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Absolute Shiv-v-ving in Absolute Zero

Updated on July 26, 2012
Absolute zero is a mighty cold temperature. It is still theoretical in nature since scientists haven't been able to get anything cold enough to reach absolute zero - yet.
Absolute zero is a mighty cold temperature. It is still theoretical in nature since scientists haven't been able to get anything cold enough to reach absolute zero - yet. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

Absolute zero, brrr! It even sounds bone-chilling cold. Scientists, for decades, have used the laws of thermodynamics to define the transfer of heat and work in thermodynamic processes, like what occurs when the temperature reaches absolute zero. When broken down into plain English, absolute zero and the laws of thermodynamics are not so difficult to understand.

Temperature and Thermodynamics in Relation to Absolute Zero

Temperature is defined as the level of coldness or hotness in a body or living organism, or in the environment. Temperature is stated in units called degrees, based on one of several different scales. For the purposes of this article, temperature and absolute zero will be discussed using the Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin temperature scales. On all three scales there is a freezing point and a boiling point, as well as a temperature point where absolute zero can be found. Thermodynamics is the field that studies how changes in temperature, pressure and volume affects physical systems all the way down to the cellular and microscopic level.

Absolute Zero Defined

According to the laws of thermodynamics, absolute zero is, theoretically, the absolute lowest recordable temperature at which the temperature cannot get any colder and there is no longer heat energy being produced in a substance or a body. Basically, what it's saying is, that at this point, no work is being done, so no kinetic energy is being produced, hence no heat can be produced and no heat transfer occurs; nothing is moving or producing heat even down to the cellular, microscopic, and subatomic levels. Absolute zero is considered to be 0oKelvin (k). Absolute zero, according to physics, is the absolute lowest temperature possible. It's so low that no scientists have ever been able to reach it.

Absolute Zero and the Temperature Scales

Absolute zero is defined as 0 degrees Kelvin (K) by agreement of the international Scientific Community. To give it some frame of reference, let's compare the Kelvin temperature scale to the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales.

Table of comparisons between the Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Table of comparisons between the Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit. | Source

To find out how these temperature equivalents were arrived at, it is helpful to know how to convert temperatures in one scale to temperatures in the other two scales.

Temperature Conversion Table
Temperature Conversion Table | Source

It's still okay to go out into the cold. Just don't try to go out if the temperature ever manages to get down to absolute zero.


American Heritage Dictionary. Temperature.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Temperature Scales and Absolute Zero. Temperature Scales Information and Conversions.

How to Study. Temperature Scales.

Science Daily. Absolute Zero.

Young, Richard A. and Thomas J. Glover. Measure for Measure.

Littleton, Colorado: Blue Willow Inc., 1999.


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