One of my favorite electrical quotes goes something like "all sensors are temperature sensors, but some are better than others". Unfortunately, I don't remember where I read this. What is the origin of the quote?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Should be "all circuits are temperature sensors..." \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Jul 19 '18 at 21:20
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Just claim it as your own. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jul 19 '18 at 21:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ spark gap components are harder to calibrate for temp. especially the grid protection ones. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19 '18 at 21:52
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain what this quote means? Why are all sensors temperature sensors? \$\endgroup\$
    – littleO
    Jul 20 '18 at 6:27
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @littleO Because we haven't found a material yet to make sensor out of that doesn't change properties with changing temperature. \$\endgroup\$
    – DonFusili
    Jul 20 '18 at 7:36

Whoever said it probably did so in person, and the odds that any of us met the true first person are low. This is the sort of engineering observation that could have been invented by several different people back in 1940, for all we know.

Elecia White's 2011 Making Embedded Systems quotes this anonymously, so the latest possibility is 2010. Her PowerPoint also has:

All sensors are temperature sensors, some measure other things as well.

An alternative, suggesting some divergence:

It has been said that all sensors are temperature sensors first.

This follows the broader observation that no real-world physical relationship or behavior is truly, fully linear across the range of all possibility. For electronic sensors, temperature is big, but humidity, pressure and acceleration pop up surprisingly often. You could say that the best sensor for one phenomenon is just exceptionally bad at sensing all the others - because anything that interacts with it does something.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for identifying the source, I did read it from Elicia White's book in a blurb from Chapter 6. As you said, it is anonymous, so only Elicia could answer who actually said it (who might know who said it before that). Also, I enjoy your perspective that good sensors are simultaneously bad sensors. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19 '18 at 23:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.