Absolute Zero

I just finished watching part one of the NOVA episode “Absolute Zero” on PBS last week. Check your local listings to see if you can catch it on a re-broadcast or you can watch the program online. Part two will broadcast on most stations on Tuesday the 15th and will be online on the 16th.

Generally I found the program exceptionally good, it covers the history of scientific thinking about hot and cold very well as well as showing the commercial uses. I have only two criticisms and they are so small they are really nitpicking. The first is that the narrator as well as Professor Hasok Chang, author of “Inventing Temperature, Measurement and Scientific Progress”, both use the obsolete units name centigrade. It probably just bugs me because I can still remember losing grade points in Mrs. Wolfs’ chemistry class for using centigrade instead of Celsius. The other criticism is the lack of clarity when in the part on Clarence Birdseye the narrator says, “temperature forty degrees below freezing”. I had to pause the playback and think for a minute wether they meant Celsius or Fahrenheit. My first thought was that they meant -40°C which equals -40°F but then I remembered that household freezers are around 0°F so, I think they meant -8°F (-22°C).

I encourage everyone to watch this fine program and please support your local PBS station so, they can keep bringing us the best science show evah, NOVA.