Parpia, Jeevak M. Department of Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Lee, David M. Department of Physics, Cornell University, New York, New York. Nobelist.
Last reviewed:July 2018
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- Calculating absolute zero
- Lowest temperatures achieved
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The temperature at which matter reaches a lowest energy state and all thermal activity theoretically ceases. Absolute zero is popularly conceived as the coldest possible temperature that a given system of matter, such as an atom, may reach. According to classical physics, all particle motion stops at absolute zero. However, according to the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, which states that the velocity and position of a particle cannot be known with total precision simultaneously, a small amount of residual particle motion—known as zero-point motion—would continue even at absolute zero. See also: Classical mechanics; Kinetic theory of matter; Physics; Quantum mechanics; Temperature; Uncertainty principle
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