absolute zero

See synonyms for absolute zero on Thesaurus.com
  1. the temperature of −273.16°C (−459.69°F), the hypothetical point at which all molecular activity ceases.

Words Nearby absolute zero

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British Dictionary definitions for absolute zero

absolute zero

  1. the lowest temperature theoretically attainable, at which the particles constituting matter would be in the lowest energy states available; the zero of thermodynamic temperature; zero on the International Practical Scale of Temperature: equivalent to –273.15°C or –459.67°F

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for absolute zero

absolute zero

  1. The lowest possible temperature, at which all molecules are have the least possible amount of kinetic energy. Absolute zero is equal to 0°K, -459.67°F, or -273.15°C. At temperatures approaching absolute zero, the physical characteristics of some substances change significantly. For example, some substances change from electrical insulators to conductors, while others change from conductors to insulators. Absolute zero has never been reached in laboratory experiments. See also Bose-Einstein condensate zero-point energy.

a closer look

The temperature of a substance is determined by the average velocity of its molecules: the faster they move, the warmer the substance. At absolute zero molecules have minimal kinetic energy (or zero-point energy) and heat energy cannot be extracted from them. The molecules are not motionless, however, due to the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics, which entails that the atoms cannot have both a fixed position and zero momentum at the same time; instead, the molecules of a substance at absolute zero are always “wiggling” in some manner. Absolute zero is zero degrees Kelvin, equal to -273.15 degrees Celsius and -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest known place in the universe is the Boomerang Nebula, where the temperature is -272° Celsius. Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have gone much lower than that by using laser traps and other techniques to cool rubidium to 2 X 10-9 degrees Kelvin.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for absolute zero

absolute zero

The lowest temperature that can be attained by matter, corresponding to the point at which most motion in atoms stops. Absolute zero is about –273 degrees on the Celsius scale and about –460 on the Fahrenheit (see also Fahrenheit) scale.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.