Absolute Zero is a term that is mostly used in the science community. The term is very self-explanatory.
At the time I write this, Fall has just arrived and winter is around the corner. The temperature is falling every day and it seems like there is a chill in the air every morning. Sometimes when I wake up I don’t want to get out of bed because of the cold chill in the room. Just thinking of the term Absolute Zero sends a shiver down my spine.
So what does Absolute Zero mean? Absolute Zero is a theoretical temperature at which the amount of thermodynamic energy in a system is at it’s minimum. Basically, it is as cold as it can get.
For the last few hundred years humans have been speculating what happens to matter as it approaches Absolute Zero. Only in the last few decades have we had the technology to experiment at temperatures very close to absolute zero. What we have found is that matter behaves very differently at these temperatures. We are just now learning very little about what happens to atoms as we get temperatures close to Absolute Zero. We still have a lot to discover.
To give you an idea of how cold Absolute Zero is, we need to look at what temperature scales are used. In everyday life, we use Fahrenheit and Celsius to determine temperature. When working with super cold temperatures, scientists prefer the Rankine and Kelvin Scales. Absolute zero in both Rankine and Kelvin is set at 0 degrees. To give you an idea of how cold that is, 0 degrees in Rankine is -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Kelvin is -237.15 degrees Celsius. Brrrr…
In nature, the only place that gets cold enough to be close to Absolute Zero is outer space. The average temperature in outer space is about 2.73 Kelvin. Try using some of the calculators below to determine what that would temperature would convert to in Fahrenheit or Celsius.
So the next time you watch a science fiction movie, or see an astronaut in a picture, think about how thickly insulated that space suit has to be. And this winter, be thankful that it’s not THAT cold outside.
Try some of these online calculators to convert temperature.