We were dealing with the Third Law of Thermodynamics in class, and my teacher mentioned something that we found quite fascinating:
It is physically impossible to attain a temperature of zero kelvin (absolute zero).
When we pressed him for the rationale behind that, he asked us to take a look at the graph for Charles' Law for gases:
His argument is, that when we extrapolate the graph to -273.15 degrees Celsius (i.e. zero kelvin), the volume drops down all the way to zero; and "since no piece of matter can occupy zero volume ('matter' being something that has mass and occupies space), from the graph for Charles' Law, it is very clear that it is not possible to attain the temperature of zero kelvin".
However, someone else gave me a different explanation: "To reduce the temperature of a body down to zero kelvin, would mean removing all the energy associated with the body. Now, since energy is always associated with mass, if all the energy is removed there won't be any mass left. Hence it isn't possible to attain absolute zero."
Who, if anybody, is correct?
Edit 1: A note-worthy point made by @Loong a while back:
(From the engineer's perspective) To cool something to zero kelvin, first you'll need something that is cooler than zero kelvin.
Edit 2: I've got an issue with the 'no molecular motion' notion that I seem to find everywhere (including @Ivan's fantastic answer) but I can't seem to get cleared.
At absolute zero, all molecular motion stops. There's no longer any kinetic energy asscoiated with molecules/atoms.
The problem? I quote Feynman:
As we decrease the temperature, the vibration decreases and decreases until, at absolute zero, there is a minimum amount of motion that atoms can have, but not zero.
He goes on to justify this by bringing in Heisenberg's Uncertainity Principle:
Remember that when a crystal is cooled to absolute zero, the atoms do not stop moving, they still 'jiggle'. Why? If they stopped moving, we would know were they were and that they had they have zero motion, and that is against the Uncertainity Principle. We cannot know where they are and how fast they are moving, so they must be continually wiggling in there!
So, can anyone account for Feynman's claim as well? To the not-so-hardcore student of physics that I am (high-schooler here), his argument seems quite convincing.
So to make it clear; I'm asking for two things in this question:
1) Which argument is correct? My teacher's or the other guy's?
2) At absolute zero, do we have zero molecular motion as most sources state, or do atoms go on "wiggling" in there as Feynman claims?