Absolute zero

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Absolute zero is the theoretical temperature at which entropy reaches its minimum value. The laws of thermodynamics state that absolute zero cannot be reached using only thermodynamic means.

A system at absolute zero still possesses quantum mechanical zero-point energy, the energy of its ground state. The kinetic energy of the ground state cannot be removed. However, in the classical interpretation it is zero and the thermal energy of matter vanishes.

Absolute zero is the null point of any thermodynamic temperature scale. By international agreement, it is defined as 0K on the Kelvin scale and as −273.15°C on the Celsius scale.[1] This equates to −459.67°F on the Fahrenheit scale. Scientists have achieved temperatures very close to absolute zero, where matter exhibits quantum effects such as superconductivity and superfluidity.

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History

One of the first to discuss the possibility of an absolute minimal temperature was Robert Boyle. His 1665 New Experiments and Observations touching Cold, articulated the dispute known as the primum frigidum. The concept was well known among naturalists of the time. Some contended an absolute minimum temperature occurred within earth (as one of the four so-called 'elements'), others within water, others air, and some more recently within nitre[citation needed]. But all of them seemed to agree that, "There is some body or other that is of its own nature supremely cold and by participation of which all other bodies obtain that quality."[2]

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