Mercury was used in thermometers for a long time due to its sensitivity to temperature. Liquids in general take up more space when they are heated and less when they are cooled. The mercury in the bottom bulb of the thermometer was calibrated to expand when reaching a certain temperature and could determine your body temperature when placed under your tongue. Mercury thermometers have been replaced almost completely by electric thermometers due to their ease of use and additional safety (mercury thermometers have the potential to be deadly if broken while being used).
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