The Big Think

March 19, 2008

Huge Science News

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:46 pm is reporting that a group of Canadian and German researchers have created a room temperature superconductor. This is huge news- really huge. Like, cure-for-cancer big in the energy world. I’m sure there are a myriad of details to work out, and it’ll probably be 10-15 years until we see this stuff commercially available, but if they could replace our entire electrical grid,including all of the wiring in our house (an admittedly non-trivial assumption), our energy usage would plummet significantly.

“If you put hydrogen compounds under enough pressure, you can get superconductivity,” said professor John Tse of the University of Saskatchewan. “These new superconductors can be operated at higher temperatures, perhaps without a refrigerant.”

He performed the theoretical work with doctoral candidate Yansun Yao. The experimental confirmation was performed by researcher Mikhail Eremets at the Max Plank Institute in Germany.

The new family of superconductors are based on a hydrogen compound called “silane,” which is the silicon analog of methane–combining a single silicon atom with four hydrogen atoms to form a molecular hydride. (Methane is a single carbon atom with four hydrogens).

Researchers have speculated for years that hydrogen under enough pressure would superconduct at room temperature, but have been unable to achieve the necessary conditions (hydrogen is the most difficult element to compress). The Canadian and German researchers attributed their success to adding hydrogen to a compound with silicon that reduced the amount of compression needed to achieve superconductivity.

So obviously now we need to deal with high-pressure here, but I’m sure they’re working on that. Room temp superconductors have been something of a holy grail in science for decades. If they really managed this feat then keep your eyes on this technology. Things are about to get really interesting.

Read more here.

Big Bug

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 4:34 pm

This is, as my brother said in his email to me, creepy cool. Just don’t give these things AI and guns. Watch the thing right itself on the ice around 1:30. Wow.

Is Elvis Next?

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:30 am

Atheist sees image of Big Bang in a piece of toast.

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