Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

Techspeak HD

Your source for all things technology

Crickets Can Help You Tell the Temperature Outside

3 min read
crickets chirp
Spread the love

Crickets are annoyingly chirpy at night, especially in the hot summer days. Ever wondered the reason behind their chirpy commotion? Maybe they are trying to tell you how hot it is outside!

This was famously explained by the American physicist Amos Emerson Dolbear in a small report he published in an 1897 issue of the American Naturalist.

The rate of [a cricket’s] chirp seems to be entirely determined by temperature and this to such degree that one may easily compute the temperature when the number of chirps per minute is known

– Dolbear’s Law

The Science Behind the Chirping Crickets

The Arrhenius Law states that,

Chemical reactions occur more rapidly at higher temperatures.

And for the same reason, cold-blooded creatures, including crickets tend to get active or lethargic depending upon the ambient temperature. The cricket chirps are nothing but muscle contractions which are essentially the result of chemical reactions in the cricket’s body. So the colder it is outside, the slower the chemical reactions in a cricket’s muscle’s, and the less frequent it’s chirps. But, when it is hotter outside, the chirps become more frequent.

The fact that unlike humans crickets have no mechanism for controlling the internal temperature of their bodies means that they are not physically capable of changing the frequency of their chirps on their own. Poor creatures! Can’t blame them for their chirpy nature. This correlation is predictable enough for you to accurately determine the temperature outside. Easy, right? Just remember this small formula, and you are good to go.

Degrees Fahrenheit = 50 + (chirps per minute -40)/4


What You Should Know About Amos Dolbear?

Amos Emerson Dolbear was an accomplished physicist and inventor in America during the later part of the 19th century. He researched electrical spark conversion into sound-waves and electrical impulses. Had two things in his life not gone wrong the way they did, his would have been a household name like Graham bell and Marconi.

Amos dolbear
Amos Dolbear, 1880

While Dolbear was studying at the Ohio Wesleyan University, Ohio, in 1865 he had made a “talking telegraph” and invented a receiver consisting two features of the modern telephone – a permanent magnet and a metallic diaphragm. Dolbear failed to observe the correct patent office formalities and couldn’t prove his claim when 11 years later Alexander Graham Bell applied for the patent of the telephone. He attempted to secure the patent but lost the case before the United States Supreme Court in 1888.

It’s worth noting that Dolbear’s case against Bell was just one if more than six hundred lawsuits against the Bell Telephone Company, which historians of American patent law call the Telephone Cases. The telephones were going to be the next big thing, and major interests like Western Union (the world’s biggest communications company at that, owing to the success of the telegraph) wanted in on it.

Although Dolbear learned his lesson and was careful to patent an 1882 invention he made for sending wireless signals through the Earth, the patent was bought out in 1899 and used unsuccessfully to attack Guglielmo Marconi’s later patent for atmospheric electromagnetic radio transmission. The presiding judge decided that Dolbear’s underground transmission technology was fundamentally different than Marconi’s and dismissed the case.

Dolbear was recognised for his scientific contributions while he was alive. He earned prestigious awards at both the Paris Exhibition of 1881 and the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace in 1882. He was also the author of several well-received books and earned a professorship at Bethany College in West Virginia. Even still, the one lasting contribution to carry Dolbear’s name through the ages is an obscure scientific law about chirping crickets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for Newsletter