Starting tonight, January 8, NOVA will be presenting the first part of a two-part series on low-temperature physics. "Absolute Zero" explores four centuries of cold science, opening in the 1600s, when the nature of cold was a complete mystery, and continuing on to the modern race to create the first Bose-Einstein condensate in the laboratory. We think readers of the Physics and Physicists blog will be interested in the show!
Tonight's episode, "The Conquest of Cold," includes Cornelius Drebbel’s spooky trick of turning summer into winter for the English king, achieved in much the way that homemade ice cream is produced; Antoine Lavoisier’s battle with Count Benjamin Rumford over the caloric theory of heat, an intellectual contest set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, in which Lavoisier unfortunately lost his head to the guillotine and his wife to Rumford; and Michael Faraday’s explosive experiments to liquefy gasses, which established the principles that make refrigerators possible.
Next Tuesday, NOVA will air "The Race for Absolute Zero," which picks up the story in the late 19th century, with James Dewar and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes racing to liquefy hydrogen and helium, before moving a century ahead to meet the scientists who competed to produce a Bose-Einstein condensate, including Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Wolfgang Ketterle of MIT.
You can watch a preview of this show at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/zero/. "Absolute Zero: The Conquest of Cold" will premiere tonight at 8PM ET/PT on most PBS stations. Please check your local listings to confirm when it will be broadcast near you: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/schedule-local.html.
It sounds fascinating. Hopefully, if you do watch this, that you'd write back with a comment.