Hot booze turns material into a superconductor

Jan 11, 2011 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- A Japanese scientist who "likes alcohol very much" has discovered that soaking samples of material in hot party drinks for 24 hours turns them into superconductors at ambient temperature.

The scientist, Dr. Yoshihiko Takano of the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Tsukuba, Japan, made the discovery after a party, soaking samples of a potential superconductor in hot alcoholic drinks before testing them next day for superconductivity. The commercial , especially wine, were much more effective than either water or pure alcohol.

are metallic substances that allow electricity to flow through them with zero resistance below a certain temperature. Those found so far only work at very low temperatures (often as low as near ), and so finding one that works at room temperature could have important applications, such as power lines with superconducting cables, and perhaps in of large objects like trains, since superconductors can repel magnetic fields. The phenomenon is still not completely understood even though superconductors have been known since their discovery in 1911 by a Dutch scientist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes.

The researchers created the samples of FeTe0.8S0.2 by sealing (Fe), tellurium (Te) and tellurium sulfide (TeS) powders into an evacuate quartz tube and heating the mixture at 600°C for 10 hours. This material is not normally a superconductor but can become one if exposed to oxygen or if soaked in water.

After a party for a visiting researcher Takano wondered if the drinks they were consuming would work as well as pure water. To find out, they tested the FeTe0.8S0.2 samples with beer, red and white wine, Japanese sake, Shochu (a clear distilled liquor) and whisky, and with various concentrations of ethanol and water. The samples were all heated and kept at 70°C for 24 hours.

The results were that the ethanol-water samples showed increased superconductivity that was not dependant on the ethanol concentration. The samples heated in all showed greater superconductivity, but again not dependant on the alcohol content. Red wine was the most effective. The research team calculated the superconducting volume fraction of the samples and found they ranged from 23.1% for Sochu up to 62.4% for red wine, but none of the ethanol samples were over 15%.

The authors speculate that because wine and beer oxidize easily and since oxygen induces superconductivity in the material, the beverages could be playing an important role in supplying oxygen into the sample as a catalyst. Further research is needed to confirm the exact mechanism.

Explore further: Single laser stops molecular tumbling motion instantly

More information: Superconductivity in FeTe1-xSx induced by alcohol, by Keita Deguchi, et al. arXiv:1008.0666v1 [cond-mat.supr-con] arxiv.org/abs/1008.0666

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User comments : 28

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xamien
3.3 / 5 (7) Jan 11, 2011
... I wasn't aware it was already April 1st.
nuge
2.2 / 5 (5) Jan 11, 2011
This must surely be a hoax...or perhaps he was so drunk he misread his measuring instruments?
Teemu
4.7 / 5 (6) Jan 11, 2011
Well it really doesn't have to be a hoax. For some reason the article left the most important information out, the critical temperature was just 7.8K.
Teemu
4.7 / 5 (6) Jan 11, 2011
So since the critical temperature is at best 7.8K according to arvix article, using "superconductors at ambient temperature" in sub topic is misleading.
grgfraiser
4.3 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2011
resveratrol also makes superconductors lol
mattbroderick
4 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2011
Hooray beer!
Doug_Huffman
1.3 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2011
The correlation of 'booze' and superconductivity beggars the significance of dependency on initial conditions. It's proper falsification will be challenging.
gwrede
3.7 / 5 (9) Jan 11, 2011
soaking samples of material in hot party drinks for 24 hours turns them into superconductors at ambient temperature
I would wish that PhysOrg checks its articles.

Had this article been true, we all would not have heard about anything else on TV all week. This would be the only topic, from university halls to the downtown kindergarten.
fmfbrestel
4.5 / 5 (6) Jan 11, 2011
Yeah, there was absolutely nothing to indicate a change in the superconducting temperature, except for the headline. Is it too much to ask for physorg to simply read the articles submitted to them before posting??
SteveL
4.4 / 5 (5) Jan 11, 2011
I voted this article with a 1 because it is both bad reporting and misleading. If someone is reporting on scientific advances, it would be helpful if they knew just a bit of physics. 7.8K is ambient where? Even the lunar night is about 120K - so this article isn't relevant to anything of any importance to anyone who is sober.

Must have been a very slow science news day.
franco_bonafe
4.5 / 5 (4) Jan 11, 2011
Yeah, ambient temperature... sure.
I'm off to ride my pink elephant, brb.
jscroft
3.6 / 5 (7) Jan 11, 2011
Ambient temperature for Lady Gaga, maybe. Nobody else is that cool.
Moebius
2 / 5 (4) Jan 11, 2011
It's a misleading headline, so what else is new here? It isn't incorrect if I understand it. It turned the material into a superconductor at ambient temp, not superconducting at ambient temp. The chemicals were applied at ambient temp so the title is true.

Are we the target of advertising or something? Why do articles have misleading titles? Is their some incentive to get us to read and comment on articles? Anyone with any common sense and knowledge of science would know the title is misleading and could reword it so it isn't and still grab our attention. For instance "Japanese lush turns material into superconductor with spilt booze while on binge" or "famed Japanese scientist commits Hari Kari after spilling sacred 200 year old wine on his Ming dynasty rug not realizing he discovered a new method to create superconductors" Sure they are lies but at least they don't distort the science of the article and they would get people to read them.
Eikka
4 / 5 (10) Jan 11, 2011
The chemicals were applied at ambient temp so the title is true.


Except they weren't. 70 F may be ambient temp, but 70 C is scalding hot.

The title is a lie meant to grab attention and bring in more ad dollars. Shame on Physorg, I'm turning adblock back on.
CSharpner
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 11, 2011
New term: Beertronics

I too ranked the story with a 1. Y'all are being too generous by saying it's "misleading". I'll use the word we're all thinking. It's a lie.

Ambient temperatures (well understood to mean "room temperature") were neither used in the creation of the material nor in the use of it. Furthermore, it's well known that the holy grail of superconductivity is to get it to work at room temperature, which is clearly what this article sub title was trying to make us believe.

I coin another term: Beerblogging, which is apparently what happened when the subtitle of this article was written.
dinkster
3 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2011
I think they should rework it with "soaking samples of materials in ambient party drinks ... turns them into hot superconductors." Far more scientifically accurate.
jselin
4 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2011
I had to temper my enthusiasm there at first knowing that SOMEHOW this was a trick, play on words, or spin...
MorituriMax
4 / 5 (8) Jan 11, 2011
What happens when you drop a stack of mentos in the solution? Black Hole forms? Cold fusion?
PinkElephant
4.6 / 5 (8) Jan 11, 2011
@franco_bonafe,
Yeah, ambient temperature... sure.
I'm off to ride my pink elephant, brb.
Hey! Watch whom you're trying to ride, buddy! And I'm not "yours", neither.

Eeesh....
HealingMindN
3 / 5 (4) Jan 11, 2011
Imagine if Takano was a health nut. Then we would know the effects of all kinds of fruit juice and milk on superconductivity. He's a lush, so he should have tried soaking the materials in his piss.
CarolinaScotsman
4.7 / 5 (12) Jan 11, 2011
I too became a super condutor when soaked in alcohol but the railroad company wouldn't hire me.
gmurphy
5 / 5 (9) Jan 12, 2011
The full story was on New Scientist. One of his students left a ceramic sample exposed to air for over a month. When they tested the sample it had much better super-conducting characteristics. They isolated the cause to water molecules which had contaminated the sample. So, like good scientists, they duly went about "contaminating" their ceramic samples with everything they could thing of. As it turned out, red wine had one of the best effects. Strange, but true.
Tesla444
4 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
Thanks gmurphy: Apparently PhysOrg isn't the only one who doesn't bother to do a little research on the article contents.
Tesla444
4 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
Sometime serendipity actual does advance Science. This may be one of those events. To dismiss the possibility without ANY attempt to get more information is VERY unscientific which I thought PhysOrg readers were generally good at defending.
scenage
4 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
The full story was on New Scientist. One of his students left a ceramic sample exposed to air for over a month. When they tested the sample it had much better super-conducting characteristics. They isolated the cause to water molecules which had contaminated the sample. So, like good scientists, they duly went about "contaminating" their ceramic samples with everything they could thing of. As it turned out, red wine had one of the best effects. Strange, but true.

Antioxidants of course! :P
Ricochet
4.3 / 5 (3) Jan 14, 2011
I seem to remember the creation of a certain infinite improbability drive after such a party...
neiorah
1.5 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2011
Alcohol may be good for something after all besides killing humans.
BrianH
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2011
It's not so much the alcohol as the "contaminants" that help with oxidization. So it's the pro-oxidants, not the anti-oxidants at work!