Wednesday, August 21, 2019


That one can
calculate the ambient
temperature by counting
cricket chirps always
intrigued me.
It’s not that different,
I suppose,
from the principle
of the atomic clock,
in which a second is
measured as
9,192,631,770 oscillations
of a caesium -133 atom.
It’s easier for me
to count cricket chirps,
however. You count the
chirps that occur in fourteen
seconds and add forty to
get the temperature in
Fahrenheit. To calculate
in Celsius, you simply
count the chirps in twenty-five
seconds, divide by three,
and add four.
Crickets are unreliable,
though, for calculating
temperatures below 55
or above 100 Fahrenheit.
The variable chirping is
due to the cold-blooded
chemistry of crickets.
Below a certain temperature
they cannot (or choose not to)
chirp. They may simply think
it is too cold to chirp. The
warmer it is, the faster crickets
can chirp. It may be similar
to engine oil and viscosity
cold weather.
The oscillation of the caesium -133
atom is more reliable, it seems,
although I do not have the
equipment or patience
to do the counting.
I once determined I
would do a painting
of every nano-second
of the time between the
Big Bang and the present.
I have fallen further
and further behind ever since.


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