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We discuss some particular cryogenic phenomena below; in this section we will try to provide a general overview of the sorts of changes in properties that occur in practice between, say, room temperature and 1 K. The first and most striking difference between materials at room temperature and at 1 K is that (with the sole exception of helium) bulk matter at 1 K exists only in solid form. There are no liquids or gases. The specific heats of most materials at 1 K are very small compared to their values at room temperature.
This is at first sight astonishing since, according to the classical Equipartition of Energy theorem, there should on average be a thermal energy of 32 kB T per electron ( 12 kB T per degree of freedom, of which there are three for a gas), leading to an electronic molar specific heat contribution of 32 R. The result is easily explicable, however, in terms of Fermi–Dirac statistics. The Fermi temperature of the electron gas in a typical metal turns out to be TF 5 × 104 K. Thus, even at room temperature, T TF , and the electrons must be regarded as being effectively at a very low temperature.
In this way, faulty measurements are frequently recognized that would not be suspected if examined in isolation. Chemical thermodynamic data and thermophysical properties of fluids are routinely evaluated in this manner. Computer programs have been developed to assess large data sets and select recommended values through a least-squares or similar fitting procedure. Other fields amenable to this approach are atomic and molecular spectroscopy, nuclear physics, and crystallography. In still other cases, such as chemical kinetics and atomic collision cross sections, theory can be used to place limits on data values.