'Absolute Zero' May Not Be Coldest Temperature

Study suggests Kelvin scale isn't absolute after all

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 4, 2013 5:14 PM CST

(Newser) – Science students learn that the coldest theoretical temperature isn't found on either the Fahrenheit or Celsius scales, but on the Kelvin scale—at "absolute zero," the point at which even atoms stop moving around. That might change, thanks to German physicists, though you might need a working knowledge of thermodynamics to understand exactly what they did. Samples from coverage:

  • "Through an elaborate approach—harnessing lasers and rapidly-flipping magnetic fields—the scientists figured out how to push atoms to temporarily take on energies below absolute zero. ... Researchers imagine that if new materials could somehow be made out of below-freezing atoms, then they would probably act in some mighty strange ways." Smithsonianmag.com.
  • "They found that the negative temperature system was stable for hundreds of milliseconds, raising the prospect that we can study a radically different type of material." ArsTechnica
  • "This unusual advance could lead to new engines that could technically be more than 100 percent efficient, and shed light on mysteries such as dark energy, the mysterious substance that is apparently pulling our universe apart." LiveScience

  (Shutterstock)
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