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The breaking of absolute zero explained

Main post link -> http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2013/01/08/what-does-negative-temperature-mean-anyway/

Last week a paper was published where scientists made a gas that supposedly became colder than Absolute zero. This is the first thing I have read that makes it sort of understandable to me. Where I have been getting lost is they talk about temperature as a probablisitic distribution phenomena as opposed to just the average energy of molecules in a space.

As I understand it:

Temperature is the probability that you will find an atom of a given energy. The probability of finding an atom of high energy decreses the higher the energy you are looking for. Increases in temperature also increase the probability of finding an atom of a given energy. If you create a system in which the probability of finding an atom of a given energy increases with energy you get negative temperature.

Note by Michael Pedersen
4 years, 9 months ago

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This is a fun blog that explains it with more analogies.

Grace Doughty - 4 years, 9 months ago

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As I understand it. It is most helpful to keep in mind that having a negative temperature is not necessarily "colder" than absolute zero. It sounds to me more like a reversal of the statistical behavior of the energy in atoms

Annie Wofford - 4 years, 9 months ago

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