Are We In Store For A Modern Day Meet The Robinsons?


I hope everyone had a good week. Personally, I probably looked more like Mitch McConnell this week than anything else.
If you know me, you know that I enjoy watching Jeopardy while eating dinner every night. I haven’t missed an episode in months, and I like to think that it keeps me sharp even though it probably doesn’t.
Contestants come from many different backgrounds, but most common among them are librarians, lawyers, professors, and teachers. Don’t ask me why.
In an anomaly earlier this week there was a PhD student who was studying material science.
I thought to myself “What the heck do you do with that?” Go build bridges? The one Mat Sci class I took in undergrad was all about physics and polymers, two subjects that don’t exactly tickle my fancy.

Turns Out I Was Wrong

Just a few days later I was proved wrong.

Turns out material science can be interesting, because a research team claims to have just created the first materials that conduct electricity perfectly at room temperature and ambient pressure. Which if true, would be a huge discovery.
Not a semiconductor, a superconductor. I don’t know about you but he will always be considered my super conductor.

A superconductor is just a material where all electrical resistance is removed. Right now, there aren’t any superconductors that can operate in ~normal~ conditions. They all need to be significantly cooled (think fans or coolant) to perform their superconducting duties. AKA the perfect environment.
As a result of this, a majority of our current technologies are absent of them, and rely mainly on semiconductors and other less than perfect materials. This is why your technology gets hot and your computer fan kicks into overdrive sometimes.
Researchers have been at the brink of this discovery for years largely because, once patented, it would cement their name in the history books and bring in licensing money out the wazoo.
Like unkinking a hose, just think about a world where electricity could flow undeterred. It’d be like Meet the Robinsons!

That was kinda a joke because I’m still struggling to think of some ramifications.

Some Of The Ramifications

In case you’re having trouble thinking about some of the impacts superconductors that operate at ambient temperature and pressure could have, I’ll list some out for you:

  • You iPhone and other electronics won’t over heat.
  • MRIs won’t cost as much, a huge win after the piece I wrote on Tuesday.
  • Electric bills will become much, much less expensive.
  • Electric grids would be much less prone to failure. You’re welcome Texas.
  • Quantum computers would become much more efficient.
Oh, and Disney World would become a lot cooler, because magnetic levitation (aka the monorail) trains would be everywhere.
But let’s take a step back and get real for a minute. Over 100 billion kWh of electricity are wasted on transmission losses each year in the US alone, which is equivalent to 3 of our largest nuclear reactors running around the clock.
The human race has only discovered a few ways to harness energy and store power, especially ways that don’t expel greenhouse gasses. There’s mechanical energy that comes from combustion and burning fuel, solar power, hydropower, and nuclear power. I’m sure there are more that we don’t know about, but for now that’s it. That’s all we got.
So, imagine a world where we weren’t losing so much energy and electricity through its transmission. It’d allow us to burn less fuel, require less solar grids, and worry less about waning water supply for hydro powered dams. Instead of trying to constantly invent new ways to create energy, this discovery could mark the beginning of the times where we hone existing processes operationally.
It’s like a car. There are only so many ways to build an engine: gas and electric. The combustion engine has been around for a long time, but over time has significantly improved due to the improving systems around it. The basic principles of the engine itself didn’t change at all, but the fuel injectors, lubricants, transmissions, etc. all got better leading to better fuel efficiency, faster cars, and less mechanical failures.
This is what is happening in the field of conductors.

One of my favorite current entrepreneurs is Marcus Millione of Minted New York. Starting off selling jewelry, scaling to apparel, to doing a shoe collaboration with Saucony all in a few years, his story has been impressive. What more impressive, are his products. Nearly every drop sells out, and Minted never sacrifices quality. Go check them out if you’re looking for running gear, a hoodie that will last you a lifetime, or the new wallet they just released!   #ad

But What’s Progress Without Controversy

As with any new discovery, there are always skeptics.
Like I mentioned before, researchers have been knocking on the door to this breakthrough for years. Some even claiming to have made the discovery before, only to have their papers retracted later due to falsified data.
And this latest paper claiming to have solved the problem hasn’t been peer reviewed (a huge component of research), meaning no one has been able look through the data and replicate the results.
Why would they release their results so early?
Well, probably for the same reason Stanford’s President falsified some of his results; to take advantage of the press, get their name out there, and launch their career.
We’ll see where this one goes, but if true and replicated, this one could be big.
Let’s have ourselves a weekend.

from, matt

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