back to article Miracle-tech that could fix almost everything: Major advance

Topflight boffins believe they may be on the track of the fabled room-temperature superconductor, a technology which - if achieved - promises to revolutionise various fields including hover trains, electric power, mighty dimension-portal atom smashers and even supercomputing. The new science relates to the study of copper- …


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  1. Douglas Fingles

    Stun the Imagination?

    I don't know...I can imagine a lot...

  2. Pavlov's obedient mutt
    Thumb Up

    how about...

    Make it so No 1

    No war, famine, poverty, religion

    we can hope.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Chances are...

      ... the opposite would happen. If energy was 'free' then oil prices would drop drastically, and the OPEC nations would go bankrupt. In trying to stay afloat they would try to get rid of all the US dollars they currently hold for trading oil and all those dollars would have nowhere else to go but the US economy, greatly dropping the value of the dollar. Suddenly the world banks ( would be dropping dollars as quick as they could and the world's biggest economy would be out of business.

      The current global credit crunch would be a walk in the park by comparison.

      1. joshimitsu

        we'd still have demand for oil

        To build parts for the new psuedo gap superconductor using devices

      2. Sean Timarco Baggaley
        Thumb Down

        You're right...

        ...because it's the nature of new technological discoveries for them to become instantaneously ubiquitous worldwide and freely available for next to nothing the very picosecond the boffins finish writing up their "Eureka! We've cracked it!" paper.

        Oh. Apparently that's NOT normally the case and any half-arsed energy corporate management team would see this technology coming a mile off and start buying into it. Diversification isn't unusual in major multinationals.

        Finding oil, sucking it out of the ground without dribbling it all over our nice, clean, oceans, carting it around the planet, then selling it to people who want to set fire to it is rather expensive and silly. Far better to sell it to people who want to use it to make plastic bags, bubble-wrap and those annoying blister packs that can't be opened without a chainsaw. Even with lots of clean, free energy, there'll still be a big market for hydrocarbons, so the oil wells won't be disappearing overnight.

        1. Chemist

          Re : "Free energy"

          I think if you're going to wait for a technological change that will provide "Free energy" then it's probably going to be a long wait

  3. envmod


    i like it. when can i book my ticket to Alpha Centauri?

  4. Justicesays

    Copper Oxide eh?

    Looks like those cable thieves (the non-electrocuted ones anyway) must have had a leg up on this information.

    1) Steal copper cables

    2) .....

    3) Profit

    Looks like 2 was "Wait for boffins to invent copper oxide based superconductors"

    Pretty amazing stuff anyway, might also be able to store huge amounts of electrical energy in superconductive inductive coils (or rather in the magnetic fields around them), which could replace battery tech.

    1. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

      That's all well and good...

      ...but I see no mention of whether it'll be able to make a decent cuppa.

  5. dogged

    invisible sheds?

    are we closer?

    1. James Smith 3
      Thumb Up

      Re: invisible sheds?

      Yes. Your shed will soon be invisible to magnetic naval mines.

      1. lglethal Silver badge


        Phew thats a relief... Never can be too careful with those magnetic naval mines...

      2. Oliver Mayes

        RE: Re: invisible sheds?

        Excellent, we're one step closer to the submersible stealth attack gazebo.

        1. James Smith 3

          Submarine Commander's Exam Part I: Responding to Garden-Launched Threats

          Q14) Your sonar operator has suddenly discovered a new enemy target at close range. They have identified it as a "Canopy" class attack gazebo. How should you respond?

          a) Change heading to a collision course with the target and accelerate to ramming speed as soon as practical. It is only a gazebo and therefore offers no threat to your vessel.

          b) Engage the target using appropriate and proportional force. For example, a high-explosive Mark IV Picnic Table with a 30 second delayed fuse.

          c) Your sonar operator has mis-identified the craft due to its pseudo-gap superconductor derived magnetic sheilding. It is in fact the much larger, and more deadly "Pavillion" class. Command your helmsman to take appropriate evasive action and deploy weevil based countermeasures.

          d) Cower in fear at the mere thought of a submersible stealth attack gazebo.

          1. Rattus Rattus

            I choose (D)

            Gazebos are dangerous! They eat paladins.


  6. Mage Silver badge


    Give Lewis Page a dried frog pill..

    This is overwhelming him!

  7. ravenviz Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Re: fat pipes

    "pipes so fat as to stun the imagination"

    Teleportation anyone?

    Paris: she knows about pipes.

  8. loopy lou

    Already OK for use in space

    There are already superconductors up to 100K or so, whereas space is pretty cold (below 3K) so you should be able to have your magnetic forcefield for interstellar travel already. Of course, there could be one or two other issues but it doesn't look as though the superconductors will be the problem.

    1. mmiied

      not realy

      space may be cold but with nothing there there is nothing to convict heat away form serfice and so things that get hot stay hot or things in direct sunlight get hot

  9. jake Silver badge

    It's not a miracle.

    It's physics.

    [Insert Arthur C. Clarke quotation paraphrasing Haldane here.]

  10. Winkypop Silver badge


    Mind the pseudogap!

  11. Chris_B

    Well Boffin'd

    You managed to use Boffin 6 times in that article. Got to be a record. And one of those was even a 'Chief Boffin'

    Way to go

  12. Alain Moran

    Stun the imagination

    Yep, that pdf is stunningly awful!!!

  13. Jimmy Floyd

    Miracle-tech that could fix almost everything

    You mean "duct-tape?"

    1. Havin_it

      Only fixes half of everything

      Duct tape only fixes stuff that moves when it shouldn't.

      You also need WD-40, to fix stuff that doesn't move when it should.

      (That's not mine, but I loves it)

  14. Cameron Colley

    Someone tell the Audiophiles!

    Turns out Oxygen free Copper isn't the best medium for signal transmission after all.

  15. Ross 7

    Fat pipes

    "superconducting technology is thought to offer "Super routers" (pdf) capable of handling pipes so fat as to stun the imagination"

    More than 2Mb/s?!!?!?

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Allan George Dyer

      We need Sunny Day Temperature Superconductors

      Not very practical for electricity transmission until it still works on the hottest sunny day, say >40C in some parts of the world.

      Imagine the catastrophic failure when everyone turns on their aircon at just the same time as the power cables stop being superconducting.

      No coat, mine's the sunhat.

  17. Mystic Megabyte

    Peace? Yeah sure !

    OK We've cracked the superconductivity problem, what shall we build first?


    Plus ça change.............

  18. elawyn

    Sharks with lasers

    1. Equip shark with laser powered by a superconducting battery charged to 1.21 gigawatts.


    3. Profit

  19. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Be Prepared ...... the Times they are A'Changed....... Beyond Puny Imagination

    Crikey, alien technology getting a move on ..... and Magical Mystery Turing? You do realise though that IT is All about messing around with Primitive Human Perception delivering Novel and Noble Apps in a Server-side HTML embedded scripting language ..... for Virtual Machines/Programmable Robots.

    "Artificial Intelligence…. Another Approach?

    Are we struggling to make machines more like humans when we should be making humans more like machines….. Intelligent/Intelligence machines. Digitization offers real benefits."

  20. Hungry Sean

    good luck to the boffins!

    If they succeed in making room temp superconductors, it will probably be the defining advance of this century, much as electrical generation and transport defined the last. This is disruptive technology in a much truer sense than "convergent devices." I wish all the scientists in this area the very best of luck.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As seen on TV

    Kids accidentally tear a hole in space-time? Fix that in a jiffy with the new Ranko All-Fabric Super Stitch!(R) Mend cotton, sew polyester, yes, even repair space-time itself! Do all this and more for only 5237 easy payments of 39.95. Act now and we'll throw in a Pocket Space-Time Renderer(R) at no charge.

  22. Owen Milton
    Thumb Up


    I thought the big discovery about 10-15 years ago with superconductors is that there was a magnetic feedback effect in proportion to the energy transmitted? Start shoving large amounts of power through a small wire and it generated enough of a magnetic field that it started generating a counter-current that shut down the superconductivity? Still means you can super-conduct, you just can't do it with a power line the size of a hair.

    On the plus side, if loss-free energy transmission technology was developed it would be the cost-savings justification needed to largely rebuild the US power grid, as well as power grids elsewhere... something that is desperately needed.

  23. Adrian Esdaile

    There's no such thing as a free lunch.

    What's the catch?

    Only works in micro-gravity?

    Only works in perfectly straight cables?

    Will only transmit re-runs of "Keeping Up Appearances"?

    OK, ok, yeah the one with the free lunch coupons.

  24. Pete 8

    Oh yeah

    I have a room-temp superconductor at home, currently in use as a toastie pie maker.

    Keeps the whole house warm.

  25. Yesnomaybe

    Keep dreaming

    We can't even get it together enough to use HVDC power-lines on a large scale. Superconducting ones, will lag 100 years behind that again.

    Friday!! Yay!!

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