Ramsey, Norman F. Formerly, Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Nobelist.
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The property of a thermodynamical system which satisfies certain conditions and whose thermodynamically defined absolute temperature is negative. The essential requirements for a thermodynamical system to be capable of negative absolute temperature are that (1) the elements of the thermodynamical system must be in thermodynamical equilibrium among themselves in order for the system to be described by a temperature at all; (2) there must be an upper limit to the possible energy of the allowed states of the system; and (3) the system must be thermally isolated from all systems which do not satisfy both of the first two requirements, that is, the internal thermal equilibrium time among the elements of the system must be short compared to the time during which appreciable energy is lost to or gained from other systems.
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