Is there a limit to how hot you can make the temperature?

01 November 2009

Question

In an article I read this week, they said that the coldest spot in our solar system was a crater on the south pole of the moon. The temperature’s about - 238 degrees. I realise this is close to absolute zero. But if absolute zero is the coldest temperature we can achieve, is there a limit to how hot you can make the temperature?

Answer

Temperature is basically a measure of how much energy each particle has got or each direction a particle moves in. And so, you can pretty much all the energy away from something and you can't take any more energy away, and so, there's a minimum temperature as an absolute zero. But certainly, in any normal idea of physics, anything we know, definitely there's no maximum amount of energy you can give particles. So there's no maximum temperature. You can keep on giving more and more energy and the temperature will keep on going up. There could possibly be a maximum temperature. You might find a maximum energy, you can give things due to some bizarre bit of quantum mechanics, but as far as we know, we haven't found this solid one yet.

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