Negative Kelvin: The Absolute Truth about Absolute Zero
The raging debate on negative Kelvin temperature is a never-ending concoction of philosophy, scientific inquiry, and raw emotion. Sparked by recent student philosophers and contested by scientists of this community, the debate has spiraled into an attack on the fundamental truths of our lives.
“Is there -1 Kelvin?”
Firstly, Kelvin is defined as “The SI unit used to measure temperature, the basic unit of the Kelvin scale. A difference of one degree Kelvin corresponds to the same temperature difference as a difference of one degree Celsius” (kelvin). The reason scientists use Kelvin instead of Celcius is because 0 Kelvin translates to “Absolute Zero,” while 0 Celsius translates to the point at which water freezes. Absolute Zero is the coldest temperature possible. Matter cannot get any colder, thus a negative numerical value for Kelvin would be impossible. But is it really unimaginable?
Science relies on evidence, and concrete facts are rarely disproven. In science, many values cannot physically turn out to be negative; mass, distance, etc. Only in a theoretical imagined reality can these values be tested. There is close to no evidence backing up the theoretical notion of negative Kelvin. Should that deter physicists from experimenting upon the subject? Where would we be if people weren’t daring enough to ask questions?
Strictly speaking to the philosophy behind verisimilitude, the truths known about this world are only subject to our relatively primitive perspective. In Karl Popper’s take on “Black Swan Theory,” he discusses the hypocrisy in observational science. Essentially, the argument is that if humans only saw black swans though there were white swans out there, humans would think that there were only black swans until a human saw a white swan. We observe the black swans for centuries and centuries until BAM! It becomes a law that there are only black swans and no white swans. This is the hypocrisy behind everything we have known to be true, and this is the hypocrisy that drives us to the tipping point of anger and anguish.
Abruptly, the argument diverges into the age old debate of Positivism versus Anti-Positivism. At its core, Positivism states that truth can only be found from derived knowledge. Deductive reasoning, which is seeing the evidence placed around something and knowing that it is true (like saying “it will rain on Tuesday” because the skies were stormy, and then seeing it rain on Tuesday), is different than inductive reasoning, which is seeing the evidence placed around something and recognizing probability without full certainty (seeing the skies as stormy but not knowing if it will rain beforehand). Interestingly for you Lost fans out there, the character Desmond Hume was based around the philosopher David Hume who discussed this principle in one of his inquiries. All TV show anecdotes aside, we live in a universe where we all follow inductive reasoning to predict, or rather, hope for an outcome to happen. The scientific method contradicts itself under the assumption of absolute truth while only observing the data of inductive reasoning.
I’m lost. How does Lost have anything to do with -1 Kelvin? Well, here’s all the strings that tie my devil’s advocate argument together. David Hume, whom Desmond Hume (character from Lost) was based upon, is associated with induction. Inductive reasoning is the main argument that this David Hume guy has against Scientism; the argument for the scientific method and approach. David Hume states his problem with Scientism in “An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding” by essentially saying that induction has to be demonstrated as correct, or validated, in order to be recognized as meaningful towards the collection of certain knowledge. Assuming that a bowling ball will touch the ground when dropped is induction that the law of gravity will take place, and so the knowledge of if the bowling ball will touch the ground when dropped is an assumption instead of verified fact. The philosopher Karl Popper pretty much describes verisimilitude, or “the appearance of being true or real” (verisimilitude), as being a relative description of knowledge. To make it easier to understand, think “Newton’s theory of motion is more correct than Aristotle’s, but they both have flaws”, and then you’ll understand that Aristotle’s level of verisimilitude was relative to Newton’s because he lived in the age of Ancient Philosophy, and didn’t have as advanced technology as Newton did. My argument is that we have never seen a molecule move -1 Kelvin. We will probably, using my dumb inductive reasoning skills, never see a stupid, ridiculous, indisputably idiotic value of -1 pop up on our molecule thermometers or whatever scientists use to measure the temperature of molecules at that level. However, my precious -1 Kelvin molecule is the white swan in the infinite pool of black swans. Almost poetically, the hope that a lucky scientist may one day disprove everything humankind has ever known about physics or chemistry or philosophy by finding the -1 Kelvin molecule is beautifully daunting. Am I wrong to believe in a fallacy?
The reality of the situation is thus: It really does not matter. Nobody cares. It won’t affect your life. Your views are not challenged. We should let it go. The reason I made this argument in the first place was to tick off one of my good pals. Just some casual schadenfreude to waste around three and a half hours, plus the amount of time it’ll take for me to write, edit, and produce this dumb article. Nothing about this argument has any meaning to it.
kelvin. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Retrieved January 23, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kelvin
verisimilitude. Retrieved from Google Search of the word “verisimilitude”. If you’re reading this, you know how to google search the word “verisimilitude”