“No point in fighting with the truth.”
LK-99 was meant to revolutionize the world of physics, as a superconductor that could provide perfect electrical conductivity at room temperature.
For a sweet moment in time, the promises felt tangible: vastly improved efficiency of power grids, cheaper maglev trains, lightning-speed device charging.
But as it turns out, we’re more than likely looking at an overly optimistic and inherently flawed scientific claim, with more and more researchers piling on to confirm our suspicion that LK-99 is simply too good to be true.
In a pair of highly controversial preprints published last month, South Korean researchers claimed to have found the “first room-temperature ambient-pressure superconductor,” a lead-based material that advocates said was set to usher in a new era in physics.
The researchers came out swinging in their lofty claims.
“We believe that our new development will be a brand-new historical event that opens a new era for humankind,” they wrote.
Some even tried the recipe for themselves to see whether they could replicate the findings, with greatly varying degrees of success.
The Great Disappointment
For the last week or so, the thrill of finding the next miracle in science was palpable, with armchair physicists going as far as to stream their efforts on Twitch.
But as more and more preprints detailing the results of these efforts come rolling in, things aren’t looking good.
“With a great deal of sadness, we now believe that the game is over. LK99 is NOT a superconductor, not even at room temperatures (or at very low temperatures),” University of Maryland’s Condensed Matter Theory Center (CMTC) tweeted earlier this week. “It is a very highly resistive poor quality material. Period. No point in fighting with the truth.”
Several lab tests have since failed to produce a material that passes the test of superconductivity, as The Washington Post reports. While the resulting material exhibited some interesting magnetic properties, it simply didn’t live up to expectations.
And unfortunately, that’s par for the course in many respects.
“At the end of the day, science fails more often than not,” Christopher H. Hendon, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Oregon, told WaPo.
More on the superconductor: The Claim of a Room Temperature Superconductor Is Starting to Look Fishy