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Science Technology

Grand Unifying Theory of High-Temp Superconducting Materials Proposed 48

An anonymous reader writes "Years of experiments on various types of high-temperature (high-Tc) superconductors — materials that offer hope for energy-saving applications such as zero-loss electrical power lines — have turned up an amazing array of complex behaviors among the electrons that in some instances pair up to carry current with no resistance, and in others stop the flow of current in its tracks. The variety of these exotic electronic phenomena is a key reason it has been so hard to identify unifying concepts to explain why high-Tc superconductivity occurs in these promising materials. Now Séamus Davis, a physicist who's conducted experiments on many of these materials at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cornell University, and Dung-Hai Lee, a theorist at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, postulate a set of key principles for understanding the superconductivity and the variety of 'intertwined' electronic phenomena that applies to all the families of high-Tc superconductors [full academic paper]."
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Grand Unifying Theory of High-Temp Superconducting Materials Proposed

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  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @12:44AM (#45161505) Homepage

    It's a neat idea. It's very testable. Now they have to find some new materials which this theory predicts will superconduct and check them out.

    If it checks out, it's comparable to the early research on semiconductors which led to understanding that phenomenon. There were some early attempts at a transistor, but until there was some theoretical understanding of what electrons were doing in a crystal, nobody could make even make a reliable one, let alone figure out what materials would be better than germanium. Once there was some theory, there was more of an idea what materials to make.

    New materials may have to be made. Semiconductors are usually made of ultra-pure silicon with the addition of tiny amounts of specific impurities. Those are invented materials - nothing like that exists in nature. With some theory for guidance, new superconducting materials may be created. The ones now known were more or less discovered by trial and error.

    "Science is prediction, not explanation" - Fred Hoyle.

  • by Saunalainen ( 627977 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @02:02AM (#45161877)

    that's the way the majority of Journals operate, most don't care that the author will hand out electronic copies to anyone who asks, many will post it on their university's web site.

    Actually, the publishers DO care about generating income from their copyright, and for instance require extra subscription fees from universities in order for students to be allowed to copy articles that they already have access to. I'm repeatedly warned that my University could be fined if I copy a figure from a paper into my lecture slides and then "publish" them by distributing them to my students.

    Academic publishing is a two way street the academics and journals need each other because "publish or perish" applies to both sides.

    Academics do need to publish but they don't need commercial publishers to do so. There's a growing movement against the traditional journals - fuelled by the extortionate fees required for electronic access to the catalogue of publishing houses such as Springer and Elsevier. Universities cannot function without access to the literature, and this is your tax dollar being funnelled into the pockets of the publishers.

    sure subscriptions are expensive compared to (say) people magazine, but if you pay peanuts for a job then only monkeys are going to apply.

    The people who do the hard work behind the articles - the authors, the editors, and the reviewers - are not paid by the journal. The only paid staff are administrators and copy editors, who in my experience introduce more mistakes into the text than they correct.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2013 @03:16AM (#45162257)

    Don't worry, they will use a different tittle when it's reported tomorrow

The first time, it's a KLUDGE! The second, a trick. Later, it's a well-established technique! -- Mike Broido, Intermetrics