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Question:
I know that there is such a thing as absolute zero where the particles can't get any colder, but is there such a thing where the particles can't get any hotter?



Replies:
Not really. Temperature is a measure of average kinetic energy of the particles, and the minimum value of kinetic energy is zero. There is no maximum value, however.

Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.


The other limit would be infinite temperature. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Temperature is formally a measure of the probability of a system being in states of different energy, e.g. the fact that the Earth's atmosphere has a temperature of 300 K (roughly) tells you how much less likely it is for a nitrogen molecule to be at 10,000 feet altitude (where it has significant gravitational potential energy) versus zero altitude (where it has none).

Zero temperature means formally that the system can ONLY be in the lowest possible energy state: in our example, every nitrogen atom must be on the ground. Infinite temperature means that the system can be found with equal probability in all possible energy states, including those that have infinite energy: in our example, nitrogen atoms are equally likely to be at zero altitude as halfway to the Moon.

Dr. C grayce



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