I know that thermometers work by conduction, meaning that the particles in the alcohol inside the thermometer will always get to the same average speed of the particles of the surrounding substance that you're measuring (as long as you leave the thermometer in the substance for long enough). So it seems to me that if I left a thermometer long enough in the air around me, then the thermometer should register a higher temperature in degrees Celsius for the air than if I left a thermometer for long enough in a solid like my table (assuming that the solid had a snug hole for the thermometer to occupy). I think this should be true because the particles in the air are moving faster on average than those in the table, and so should cause the alcohol particles in the thermometer to also reach a faster speed than the table would cause them to, meaning that the alcohol should expand more for the air and so register a higher temperature on the scale. I know the particles in the air are moving faster on average than those in the table, because the air is a gas, and particle theory states that particles in gases whizz around faster on average than particles in solids that can only vibrate around fixed positions. The mark scheme of an exam paper I was marking also said that when you melted a liquid to form a gas, the gas particles had more kinetic energy than the liquid particles had had.
But if this is true, then how did the air get to this higher temperature when the table didn't, even though they are both in the same environment? Is it because maybe the air had a lower specific heat capacity than the table, meaning that the same number of joules of energy (say 20j) would get the air to a higher temperature than it would get the table to, because a higher proportion of that energy would be going into the kinetic energy store of the air (say 15j of it) than it would the kinetic energy store of the table (say, only 7j of it) (because more of the energy would be going into the potential energy store (say 13j) in the case of the table)???
I'm getting so confused trying to reconcile all the different truths about KE, temperature, specific heat capacity and melting and boiling points as soon as I am trying to think about them at a deeper level, maybe because I don't have enough relevant information about them except for the simple facts and equations: please help! Thanks so much.