My brother-in-law is a physicist and as geeky as they come. He texted two o’clock this morning, pointing me to a paper which was just published on the pre-print server and which is setting certain parts of the Internet on fire.

Now, the paper in question still hasn’t gone through peer review, which means it might be too early to get excited. That didn’t stop me however, from spending the wee hours browsing the explosion of comments on different tech- and science forums. Here’s a rather representative one:

“I like how this feels in my gut […] let’s all sacrifice a goat tonight that we are in the good timeline and this is actually legit and Nobel worthy.”

Why is this paper creating such waves?

Because room temperature super conductivity, if it’s really achieved, would be “as big a deal as deals get in science”.

That’s me quoting myself from a post published just a couple of weeks ago, titled This Could Change Everything : Superconductivity Heating Up.

I set out writing that post with the intention to get an overview of a field I assumed to be rather static, and which interested me primarily because it’s a key enabling technology for many other applications.

While researching it, I came to understand how wrong I’d been. One century after its discovery, research on superconductivity is accelerating just about as fast as that of AI. In fact, what seemed like key scientific breakthroughs even happened while I worked in the post. Most notably, following the progress of Ranga Dias and his team at University of Rochester felt just about as exciting as the sci-fi thrillers waiting on my bedside table.

But then again the problem with Dias’ findings were exactly that they sounded solid enough to be plausible—the very ingredient that makes science fiction great—but not detailed enough to be verifiable.

That’s what changed now. The paper published by a south Korean team (from KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology) details how quantum wells are created using a modified lead-apatite structure referred to as LK-99.

The claim is that this novel material’s superconductive properties arise from a minute structural distortion caused by a slight volume shrinkage of 0.48%. This distortion is induced by the substitution of Cu2+ ions for Pb2+(2) ions in the insulating network of Pb(2)-phosphate, generating internal stress, which is then transfered to Pb(1) of the cylindrical column, resulting in the distortion of the column interface.

At least that’s what I’ve been able to garner, but then I’m no expert. Lots of smart people who *are* however, currently share their thoughts in this growing Hacker News thread, where many of the 800+ comments seem extraordinarily well informed and where the general consensus seem to gravitate towards guarded optimism.

Exciting times.