Yesterday, the crypto community responded to a Microsoft Word document that appeared to be a pre-print for an upcoming scientific article announcing the “world’s first room temperature, ambient pressure superconductor.” The dubious paper was shared on Hacker News and somehow made its way to the top page, garnering 1,500 points.
If true, the miraculous superconductor would enable quantum computers suitable for home offices, near-instant battery charging, near-lossless electric grids, ultra-cheap magnetic levitation, and cooling-free computation that would threaten the security of all blockchains and the cryptography securing most of humanity’s passwords.
Was it real? We’ll know more in the coming days, as scientists attempt to replicate the study — but it certainly screams suspicious. The authors misspelled ‘first’ in the paper’s file name. In the opening sentence, researchers claimed that room temperature equaled 127 degrees Celsius (260 degrees Fahrenheit).
Countless other grammatical and numerical mistakes littered the paper. Moreover, the authors have minimal scholarly citations. Their non-journal paper became public on arXiv, which has no peer review process and is simply a portal for pre-print drafts.
Scientists were quick to note that prior claims about miraculous breakthroughs in superconductors have relied on fabricated data.
Crypto is out, miraculous superconductor is in
If this study passes muster, a world-changing, room temperature, ambient pressure superconductor would disrupt all cryptography. Superbattery-powered quantum computers with cooling-free computation could break the cryptography on all blockchains.
“We’re here for the Crypto –> AI –> Room temperature superconductor pivot,” one user wrote. Crypto prediction market Polymarket has opened a wager to determine if the superconductor is real, with $40,000 in volume and $5,000 liquidity at press time. Odds are about 22% that it’s authentic.
Fans of an imminent singularity eagerly await the results of these reproductions. Needless to say, most observers are not holding their breath.
Already, chemists are beginning to replicate the study. According to the paper, the miraculous superconductor can be produced within 34 hours using basic chemicals and lab equipment like a mortar and pestle, vacuum, and furnace. Results from these reproducibility studies should arrive as early as next week.
One Twitter user also noted, “if you had discovered room-temperature ambient-pressure superconductivity, would this really be the first sentence of your paper:
‘This paper examines the way of thinking and limitations of physicists regarding the phenomenon of superconductivity and outlines how room-temperature and ambient-pressure superconductors can be developed through the statistical thermodynamic background of the liquid state theory.'”
One of the three scientists of the superconductor paper, Hyun-Tak Kim, told New Scientist he was aware of the skepticism and welcomed peer review as a way of settling the matter.