Absolute Zero: No it’s not a vodka mixer, it is the lowest possible temperature; the temperature at which atomic motion ceases. In the lab, we try hard to get there… and we can cool atoms to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero. Read more about the history of this field and where it may go in the future:
Part II of a very cool NOVA series airs on PBS stations tonight. Pun absolutely intended. Second pun not as intended, but still amusing.
Many all-star players from the Atomic, Molecular and Optical physics world, several of which are Nobel Laureates, make appearances on this second part of the program. The first part aired last week and covered many interesting aspects of early thermodynamics. One great piece of trivia was about the original Celsius scale, and the fact that it was originally reversed, with zero for the boiling point of water, and 100 for the freezing point. This is really too bad, since he was very close to getting the right sense of temperature. Many argue that the thermodynamic beta is a more direct representation of temperature. Since Beta scales as the inverse of T, Celsius’ original scale at least went the right direction, even if the degree sizes weren’t right.