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Physics News

If you’re a site that dedicates itself to physics news, you’d better be careful about problems like this:

The team cooled down antiprotons to temperatures colder than the surface of Pluto, as low as -443 degrees F (9.26 kelvin) — just 17 degrees above absolute zero. Physicists studying cold  hope to ultimately glean insights into why the universe is made of matter rather than antimatter.

I think we need to know the definition of absolute zero before we can have warp drive.

UPDATE: Someone in the comments notes the degrees is correct, since it’s degrees F above Absolute Zero. They did not re-note the scale. That would make sense. It’s not technically correct to refer to Kelvin as degrees, so that temperature isn’t 9.2 degrees Kelvin but 9.2 Kelvin. The use of degrees make restating the scale redundant.

8 Responses to “Physics News”

  1. Justin Buist says:

    Heh, took me a minute to figure out where they got that 17 degrees from zero number.

    Still, that’s one confusing sentence.

  2. LC Scotty says:

    Unit conversion error-didn’t we smack a probe into the surface of Mars based on one of those?

  3. What am I missing?

    0K (absolute zero) = -460 F
    9.26K = -443 F

    -443 – 17 = -460

    Looks right to me.. maybe I’m slow this morning

  4. I’m with Mike. 9.2 K is 16.6 Rankine (which is the equivalent Fahrenheit based scale to Kelvin). All the temperatures they’re citing are in Fahrenheit units unless otherwise noted.

  5. Joe Huffman says:

    Mike-ENDOtactical, Jeff,

    You are correct. But they should have said 17 F above absolute zero. Otherwise in context it can be interpreted as saying 9.26 K is 17 degrees above absolute zero.

  6. wfgodbold says:

    They may have chosen not to restate the scale because Kelvin was used in parentheses; if you take out the parenthetical phrase, it reads, “…as low as -443 degrees F — just 17 degrees above absolute zero.”

    Personally, I would have phrased it more like “…as low as 17 degrees above absolute zero; -443 degrees F (9.26 kelvin).”

    Either way, that’s just a badly written sentence. They could have put the kelvin temperature in a sidebar or graphic instead of cluttering up the text with it.

  7. I’m used to seeing scientific books that use number Kelvins, like this. (It’s clear enough what it means.)

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