Menu

thermal physics
heat transfer
absolute zero
renewable energy
ocean energy
temperature scale
commercial uses
energy links

Absolute Zero And Thermal Energy

Absolute Zero: The coldest theoretical temperature but also unachievable according to the third law of thermodynamics.
*Check out the full temperature scale

          Absolute zero is a temperature. To understand how cold absolute zero is let's start with the temperature at which water freezes, which is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius). The coldest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was -80 Fahrenheit and the coldest temperature ever recorded on earth was -129 Fahrenheit in 1983 in the Antarctic. Absolute zero is -459.67 Fahrenheit. Humans have been able to come within a billionth of one degree Kelvin to absolute zero!

The coldest natural temperatures reached are in outerspace with the depths of space reaching just -454 Fahrenheit. Humans can do much better, reaching just a few hundred billionths of a degree above absolute zero (Kelvin scale). On the Kelvin scale absolute zero is 0 Kelvin.

What happens at this temperature?
Scientists predict what theoretically will happen at this temperature because it can't ever be achieved. The third law of thermodynamics forbids that humans should ever be able to reach that temperature. As we mentined before, thermal energy is the kinetic energy of the oscillation, vibration, and random activity of atoms and their constituent particles. As an object gets colder, its atoms and molecules begin to move slower and slower. Before we move on it is important to note that the way something is made colder is by heat (thermal energy) being removed, not "coldness" being introduced into the object.

Theoretically, at absolute zero all motion of the atom and its constinuent parts would cease. All thermal energy that could be, would be extracted from the atom. This presents an interesing perspective on time. If all motion would ceases then time would effectively cease also. If there is no time then how could you have space? (cue freaky twilight zone music)