Absolute Zero……

23 Nov

‘I was thinking about absolute zero and thought, if there’s a minimum , why not a maximum’

Not being a thermal physicist I applied what I do know and read up on the other stuff, only to find I’m not the only one seeking the answer and it gets pretty complicated. Without over complicating the issue and removing those scary equations, here are some possible answers (yes, plural…..)

First of all back to school. What is heat? (heat and temp are for our purposes the same). Gold star to anyone whose answer was ‘it’s the product of the speed at which atoms move’. Absolute zero is the point at which all atoms stop moving as do quantum mechanical effects . This happens at 0 Kelvin or minus 460 F. You can’t get colder than that. It would be like trying to go south of the South Pole. That’s Absolute zero; simple hey……

Sun_in_XrayWhat about Absolute Hot. Surely, a similar set of equations govern that; like I said it’s not my field and had two choices; read up or blame ‘God’ (I’m starting to think I should have chosen the latter). Little did I know it but I’d opened a can of worms, the one labelled ‘The Theory of Everything; a sort of UN for physicists where String Theory, Quantum Mechanics and Multiverses go to argue their point……

I’m not actually going to try and explain the five most popular theories because they all have a fundamentally plausible reasons but involve very complicated mathematics which I was trying to avoid. I will, however, tell you what they are and my intuition as to the final answer……

There are many theories. 10 to the power of 32 Kelvin is one. That’s 100 million million million million million degrees Kelvin. It is based on the Standard Model of particle physics and relies on the Planck temperature. Max Planck’s measurements and ratios have proven accurate now we can test them and form the basis of many quantum calculations. But as one physicist put it, it’s largely accademic as it is in an order of magnitude beyond that of a Gamma Ray Burst or Quasar and makes the Sun look like a tiny spark millions of light years away. There are no sufficient words in the English language to express it. Saying it’s hot is like saying the universe is quite big……

Working Physicists at CERN think that the power of the particle accelerator which reaches 10 to the power of 17 K, is around the maximum temperature. To reach the energy needed the LHC produces 14 (Terra electron Volts, Terra meaning trillion); 15 orders of magnitude below the Planck temperature……

How about a boundless temperature that just keeps on going to infinity? It is possible but some very strange quantum effects would be observed. Anyway, much of this speculation has to do with those pesky billion billionths of a second when all conventional models break down.


In my humble opinion absolute zero and absolute hot could be the same thing. (Now he’s has lost the plot I hear you cry), but hear me out. Once a really high temperature has been reached all bets are off with regard to the behavior of matter. The known interactions between the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism and gravity become unpredictable and, more importantly, equal out, forcing the system to stop, just as it does with absolute zero. So, the scale maybe +0 K – +300 K – K +infinity – K -infinity – -300 K to -0 K. This also explains beautifully why infinities pop up whichever way or with whatever model you choose to calculate……

Happy pondering……



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