Laotzu's Favorite Temperature

Each temperature is characterized by the thermal glow of objects at that temperature. In a thermal glow of heatshine there is one frequency (this Max Planck discovered in 1900) which is crucial to describing the blend of frequencies making up the glow. In other words, each temperature has a keynote frequency which provides for concisely describing the distinctive mix of frequencies which objects at that temperature radiate.

Taoist sages develop very acute eyesight and are able to see in the infrared. Laotzu could actually tell the temperature of the wall of his room by judging the keynote frequency. He had studied with Planck at Berlin and had learned from him not merely the physics of thermal radiation but also Planck's recipe for Linsensuppe and several of the card tricks of which the Great Scientist was so fond.

Laotzu's temperature scale was in grade—a grade of temperature is a giant step which the barbarians say is 141.7 kelvin. This is the scale used by Taoist sages, for whom room temperature is 2.07 grade and the human body temperature norm is 2.19 grade.

The frequency characterizing a temperature of one grade is one trillion per mil. Laotzu looked at the heatshine coming from the walls of his room, which he could distinguish even though there was daylight in the room as well, and which he could also feel on the back of his neck. He judged the keynote frequency was 2.07 trillion per trice.

Because he could see the keynote frequency was 2.07 trillion he knew that the temperature of the walls was 2.07 grade. There was no need to touch the walls or use a thermometer. Laotzu also wanted to know the brightness of the heatshine from the walls — what chi of power was coming from a square pace area of wall. So he squared 2.07 twice in succession (to raise it to the fourth power) and multiplied by pi2/6, as usual, which is about 1.6.

Each squarepace patch of wall was radiating 30 chi of heat. It hardly needs pointing out that this was a big factor in the sage's comfort.


Copyright © 2002 Leonard Cottrell. All rights reserved.
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