Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

Yahoo News: Record Set for Hottest Temperature on Earth: 3.6 Billion Degrees in Lab


Recommended Posts


Scientists have produced superheated gas exceeding temperatures of 2 billion degrees Kelvin, or 3.6 billion degrees Fahrenheit.


This is hotter than the interior of our Sun, which is about 15 million degrees Kelvin, and also hotter than any previous temperature ever achieved on Earth, they say.

They don't know how they did it.

The feat was accomplished in the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories.

"At first, we were disbelieving," said project leader Chris Deeney. "We repeated the experiment many times to make sure we had a true result."

Thermonuclear explosions are estimated to reach only tens to hundreds of millions of degrees Kelvin; other nuclear fusion experiments have achieved temperatures of about 500 million degrees Kelvin, said a spokesperson at the lab.

The achievement was detailed in the Feb. 24 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

The Z machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world. It’s designed to test materials under extreme temperatures and pressures. It works by releasing 20 million amps of electricity into a vertical array of very fine tungsten wires. The wires dissolve into a cloud of charged particles, a superheated gas called plasma.

A very strong magnetic field compresses the plasma into the thickness of a pencil lead. This causes the plasma to release energy in the form of X-rays, but the X-rays are usually only several million degrees.

Sandia researchers still aren’t sure how the machine achieved the new record. Part of it is probably due to the replacement of the tungsten steel wires with slightly thicker steel wires, which allow the plasma ions to travel faster and thus achieve higher temperatures.

One thing that puzzles scientists is that the high temperature was achieved after the plasma’s ions should have been losing energy and cooling. Also, when the high temperature was achieved, the Z machine was releasing more energy than was originally put in, something that usually occurs only in nuclear reactions.

Sandia consultant Malcolm Haines theorizes that some unknown energy source is involved, which is providing the machine with an extra jolt of energy just as the plasma ions are beginning to slow down.

Sandia National Laboratories is located by Albuquerque New Mexico and is part of the U.S.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They weren't trying to get that temp., It sounds like they were trying to do a different experiment, and stumbled across this. This could be great for energy purposes. If it generates that much heat, and we can find a way to harness it and use it, that would be sweet. Plus from the sounds of it, it's safer then a nuclear reactor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

THats what I want to know. Who wakes up one morning and says, "You know what? I'm gonna heat something up to 3.6 million degrees just for kicks!!"

Not to be an ass, but this could wind up being one of the bigger developments of the 21st century if it leads to a renewable, safer source of energy.

Might save us from having to burn all that coal and oil we've heard so much about...

The only thing I worry about is that they accidentally create some kind of black hole and end all of human existence. In that case, screw these guys... lol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a hell of a thermometer that can measure temperatures up to 3.6 billion degrees.

Really, they can make a thermometer that can withstand 3.6 billion degrees, yet the thermostat on my home's A/C won't work worth a crap, and the one in my car breaks after only a few thousand miles

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those who are curious about measuring temperatures and containment ...

The temperature is deduced from the profile of the radiation it emits. Much like we don't stick a thermometer in the Sun, we can calculate the surface temperature from the peak wavelength of the radiation (light) we see. In the case of something as hot as the z-machine, the radiation emitted would be hard x-rays.

Containment can happen in a couple of ways. As it is a plasma, a mix of electrically charged particles, it can be deflected by magnetic fields which wrap around on themselves creating a magnetic bottle. Most nuclear fusion experiments try this approach.

The Z-pinch is different. It fires huge currents through thin wires. The magnetic fields generated by these currents compress the wires causing them to implode. So the Z-machine contains the high temperature material by imploding on itself. The amount of mass is very small and so when it does touch the (much larger) outer containment vessel it only heats it rather than destroying it. The goal of the experiment is to understand the physics of nuclear fusion better so that the mechansims inside fusion bombs can be better understood, without actually holding real tests, and also as a way of designing reactors to generate energy from nuclear fusion.

Hope this helps explain. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a hell of a thermometer that can measure temperatures up to 3.6 billion degrees.

Yeah.... and one of the younger scientist interns stuck his hand in there to see how hot is was... we're told he went... "wow... that's hot...where's my hand?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...