Different parts of the country define cold in different ways. If you’re in Texas, you may think the low 60’s is suitable coat wearing weather. If you’re in Connecticut you may not consider it cold enough for a coat until it gets into the low 40’s.
There is a limit to how cold something can actually be though. That’s absolute zero, or a paltry -459.67℉. Scientifically speaking, a declining temperature slows down the motion of particles and molecules that make up matter.
A great example of this is water. At a high temperature, the particles move very quickly and become a gas that can be moved through, but at low temperatures the particles slow and the water becomes solid ice. Below is a fun video that shows this idea using food coloring in varying temperature of the liquid.
Low temperature of the water means slower moving molecules. This reduced speed means the food coloring transfers slower as the water temperature decreases. Should the temperature reach absolute zero then the molecules would cease to move at all.
To this point in human history, humanity has never been able to make anything reach absolute zero. There’s always been a floor to the lower limit of what we could achieve. Thanks to some work done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), we’ve been able to go colder than ever before. Below is an excerpt from the Washington Post that explains this in detail.
“The rules of physics say it's impossible to cool an object to absolute zero, to remove all thermal energy until its atoms come to a standstill. But researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are getting really close. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, they describe using a laser to make a microscopic aluminum drum colder than anything like it has been cooled before. In doing so, they defied the quantum limit for supercooling mechanical objects.”
Gizmodo then looked at the process behind the breakthrough.
“The experiment that has now circumvented this issue consisted of a tiny 20 micrometer by 100 nanometer drum, linked up to a circuit designed to cool things in the usual way. Microwaves bounce around inside the circuit, causing it to resonate and vibrate and generate its own photons. The photons depart and take a phonon, a quantum unit of vibration, with them, cooling the drum a tiny bit with each exiting photon. For this experiment, the scientists also shined a special kind of light— squeezed light—onto the drum’s head, sending the temperature below the quantum backaction limit. Quantum mechanics says that you can resolve some measurements of light at the expense of others. The squeezed light takes advantage of this property, allowing the scientists to remove one kind of fluctuation in the light’ s amplitude.”
According to John Teufel, a physicist at the NIST and author of the study, nothing like this has ever been done before.
“It’s the first time someone has used squeezed light to do better cooling,” Teufel said. "We’re not at absolute zero yet because our squeezing isn’t perfect.”
That may be true, but they’re closer than they ever have been. This new process was able to drop the drum’s temperature below the quantum backaction limit by a factor of two. This could all lead to some pretty neat scientific discovery according to Sarah Kaplan of the Washington Post.
“...Eliminating the distraction of an object's thermal motion allows scientists to finally see the motion that results from quantum energy, which is much more interesting. It will give insight into the forces that dictate how the universe functions at atomic and subatomic scales.”
While our RKTC K Thermocouple doesn’t quite make it to absolute zero it does have the ability to reach down to -300℉ and as high as 2000℉. Luckily, most regulated temperature monitoring falls well within those ranges, and we even offer certification from the same group that’s breaking temperature barriers.
If you’re looking for options on how to measure the temperature or humidity of your facility, lab, warehouse, oven, refrigerator, et al, check with Dickson for a likely solution that best meets your needs. Measuring to keep your auditors happy is one thing. Meeting audits because it keeps your customers and your loved ones safe is another point entirely. When every point matters Dickson is there for you; no coat required.