“Can the newest near-room-temperature superconductor be trusted? Proceed with caution.”

If you’re someone who loves an internet hype cycle, good news: There’s a new group of scientists who claim to have discovered a near-room-temperature superconductor. (It should be noted that most of these people do not appear to be scientists let alone condensed-matter physicists.) The one that grabbed the most headlines — LK-99 — dominated the internet for a few weeks over the summer before succumbing to the scientific method. Another one, detailed in a paper co-authored by Ranga Dias and others, made a splash in March only to be subject to a retraction in September. This new material picks up where LK-99 left off, which isn’t really an auspicious starting point.

If you’re someone who thrives on the constant cycle of internet hype, then listen up. There’s a team of scientists claiming to have stumbled upon a superconductor that works at near-room-temperature levels. Yes, you heard that right. Again.

The buzz started on X, formerly known as Twitter, and spilled over to other online hubs like Hacker News where science enthusiasts share their latest discoveries. And what’s causing all the excitement is a recently published paper on arXiv, a popular pre-print server. It’s worth noting that a majority of these individuals are not even scientists, let alone experts in condensed-matter physics. But that’s not stopping them from fueling the frenzy.

So what’s in this paper that’s causing such a stir? In a nutshell, a Chinese research team claims to have found a material that displays one of the key properties of superconductors at a relatively balmy -23˚C. While that’s still not considered room temperature, it’s a significant improvement compared to the existing high-temperature superconductors that require frigid -170˚C conditions to function.

However, there’s one catch: the results may not be entirely accurate.

This wouldn’t be the first time that people’s hopes were crushed by false claims. In fact, last year was deemed the year of “room-temperature superconductors that weren’t.” Take the infamous LK-99, for example. It dominated headlines and captured the internet’s attention for a few short weeks over the summer until it was inevitably disproven by the scientific method. It turned out to be nothing more than a magnet laced with lead.

And then there was the one from March, co-authored by Ranga Dias and others, which made quite a splash before it too was retracted in September.

So yes, this new discovery may be picking up where LK-99 left off, but it’s not exactly starting off on the best foot. But who knows, maybe this time it’ll be the real deal. After all, history has proven that science is a constantly evolving field, and sometimes breakthroughs can come from the most unexpected places.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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