Episode 2 - The Race for Absolute Zero
This film charts the intense competition between rival scientists as they attempt to plunge lower and lower down the temperature scale. This ultimate limit of cold was a Holy Grail as tantalising for physicists as the speed limit of light.
The film follows the fortunes of two front-runners, James Dewar, a professor at the Royal Institution in London, and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, a Dutch scientist in Leiden, as they liquefy different gases to get within a few degrees of Absolute Zero. As they reach these ultra low temperatures, bizarre phenomena emerge.
Ultra-cold research promises many innovations for the future, from quantum computers to super-cooled quantum devices that can map the magnetic activity of the brain. Today we have reached absolute zero to within a tenth of a billionth of a degree, uncovering many fundamental secrets of matter along the way. If our past was defined by our mastery of heat, perhaps our future lies in the continuing conquest of cold.