Brainy Quote of the Day

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Musing Hydrogen...

Harvard physicists say they photographed hydrogen in three different forms, from left to right: transparent hydrogen, black hydrogen, and finally, shiny metallic hydrogen. (R. Dias and I.F. Silvera) Source:
Topics: Condensed Matter Physics, Materials Science, Research, Theoretical Physics

Disclaimer: I was just as initially psyched by the reports of Metallic Hydrogen at Harvard. It's been theoretical since I was an undergrad (and that was a long time ago). Then, I remembered all the hype over cold fusion and calmed down. The key to my skepticism is repetition: another lab (several, in fact) will have to repeat the experiment to within an acceptable degree of error to one another. It will have to face grueling peer review that won't be kind, or for the squeamish. It's through this process we can distinguish science from malarkey.

Two physicists say that they have crushed hydrogen under such immense pressures that the gas became a shiny metal — a feat that physicists have been trying to accomplish for more than 80 years.

But other researchers have serious doubts about the claim, the latest in a field with a long history of failed attempts.

Ranga Dias and Isaac Silvera, both physicists at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, first posted a report of their results on the arXiv preprint server last October [1], which attracted immediate criticism. A peer-reviewed version of the report was published on 26 January in Science [2], but sceptics say that it includes little new information.

Five experts told Nature’s news team that they do not yet believe the claim, and need more evidence. “I don’t think the paper is convincing at all,” says Paul Loubeyre, a physicist at France’s Atomic Energy Commission in Bruyères-le-Châtel.

Silvera and Dias say that they wanted to publish their first observation before making further tests on their fragile material.

Nature: Physicists doubt bold report of metallic hydrogen, Davide Castelvecchi

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