Humans Create a Temperature 250,000 Times Hotter Than the Sun, Right Here on Earth

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The Brookhaven National Laboratory's particle accelerator has set the world record for a man-made temperature, at around 7.2 trillion degrees Farenheit.

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Brookhaven National Laboratory

The center of the sun is hot. Really, really hot. But human scientists here on Earth -- on humble Long Island, to be more specific -- have created a temperature that is much, much hotter. 250,000 times hotter, in fact. That temperature -- 7.2 trillion degrees Farenheit or 4 trillion degrees Celsius (but really, does these numbers mean anything to anyone? This number is so big, and this temperature is so hot, that quantification defies understanding) -- has now been officially recognized by the record-lovers at Guiness as the "Highest Man-Made Temperature."

The temperature was actually achieved more than a decade ago, in 2001, but it took scientists a while to measure the heat, Brookhaven physicist Paul Sorensen said in an email to TPM. It is likely, TPM reports, that this temperature has in fact already been exceeded, when Brookhaven collided uranium nuclei earlier this year, but that temperature has not yet been determined.

Scientists created the temperature in the course of smashing gold ions together at close to the speed of light. When the ions collide, the energy released "melts" the neutrons and protons down into their parts, quarks and gluons. This "soup" of quarks and gluons, (known as QGP or "quark-gluon plasma") resembles a state of matter thought to have existed for ten-millionths of a second just after the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago.

The collision is illustrated and explained in the video below.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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