Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold  



What is Absolute Zero?
This is very difficult to define, and different texts adopt different definitions. One definition is that absolute zero is the lowest possible temperature. If pressed, one could say that it is the temperature at which the kinetic energy (energy of motion) of molecules reaches zero. This does not mean all motion has vanished: there is still a quantum mechanical motion called “zero point energy”, and of course the electrons in each atom are still as busy as usual. Note that the definition of absolute zero is independent of the type of thermometer used.

When will the PBS series be on TV?
Currently Absolute Zero is scheduled to air on PBS in the Spring of 2007. Filming and production has already begun in places such as Holland, Finland, France, and in the United States at institutions such as Harvard, MIT and UC Boulder.

Where did the idea for a TV program on low-temperature physics come from?
The program is based largely on Tom Shachtman’s 1999 acclaimed book Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold, which is an epic story that follows a trail of eccentric characters ranging from a 17th century court magician whose alchemy brought air conditioning to Westminster Abbey to the original Captain Birdseye who invented frozen food.

Who is producing the series?
The series is being produced by British Emmy award winner David Dugan of Windfall Films, in collaboration with Meredith Burch of Meridian Productions in Washington, D.C.

What is the purpose of the AbsoluteZeroCampaign.org Web site?
The Absolute Zero Campaign Web site is intended to be the “nerve center” of the outreach campaign surrounding the television series. It is also intended to be a place where students, teachers, parents and others can find out all about the field of low-temperature physics. The site is a place where teachers can download ideas for teaching Physics in the classroom, where students can learn about the “cool” things happening in the field and also where physicists, engineers and other scientists can become a part of teaching the next generation of physicists.

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