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If you thought that a kid's room, a Norwegian Nobel Laureate and a laser pointer had nothing in common, two UA physicists are about to enlighten you.

It's hard to believe, but after having unraveled many of the laws that make the universe tick, physicists still haven't reached an agreement on whether something as seemingly simple as "hot" or "cold" can be measured in a system under certain circumstances.

"Imagine you threw an iceberg into the sun and right before it's melted and gone, you wanted to know, 'How hot is that iceberg at that moment?' Would that be a meaningful question to ask?" says Charles Stafford, a professor in the Department of Physics in the UA's College of Science. "According to traditional physics, it wouldn't be."

Put simply, traditional knowledge holds that properties such as temperature or voltage can only be measured as long as a system is in equilibrium. (Hint: an iceberg plunging into the sun is not.)

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