Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hotter than the Interior of the Sun

When I read this the science geek came out in me and I had to post it.
Record Set for Hottest Temperature on Earth: 3.6 Billion Degrees in Lab

The Sun (Source: NASA)

Scientists at Sandia National laboratories produced superheated gas exceeding temperatures of 2 billion degrees Kelvin. That's 3.6 billion degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the interior of the Sun, the hottest temperature ever produced by man. This was achieved with a device called the Z machine, the largest X-ray generator in the world.

The interesting part of this achievement for me is that project Scientists did not expect the resulting temperature and repeated the experiment several times to confirm what they had done. This non-nuclear experiment also resulted in another unexpected result, energy output was greater what was put in.

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.

Some hot basic science producing some cool results.

No comments: