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Superconductor Claims Could Lead to Progress, Even If They're Wrong

By New Scientist

August 3, 2023

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In a video seen by millions on social media, a thin, grey puck floats on one edge atop a magnet. It never fully levitates and so isn't quite the smoking gun it should be. Its creators say the puck is a revolutionary new material, one that could transform science and technology. Others are sceptical that it really is what they say it is. Either way, the puck has generated an intense wave of interest and that, in of itself, could be valuable.

Superconductors, materials that perfectly conduct electricity without losing any energy to resistance, were first discovered more than a century ago. Yet our understanding of how they work and our ability to make them are both limited.

The best description of what causes superconductivity comes from a framework developed in the 1950s called BCS theory. This says superconductivity is the result of electrons pairing up in such a way that they avoid generating electrical resistance when they move, but it tells us little of use about how to make such a material.

That hasn't stopped the search. However, every superconductor found and confirmed so far only works under the extreme conditions of ultra-low temperatures and ultra-high pressures. This makes them impractical for most applications.

From New Scientist
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