Thursday, March 09, 2006

Over 3.6 Billion Degrees of Oops

Seen at the Corner:
This is a little disturbing:
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.
I don't like it when we create conditions hotter than the interior of the sun without knowing how we did it. What if I'm in the kitchen and I accidentally put the wrong stuff together and it happens? That'd be so not cool, literally.
That isn't all, though - it looks as though we might be on the verge of discovering some new physical principles. Quoting the article some more:
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.
Bolded emphasis is mine.


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