Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Unidentified superconducting objects, again.

I've had a number of people ask me why I haven't written anything about the recent news and resulting kerfuffle (here, here, and here for example) in the media regarding possible high temperature superconductivity in Au/Ag nanoparticles.   The fact is, I've written before about unidentified superconducting objects (also see here), and so I didn't have much to say.  I've exchanged some email with the IIS PI back in late July with some questions, and his responses to my questions are in line with what others have said.   Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  The longer this goes on without independent confirmation, the more likely it is that this will fade away.

Various discussions I've had about this have, however, spurred me to try writing down my memories and lessons learned from the Schon scandal, before the inevitable passage of time wipes more of the details from my brain.  I'm a bit conflicted about this - it was 18 years ago, there's not much point in rehashing the past, and Eugenie Reich's book covered this very well.  At the same time, it's clear that many students today have never even heard of Schon, and I feel like I learned some valuable lessons from the whole situation.  It'll take some time to see if I am happy with how this turns out before I post some or all of it.  Update:  I've got a draft done, and it's too long for a blog post - around 9000 words.  I'll probably convert it to pdf when I'm happy with it and link to it somehow.


Mike S said...

I take exception to this statement, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." What happened to the scientific method. All any claim requires is rigorous science, nothing more, nothing less. Extraordinary claims require scienctific responses. Period.

Douglas Natelson said...

Mike S, that is not original to me:
I get what your saying, but it’s not unreasonable to say that extremely wild claims deserve very close scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Schon scandal. I was morbidly fascinated by it (I've read Reich's book) even though it was not quite in my field (I'm more soft matter/biophysics). Was there much informal grumbling in the field about the lack of reproducibility leading up to the final implosion?

Anonymous said...

APS, ACS, and MRS should do a 20th anniversary session thing at their annual meetings when that comes around to remind people that this can and does occur and has before with polywater and cold fusion and how to better catch and nip these "discoveries" in the bud.

Anonymous said...


If you write down your memories and lessons from the past, I'd be interested in your take on BB's role in all of this. I was a graduate student then and I remember how aghast I was upon reading the Beasley report. My PhD advisor called it `supervisory malpractice'.


Anonymous said...

Surface plasmon resonance is well known but now we have surface lattice resonance and what is that?

Anonymous said...

And now this:

possibly more reliable (I've seen a theoretical prediction somewhere before this experimental work).
Unfortunately at high pressure. Bit 260 K is cool.
Smells like SH3 :-)

Anonymous said...

Another interesting topic is Rayleigh/Wood anomalies observed in diffraction gratings.