WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Galileo didn't invent a colorful, iconic thermometer that bears his name, a chemistry professor at a South African university says in a U.S journal.
Peter Loyson of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University says so-called "Galilean thermometers" are sealed tubes of liquid in which glass spheres float and sink with changes in ambient temperature.
However, Loyson says in an article in the American Chemicals Society's Journal of Chemical Education, although Galileo may have originated the idea in a 1638 book, it is unlikely he ever built one.
The Accademia del Cimento -- the "Academy of Experiment" -- an early scientific society founded in Florence in 1657 by Galileo's students, deserves the credit, Loyson says.
"Florentine thermometer" is a more appropriate name for these marvels, he said, which in their modern version have become elegant curiosity pieces with multi-colored spheres and gold-plated temperature tags.