All posts tagged: lot of doubt

LK-99 and the Appeal of ‘Unidentified Superconducting Objects’

LK-99 and the Appeal of ‘Unidentified Superconducting Objects’

This has been a landmark summer in the world of “floaty rock drama.” Two weeks ago, in a pair of draft papers that have not been peer-reviewed, scientists in South Korea claimed to have found a room-temperature ambient-pressure superconductor, and described how to make it. In theory, this magical material could revolutionize our world. It also levitates. The purported discovery became an internet sensation. Researchers and DIY enthusiasts alike rushed to replicate; stocks soared; the internet gossiped. But physicists urged caution: Previous claims of room-temperature superconductors haven’t panned out. So far, attempts at replication have come up short. The whole thing turned into a very nerdy social-media circus. If you, like me, have been living under a rock (and not the floaty kind), you may not understand the significance of what’s being claimed here. Basically, a superconductor is a type of material with a special property: Electric current passes through it with zero resistance, meaning no energy gets lost along the way. This is a hugely valuable trait because resistance is the cause of considerable …