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 secret was that near absolute zero, vibrations in a metal’s atomic lattice steer free electrons into pairs. Charlie Wood, Quanta Magazine, "A New Twist Reveals Superconductivity’s Secrets," 16 Mar. 2021 The physicists used rubidium atoms that had been cooled to temperatures about a millionth of a degree Kelvin above absolute zero as a starting point for their plasma—an extremely cold temperature instead of the extremely hot one inside the sun. Karmela Padavic-callaghan, Wired, "An Ultracold Plasma Models the Universe’s Most Extreme Places," 17 Mar. 2021 To detect them, a second interferometer that uses a lower power laser and mirrors cooled to near absolute zero would nestle in each corner of the ET. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Giant gravitational wave detectors could hear murmurs from across universe," 10 Mar. 2021 This circuit could be etched into a silicon microchip, that when cooled to near absolute zero, becomes a hyperfast, almost lossless superconductor. David Lumb, Popular Mechanics, "109 Ways Silicon Completely Rules Every Part of Your Life," 9 Dec. 2020 But such low-temperature superconductors must be chilled to 4 degrees above absolute zero, which requires bulky and expensive liquid helium cooling. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Fusion startup plans reactor with small but powerful superconducting magnets," 3 Mar. 2021 In order to do all this, the telescope has to be chilled to extreme temperatures—we're talking absolute zero, or minus 451.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Is Blasting Just the Biggest Balloon Into the Stratosphere," 29 July 2020 But to detect those faint emanations of heat, the telescope must be very cold — less than 45 degrees Celsius above absolute zero — so that its own heat does not wash out the heat from outer space. New York Times, "The Webb Telescope, NASA’s Golden Surfer, Is Almost Ready, Again," 2 Feb. 2021 Google’s experiment used a superconducting chip dubbed Sycamore, with 54 qubits, cooled to fractions of a degree above absolute zero. Tom Simonite, Wired, "China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy," 3 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of absolute zero

1798, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about absolute zero

Time Traveler for absolute zero

Time Traveler

The first known use of absolute zero was in 1798

See more words from the same year

Statistics for absolute zero

Last Updated

1 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Absolute zero.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absolute%20zero. Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for absolute zero

absolute zero


English Language Learners Definition of absolute zero

technical : 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

Comments on absolute zero

What made you want to look up absolute zero? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!