Superconductor claim debunked — more likely "a type of magnet"

Originally published at: Superconductor claim debunked — more likely "a type of magnet" | Boing Boing


How long till some MAGA nut call NASA doesn’t want to know about it?



I’m sure everyone’s disappointed, but this is completely expected and no surprise. The hunt goes on. I just can’t believe people keep trying to fake this stuff, they’re not going to make any profit off of lies.


The discovery of a room temperature/ambient pressure super conductor would’ve been nice. Like the universe saying the past 5 years have been pretty harsh but here you go guys… you made it. Here’s your reward.


Pretty good rule of thumb in science: If it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.


So, how did financial gain factor into this? Or institutional hubris. Were there eager TechBros involved? Why put this out there knowing there’s a massive likelihood of error in results. The scientists involved, their university department… they are jokes now, no?


bolling says as much in the prior sentence:

Many scientists believe the researchers should have been more careful before making such an explosive claim. Yet the episode is an example of the scientific process working

somewhat related:

being wrong shouldn’t necessarily mean ostracism. and i think at least one of them had said it was published without their permission.

but practically? probably


“Debunked” seems like the wrong word for something that was promising but misunderstood. It’s still a unique and interesting finding, and the possible upside justifies the effort put into understanding if the claim held up.

Personally, I have learned that materials science is weirder and less certain than I expected. Lots of physics out there we haven’t figured out.


This is precisely why I mentioned previously that this is why the original announcement shouldn’t have been done in the way it was done. Even if the researchers were excited there’s always a chance they could be wrong, which in this case they were.


Idle thought: What are Fleischmann and Pons up to these days?


After a few more decades of climate change, “room temperature” super conducting will be easier to achieve.


The original paper dates from 1999.

It’s not a superconductor, but maybe it’s a “hm, that’s interesting!” result.


I really love this take on the process. Agreed that they should have showed more restraint, but they also did a good job detailing how to reproduce the results they had found (rather than trying to keep aspects a trade secret).

Apparently they left to France to make a new life for themselves…

Seems like the last major analysis was two decades ago, and the research being done was spotty. 50/50 on if there’s a real effect. From wikipedia:

The report was released in 2004. The reviewers were “split approximately evenly” on whether the experiments had produced energy in the form of heat, but “most reviewers, even those who accepted the evidence for excess power production, ‘stated that the effects are not repeatable, the magnitude of the effect has not increased in over a decade of work, and that many of the reported experiments were not well documented’”. [92][95] In summary, reviewers found that cold fusion evidence was still not convincing 15 years later, and they did not recommend a federal research program.[92][95] They only recommended that agencies consider funding individual well-thought studies in specific areas where research “could be helpful in resolving some of the controversies in the field”.[92][95]

Interestingly enough, the wiki mentions a $5.5 million dollar grant for doing research on this topic in 2012 at the University of Missouri, but I can’t find a single publication that came out of it.

Could you elaborate on this? I’d think the increase in climate variability would make it more challenging…


Yep, you are right :persevere:; I got my room temperature super conduction mixed up with my room temperature fusion.


both GIF


Are you saying you wouldn’t trade your good name in exchange for 15 minutes of fame and a couple million in quick venture capital funding?

OK, bad example.

But what if you were a “D” student in physics, with a mountain of debt and poor prospects of getting a job outside of the fast food sector? Vanishing with a quick, dirty million of someone else’s money might seem like a way out.


Science is a beautiful process but I do wish it wasn’t 99% debunking premature claims. It feels like actual breakthroughs just never happen anymore- with the exception of the COVID vaccines, which is, admittedly, a damn big and important one. On the other hand, cancer and Alzheimer’s cures, fusion power and other world-changing discoveries seemingly haven’t budged an inch in decades and decades despite humanity’s efforts.


It doesn’t seem like anyone was trying to fake anything - it sounded like they had some promising results and thought them significant enough to rush out a paper before they had fully explored what they had. Which is usually a mistake, but… enthusiasm.