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Virtue Signaling For Free Is Winding Down | Main | Beluga Boob Cafe
August 14, 2023

LK-99, an Alloy of Common Metals Which Supposedly Becomes Superconductive at Room Temperatures, Goes Viral, and Then Goes Bust

There was a brief viral story of a putative "supermaterial" called LK-99 which would achieve the superconductive state (in which the material has no resistance to electricity, losing no power as waste heat) at room temperatures, instead of the just-a-tetch-absolute-zero temperatures usually required.

This story went viral partly because, if true, it would be a significant technological advance in some areas (maglev trains, for example).

But it mostly went viral because most Very Online Leftists like to pretend they Totally Love The Science despite not having taken a science or math course since 11th grade geometry.

There were videos of stuff floating above blocks of this LK-99 material, and the Very Online Leftists thought that this looked VSI, or Very Sciencish Indeed.

Levitating Very Onlyline Leftists' opportunities to self-advertise

This post explains why a levitated piece of metal that seems "pinned" in one place could be evidence of superconduction.

But was the picture actually proof of superconduction?


The tech community just experienced a viral communal moment, its own wonky equivalent of a must-watch game or national political scandal. The plot revolved around an arcane concept in physics: a room-temperature superconductor, a holy grail material that could conduct electricity with no resistance, without requiring massive cooling. Physicists in South Korea claimed to have created the material, called LK-99. It would be a momentous discovery -- if it was real.

OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman joked about it on social media, along with Stripe Inc. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Collison. It became a meme. Flexport Inc. founder Ryan Petersen mused, maybe only half-ironically, "Were the Egyptians levitating those giant blocks with LK-99?!?"

Meanwhile, legions of scientists and pseudo-scientists assembled to try to reproduce the superconductivity result the physicists claimed. If successful, the material would make easy work of magnetic levitation, nuclear fusion and other complicated technologies. It would also revolutionize transportation and energy, among other fields. As each set of results from other teams came in, so did more opinions, fakes, jokes and attempts to sell T-shirts.

And then by Tuesday, the fervor appeared to reach a glum conclusion: Multiple institutions had found that LK-99 did not possess the vaunted superconducting capabilities.

But rather than lament the result, there's still reason to celebrate the fleeting LK-99 hype cycle. "It's absolutely blown up into probably the most wholesome trend on Twitter or X that we've seen in years," said Andrew McCalip, an engineer at startup Varda Space Industries on "This Week in Startups," a podcast hosted by investor Jason Calacanis.

What's so wholesome about it? Leftists got to virtue-signal on Twitter and pretend they're All About The Science? Talk about a day ending in -y.

Even though leftists thought that the mere phenomenon of a metal object floating above a metal cube was some fantastical new "The Science," it turns out, gee, any old diamagnetic material can repel another magnet and hold it in place, and that's all that was going on here:

Alex Kaplan @alexkaplan0

It's as close to official as we'll probably get: LK-99 is likely simply a ferromagnetic material, which explains its levitating properties, according to new research from Peking University.

The room temperature superconductivity revolution will have to wait another day.

Those attempting to replicate the claims that this specific alloy of metals was superconductive at room temperature failed to replicate those claims. It's just a magnetic alloy.

The US-based research center referred studies conducted in China, India, and Taiwan for its rebuttal. One such study by researchers at the National Physics Laboratory in India found that sample replicates of LK-99 showed no superconductivity but only diamagnetism.

In a thread on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), the CMTC pointed out that many materials exhibited the property of diamagnetism, including lead and copper, the ingredients of LK-99.

If I understand this right, the metal-held-in-place could be explained by either 1, superconductivity at room temperatures, an extraordinary claim, or 2, simply being a common diamagnetic material.

Turns out, it was 2. Scientists noted that many of the metals that make up the LK-99 blend have diamagentic properties.

I don't blame non-liberals for getting excited by this. It would certainly be both neat and consequential if it were true.

But I will dunk on the stupid liberals who continue insisting they Love The Science based solely on their eagerness to retweet Sciencey-type Science Things, like pictures of galaxies and... magnets.

The mere images of the metal floating should not have excited anyone. What would make a material room-temperature superconductor would be that it would show no resistance to the flow of electricity and give off no heat. In other words, the trick would not be mere diamagnetism, which is common as dirt, but the ability create an electromagnetic which would never lose an electron of the juice you run through it.

You couldn't see that in a picture or a video, though. A picture or video just shows some metal floating above some other metal which... again, you do know that magnets are a thing which exists, right?

Diamagnetic graphite levitates over metal
Not a breakthrough, not even a little bit

If I sound harsh, I'm so, so tired of the all the liberal 50-year-olds pretending to be 12-year-old girls online. Everything with them is "Yay!/Boo!" It's juvenile, it's puerile, it's jejune, it's callow, and it's other synonyms I'm sure must exist but for the moment I've run out.

I am tired of living in 8th grade with a bunch of squealing pretend-tweenagers, where everything is "Yay! I love the science! I love politics which are good!" or "Boo! I hate fascism and anyone antifa tells me is fascist!"

And then it goes viral, because a bunch of deeply stupid and unserious people hit the retweet button.

Grow up already. I've never seen so many people role-play as actual developmentally-disabled children. I know for many of them, they really are this stupid, they really are on the ragged edge of mental retardation, but many of them have IQs which are not officially subnormal, but play at being stupid and shallow online because they think it's winning and charming.

It's not. It's vile and it's exasperating.

Hey liberals, look: This woman just discovered Anti-Gravity Technology.

Look: More superconductive nanomaterials!!!

Quick, retweet those and pat yourselves on the backs for being so Fiercely in Love with The Science.

digg this
posted by Ace at 07:15 PM

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