Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

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Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:26 am

http://www.damninteresting.com/absolute-zero-is-0k/

Had a blast reading it. Hope others enjoy it too.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:52 am

Igor_Kavinski wrote:http://www.damninteresting.com/absolute-zero-is-0k/

Had a blast reading it. Hope others enjoy it too.


It's really incredible how much those guys were able to accomplish with the technology they had available.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:12 am

cphite wrote:It's really incredible how much those guys were able to accomplish with the technology they had available.

Well, a certain casual attitude toward lab safety seems to have played a role as well, especially for Dewar.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:10 am

This one killed me:

"Dewar's notes do not indicate whether a high-pitched apology was offered."
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:59 pm

Igor_Kavinski wrote:http://www.damninteresting.com/absolute-zero-is-0k/

Had a blast reading it. Hope others enjoy it too.
Thanks for this! Some lovely writing: "cold rush" and "hydrogen--an odorless, colorless gas which tends to turn into a universe if left alone for a prolonged period"... and of course the "high-pitched apology."
Captain Ned wrote:
cphite wrote:It's really incredible how much those guys were able to accomplish with the technology they had available.
Well, a certain casual attitude toward lab safety seems to have played a role as well, especially for Dewar.
I'm sure he thought he was being careful according to the standards of the day. This was a time when the London sewers would occasionally explode when a worker with a lamp met a pocket of gas, and people dealing with early industrial machinery were getting maimed and killed on a regular basis.

I'm a bit perplexed by the thermometers they were using, however. How do you calibrate your measurement tools to give you an accurate reading of a range you've never before measured? According to this remarkably-of-its-time science film on Helium II they're inferring temperature from pressure (around the 13 minute mark), and I guess the Ideal Gas Law can give you that even in this regime, but I'm not sure if that's what Dewar and his contemporaries were using -- and it still leaves open the question of calibration. (That film has all sorts of fun stuff, btw, if you can get past the feeling you're sitting in a 1950s classroom).
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:03 pm

That was a really fun read. The subject matter is interesting enough on its own, but the way it was phrased throughout kind of lit up the imagination.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:57 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:That was a really fun read. The subject matter is interesting enough on its own, but the way it was phrased throughout kind of lit up the imagination.

Yeah, the writer has a more than passing knowledge of British sci-fi and uses it sparingly, but well.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:01 pm

UberGerbil wrote:That film has all sorts of fun stuff, btw, if you can get past the feeling you're sitting in a 1950s classroom.

Heh, the high school I attended was dedicated in 1932. It still looked it in 1977-1981.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:16 pm

Awesome article :-)

Why science history should be taught alongside science. Somehow makes the concepts easier to understand, at least for me.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:25 pm

I once heard that the hallmark of good writing is the ability to capture the attention of a reader who might otherwise ignore the entire subject.

Although I actually enjoyed the subject matter, I think the writer could have been describing the finer points of tatting doilies and I would have been inspired to both finish the article and take up a new hobby.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:47 pm

Rakhmaninov3 wrote:Awesome article :-)

Why science history should be taught alongside science. Somehow makes the concepts easier to understand, at least for me.

It's definitely fun to hear the history that goes along with it. I took a wireless communications elective in college, and the professor spent the first two days walking from mobile radio to modern cell phones. The course focused used cellular communications as the backbone for all topics, so it was definitely relevant.

Side note: my favorite fact from those two days is that the only communications that are illegal to listen to in the United States are cellular calls.

The only thing you have to be careful about is accidentally teaching the "wrong" way of doing things. Just a couple weeks ago I had a conversation on another forum about EMF (electromotive force) versus Voltage. I was specifically taught not to use EMF because it turned out to be Voltage, which is not a force.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:00 pm

I had never heard of this site before reading your linked article on absolute zero. Last night, I checked out their podcasts and ended up listening to 4-5 of them. It is pretty interesting stuff. :) Thanks.
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:55 pm

Great, great stuff and thanks for sharing...am showing it to my 11-year-old son soon. FYI, in the spirit of giving back this is something I enjoyed a few years ago from TED--

http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_slavin_h ... _our_world
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:09 am

Nice website, gonna have to browse around at their other articles!

Regarding Absolute Zero, NOVA has a very good 2-part video series on it along the same path as the article: Part 1: The Conquest of Cold & Part 2: The Race for Absolute Zero. If you find the history/science interesting I'd definitely recommend the shows!
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Re: Fascinating article about Absolute Zero

Postposted on Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:19 am

The various phenomena related to superconductivity and superfluidity are macroscopic manifestations of the bizarre, counter-intuitive world of quantum mechanics. I've always found this kind of stuff fascinating. I don't think there's any more vivid illustration of the fact that, at very small scales, the universe simply doesn't work the way you'd expect.

Personally, I think quantum mechanics is a side effect of precision issues in the FPUs of the system running our universe simulation. The probabilistic nature of quantum phenomena is due to the random distribution of roundoff errors (i.e. sometimes you round up, sometimes down). They probably should've gone with quad precision! It's not like the reduced computational speed of higher precision math would've made any difference to us...
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