Thermodynamics: The 2016 advent calendar
Day 17

The story of a meteorite

The red hot meteors that were as cold as ice.

In James Dewar’s 1885 CHRISTMAS LECTURES, he distributed pieces of a meteorite to the audience. The rocks came from an event in India some years earlier, which provided a stark reminder of the cold temperatures beyond our planet.

The third law of thermodynamics tackles the behaviour of matter as it approaches absolute zero – the coldest temperature we can envisage. The people of 'Dhurmsala' in India got a strong indication of just how cold outer space is when they rushed to pick up rocks that had fallen only moments earlier as flaming balls from the sky, only to find they were too cold to pick up. A flash of heat in our atmosphere wasn’t enough to warm the rocks, chilled for years in space.

13 Journeys through space and time

This is just one classic story that features in our special commemorative book, '13 Journeys Through Space and Time'. Thirteen of the most captivating CHRISTMAS LECTURES on space and time are brought back to life, looking at the history of our understanding of the universe through the lens of CHRISTMAS LECTURES past.

Find out more, and order a copy, here.

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