What experiments are there to prove Absolute Zero? Who discovered it and how?
Asked by: SeiJames
The first, and simplest, demonstration of the existence of an 'absolute zero' temperature
was found in the behavior of gas pressure vs. temperature. If you plot the pressure of an
enclosed gas on a vertical axis against its temperature on the horizontal scale,
you get a straight line slanting upward to the right. That just means that increasing the
temperature results in increased pressure.
Now, if you merely extrapolate the line backward to the left (toward lower temperatures) it
crosses the horizontal axis at about -273 degrees centigrade, regardless of the gas being
measured. That is recognized as the coldest possible temperature, when all motion stops.
As to who gets credit for this discovery, that depends on your source. It might have been
Guillame Amontons in 1702, or Joseph Lambert in 1779, or someone else. The man most often
associated with this concept, however, is Lord Kelvin in the 19th century. It is the
Kelvin temperature scale that defines its zero point as absolute zero, and is calculated
by adding 273 degrees to the Centigrade temperature.
Answered by: Paul Walorski, B.A. Physics, Part-time Physics Instructor
'There comes a time when the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap. The important thing is not to stop questioning.'