The minimum and maximum possible temperatures

Since the start of the year, I’ve received quite a few questions regarding absolute temperatures – highest and lowest, so I decided to start a brief discussion around the two values, in which I will give the basic facts about them, so feel free to step in and add more info or questions.

Absolute zero

In thermodynamics, absolute zero is impossible to reach; it is the temperature at which entropy reaches minimum value, entropy being a property used to determine the energy not available for work, or to put it in layman terms, a state of  ‘molecular disorder’ of any substance. Absolute zero or absolute 0 K (0 degrees on the Kelvin scale, which is typically used for absolute values) equals −273.15° on the Celsius scale and −459.67° on the Fahrenheit scale.

Scientists have managed to get extremely close to absolute zero, at 100 picoKelvins, or 10-10 Kelvins, but as I said, reaching absolute zero is impossible, at least with our current knowledge. Researchers have noted some remarkable properties of matter, when they get close to this temperature, such as superconductivity.

Now, quite a lot of people know about this; but what many people don’t know is that similar to how there is a minimum possible accepted temperature, there is also a maximum temperature, called the Planck temperature.

The Planck and maximum temperature

In the Planck temperature scale, 0 is absolute zero, 1 is the Planck temperature, and every other temperature is a decimal of it. This maximum temperature is believed to be 1.416833(85) x 1032 Kelvin degrees, and at temperatures above it, the laws of physics just cease to exist.

However, many don’t agree with this rather cosmological model and believe that as we continue to find out more and more things about the Universe we live in, the maximum temperature will continue to grow.

From what I have been able to find, the highest temperature obtained on Earth was 3.6 billion degrees, which even though is over 2.000 times hotter than the interior of the Sun, is only an insignificant fraction of 1032 degrees.

24 thoughts on “The minimum and maximum possible temperatures

  1. Fabian

    What’s the hottest temperature in Celcius and Farenheight? Not everyone knows what Kelvin is.

  2. Sanjeev

    As you said the highest temperature achieved on the earth was 3.6 billion degrees, what is the highest temperature possible in the universe in just common man’s figures instead of giving any formula ?
    Express it in billion or trillions of degrees instead of ten raise to something.

  3. Abhinav Prakash

    Will the expression like a A million billion billion billion degree make any sense to you? Powers raised to 10 are far more comprehensible

  4. Sanjeev

    If interior of Sun is also not as hot as this figure of 1.416833(85) x 1032 Kelvin degrees, mentioned above, where was it noticed and how was it measured ? What was the reason for attaining this temperature.

  5. Kraig Farrar

    If you want to read anything science related you need to understand scientific notation. No one is going to make up incomprehensible new names for huge numbers just to suit those who wont learn the standard notation. You wouldn’t understand it even if they did and neither would anyone else. just picture a 1 with 32 zeroes and that is close enough to give you an idea

  6. Kraig Farrar

    I don’t actually know the answer but it may have to do with the limitations of particles moving faster than the speed of light. There is a formula used in chemistry and physics whereby the average speed of particles in a substance can be calculated based on temperature. Since this speed cant exceed the speed of light that might be the limiting factor but I don’t actually know.

  7. SpicyVolcano

    Can you please tell me what the 85 means? Is that the amount of 3’s there are in its accuracy?

  8. Anonymous Person

    a. what dumbass dosent know what absolute zero is, if they clicked on this page? b. do i have to pay u to subscribe? c.did humans create that 3.6 bilion?

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  10. Zombie Chicken

    These numbers are achieved through hypothetical or theoretical mathematics. That or based on current know laws of physics

  11. Zombie Chicken

    You should learn what Kelvin is, its the more 'scientific' temperature unit. You learn what it is in like 9th grade bud

  12. Zombie Chicken

    I doubt humans created the 3.6 billion degree temperature on Earth. If they did maybe in some nuclear reactor? Otherwise it likely refers to the earth's core or surface when it was being made. Not sure

  13. Surg

    The highest recorded man-made temperature is 5.5 trillion degrees Celsius made by colliding lead ions at the Large Hadron Collider. I'm assuming this only lasted something like a nanosecond, but that still is absolutely insane.

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