Notes and Quotes

Temperature by Counting

Termometro infingardo. Thermometer slow-to-respond.

In Florence, Italy, several types of thermometer were invented. One, probably invented before 1641 A.D., perhaps by Grand Duke Ferdinand II or Galileo, was the termometro infingardo (thermometer slow-to-respond). It consisted of a sealed glass tube of spirits of wine containing a number of glass balls among which the ratio of weight to volume varied. When the temperature is low and so the density of the liquid high these will all float; but as the temperature rises they will sink one after another, so that the temperature of the spirit can be estimated from counting the number that have sunk.

Modern reproductions, called Galileo liquid thermometers, invert the process so that the glass balls rise as the temperature rises. Now the balls are marked with their critical temperatures. But even today, if one wants to know the temperature by glancing at the thermometer from across the room, one has to count the glass balls. There is even an element of uncertainty because balls may be in motion.

A Look Forward from 1918

"As soon as teachers learn the possibility of using definite measures to solve their individual problems, they will [want] to uncover the exact facts. Here, for example, is a difficult pupil. How far is he behind the class at the beginning of the year? How rapidly does he progress? Whatever the answer, the teacher will be aided in directing the pupil's work if that answer can be known with definiteness and detail."

Charles Hubbard Judd (1918) A Look Forward. In G. M. Whipple (Ed.), 17th NSSE Yearbook. Bloomington IL: Public School Pub. Co. p. 155

Facts, Ideals and the Truth

"Forgetting in the first importance of a fact (its being true) its second importance (its being kept where it belongs), the huge Moment in which we live is prone to bewilder the truth with statistics - to forget the epic outlines, the sweep, the mighty movement. ... The actual is not the truth. It is the part of the truth that has been attained. The ideal is the truth - the whole truth. Facts did not create an ideal. Facts cannot destroy it. Facts destroy but facts. Ideals can only be defended by ideals. The facts, though they have incalculable modifying value, did not create the truth. They can neither save nor destroy it."

"Nothing is more real than the ideal. Mountains are made of vapor, and the soil of the ground is as the dust of clouds beside it. Brick and mortar are built upon it. Bronze and steel and gold and silver - the hands of men and the fingers of machines - wait upon it. The sheer material forces swung into its mighty service - the levers with which it lifts this little earth, dictating events, dominating nations, guiding philosophies, [are a measure of its reality.]"

Gerald Stanley Lee, 1896, "The Shadow Christ"

"Most problems cannot be solved. Most problems can only be survived. And one survives problems by making them irrelevant because of success. It's amazing how many minor ills the healthy body can stand without any trouble. One focuses on success, especially on unexpected success, and runs with it."
Peter F. Drucker in Drucker P.F., et al. (2000) Leading in a Time of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Method and Measurement

"The scientific method is at base analytic scrutiny, exact measuring, careful recording, and judgment on the basis of observed fact. Science in education is not a body of information, but a method, and its object is to find out and to learn how."
Leonard P. Ayres (1918) History and present status of educational measurements. In G. M. Whipple (Ed.), 17th NSSE Yearbook. Bloomington IL: Public School Pub. Co. p. 14

"Trade agrees on currency and on standard weights and measures. Science lives by these and by further symbols and instruments as to which all observers can agree. Instruments are the offspring of the wedlock of a science and an industry, and are usually the parents of further ones."

H.T. Pledge (1966) Science since 1500. 2nd Edn. London: HMSO. p. 322.

Notes and Quotes. Rasch Measurement Transactions 14:4 p. various.

Notes and Quotes. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2001, 14:4 p. various.

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