Plenty of ingenuity is hidden into science. Even if the budget allows sophisticated instruments to be bought, sometimes it is just not possible to find one so ingenuity comes into place.
Meet the world's most scientific beer cooler! What this beer-cooler is indented to do, is to generate a very uniformly and stable temperature environment in order to calibrate other temperature measuring probes. Here is the story: Scientists have launched satellites orbiting around Earth, equipped with ATSR (Along Track Scanning Radiometer). These devices can continuously measure scan and measure small portions of the sea surface along a track (hence the name) through the Earth's atmosphere and send data back to science labs where scientists can use them to predict the weather or follow the global warming evolution.
They now prepare and test the 4th generation temperature probes (named SLSTR for Sea Land Surface Temperature Radiometer. The SLSTR will be shipped to Europe in order to integrated it into a satellite.
And here comes the problem - When the probe starts measuring the temperature, it will certainly have some slight drifts and it will occasionally need to be adjusted. Therefore, a similar probe is placed on a ship (Queen Mary II) which can be controlled and calibrated on Earth. The results from this probe are then used to compensates the results from the probe orbiting some 400 Km above sea surface.
But the probe on Queen Mary has to be calibrated as well, and here is where this beer cooler takes part. Water is placed inside the beer cooler. With the help of a precision thermometer and a heating element, this water can be heated with great precision. Inside the water there is a hollow copper cone. At the tip of this cone when looking from outside of the box, the temperature is extremely stable and evenly distributed throughout all its surface. The probe is then turned towards this tip and it can then be very precisely adjusted.