Absolute Zero - The Cold, Hard Facts About the Coolest Stuff in Physics
Making Better Clocks!
The web seminar titled, "Absolute Zero: The Cold Hard Facts about the Coolest Stuff
in Physics" was held on Thursday, March 22, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern
time. The presenters were Linda Devillier, President of Devillier Communications,
and Nobel Laureate William Phillips, leading researcher in the physics of ultra-low
temperature atomic gases at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The presenters talked about "Absolute Zero," a two-part public television special
scheduled to air in the fall of 2007 and about the science of cold physics and the
related research taking place at NIST.
Eighty-seven (87) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition
to the presenters and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states
of California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,
Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania,
Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
Participants from Brazil, Canada, and Thailand also attended the presentation. One
of the teachers reported hosting a group of (approximately) 300 students at an elementary
school in Virginia.
In this seminar, Dr. Phillips shared with participants how and why he and his colleagues
made the coldest gases ever seen, provided engaging ideas on how to make the physics
of the ultra-cold appealing to middle and high school students, and described demonstrations
for formal and informal educators. One of the applications of the science of cold
physics is designing better clocks. Ms. Devillier also shared a brief description
about the "Absolute Zero" two-part public television special and about educational
resources available at the Absolute Zero web site for educators interested in this
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
- "I teach about temperature, thermal energy, and absolute zero in my
science course for 9th graders and my physics courses for 11th
and 12th graders."
- "Bill explains complex physics in a very basic way. I can explain it to my students
in the same way."
- "Gave information that is current and directly from someone working in the field.
This is a subject that always seems to interest students."
- "This goes right along with our course work. Students are fascinated by the
of absolute zero and this web seminar provided a great enrichment opportunity
Thanks to the participants and the presenters for the learning opportunity, the
interactions, and a job well done!
About Absolute Zero
Absolute Zero is a two-part public television special that is scheduled to air in
2007. The programs will demonstrate how civilization has been profoundly affected
by the mastery of cold. They are a unique blend of science, cultural history and
adventure story, and will explore key concepts, significant individuals and events
in the field of low-temperature physics to show the enormous impact that the mastery
of cold has had on society through such technologies as air conditioning, refrigeration
and liquefied gases.
Absolute Zero is is based largely on Tom Shachtman’s acclaimed book, “Absolute Zero
and the Conquest of Cold.” The documentaries feature the struggles of philosophers,
scientists and engineers over four centuries as they attempted to understand the
nature of cold, to explore its deepest reaches, to create the “cold technologies”
that have transformed society and to seek a deeper understanding of matter itself.
Absolute Zero Science Educator’s Guide
The Absolute Zero Science Educator’s Guide is meant for both informal and formal
educators of middle school students and is a companion to the Absolute Zero Community
Education Outreach Guide. Written in collaboration with low-temperature physicists
and classroom teachers, the guide offers suggestions on how best to engage students
in science and low-temperature physics, providing information on how to lead a classroom
discussion, increase group participation, teach the process of scientific inquiry
and encourage students to continue studying the science topic at hand. The guide
can be downloaded at: www.absolutezerocampaign.org/ask_experts/pro_science_guide.pdf.
Absolute Zero Community Education Outreach Guide
Drawing from the history of the human quest to explore the cold, the Absolute Zero
Community Education Outreach Guide focuses on topics — from historical
attempts to understand the physics of heat to modern day magnetically levitating
trains — that are covered in the two-part public broadcasting special, Absolute
Zero. The guide provides a variety of low-temperature demonstrations and experiments
that are meant to inspire the next generation of scientists, describing modern research
while incorporating the national science standards. The guide can be downloaded
The Absolute Zero
Campaign Web site is a place where students, teachers, parents and
others interested in low-temperature physics can learn more about this unique scientific
field. Teachers can download exciting classroom ideas and students can find out
about some very “cool” things. The site includes both Absolute Zero guides and links
to local Absolute Zero Experts and activities. Additional educational
resources including graphics, biographies of historical figures, games, and a time
line of low-temperature physics history can be found in the “Get Involved” section of the site.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Underwritten by the National Science Foundation
and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.