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.

9 thoughts on “Physics News”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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