absolute zero


Definition of absolute zero 

: a theoretical temperature characterized by complete absence of heat and motion and equivalent to exactly −273.15°C or −459.67°F

Examples of absolute zero in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The only practical superconductors developed thus far must be cooled to within a few degrees of absolute zero before this state takes hold. Neil Savage, Scientific American, "What Are the Limits of Manipulating Nature?," 8 May 2018 Unlike Hubble, which circles the planet in low Earth orbit, James Webb will perch in an orbit beyond the moon, cooled to nearly absolute zero, where no astronauts will be able to get to it and make repairs. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Again, This Time Until May 2020," 27 Mar. 2018 Each tower will contain six crystals slotted into their own units, and the four towers will be placed in a cryogenic container called the SNOBOX to cool the experiment to near absolute zero. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "The Search for Dark Matter Continues, More Than a Mile Underground," 9 May 2018 The exotic devices operate at temperatures close to absolute zero. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Google, Alibaba Spar Over Timeline for 'Quantum Supremacy'," 19 May 2018 Folded up for launch, the five-layer sun shield is required to produce the ultra-low temperatures -- 50 degrees above absolute zero -- that Webb's sensitive optics and instruments require to capture faint infrared emissions. William Harwood, CBS News, "Launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope delayed again as costs rise," 27 June 2018 To create the condensate, other cooling techniques are used to push the cloud even closer to absolute zero—including creaming off the most energetic atoms using a radio-wave ‘knife’ and widening the trap to let the cloud expand. Elizabeth Gibney, Scientific American, "Universe’s Coolest Lab Set to Open Quantum World," 9 May 2018 The researchers connected the chips with an optical fiber and cooled the whole setup close to absolute zero to damp out vibrations. Gabriel Popkin, Science | AAAS, "Einstein’s ‘spooky action at a distance’ spotted in objects almost big enough to see," 25 Apr. 2018 One piece of equipment that the rocket will carry is the Cold Atom Laboratory, which will use magnetic fields and lasers to create clouds of atoms called Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs), cooled to just above absolute zero. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Orbital ATK will launch an Antares rocket to the International Space Station tomorrow morning," 20 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'absolute zero.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of absolute zero

1798, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for absolute zero

The first known use of absolute zero was in 1798

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More Definitions for absolute zero

absolute zero


English Language Learners Definition of absolute zero

: the temperature that is believed to be the lowest possible temperature

absolute zero


Medical Definition of absolute zero 

: a theoretical temperature characterized by complete absence of heat and equivalent to exactly −273.15°C or −459.67°F

More from Merriam-Webster on absolute zero

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about absolute zero

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