Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Science Technology

World's Only Sample of Metallic Hydrogen Has Been Lost (ibtimes.co.uk) 278

New submitter drunkdrone quotes a report from International Business Times: A piece of rare meta poised to revolutionize modern technology and take humans into deep space has been lost in a laboratory mishap. The first and only sample of metallic hydrogen ever created on earth was the rarest material on the planet when it was developed by Harvard scientists in January this year, and had been dubbed "the holy grail of high pressure physics." The metal was created by subjecting liquid hydrogen to pressures greater that those at the center of the Earth. At this point, the molecular hydrogen breaks down and becomes an atomic solid. Scientists theorized that metallic hydrogen -- when used as a superconductor -- could have a transformative effect on modern electronics and revolutionize medicine, energy and transportation, as well as herald in a new age of consumer gadgets. Sadly, an attempt to study the properties of metallic hydrogen appears to have ended in catastrophe after one of the two diamonds being used like a vice to hold the tiny sample was obliterated. The metal was being held between two diamonds at a pressure of around 71.7 million pounds per square inch -- more than a third greater than at the Earth's core. According to The Independent, one of these diamonds shattered while the sample was being measured with a laser, and the metal was lost in the process.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

World's Only Sample of Metallic Hydrogen Has Been Lost

Comments Filter:
  • Fake News (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:23PM (#53921257)

    Hydrogen was not lost. It just sublimated.

    No chance in hell we will use metallic hydrogen due to pressures required.

    • Re:Fake News (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:27PM (#53921279)

      Exactly. poised to revolutionize modern technology and take humans into deep space... someone at the International Business Times doesn't know what "poised" means.

    • Re:Fake News (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:55PM (#53921423)

      Hydrogen was not lost. It just sublimated.

      To be fair, it said "metallic hydrogen" has been lost, not simply "hydrogen" - so not fake.

      (P.S. People. Please stop misapplying the phrase "fake news". The fire's host enough w/o needlessly fanning the flames.)

      • Re:Fake News (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @09:37PM (#53921557) Journal

        (P.S. People. Please stop misapplying the phrase "fake news". The fire's host enough w/o needlessly fanning the flames.)

        This. Fake news is written by fake reporters -- people who are deliberately trying to deceive, frighten or mislead by writing fictional stories. It is not the same as real news with errors.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Khyber ( 864651 )

          " people who are deliberately trying to deceive, frighten"

          So they're terrorists and we need to press to have them charged as such - what the fuck are YOU doing to further this?

          • Fake News started the Spanish American War... at least according to the history books when I was in school.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by freeze128 ( 544774 )
          How can ordinary people tell what news is real news and what news is fake news when they can't trust the people who define it?
          • Ordinary, or rather: average, people don't seem to try to tell the difference, or care.

          • If only there were people working in reliable journalism that could check the facts and determine whether they were valid or not...
          • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

            How can ordinary people tell what news is real news and what news is fake news when they can't trust the people who define it?

            No one cares.

            They care about whether the news confirms or denies their biases. Confirms = good. Denies = fake.
            They care about whether the news supports or undercuts their tribe. Supports = good. Undercuts = bad/fake/etc.

        • This. Fake news is written by fake reporters -- people who are deliberately trying to deceive, frighten or mislead by writing fictional stories. It is not the same as real news with errors.

          Popularize a term and it will inevitably be misused. "Fake News" is not in the dictionary. It means whatever the largest number of people mean when they say it.

      • Its metallicness was lost, and the actual hydrogen likely escaped the room in the process.

        Now, how something that requires that much diamond-shattering pressure to exist in the first place will be revolutionizing anything in the consumer space before every boomer on the planet is dead, that's some hyperbole that's lost on me.

    • BoRegardless isn't OP's real name, and hell does not exist.

      Have I been pedantic enough?

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Drat. If ONLY it had lasted long enough for my grant to be approved! Now I'll never find enough money to make more!
    • Sounds intentional to me, now nobody can prove it that wasn't pure hydrogen and was contaminated with metal from the containment vessel. Until other experiments replicate the result, this sounds a lot more like Fleischmann Pons cold fusion than like a new state of matter.
    • Re:Fake News (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @08:36AM (#53923005)

      "No chance in hell we will use metallic hydrogen due to pressures required."

      Four minutes of intensive research on this subject leads me to believe that no one is quite sure whether metallic hydrogen is stable at room temperature and one atmosphere pressure. If it is, then it'd possibly be like diamonds and many other materials. Takes enormous pressure to make (at least by squeezing it), but once made is usable. BTW, there's apparently some chance that it might not only be stable, but the fabled room-temperature superconductor.

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:25PM (#53921271) Homepage Journal
    As I recall the biggest problem they had in making the stuff in the first place was constantly shattering the diamonds when they tried to shine light through them. Also, the breathless talk of this revolutionizing every industry under the sun is tremendously overblown. Right now these are laboratory curiosities, they may very well amount to nothing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Also, the breathless talk of this revolutionizing every industry under the sun is tremendously overblown.

      Was definitely going to be useful to every industry at the center of the Sun.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Thursday February 23, 2017 @09:04PM (#53921457)

      Well, they *had* theorized that after it was originally made it might be stable at much lower pressures. This may not have been correct.

      • Much lower pressures... You mean like 35 million pounds per square inch instead of the 71.7 million pounds per square inch, of which, both are way beyond the approximate 14 pounds per square inch (no millions there) you have outside that diamond anvil they made it in.

        Stable at a lower pressure isn't the same as stable at any pressure or stable at no pressure, and let's face it, going from 71,700,000 to about 14 is pretty darn close to going to zero.
        • Question for you: How much pressure is needed to make diamonds, and will they evaporate in a vacuum?

          Because we don't know something also means we don't know if it's stable at half the pressure or 1/710millionth of the pressure.

    • True, but you have to start somewhere, and you never know what will ultimately come of a new discovery or even what other discovers will be made using the insights from this one.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:29PM (#53921289)
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:29PM (#53921293)

    As it turns out I have a backup sample, because you have to keep it at incredibly high pressure I keep it in the much more reliably pressurized environment of a dorm room with two Chemical Engineering majors.

    Indeed because of the pressures involved I had to add some padding around the sample to prevent the rare metal from being crushed.

    You can come collect it whenever, except of course when there's a sock on the door handle (P.S. there is never a sock on the door handle).

  • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:30PM (#53921297)

    I helped find a lost contact lens once, so I know what this is like. As long everyone stops what they are doing and helps to look for it, someone will eventually find it. The key is to not step anywhere without first scanning the area very carefully.

    Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

  • Ok, let's all relax, it's not like they lost vibranium.
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:45PM (#53921361)

    What a gas!

  • Metastability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by painandgreed ( 692585 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @08:51PM (#53921403)
    What I found most interesting about the article is that the guy they were talking to was actually considering that it might still be stable in solid form (and even stuck in the equipment) although also stated it might have just evaporated away. However, he also admitted that some think that they didn't even succeed and were actually getting readings off some aluminium used in the experiment. He says they'll just have to repeat the experiment to prove their case.
    • Re:Metastability (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @09:06PM (#53921467)

      What, repeat an experiment with surprising one off results?

      You, sir, obviously have not spent enough time around modern academia!
      Once you get the result you *want*, you then spend 100% of your time writing, publishing, hyping, funding, and publishing some more.

      No one REPEATS experiments, my god, you may not get the same result! All that effort wasted!

      Sad, isnt it.

      • Re:Metastability (Score:4, Interesting)

        by chmod a+x mojo ( 965286 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @10:52PM (#53921841)

        I would love to be able to repeat some of my experiments for confirmation...

        Tell me though, are you willing to pay for it? I need some more drill core from very specific depths, and the boring is right around a million dollars or more per hole - depending on the depths needed and how remote each location is. How many can you pay for? How soon can you get someone out there drilling?

        Once you get the result you *want*, you then spend 100% of your time writing, publishing, hyping, funding, and publishing some more.

        I can't deny that there are people like that in the sciences, but please, do tell me in what field are there NOT some kind of leech like people doing as little as possible for as much money as they can milk? MOST scientists are in it for the science, not glory / money / everything else you accuse us of.

    • by floodo1 ( 246910 )
      When the news that they had created the sample hit in the first place hit Slashdot there was a LOT of commentary with sources about how most likely this is not solid hydrogen ... this appears to be more simply another clickbait announcement.
    • I heard the lead on a Science Friday interview - he invited everybody in academia to come to his lab to learn the technique on how to make it, as he wants everybody working on the material. It sounds like they can fairly easily do it again, so I am surprised this article makes no note of that.

      Well, "surprised" in that I pretend journalism doesn't exist just to sell ads.

  • How convenient. When they go to test the substance... oops... it's gone!
    I wonder if they ever actually had it.

    • "Well, this laser goes up to 11..."
    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      They have tested it before, this was yet another test. And if you had spent some time reading about the problems the team faced (pressures being so high that it can shatter diamonds easily) you'd not be surprised the diamond cell was destroyed - as (again from the problems documented) shining a laser at a diamond under that kinds of pressure makes it even more fragile.

      So instead you wrote some shit based on nothing. Time well spent? Nah.

  • by luckypunq ( 3769095 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @09:34PM (#53921541)
    Seriously .. scientist working at the extreme limits are criticised by talentless keyboard jockeys because of equpitment failure. Click bait shit at it's most disgusting. These men and women doing this work should be praised and admired not mocked by morons.
    • by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @04:26AM (#53922569)
      We live in a society where companies like Diesel who run major fashion lines and advertising campaigns to glorify stupid. In all fairness, Diesel was trying to suggest that one shouldn't always take the "smart and sensible path", but people wore shirts saying "Smart is ok, but stupid is fun". The people wearing that clothing seemed to believe that doing the stupid thing could be far more productive and constructive than having and idea and properly planning and executing it in a constructive manor.

      We had a president who for 8 years told the American people that even as the son of one of the most powerful men in the world (Director of Central Intelligence or VP of the US as the time) was a C+ student... meaning that his professors, knowing there would be a call from one of the most powerful men on earth if they failed his son, gave him the lowest possible grade they thought they could get away with... in a business school. Now mind you, I really really like GWB, I think he is one of the nicest people on earth, a man with the absolute best intentions with a heart as pure as laboratory diamonds. Sadly, he's dumb as a brick and has absolutely no capacity for understanding the consequences of his decisions.

      When presented with the choice of Al Gore who is only mildly more intelligent but at least as far as politicians are concerned is a mental giant or GWB, the American people felt they associated much better with GWB. Even though Al Gore would likely make decisions to improve the lives of all people and would do his absolute best to represent the emotional, spiritual, etc... interests of all Americans, he came off as too smart and too nerdy (and too much of a know it all) and the people sided with the C+ flunky who had a good heart and spoke to the people in a way that they could relate to. I don't believe that was a calculated action by GWB as I believe calculation of any type is not his strength. I believe his sheer dumbness allowed people to better love and identify with him. I feel terrible that now that I know more about him that I said so many bad things about him while he was in office. It was like picking on the slow kid at school who couldn't defend himself because he didn't even understand the insults. He might be one of the best people on earth at heart and as a representative of the vast majority of the American people, he was spectacular. Too bad he was also expected to provide leadership, manage money and a military a role he was clearly no suited for. This is a very strong case for separating the presidency into president and prime minister.

      We also live in a society which glorifies hate and violence. We believe a child who dresses up in camouflage pajamas and spends 8 weeks in basic training should be called a hero for stepping up to protect the American way. Without having the slightest idea of what the American way is other than to dress up in said pajamas, he/she is placed in a position of ultimate judgement. He/she is expected to make conscientious decisions whether to take the life of a mother, a father, a son or a daughter. He is expected with no more experience than that of a child to represent the American people at the end of a gun and make judgement calls that have overwhelming impact on society as we know it. We call these children heroes and we praise them in media, advertisements and more. People forfeit business class and first class seats in support of their sacrifices for freedom.

      Consider that that child, fresh out of high school will make $18,802.80 a year as a private and can easily escalate to $22,165.20 by doing their jobs with some level of diligence within a year. Also consider they are provided with excellent quality (though questionable tasting) food, excellent medical care, excellent dental benefits, clothing, housing, career education, transportation and college aid. Their quality of life and standard of living when not at war is approximately equal to a $60,000 a year job at the age of 18 with absolutely no education other than a Basic and AIT provided
  • by dlleigh ( 313922 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @09:37PM (#53921559)

    They've discovered a new way to create powdered diamond. Quote from the lead researcher:

    “I’ve never seen a diamond shatter like that. It was so powdered on the surface, it looked like baking soda or something like that.”

    • So now the most rare element on earth is that shattered diamond. Quick, gather up all the pieces!
  • They made it once. They can make it again. Not easy, but it should be easier than the first time, when they weren't even sure it could be made!
  • ...Scientists theorized that metallic hydrogen ... could have a transformative effect on modern electronics and revolutionize medicine, energy and transportation, as well as herald in a new age of consumer gadgets.

    To do all that, they're probably going to need a lot more metallic hydrogen than was lost in the accident. So I'd suggest the scientists concentrate upon making more metallic hydrogen.

    .
    . iow, don't cry over sublimated hydrogen.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @10:10PM (#53921685)
    It sucks that this was lost, because it's cool research.

    Despite that, how goddamn stupid do you have to be to think this is a big setback for technology? You have to press it between two diamonds harder than they can stand it just to force it to continue existing. The consumer technology that might've fallen out of this will arrive in 2455 instead of 2450. Oh no.
    • hmm... I'm not sure if I'm with you on this. I agree it's hard to see this as a setback. I don't believe it is. I imagine we learned a great deal about the process from the failure and should be able to achieve better results the next time.

      I don't have a clear understanding of how we could apply such science into applied engineering today, but I'm wondering if we learned a lot more than is visible on the surface. Let's consider that we now know how to create that much pressure. Let's also consider that we k
  • Does that mean it wasn't meta-stable then?

    • Does that mean it wasn't meta-stable then?

      No. It indeed is metastable.
      It resolved to a higher entropy state. This is normal.

      • If it spontaneously resolves to a higher entropy state with no pushing, that means it isn't stable, meta or otherwise.

  • The new era of physics: reality show physics. Follow the hopes and dreams of your favourite physics stars with our live Labcam[tm]. Blew up the only dilithium crystal in the known universe? Calm down everybody, we will crowd-fund a new one, this is what the Labcam[tm] is for. I trust this is not a "dog ate my homework" situation.

  • then they can make it again, otherwise it is a bullshit story or they are chasing after a ghost that isnt there
  • My comment on the first story about the metallic hydrogen. https://slashdot.org/comments.... [slashdot.org]

    Glad to be proven right. And so quickly.

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      You haven't been proved right and you had an extremely bad knowledge of material science in the linked post. Given that you don't attempt to backtrack now I assume you still are proud to be clueless? And you are also a liar as nobody called you crazy for the linked (still clueless) post.

      But I have to admit you are beginning to look like a crazy guy that just "know" that hydrogen can't be metastable while material scientists have good reasons to believe it probably is.

  • by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @11:47PM (#53921979)
    They created a minuscule amount. That was all. It is not even clear that it was metallic hydrogen - other experts in the file remain publicly very skeptical. Quite frankly, if I were feeling mischievous, I would conclude that the researches "misplaced" the sample to make sure that nobody could verify that it was not, after all, metallic hydrogen.
  • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @11:53PM (#53921999)
    ...of the time when Glenn Seaborg had the only sample of Plutoniium in the world in his pocket while traveling to another lab. If his pocket had been picked or he'd been run over in traffic, things could have turned out quite differently..
  • by tigersha ( 151319 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @01:44AM (#53922271) Homepage

    ..set the damn laser to stun!! Not kill dammit!!

  • "Whooopth!" - Daffy Duck
  • Even if not stable, would it theoretically be possible to maintain "pressure" in some other way such as encasing in a nanostructure that perhaps has an innate pressure? Maybe you only need nanowires not a macro-sized chunk of it.

  • At least it didn't open a portal to Dimension 67e24 and bring destructive HydroMech aliens to earth!

    Are we sure the lab tech running the laser doesn't have super powers, though?

  • Using the diamonds and lasers looks complicated and unreliable when they could just ask Chuck Norris to grab the hydrogen and give it a squeeze.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

Working...