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Japan Science Technology

Red Wine and the Secret of Superconductivity 105

Posted by timothy
from the just-ask-bender dept.
cold fjord writes "Red wine is a popular marinade for meat, but it also may become a popular treatment for creating iron-based superconductors as well (Link to academic paper): 'Last year, a group of Japanese physicists grabbed headlines around the world by announcing that they could induce superconductivity in a sample of iron telluride by soaking it in red wine. They found that other alcoholic drinks also worked — white wine, beer, sake and so on — but red wine was by far the best. The question, of course, is why. What is it about red wine that does the trick? Today, these guys provide an answer — at least in part. Keita Deguchi at the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, and a few buddies, say the mystery ingredient is tartaric acid and have the experimental data to show that it plays an important role in the process. ... It turns out the best performer is a wine made from the gamay grape — for the connoisseurs, that's a 2009 Beajoulais from the Paul Beaudet winery in central France.'"
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Red Wine and the Secret of Superconductivity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 24, 2012 @05:45PM (#39462639)

    Alcohol -> less resistance.

    And we needed scientists to figure this out... why?

  • do we get electrocuted easier?
  • Ah-ha! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 24, 2012 @05:48PM (#39462657)

    That's why Bender drinks. To keep the superconductors flowing.
    I thought the alcohol was fuel.

  • by billcarson (2438218) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @05:54PM (#39462675)
    This is just a cover for their excessive spending of their research grant on booze.
    • by smaddox (928261)

      HAHAHA. Oh man. That was a good one.

      Now I just need to think of a way to involve indian pale ales with semiconductor optoelectronics...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:18PM (#39462775)
      "No, seriously, that request for a bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc is absolutely critical to our research!"
    • Awesome. Now I can tell my boss that the 5th of bourbon I keep in my lab bench is critical to my work. Let the experimentations begin!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I envision a man in a lab coat walking to the register with a cart full of alcohol.
      "What? It's for SCIENCE!"

    • This immediately reminded me of a paper I came across some years ago reporting measurement of the magnetic susceptibility of cigarette ash from different brands of cigarettes:

      Magentism of Cigarette Ashes (pdf) [google.com]

      From the experimental section:

      We have studied ashes (whole products residue)
      from smoked by different smokers cigarettes from
      three different commercially available on the
      market brands, labeled as follows: Camel
      (CM)—three varieties: Camel filter normal (CM),
      Camel Light (CML) and Camel 100s (CM100);
      Marlboro (MR) and the Bulgarian brand
      Shipka (SH). Ashes were collected in glass pots
      and used for magnetic measurements without
      further treatment.

      Glass pots. You mean, ashtrays?

      (by the way, I have had that same sig for many years, but it perhaps has never been so appropriate...)

      • Standard reaction to the prof coming in and going all "WTF are you guys doing smoking in the lab???" - "Uhm, errr... research. Magnetic susceptibility, or sumthing."
    • This is just a cover for their excessive spending of their research grant on booze.

      Hmm... interesting. I think I'll start pitching website design for, let's see... Iron Horse Champagne, Stella Artois... let's add some Sony displays and, er, what's a good caviar? Toss in some Ashlynn Brooke...

      "No, boss! It's all for research! Really!"

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @05:56PM (#39462687) Homepage Journal

    Some people are just walking talking superconductors then.

  • by TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @05:58PM (#39462699)

    I mean, does it have chemical properties that have confounded the best minds? Er.. the best minds with a grant to buy wine, that is? No, kidding, but wikipedia says Tartaric acid in grapes,etc also played a role in the discovery of chirality, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartaric_acid). And, in the grocery store the SO, i wondered about what cream of tartar really was... To wit: I know what my next grant proposal should be!

    • by digitig (1056110)

      Er.. the best minds with a grant to buy wine, that is?

      Well, how many of us have managed that? Got to respect the mind of anybody who can figure that out.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        I think they were just getting soused and spilled the wine on the experiment. Oops! Hey man, look at that! It works!

  • Prohibition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:00PM (#39462703)

    In light of this discovery, imagine if the Prohibition had stuck and became global. And imagine what we could accomplish if the researchers were free to soak the wires in LSD and tires in cannabis solutions? We could have free energy and flying cars, because the laws of physics are like, whatever man.

    • by smaddox (928261)

      This is officially the best slashdot article EVAH

    • by dak664 (1992350)

      I an with you, discoveries are made when people are free to think. Especially the weird socially challenged thinkers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cold fjord (826450)

      And imagine what we could accomplish if the researchers were free to soak the wires in LSD and tires in cannabis solutions?

      Researchers probably could do that if they had a valid scientific reason and went through the proper procedures. The problem is that most people aren't interested in soaking wires or tires, but soaking minds. The result of that is well known.

      Marijuana Smokers Face Rapid Lung Destruction -- As Much As 20 Years Ahead Of Tobacco Smokers [sciencedaily.com]
      Marijuana Use Precedes Psychosis [go.com]

      We could have fre

      • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @07:15PM (#39463057)

        Dude, you are like...such a drag man. What a downer.

        • Dude, you are like...such a drag man. What a downer.

          A bigger downer than chemotherapy or time in a mental institution?

          Which are the biggest boobs [southparkstudios.com]?

          Picnics with friends, rock climbing, hiking, parachuting, white-water rafting, a good book - plenty of other things to do.

          It doesn't matter how open-minded you are, or how pure the LSD, you still can't fly. Step off the ledge without a rope and you're going to die.

          • It doesn't matter how open-minded you are, or how pure the LSD, you still can't fly.

            And it doesn't matter how many people believe a stupid urban legend about LSD [snopes.com], it's still not true that taking LSD makes you think you can fly.

            Which is not to say that people can't use psychedelic drugs irresponsibly. But they can also go rock climbing, hiking, parachuting, or white-water rafting irresponsibly, or eat irresponsibly ("these wild mushrooms are edible, right?").

      • Re:Prohibition (Score:5, Informative)

        by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @08:19PM (#39463415) Homepage Journal

        Your go.com link is bullshit - "They acknowledged some limitations, including the use of self-reported data, the lack of adjustment for a family history of psychosis, and possible bias from selected recall" - that much doubt means it's not even worth considering. When they eliminate all those doubts and get within 6-sigma I'll consider it.

        Ditto your sciencedaily (which is about as reliable as the Daily Mail) - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360494/ [nih.gov] - in fact there are hundreds more reliable studies than the crap you're posting, which aren't even from reliable sources.

        • You seem to be confusing the issue of reporting on a released study versus original reporting or research.

          . . . that much doubt means it's not even worth considering. When they eliminate all those doubts and get within 6-sigma I'll consider it.

          Do let me know when the FDA begins approving double blind randomized studies of illegal drugs on minors, won't you?

          Ditto your sciencedaily (which is about as reliable as the Daily Mail) - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360494/ [nih.gov] [nih.gov] - in fact there a

          • Re:Prohibition (Score:4, Informative)

            by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @09:34PM (#39463673) Homepage Journal

            Again, your links suck. Especially with a SELECTED SAMPLE GROUP OF TEN FUCKING PEOPLE.

            Do you know how studies with reputation work? It isn't with a shitty sample that small.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Dude your are late in medical sciences : the latest definitive study from the Journal of American Medical Association:
            http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/307/2/173.short

            That studies analyzing the data on more than 5000 persons conclude that marijuana alone is almost harmless, marijuana + tobacco == really bad and finally tobacco == quite bad

            Stop it with your propagandist hysterical DEA funded rhetoric.

    • Yeah. Imagine all the productive drunk-driving deaths that would never have happened. Or the families ruined by alcoholism. Or people who were raped or become pregnant only because they were drunk at the time.

      I'm not arguing that Prohibition was a good idea. But I think you're glossing over the possible up-sides of an alcohol-free society.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mr. Slippery (47854)

        I'm not arguing that Prohibition was a good idea. But I think you're glossing over the possible up-sides of an alcohol-free society.

        Never confuse a society where X is outlawed, with an X-free society.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:06PM (#39462721)

    Better and easier ways to make superconductors? I'll drink to that. Skål! Maljanne! Cheers! Zum Wohl! Prosit! Santé! Salud!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Please fix the post.

  • by mseeger (40923) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:19PM (#39462781)

    I think that explains why my brain seems to go faster after 1-2 bottles.

    • by Vanders (110092)
      2 bottles? I'm an, er, "experienced" drinker, but there's no way I could put away 2 bottles of wine and not wish I hadn't!
      • by mseeger (40923)

        Depends perhaps on body mass and the quality of wine involved?

      • He doesn't mention the time period or what he's doing at the time. One bottle of wine by itself and I'll feel quite ill. One bottle drunk over a couple of hours along with a big meal is quite different. Something like new years eve last year where we started dinner at 6pm and finished it at around midnight involved more than two bottles per person, but that's only one bottle every 3 hours, so you don't end up horrendously drunk.
  • Simple pleasures (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rbmorse (833877) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:20PM (#39462783)
    I'm glad to hear a 2009 Beaujolais is good for something.
  • Altho I'd far rather hear how they justified it to the powers-that-be when they discovered that red wine had been "accidentally" introduced to the experiment after the lab xmas party!
  • Why did they do this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HuguesT (84078) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:33PM (#39462841)

    By far, the more interesting question about this discovery is what kind of reasoning brought these researchers to dip their samples in wine and test if superconductivity would emerge? Did they try some other random stuff from tap water to fluorhydric acid via a collection of leftover drinks they had in the closet, or does this experiment proceed from some well formed theoretical background ?

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      Sometimes it doesn't hurt to try things at random first, and then see what theories fit the facts afterwards. A lot of great inventions were accidental.
    • by Empiric (675968) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @06:56PM (#39462941) Homepage

      Probably had a theist on staff.

      When you mix the most "spiritually transformative" substance described with the most "spiritually inhibitory" substance... something weird's probably going to happen. ;)

    • by Guppy (12314)

      By far, the more interesting question about this discovery is what kind of reasoning brought these researchers to dip their samples in wine and test if superconductivity would emerge?

      Not the first scientists to take such a tangent:
      http://www.physorg.com/news145255770.html [physorg.com]

      A team of Mexican scientists found that the heated vapor from 80-proof (40% alcohol) tequila blanco, when deposited on a silicon or stainless steel substrate, can form diamond films.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      One of the researchers spilled wine on the samples. "Sheriously, I'm j-just addin a n-new ingredient!" That was his story and he stuck with it.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      The theories of the mechanisms behind room temperature superconductivity are weird and incomplete so there's been a bit of "let's just try this" since the 1990s to try to make it a bit more clear.
      For example the relatively easy to make BiSiCuYt superconductor actually performs better with much less than 100% of the superconducting phase. Why? A few years ago nobody had any firm ideas and I haven't heard that has changed.
  • Frat researcher party and some drunk spills wine on the super conducter

    "Heeeyy, looook, tere's les resistence in te coils !!!!"

  • So THAT's what "pièce de résistance" means!

  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @07:06PM (#39463001) Journal

    [...] that's a 2009 Beajoulais from the Paul Beaudet winery in central France.

    It's not often you find a red wine that goes well with fish and can reduce electrical resistance.

    (I wish I could find it on the web, but it reminds me of an old Shoe [shoecomics.com] comic reviewing a wine where the writer says, "It's not often you find a wine that goes well with your dinner and you can burn in your furnace.")

    • by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic@NospaM.gmail.com> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @08:01PM (#39463319)

      "It's not often you find a wine that goes well with your dinner and you can burn in your furnace."

      Man, I've had that wine. My neighbor many years ago used to make his own. His purpose was not drinkability, it was alcohol content. He was breeding yeasts that would survive in higher levels of alcohol, so he could get 'hardness' without illegally distilling.

      Actually it's a classic how-geeks-do-things story. He was an electrical engineer, who came from a family of botanists. Being of Swedish extraction, his tolerance for alcohol was very high - for 20 years he had an eight ounce glass of vodka for breakfast, and then went off to work designing the first 700 KV DC intertie for Bonneville Power, delivering power over 1000 miles from the Columbia River to Sacramento. He ran through a fifth of vodka every day. This was expensive.

      (Side note - being a geek he figured out that he was getting all the calories he needed from the vodka, but he needed minerals, vitamins, protein, etc. - so he made a special bread that provided all the other needs, and ate a sandwich every day.)

      As it happened, he had an 'in' at the local college that had a small nuclear reactor for medical isotopes. So over several years he regularly irradiated yeast cultures to accelerate mutations, and then subjected them to increasing levels of alcohol, selecting for tolerance.

      After several years, he got to the point of making wine (from blackberries on my family's place) that was 26 % alcohol - 52 proof. It tasted worse than paint thinner and a five ounce glass would put me out for the rest of the evening. But it was a totally legal home-brewed 'wine'.

      • On one hand I enjoy imbibing and creating things and cocktails and liquor culture. On the other hand your friend sounds like an alcoholic with no knowledge of nutrition. Alcohol has calories, yes, but it's not that simple, even if you also "supplement" with protein fat and carb calories. You can't fill in the blanks starting from an alcohol diet; or rather you can due to the resilience of the body but it isn't healthy and will not be healthy in the long run.

      • So over several years he regularly irradiated yeast cultures to accelerate mutations, and then subjected them to increasing levels of alcohol, selecting for tolerance.

        I can think of no better way to make truly mad science socially acceptable. This man is a hero.

  • This wasnt supposed to be public before next saturday...

  • by ThePeices (635180) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @12:09AM (#39464205)

    How did they discover this?

    Its truly hard to think of a reason why they would soak a piece of iron telluride in red wine and then decide to test its superconductivity.

    WTF were they doing?

  • IANAP but seems to parallel the recent discovery of an ability to dial up electronic properties through an exotic organic film over metal.

  • I, for one, salute our new grape-growing superconducting overlords!
  • It works with women too, although Rose seems to perform better.

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