Friday, March 27, 2009

Musings on superconductivity

Everyone wants a room-temperature superconductor, more than a water buffalo. Having something like that could mean a supercomputer in your bedroom, better medical equipment, faster internet connections, and a whole array of scientific miracles that haven't even been conceived.

Unfortunately, getting a superconductor at anything above a few dozen kelvin has yet to happen. For the non-physics student, let me elaborate. Most everything around you has the potential to be a superconductor. A superconductor lets electrical charge flow through it effectively un-impeded. In order to bring out the superconductivity, you have to cool it (we physics nuts usually just grab some liquid nitrogen to play with to do this). When a substance drops below a certain energy level (determined by its atomic radius), it becomes a superconductor.

Or so it seems. I don't think its so much about its atomic radius and fermi energy (that's just a fancy way of talking about how electrons stack up on an atom). I think it's more about a well-ordered system. I believe that when a system becomes abnormally well ordered and regular in its molecular movement (like it does at extremely low temperatures) it merely starts to mimic any nearby chaotic system. This is why we can hover magnets on them, and why electricity passes through them with almost no resistance. It's about the macro-scale ordering of the molecular particles. So, to find the room temperature super conductor, we ought to be looking at very regular and rigid crystalline structures.

Well, this post was mostly for me anyway.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....