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Concept: Absolute zero


Nairobi, Kenya exhibits a wide variety of micro-climates and heterogeneous surfaces. Paved roads and high-rise buildings interspersed with low vegetation typify the central business district, while large neighborhoods of informal settlements or “slums” are characterized by dense, tin housing, little vegetation, and limited access to public utilities and services. To investigate how heat varies within Nairobi, we deployed a high density observation network in 2015/2016 to examine summertime temperature and humidity. We show how temperature, humidity and heat index differ in several informal settlements, including in Kibera, the largest slum neighborhood in Africa, and find that temperature and a thermal comfort index known colloquially as the heat index regularly exceed measurements at the Dagoretti observation station by several degrees Celsius. These temperatures are within the range of temperatures previously associated with mortality increases of several percent in youth and elderly populations in informal settlements. We relate these changes to surface properties such as satellite-derived albedo, vegetation indices, and elevation.

Concepts: Temperature, Slum, Celsius, Nairobi, Absolute zero, Thermodynamic temperature, Fahrenheit, Kibera


Cooling during most of the past two millennia has been widely recognized and has been inferred to be the dominant global temperature trend of the past 11,700 years (the Holocene epoch). However, long-term cooling has been difficult to reconcile with global forcing, and climate models consistently simulate long-term warming. The divergence between simulations and reconstructions emerges primarily for northern mid-latitudes, for which pronounced cooling has been inferred from marine and coastal records using multiple approaches. Here we show that temperatures reconstructed from sub-fossil pollen from 642 sites across North America and Europe closely match simulations, and that long-term warming, not cooling, defined the Holocene until around 2,000 years ago. The reconstructions indicate that evidence of long-term cooling was limited to North Atlantic records. Early Holocene temperatures on the continents were more than two degrees Celsius below those of the past two millennia, consistent with the simulated effects of remnant ice sheets in the climate model Community Climate System Model 3 (CCSM3). CCSM3 simulates increases in ‘growing degree days’-a measure of the accumulated warmth above five degrees Celsius per year-of more than 300 kelvin days over the Holocene, consistent with inferences from the pollen data. It also simulates a decrease in mean summer temperatures of more than two degrees Celsius, which correlates with reconstructed marine trends and highlights the potential importance of the different subseasonal sensitivities of the records. Despite the differing trends, pollen- and marine-based reconstructions are correlated at millennial-to-centennial scales, probably in response to ice-sheet and meltwater dynamics, and to stochastic dynamics similar to the temperature variations produced by CCSM3. Although our results depend on a single source of palaeoclimatic data (pollen) and a single climate-model simulation, they reinforce the notion that climate models can adequately simulate climates for periods other than the present-day. They also demonstrate that amplified warming in recent decades increased temperatures above the mean of any century during the past 11,000 years.

Concepts: Climate, Temperature, Climate change, Simulation, Absolute zero, Climate model, Interglacial, Global climate model


Anti-icing surfaces have a critical footprint on daily lives of humans ranging from transportation systems and infrastructure to energy systems, but creation of these surfaces for low temperatures remains elusive. Non-wetting surfaces and liquid-infused surfaces have inspired routes for the development of icephobic surfaces. However, high freezing temperature, high ice adhesion strength, and high cost have restricted their practical applications. Here we report new magnetic slippery surfaces outperforming state-of-the-art icephobic surfaces with a ice formation temperature of -34 °C, 2-3 orders of magnitude higher delay time in ice formation, extremely low ice adhesion strength (≈2 Pa) and stability in shear flows up to Reynolds number of 10(5). In these surfaces, we exploit the magnetic volumetric force to exclude the role of solid-liquid interface in ice formation. We show that these inexpensive surfaces are universal and can be applied to all types of solids (no required micro/nano structuring) with no compromise to their unprecedented properties.

Concepts: Energy, Fundamental physics concepts, Ice, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Solid, Absolute zero


A superconductor is a material that can conduct electricity without resistance below a superconducting transition temperature, Tc. The highest Tc that has been achieved to date is in the copper oxide system: 133 kelvin at ambient pressure and 164 kelvin at high pressures. As the nature of superconductivity in these materials is still not fully understood (they are not conventional superconductors), the prospects for achieving still higher transition temperatures by this route are not clear. In contrast, the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory of conventional superconductivity gives a guide for achieving high Tc with no theoretical upper bound-all that is needed is a favourable combination of high-frequency phonons, strong electron-phonon coupling, and a high density of states. These conditions can in principle be fulfilled for metallic hydrogen and covalent compounds dominated by hydrogen, as hydrogen atoms provide the necessary high-frequency phonon modes as well as the strong electron-phonon coupling. Numerous calculations support this idea and have predicted transition temperatures in the range 50-235 kelvin for many hydrides, but only a moderate Tc of 17 kelvin has been observed experimentally. Here we investigate sulfur hydride, where a Tc of 80 kelvin has been predicted. We find that this system transforms to a metal at a pressure of approximately 90 gigapascals. On cooling, we see signatures of superconductivity: a sharp drop of the resistivity to zero and a decrease of the transition temperature with magnetic field, with magnetic susceptibility measurements confirming a Tc of 203 kelvin. Moreover, a pronounced isotope shift of Tc in sulfur deuteride is suggestive of an electron-phonon mechanism of superconductivity that is consistent with the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer scenario. We argue that the phase responsible for high-Tc superconductivity in this system is likely to be H3S, formed from H2S by decomposition under pressure. These findings raise hope for the prospects for achieving room-temperature superconductivity in other hydrogen-based materials.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Hydrogen, Atom, Superconductivity, Absolute zero, BCS theory, High-temperature superconductivity


LiFeAs is one of the new class of iron superconductors with a bulk [Formula: see text] in the 15-17 K range. We report on the specific heat characterization of single crystal material prepared by self-flux growth techniques with significantly improved properties, including a much decreased residual gamma, γ® (≡C/T as T → 0), in the superconducting state. Thus, in contrast to previous explanations of a finite γ® in LiFeAs being due to intrinsic states in the superconducting gap, the present work shows that such a finite residual γ in LiFeAs is instead a function of sample quality. Further, since LiFeAs has been characterized as nodeless with multiple superconducting gaps, we report here on its specific heat properties in zero and applied magnetic fields, to compare to similar results on nodal iron superconductors. For comparison, we also investigate LiFe(0.98)Cu(0.02)As, which has the reduced T© of ≈9 K and an H(c2) of 15 T. Interestingly, although presumably both LiFeAs and LiFe(0.98)Cu(0.02)As are nodeless, they clearly show a non-linear dependence of the electronic density of states (∝ specific heat γ) at the Fermi energy in the mixed state with the applied field, similar to the Volovik effect for nodal superconductors. However, rather than indicating nodal behavior, the satisfactory comparison with a recent theory for γ(H) for a superconductor with two isotropic gaps in the presence of impurities argues for nodeless behavior. Thus, in terms of specific heat in a magnetic field, LiFeAs can serve as the prototypical multiband, nodeless iron superconductor.

Concepts: Electron, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Diamagnetism, Unconventional superconductor, Absolute zero, High-temperature superconductivity


Iron pnictides are layered high T© superconductors with moderate material anisotropy and thus Abrikosov vortices are expected in the mixed state. Yet, we have discovered a distinct change in the nature of the vortices from Abrikosov-like to Josephson-like in the pnictide superconductor SmFeAs(O,F) with T©~48-50 K on cooling below a temperature T(*)~41-42 K, despite its moderate electronic anisotropy γ~4-6. This transition is hallmarked by a sharp drop in the critical current and accordingly a jump in the flux-flow voltage in a magnetic field precisely aligned along the FeAs layers, indicative of highly mobile vortices. T(*) coincides well with the temperature where the coherence length ξ© perpendicular to the layers matches half of the FeAs-layer spacing. For fields slightly out-of-plane (> 0.1°- 0.15°) the vortices are completely immobilized as well-pinned Abrikosov segments are introduced when the vortex crosses the FeAs layers. We interpret these findings as a transition from well-pinned, slow moving Abrikosov vortices at high temperatures to weakly pinned, fast flowing Josephson vortices at low temperatures. This vortex dynamics could become technologically relevant as superconducting applications will always operate deep in the Josephson regime.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Superconductivity, Vortices, Fluxon, Type-II superconductor, Josephson effect, Absolute zero


Accurate measurement of skin surface temperature is essential in both thermo-physiological and clinical applications. However, a literature review of the last two decades of physiological or clinical research revealed an inconsistency or a lack of information on how temperature sensors were attached to the skin surface. The purpose of this study was to systematically compare and quantify the performance of different commercially available temperature sensors and their typical attachment methods, and, secondly, to provide a time-efficient and reliable method for testing any sensor-tape combination. In conclusion, both the sensor type and the attachment method influenced the results of temperature measurements (both its absolute and relative dimensions). The sensor shape and the contact of its sensing area to the surface, as well as the conductance of the tape were the most important parameters to minimise the influence of environmental conditions on surface temperature measurement. These results suggest that temperature sensors and attachment methods for human subject and manikin trials should be selected carefully, with a systematic evaluation of the sensor-tape system under conditions of use, and emphasise the need to report these parameters in publications.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Evaluation, Measurement, Temperature, Skin, Clinical research, Sensor, Absolute zero


A reinvestigation of the absolute rate constant of the metathesis reactions t-C4H9• + HBr → i-C4H10 + Br• (1) and t-C4H9• + HI → i-C4H10 + I• (2) was performed thanks to a recently developed apparatus consisting of a Knudsen reactor coupled to detection based on Single-Photon (VUV) Photoionization Mass Spectrometry (SPIMS). It enables the generation of thermalized hydrocarbon free radicals owing to a source upstream of and external to the Knudsen reactor. The following Arrhenius expressions were obtained: k1 = 5.6(±1.4) x 10-12 exp(-6.76(±0.94)/RT) and k2 = 2.0(±0.6) x 10-11 exp(-8.48(±0.94)/RT) with R = 8.314 J mol-1K-1 over the range 293 to 623 K. The mass balance of the reaction system based on Closed Shell Product Detection (CSPD) was checked in order to ensure the accuracy of the used reaction mechanism and as an independent check of k1 and k2. The wall-loss rate constants of the t-butyl free radical were measured and found to be low compared to the corresponding escape rate constant for effusion of t-C4H9• out of the Knudsen reactor. On the basis of the present results the free radical standard heat of formation (t-C4H9•) = 44.3 ± 1.7 kJ mol-1 was obtained when combined with the kinetics of the inverse halogenation reaction taken from the literature and using (t-C4H9•) = 322.2 J K-1 mol-1 following a ‘Third Law’ evaluation method. The standard enthalpy for t-butyl free radical is consistent for both the bromination and iodination reactions within the stated uncertainties.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Radical, Enthalpy, Chemical kinetics, Reaction rate, Absolute zero, Standard enthalpy change of formation, Halogenation


In order to elucidate pressure-induced second superconducting phase (SC-II) in A x Fe2-ySe2 (A = K, Rb, Cs, and Tl) having an intrinsic phase separation, we perform a detailed high-pressure magnetotransport study on the isoelectronic, phase-pure (Li1-xFe x )OHFe1-ySe single crystals. Here we show that its ambient-pressure superconducting phase (SC-I) with a critical temperature Tc ≈ 40 K is suppressed gradually to below 2 K and an SC-II phase emerges above Pc ≈ 5 GPa with Tc increasing progressively to above 50 K up to 12.5 GPa. Our high-precision resistivity data uncover a sharp transition of the normal state from Fermi liquid for SC-I to non-Fermi liquid for SC-II phase. In addition, the reemergence of high-Tc SC-II is found to accompany with a concurrent enhancement of electron carrier density. Without structural transition below 10 GPa, the observed SC-II with enhanced carrier density should be ascribed to an electronic origin presumably associated with pressure-induced Fermi surface reconstruction.

Concepts: Electron, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Phase transition, Pressure, Superconductivity, Critical point, Absolute zero


Global temperature targets, such as the widely accepted limit of an increase above pre-industrial temperatures of two degrees Celsius, may fail to communicate the urgency of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The translation of CO2 emissions into regional- and impact-related climate targets could be more powerful because such targets are more directly aligned with individual national interests. We illustrate this approach using regional changes in extreme temperatures and precipitation. These scale robustly with global temperature across scenarios, and thus with cumulative CO2 emissions. This is particularly relevant for changes in regional extreme temperatures on land, which are much greater than changes in the associated global mean.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Temperature, Carbon, Celsius, Global warming, Absolute zero, Thermodynamic temperature, Fahrenheit