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Temperature of the Hottest Laboratory Experiment

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Explaining the CDF detector. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL), 4 April 2001. "The Fermilab Tevatron provides proton-antiproton collisions at the world's highest energy of 2 trillion electron-volts (TeV) as the collision's center of mass per particle in the proton and antiproton beams." 1.5 × 1016 K
Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. General Editor. 2001, Routledge. "The largest accelerators capable of energies of trillions of electron volts…." 1016 K
Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. General Edition. 2001, Routledge. "When a proton achieves an energy of 5 MeV, it is moving at one tenth the speed of light…." 4 × 1010 K
How do Physicists Study Particles. European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), 2002. "Using accelerators (link) we can make single particles (like a proton) go as fast as the speed of light (300'000 km/sec). If a particle moving at this speed hits a block of material, its energy is also transformed, producing temperatures of 10'000'000'000'000 °C or more" 1013 K

Cyclotrons were developed in the 1930s by scientist Ernest Lawrence and partners. They have been used to further the study of nuclear physics, elementary subatomic particles, and chemistry. Cyclotrons accelerate charged particles (protons, electrons, ions, etc.) in magnetic fields. The magnetic fields accelerate the particles in circular paths around D-shaped cells using centrifugal force. Each time the particles circle the path around the cells (millions of times a second) they gain energy.

Particles are always in motion and the faster the particles move the higher the energy and the hotter the temperature. Cyclotrons accelerate the particles to speeds 1/10 the speed of light and greater. The descendants of the cyclotron are particle accelerators and the largest accelerators are capable of energies of trillions of electron-volts. This is roughly 1015 K, making cyclotrons even hotter than the center of the suns (107 K) or supernova explosions (1010 K). The biggest particle accelerator in Europe is in Geneva, Switzerland at a lab called CERN and the biggest accelerator in the US is located at Fermilab on the outskirts of Chicago. There, accelerators are capable of energies of trillions of electron volts making the particle accelerators at Fermilab the "hottest" laboratory experiments.

The procedure for converting accelerator energies in electron volt (eV) to temperature in kelvin (K) is as follows…

T = (2E)/(3k)
T = [2(1 × 1012 eV)(1.6 × 10−19 J/eV)]/[3(1.38 × 10−23 J/K)]
T = 7.7 × 1015 K


T = Temperature (kelvin)
E = Energy (joule)
k = Boltzmann's Constant (J/K) = 1.38 × 10 J/K

Tiffany Gillyard -- 2003

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Chang, Kenneth. Scientists Report Hottest, Densest Matter Ever Observed. New York Times, 19 June 2003. "In 2001, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider here, known as RHIC, performed a series of experiments, slamming the nuclei of gold atoms, each with 79 protons and 118 neutrons, into one another at speeds approaching that of light. In such collisions, which create temperatures reaching trillions of degrees, a pair of quarks can be knocked out of a proton or a neutron." 1012 K
ALICE experiment sets record for the hottest spot in the Universe, Panos Charitos, ALICE Matters, European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN), 13 October 2012. "In the recent Quark Matter 2012 conference, the ALICE collaboration announced the production of the highest human-made temperature in the universe. The highest temperature of approximately 5.5 trillion Kelvin was produced at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN by smashing heavy ions after accelerating them to 99% of the speed of light…. That's about 38% hotter than the old record, set by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, by smashing gold ions together." 5.5 × 1012 K

Editor's Supplement -- 2003, 2013