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Absolute Zero: The Race For Absolute Zero

Season 35, Episode 5 of 18

u"Absolute Zero" presents the epic story of humanity's struggle to master extreme cold. This mini-series re-creates groundbreaking discoveries across four centuries that expanded our knowledge of low temperatures and led ultimately to today's cutting edge "cold technologies." Its memorable characters range from a 17th-century court magician who rigged a primitive form of air conditioning in Westminster Abbey to the original Captain Birdseye, who invented frozen food. For the first time on television, these programs tell the story of the decades-long scientific race between two leading chemists to liquefy helium and nitrogen, which opened the door to the modern era of refrigeration and modern air conditioning, as well as a recent Nobel-winning breakthrough, the production of a new form of matter that Albert Einstein predicted would exist within a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero. "The Race for Absolute Zero," which picks up the story in the late 19th century, when researchers plunged cold science to new lows as they succeeded in reaching the forbidding realm at which oxygen and then nitrogen liquefy. The master of this technology was Scottish chemist James Dewar, who pursued the holy grail of the field--liquefying hydrogen at minus 253 C, just 20 degrees above absolute zero.

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