the floating ones which is 22'C. This is probably quite accurate as the thermostat for my heating is set at around that temperature and has been on all day. If there is a bauble floating halfway in the middle of the thermometer, not at the top near the others, and not sunk down the bottom, then the temperature is halfway between this one and the next bauble up. So if my 22'C bauble is floating in the middle, not near any of the others, then the temperature is actually 23'C.
The bigger sizes of Galileo Thermometer have more baubles in them and have one for every temperature which makes it slightly more obvious to tell from a quick glance what temperature it is. They can also cover a greater temperature range too. The colours in mine, in order from top to bottom are blue, green, yellow, red and then blue again. Some of the larger versions which contain more baubles also have orange and purple ones and I have also seen some varieties with only blue baubles. The colours are not important to the functioning or reading of the thermometer and are purely for decorative purposes.
I do see mine displaying a good temperature range throughout the year. Often on cold winter mornings when I come down after the heating has been off all night, all of the baubles will be happily floating telling me that is it 18'C or colder, brrr! Conversely, in the summer I know it is a really hot day of 26'C or more when they have all sunk to the bottom. I keep it on the mantel piece and I often glance over at it. I think it looks really pretty there.
As I mentioned before, they are made of glass and are therefore quite fragile. I was worried that it wouldn't survive moving house but thankfully, and with copious amount of bubble wrap, it made it safely. The baubles are sized so that they are too big get past each other and get themselves in the wrong order which is good. I remember turning it upside down once just to see what would happen (not a particularly bright idea, I admit!) and although there was a lot of tinkling of glass against glass everything was still functional when it was righted again, thankfully! On another not-so-bright-occasion my brother dared me to put it in the fridge so we could see what would happen to it. Unsurprisingly they all floated to the top and it took little while to come back up to temperature again afterwards and sort itself out but it did start functioning properly again after an hour or so. I have probably had it for about 10 years and despite the occasional abuse it was subjected to in the past it still seems to work perfectly fine! Perhaps the only slight sign of age is that the green bauble seems to have changed colour a bit and now looks blue rather than green but this is really no big deal.
I think these thermometers are really interesting and they are pretty to look at. They would be a good thing to show to older children to get them interested in temperature and the science behind how they work, especially as this week is National Science and Engineering Week. They are available from lots of places online, with slight variations as they seem to be produced by more than one manufacturer, but you can get a small one like my one (28cm tall with 5 baubles) from Tesco Direct for £8.49 which I'm sure is considerably cheaper than mine was when it was new so that is an excellent price. This size, along with larger varieties can also be found on Amazon. I think these thermometers are great and are fully deserving of a 5 star rating!
Summary: Hooray for science!
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