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🧪 LK99 - The superconductor that can change the world, and the K-drama behind it!

🧪 LK99 - The superconductor that can change the world, and the K-drama behind it!

As the world holds its breath while watching several replication attempts, we followed the history, the main characters and the drama (and yeah, science as well)

First of all, let me address this from the get go, I’m not a material scientist! I am pretty good at finding information in twitter’s incredibly noisy info stream. (hey, this is how I bring you AI updates every ThursdAI)

Since LK-99 is potentially groundbreaking and revolutionary, I’ve compiled a twitter list of everyone who I found credible, interested and a source of new information, and there’s now over 1.5K followers to this list alone!

Since this clearly is interesting to a lot of you, I reached out to a few prominent people on this list, and asked them to join a twitter space, to try and stitch together an update on the current state of LK-99, replication attempts, history and lore, as it stands a week after the original papers release.

If you found this interesting, you’re the type of person who wants to stay up to date, feel free to subscribe and keep this Substack alive!

First of all, let’s do some level setting. Superconductors are real, we’ve used them in MRI machines for example, but the currently available superconductors need extremely low temperature and high pressure to well.., and the promise of a room temperature and ambient pressure superconductor is the holy grail of energy use.

For a breakdown on what superconductors are, and what they can mean for the world, I strongly recommend this thread from Andrew Cote (published presciently a full two weeks before the LK-99 paper) or watch this incredible breakdown:

July 22nd, the LK-99 arXiv day!

On July 22nd, two papers describing “worlds first room temperature superconductor” were uploaded to arXiv:

2307.12008 - Sukbae Lee, Ji-Hoon Kim, Young-Wan Kwon (submitted by Kwon)

and after 2 hours and 20 minutes another paper was uploaded

2307.12037 - Sukbae Lee, Jihoon Kim, Hyun-Tak Kim, Sungyeon Im, SooMin An, Keun Ho Auh (Submitted by Hyuntak Kim)

You may notice that the first two authors on both papers are Sukbae Lee and Ji-Hoon Kim, and in fact LK stands for Lee and Kim and 99 in the LK-99 name stands for the year 1999 they have started research on this.

You may also notice that YW Kwon who submitted the first paper, is not included on the second one, and in fact, is no longer part1 of the Quantum Energy Research Institute (Aka QCentre) where he was a CTO (he’s no longer listed on the site)

If this shakes out, and SC is replicated, there’s definitely going to be a Netflix series on the events that led to YW Kwon to release the paper, after he was no longer affiliated with QCentre, with limited information so let’s try to connect the dots (a LOT of this connecting happened on the ground by Seo Sanghyeon and his friends, and translated by me. Their original coverage has a LOT of details and is available in Korean here

Let’s go back to the 90s

On the LinkedIn page of Ji-Hoon Kim (the page turned blank shortly before me writing this), JH Kim showed that he started working on this back in 1999, and they estimated they have a material that contained “very small amount of superconductivity” and together with Sukbae Lee, in 2018 they have established QCentre to complete the work of their Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Korea University, the late Choi Dong-Sik (1943-2017) who apparently first proposed the LK-99 material (following the 1986 bonanza of the discovery of high temperature superconductors by IBM researchers).

Fast forward to 2017, a wish expressed in a last will and testament starts everything again

Professor Choi passed away, and in this will requested follow-up research on ISB theory and LK-99 and Quantum Energy Research Institute is now established by Lee and Kim (LK) and they continue their work on this material.

In 2018, there’s a potential breakthrough, that could have been an accident that led to the discovery of the process behind LK-99?

Here’s a snippet of Seo Sanghyeon explaining this:

Kwon Young-Wan the ex-CTO

Kwon is a Research Professor at Korea University & KIST, is the third author on the first arXiv paper, and the submitter, was previously the CTO, but at the time of the paper to arXiv he was not affiliated with QCentre for “some months” according to an interview with Lee.

He uploads a paper, names only 3 authors (Lee, Kim and Himself) and then surprisingly presents LK-99 research at the MML2023 international conference held in Seoul a few days later, we haven’t yet found a video recording, however a few reports mention him asking for an interpreter, and talking about bringing samples without demonstration and proper equipment.

Important to note, that

Enter Hyun-Tak Kim

H.T Kim is probably the most cited and well-known professor in academia among the folks involved. See his google scholar profile, with a D-index of 432 and has 261 publications and 11,263 citations.

He’s a heavy hitter, and is the submitter and listed as the author of paper number 2 submitted to arXiv, 2 hours and 20 minutes after paper number 1 above.

In the second paper, he’s listed as the third author (and the submitter to arXiv) and his contribution is acknowledged like so:

An author, Hyun-Tak Kim (H. T. Kim),’s knowledge on mechanisms of both superconductivity and the metal-insulator (gap-nogap) transition highly contributed to writing the mechanism part. The knowledge was acquired over 20 years by processes of performing national projects including project [Grant 2017-0-00830] funded by Institute for Information and Communications Technology Promotion (IITP) in MSIT of Korea government in ETRI. H. T. Kim left ETRI on Nov. of 2022.

In the first paper H.T. is not acknowledged, and is only mentioned in in reference no. 52 to his paper from 2021.

Ok enough about the people Alex! Does the rock levitate?

In January, QCentre youtube channel uploaded an unlisted video that showed magnetic properties of LK-99 and another video, with partial levitation is widely shared on social media.

The partial levitation shown is attributed to the Meissner Effect and is a supposed proof of room temperature super conductivity. However, these two videos are inconclusive and are not enough for us to take QCentre claims at face value.

The scientific community, having been stung by a recent incident surrounding a supposed room temp superconductor, where the evidence was apparently falsified (Dais et. al.) are not so easily swayed.

Adding to that, the mess around the multiple papers, showing different theories, the lack of peer review, or independent replication, the surprised publication, and a rushed follow up publication, all makes people wonder, what is going on here? This doesn’t seem like a fabricated attempt.

Summary of replication attempts so far (Sun, Jul 20)

Given the importance of this discovery, and the “relative” triviality of replication, common enough materials, the process is not extremely complex (but kids, do not try this at home) so we can bet that “furnaces in solid-state materials labs around the world have been cooking yesterday and today to try to reproduce” [Science Magazine]

We have reports from China that supplies of Led Apatite are running dry as many are trying to replicate quietly?

Additional reports from India where Dr. VPS. Awana, the Chief scientist at CSIR-NPL and team are trying to replicate, with results expected as early as tomorrow (Monday, Jul 31) and has been emailing with Lee

In addition to this, we’ve had Andrew McCalip from Varda space who has been live-tweetin, twitch streamin his “Meissner effect or bust” campaign to reproduce LK-99, while the world watches (Andrew joined the space as well) and provides ideas, materials and an outpour of support for this gung-ho, almost cowboy effort.

We’ve also had folks from MIT who claimed that professors who want to remain anonymous, and went to MML2023 are also in contact with the team and are trying to test the material.

Replication failure is … not a failure?

Discussing the replication attempts with experts on stage, we all concluded that there are likely 2 ways for the world to know wether LK-99 is a superconductor.

  1. Replication succeeds and scientists analyze the replicated sample

  2. QCentre team provides a sample, and some very smart independent folks put it under a microscope, a magnetism analysis and a bunch of other measurements and confirm that it’s a superconductor at room temperature.

While we wait for either of those, I encourage you to check out the resources, the space recording, and the list of folks I’ve collected to stay in the loop!

Here’s a list of relevant links:

And the list of folks who participated in the space, give them a follow:

For your convenience, attached is an AI transcription of the space with speakers and timestamps (may be off by a few minutes) :

[00:02:40] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Hello. Hello, everyone. There's a lot of you here, and I wanna welcome a shoot for up on stage while we wait for a few more guests, and then we can get started. Thank you so much for taking the time joining us. as you're as interested as all of us in this very exciting, very confusing, very potentially groundbreaking news. So I wanna introduce 2 folks up on stage 2 folks up on stage already, and bringing up another one just now. And hey, Andrew. Hey.

[00:03:18] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Hey, How are you guys?

[00:03:23] Ben (@BenShindel):

Doing well. How are you?

[00:03:27] Alex Volkov (@altryne): A little bit you know, the palms are a little bit sweaty. This is a insane turnout. Twitter is indeed a public space on because that we have. And, hopefully, spaces or two spaces, whatever they call it now, will hold. And I only invite Sam here to speak as well. Hey, Tobias. How are you?

[00:03:51] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

I'm good. I'm good. So good to good to, you know, hear from you guys in person, Alex. Thanks for putting the space together.

[00:04:00] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Thirdly. Andrew, we're gonna introduce Andrew, but many folks who are here already follow you and and follow your work. How how's your evening going, Andrew?

[00:04:12] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

Lee, this has been a wild ride. Thanks for putting all this together. It's gonna be great to get all the information in one place for the first time. This is my first time experiencing the full volume of the Internet, and just been a a lot of fun to see all the positivity around the progress.

[00:04:29] Alex Volkov (@altryne): That's great. So I'll do my best that, you know, Mother think this. I will maybe preface this that I am not a scientist. Many of the terms that we'll hear today in the space I've heard for the first time a couple of days ago. What I am is a Twitter for many, many years, and I have collected a a list of folks who I I personally wanted to follow to kinda see the updates as they roll out, and we've seen many, many things roll out very quick. with a lot of confusion and different replication attempts from different places. And I just compiled the list for myself. I started following.

[00:05:08] Alex Volkov (@altryne): 8 to buy had incredible incredible content diving into the the timeline. I found I I wanna introduce thank you. Am I saying this right? I think you need to hit the the mute button in a mute. If this is your first time talking on RESTASIS. let me know if you're able to do that. And if not, we'll try to solve this. And out as I was collecting folks, And I I started seeing that Andrew started doing their application attempts and even doing Twitch.

[00:05:46] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

Can you hear me?

[00:05:47] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Can you hear me? We can hear you. Hey, Sam Kim. How are you?

[00:05:57] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

It it it's the noon in South Korea, and I'm fine.

[00:06:01] Alex Volkov (@altryne): the afternoon. Right?

[00:06:03] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

It's 1. Yes. Yes. It's the 1 PM.

[00:06:06] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Awesome. And so I was just doing an introduction maybe as you were telling up, you maybe not heard some of it. However, folks in the audience who followed this kind of thread and how we came to be here I have a a thread that I'll post on top here that has all the folks from the Twitter list that I forgot. And San Kyung and his his team is basically the reason for the space. Me and Nathan kind of found Sunqun. Am I saying Sunqun correctly? Is that is that the right way to say this?

[00:06:41] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

My name is. Your your, yeah, your pronunciation is not actually not.

[00:06:48] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Okay. I'll I'll turn my best to put months at the at the right names. And so we both me and 8 to 5, a a 34 in Saint Kyung, who's in Seoul currently, and definitely speaks the language we don't speak, and so there's a lot of insight and translation. And so, yeah, I guess we'll will get started, so feel free to present yourself, and then talk a little bit about your last few days and how you came around getting in this topic. and then how kinda what you found so far.

[00:07:28] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

I I didn't really expect to to speak.

[00:07:30] Alex Volkov (@altryne): That's okay. That's okay.

[00:07:32] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

That's put me put me on the spot. Yeah.

[00:07:34] Alex Volkov (@altryne): I don't wanna put you on the spot, but give us maybe a brief summary.

[00:07:44] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Maybe maybe do you do you want me to help Sanyon?

[00:07:47] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

Yes, please. Okay. You you have read my right top, so maybe maybe you can explain what's going on.

[00:07:57] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Okay. So I'm I'm just gonna I'm just gonna just to preface everything, I I'm writing a work of fiction. So all of you guys are just participating in an experiment. So but I'm trying to keep everything to kinda, like, factual and trying to interpret what what is kind of happening on the ground. Right? Shyam is much more factual, and he he has actually been doing a primary source work. So he's been actually digging up the actual Korean language science papers. He's been sitting down with friends They've kinda, you know, summarized and kind of tried to understand what's going on.

[00:08:36] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

And he's really the one that's, you know, put together this that that the you know, the the the mentor, you know, whose name, I think, in some transliterations comes out to TS's chair, some Donsick He the mentor was basically in superconductors in this idea of this kind of 1 dimensional super and he had this theory.

[00:09:00] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

That so the name is che. che. Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He was a a professor in the Korean University's Department of Chemistry.

[00:09:13] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Yeah. And and so he he had this idea, this theory, and he had graduate students. and one of those graduate students was Lee, and Lee kind of took up the mantle of this this theory. And then they, you know, tied up with who was an experiment list.

[00:09:37] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

And then they kinda discovered this trace this coast of a trace of a material in 1990 And at that point, what happens is having discovered this trace, their path kind of diverge this, and Kim, the experimentalist, goes on to do a masters, not in superconductors. So he does his masters in something else, and then he does the battery materials kind of PhD, and he graduates in 2008.

[00:10:12] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

while Lee continues on the superconductor path, does experimental any when he publishes his PhD. It's both a theory and synthesis of superconductors. And then he graduates, and then he he goes to work as a science adjunct professor, which we which we just found out. Like, a computer science adjunct professor, and he's there for about, you know, 4, 5 5 years. He doesn't publish. And and I'm guessing at this point, he kinda gets, like, you know, cashier out of out of academia completely, and he sets up a consulting firm, basically, Q Center.

[00:10:50] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

And they start taking on consulting work. And and then, again, the timeline is a little bit unclear on whether or not they continue to work on on the on on the product on what they discovered. And what happens then is in 2017, Chey Dongksik passes.

[00:11:18] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

And as he passes, he he gets his former students together, and he asked them to finish off what they started to find this superconducting material that they saw a ghost of a trace of in 1999. And he passes, and they have no money. basically. Song Young has done, again, primary source research, and, you know, the the office space is basically, like, like, a two story building, you know, somewhere in the you know, in in Seoul. It's a very modern kind of office. They don't have much money.

[00:11:57] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

My guess my guess is that they need Kim. because KIM is the experimentalist, and I'm guessing also that none of the theory works at this point. The only thing that they have to go on is that they actually did find something in 1999. And Kim, I'm guessing, is also quite practical because he didn't do he didn't pursue the superconductors for the PhD. Right? Because he's quite practical, he's like, dude, you get me money. I'll join you. You don't have money. I'm not joining you for your wild goose, Jason. Right?

[00:12:36] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

So Lee goes out and he recruits Kwan. And Kwan is kind of like you know, he's he's a US PhD. He has a research university, you know, position. recruit them, and they get funding. And I think I think Sam Young, you were you were saying that Kwon is the one on the, you know, National Science Foundation of Korea's like you know, list, like, grant. Right? I I think that's what you said.

[00:13:08] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

So the paper mentions the public grant from South Korea. called the National Resource Foundation, which is like National Science Foundation in United States. And Korn is listed as a primary invest mitigate our PI, if then.

[00:13:25] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):


[00:13:26] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Mhmm.

[00:13:27] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Yeah. Yeah. That's right. Okay. So he he's the PI. So they recruit him as the PI, and Jade Kim, who is, you know, Lee's partner, basically leaves his very comfortable position as a research director in a hearing aid test.

[00:13:44] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):


[00:13:44] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Yeah. Yes.

[00:13:45] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

Yes. Yeah. Hearing aid Yeah. I Or the eye test there? Yeah. Yeah. For the ISER tech and in manufacture, the battery is specialized for the hearing aid. code. It is a medical device. They have a different standard from other batteries. And company a small business in South Korea, but seems competitive worldwide.

[00:14:13] Alex Volkov (@altryne): So he leaves his let me let me -- Yeah. Go ahead. Just real quick and to give folks a quick summary. The main paper that we saw the explosion from that was published on July 22nd, so a week and and almost a day we're, like, almost 8 days into this. The three people that you you just said, besides the first professor, Choi or chair or Troy and or several places write it separately. So the the three people, SoftBank, Jihoon Kim, which is the LK in LK 99, right, Lee and Kim. And the third person you just mentioned is Young Wan, Kwan. Yes.

[00:14:52] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Those are the the 3 authors on the paper that kind of was published on our side out of the blue. 8 days ago. Please continue.

[00:15:03] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Right. And then so at this at this point, they're in 2017, And, you know, Lee goes out and does the fundraising. He recruits Kwan, who's the research professor, Kwon is basically he's on the paper. He he's he's the principal investigator on the grant, but he's still a professor at university. So he's basically, I'm guessing, like, a day a day in the, you know, in the office at Q Center, very modest place. I think the grand size is pretty small, and they get this ESR machine.

[00:15:41] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

And again, from what I can tell, the ESR machine only came knows how to use it. Because none of the other people are actually synthetic, you know, synthesis people. They're all like theory guys, Kuan is a physicist. And Kim himself, JH Kim himself, he's looking for something which you have to know what you're looking for, right? Because that's what he says in his LinkedIn. He's like, I'm looking for some if you don't know what you're looking for, then forget about it. Right?

[00:16:19] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

But he he knows what he's looking for, and they refine, they refine, and they refine, and he keeps doing experiments. He keeps refining the experiment, and he goes through, like, a 1000 iterations. And somehow, starting in 2018, somehow, By the middle of 2018, they find it. So that that's a surprising thing for me because they've I I I suspect they they've been working on it you know, before or, you know, Jay and Lee had a breakthrough on their theory, so they knew how to narrow the workspace down. But somehow in at the end of the day, Kim is the one grinding.

[00:16:58] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Through that 1000 experiments, finally, to get, you know, a sample that works.

[00:17:03] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

And then they start by -- No. No.

[00:17:05] Alex Volkov (@altryne): No.

[00:17:05] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):


[00:17:05] Alex Volkov (@altryne): No.

[00:17:05] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

No. No. No. No. No. No? So so besides the two papers, there is a paper published in April returning query. And In their own words, they describe what what prompted their breakthrough in 2018.

[00:17:27] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

and it said that so so they are putting the material in a quartz tube And because they called it to best courts to cancel and Brooke, And the material left after the breaking of the glass was had the property they wanted. So so it was an accidental discovery.

[00:18:02] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

So can can you repeat that? Like, they what what happened? They put it in the quartz tube, and the quartz tube broke accidentally?

[00:18:10] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):


[00:18:10] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Yes. Yes.

[00:18:11] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

I see. And and And that what's the breakthrough in 2018? I see. It's what I'm saying.

[00:18:19] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Yeah. I just wanna confirm what I hear. The breaking of the course you led to the incidental discovery. This is this is the the breakthrough as it's written in the first paper in Korea? Yes. Yes. Okay. So I'll just call ASAP, I'll just give it back for some logistics. Folks, if you look up on on top of the space, there's a few tweets we're pinning. And as we go along, we're gonna add some information on top of this. The 3rd the third we pin from dystopian breaker has a link to the original kind of Korean paper. So please go ahead, Datapai.

[00:18:54] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

So so quick -- Okay. point.

[00:18:56] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Yeah.

[00:18:56] Ely Rabani (@radsci):

Go ahead. Go ahead. This this could be important because, you know, as as soon as you expose it to the atmosphere, your getting hydration. And hydration, you know, might be harmful, might be helpful. From this, like, little account, it seems like it it it either didn't do anything or was helpful. But, like, no what temperature it was at when it broke, and and things like that could could actually be really pertinent.

[00:19:30] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Yeah. So, absolutely, like so it's not they he does do the 1000 experiments, but the 1000 experiments, whether that gets him there or not, at one point in the experiment, the quartz tube breaks, that gets them there. They get lucky. Right? So they get they get lucky. And then after that, things proceed pretty quick They isolate they isolate it, and then they they get the crystallization. They start working on the papers. They start on the patents, and they start also trying to figure out the chemical vapor deposition process. They seem to have made some way some headway on the chemical vapor deposition process.

[00:20:06] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

And then, you know, sometime around September 2021, something start happening. Quant takes a position, sabbatical at, I think, Seoul University at that point. I'm not sure whether that means he's putting more time in the office or not. And then that fast forwards to yeah. Go go ahead, Sunggham.

[00:20:33] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

No. No.

[00:20:33] Alex Volkov (@altryne): No.

[00:20:33] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

You go ahead. Okay. So that fast forward about March 2023 when basically the international patent has been filed. And Kuan leaves the team at this time. I'm not sure when Kim comes on board. That's not very to me at what point Yum Tuck comes on board.

[00:20:57] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

So I'm guessing it's after the nature, the nature paper gets dinged in 2020, And and and, you know, the the other thing that strikes me also is that every single person on the team is very aware of every single hoax in superconductors to date. Right? They they they all know the space well, They've seen every single hoax before. They know they know what the hoaxes look like. They know what to look for. They know what diamagmatism is. So I I I don't think yeah.

[00:21:29] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

Go ahead. So the date is So the day before the yesterday, Andrew McCully posted on his Twitter the translation of the Korean paper at Doctor Lloyd. Is that correct? And can can you so so how did you translate and can Can you say something about it?

[00:21:59] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Andrew, I think he's Frank to you. So I can just ring to you. You posted a translated paper also. Right?

[00:22:08] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

Yes. Now that was just a machine translation from Google. That was just a very cursory translation.

[00:22:19] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):


[00:22:19] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

So in basically, quantity is team in March, and then you have the kind of papers being released, you know, haphazardly. The next the next point that of them is that they had started releasing the papers app as early, like, late last week.

[00:22:42] Alex Volkov (@altryne): And and then and then we have -- And by the way, I think it's it's important to highlight by Kwan, the guy who's no longer affiliated with with QCenter. Like, this this sole endeavor a business venture that's funded for for this for this purpose. Kwan is no longer affiliated with that. We've seen Sankyo posted an interview in Korea from Friday where I think both of the and Kim say that Kwan, the guy who published the first paper, is no longer affiliated.

[00:23:12] Alex Volkov (@altryne): there were some speculation as to maybe the limit of three people on the paper is the limit of the Nobel Prize or 2 or 3 authors. I don't have this confirmed, but this is speculation going around. And it's important to note like, both of them say that the paper was not ready when it was released, and it was released by Juan, the guy who left the first paper. 2 hours later, 2 than 20 minutes later, another paper gets released in the in the same archive with, I wouldn't say, 5 authors. not including Kwan. Right?

[00:23:48] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

So Lee -- Yeah. And -- The user the the user name is TumTuk team, the the college professor from, you know, Virginia is the username who who pushes the r archive paper at that Yeah.

[00:24:04] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

Chantakim is a big name with the 18 days of 45, and If you look at the paper, there is an error message in Korean saying that Bloomberg could not be found. It is a neutral error message when you did the some of the typesetting wrong.

[00:24:27] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

And You just don't probably see the room temperature, sugar conductor paper with the error deaths that had to bookmark cannot be found if you are following if you are in not in emergency.

[00:24:52] Alex Volkov (@altryne): So so it does feel to us at least from the summary so far that the paper that Quang released has different information than than the second paper, and the second paper feels like it was released in the Harry and included more people that currently work at Q Center, including Hyundai Kim. And Sonja, owner, you this question. You mentioned his h h score or something score. Can can you explain the importance of that score for him talking?

[00:25:20] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

creates someone else to the explanation.

[00:25:24] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Okay. So so the h score is, you know, because we have a web web savvy audience here. It's kind of like a page rank for, you know, researchers. It shows you how influential how influential the researcher was, and so a higher score means that more people have been citing your paper.

[00:25:45] Ben (@BenShindel):

Go ahead, Ben. Yeah. More precisely. So, like, an h index of, say, 40 means you have 40 papers that each have 40 citations or more. That's a little tricky to understand. So, like, if I get another paper that has only 30 citations, it won't affect my h index at all. I have to get a 41st paper that has 41 citations to to to make it rise.

[00:26:07] Alex Volkov (@altryne): So I think it's it's safe to say HUNTAKIM, the guy who submitted the second paper, potentially haphazardly. Correct? Like, we're we're we're saying there's 2 hours after the first one. So likely prompted by these events is a well well sighted very well sighted scientist with a very high kind of confidence score. It's not like a random person of the street that decide that there's now a superconductor of room temperature and, you know, verified it.

[00:26:41] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

Okay. Sorry for being side tracked, but I just checked the the motion related to Korean paper or not to talk through it by Andrew. And on the page 5, we clearly said that the quartz tube was destroyed due to internal pressure during rapid cooling of reaction and etcetera. So I think, in fact, nobody really read ready carefully. It is it is just there about the quartz tube once destroyed.

[00:27:19] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Yeah. So I think I think it's yeah. Definitely, like, probably the the rest of us are are are not very close readers. of of that paper.

[00:27:29] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

So so We can we can continue on after the upload to the archive.

[00:27:42] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Indeed. So okay. So they they they it goes into our our archive, and then all of the events of the last week happen you know, I don't think any of us expected any of the events to happen. So we've all just been kind of, like, following along and seeing what happens next. I had no idea that there was a metallics conference in South Korea, and I I definitely had, like, no idea that you know, one of the authors would show up there, and it gets posted on Twitter. And so and then and then Seung Young points it out on the FM Korea Football message board.

[00:28:20] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

And so we translate, you know, what the audience reaction was in in in a bad translation to get -- So -- -- whatever message was across.

[00:28:30] Alex Volkov (@altryne): -- mind let me interject here because this is around the that I found out about this. Alex, frozen coffee. Alex, I forgot his nickname. We invited him here. He posted a a very long Twitter thread that got the attention of the algorithm and then boosted of this room template ambin pressure, superconductor paper from Korea. I think he only started talking about the first paper, and then after the second paper also came out. And I think at this point, or somewhere around there. Andrew, you found out about this. What what did you first hear about, you know, Twitter drama around LK 90 Right?

[00:29:08] Alex Volkov (@altryne): And, Andrew, feel free to at least produce you know, introduce yourself officially and BARDA and how you're interacting with this.

[00:29:16] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

Yeah. So I was just cruising the Internet at night, and this came across. I think my my Twitter feed And so I I'm incredibly curious. This is something that has been a bit of a a hobby for me. And so I was always interested in superconductors, so it it caught my attention. I'm a mechanical engineer. So full disclosure. I am not a subject matter expert. I am simply an aerospace engineer that has a lot of curiosity and some assets at his disposal.

[00:29:50] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

And so reading this paper, it it struck me just the simplicity of of the process. And so I realized that I probably had the ability to replicate with full fidelity, the process that was described in the paper. And so that within about 30 minutes, I I realized I should simply start down this road that Twitter was already picking up at the time.

[00:30:21] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

There's some conversations going back and forth and the it was the classic scenario where on every superconductor discussion, there is the same conversation that happens over and over again. And this synthesis appeared so simple that it seemed that the most expedient thing was to simply test it physically. And so my my work is very receptive of of after hours projects. I'm I'm known as the the guy that has really aggressive hobbies, let's say.

[00:30:57] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

And so I'm always in the back doing something interesting with materials or automation. So within 30 minutes of reading the paper, I had ticked off orders to various chemical suppliers. I've reached out to overseas vendors. to try to procure a couple of the the elements. And so it was just kind of an offhand comment that I made on Twitter and and then the ball really started rolling, and I realized that everyone wanted to see this this made.

[00:31:32] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

And so it was just supposed to be a a a fun little project, but I was really overwhelmed by the the response. Everyone wanted to to see this done. I think there's this incredible curiosity, there's this incredible drive. People wanna see, like, incredible things happen for the the the human race. And so something if this magnitude pops up, everyone's motivated to drop everything and investigate. And I think that's where we're at.

[00:32:08] Alex Volkov (@altryne): And I think you met the algorithm at the right place where folks were excited about the future and think this could bring a lot of changes around the future, and you started saying, hey. You know? Here's a here's a direct approach. Let's try to replicate this. And I I wanna just highlight the fact the the materials involved in creating this. And the process, some folks say and please talk about this. Some folks say that has been an attempt at a hoax, it wouldn't be as simple. They wouldn't have released a simple instruction manual kind of quote, unquote simple that many labs around the work they replicate given the materials and and the right equipment. Right?

[00:32:48] Ely Rabani (@radsci):

So -- Yeah.

[00:32:48] Alex Volkov (@altryne): So -- -- straightforwardness of this potentially shows some stuff.

[00:32:51] Ely Rabani (@radsci):

So this this is a good time for for a PSA. I mean, I know that that Andrew is well aware of this, and and and many of peep of the people who've been following it. But in case anybody who's listening isn't. The these compounds in vapor form at any rate are are highly talked music, and you you have to know lab safety. If you're gonna start trying to experiment with them, you need things like, a glove box and, you know, all kinds of PPE, a fume hood, everything else. Taking risks with this kind of thing is just really not worth it.

[00:33:31] Alex Volkov (@altryne): I I I can't stress that. Absolutely. Don't try this at home.

[00:33:36] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

kids definitely. Yeah. Absolutely. There's a lot of chatter in the beginning in the first couple hours about this can be replicated in a garage And, you know, I thought it was interesting. I thought maybe we've got the opportunity to to do it safely. we've got all the right equipment. We've got, you know, the the 1,000,000 of dollars of equipment that support our spacecraft business. that allow us to do some of these things safely. And so I thought Twitter wants to live vicariously through somebody why not do this?

[00:34:12] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

I ended up being in sort of an interesting middle ground because I'm not in academia. I'm also not trying to commercialize any part of this tech. really just doing it for fun because it's incredibly interesting. So I've got no skin in the game except for making this work in a transparent manner. and then getting the materials into the hands of the experts.

[00:34:34] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

So I thought if we can leverage some of our equipment and some of our, you know, very smart people that we have, to speed this timeline up, I didn't see anybody in the United States being vocal about trying to do replication there are so many stories coming out of other parts of the world that all the labs, there must be thousands of furnaces burning right now trying to replicate this. But I wanted to get material into the hands of some local experts in California.

[00:35:09] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

And so that's really our our goal is, you know, can we can we sort of be the face of of the Internet do this experiment in a safe manner and then help advance the science and be sort of a forcing function to to doing this replication.

[00:35:27] Alex Volkov (@altryne): So, Andrew, just before just a a small pause before you continue, I want to ask the other, Andrew, here. The Andrew code, if if you're able to unmute and and and talk us if you're available about the potential reasons why all of Twitter jumped on this. Andrew Kot, you had a thread on room temperature superconductors. About 2 weeks before this, like, almost a permanent is kind of a threat. And could you give us some summary first of all, feel free to introduce yourself, but also some summary of what this means if this replicates, what this means for the world.

[00:36:07] Alex Volkov (@altryne): Applications, you know, give us, like, some excitement of what happens if this is an actual ambient pressure in room temperature superconductor? Andrew? Does not look like Andrew is Oh, hey.

[00:36:33] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

Sorry. My my audio cut out for a second. I I missed the prompt. Oh, here you are. Let you only -- Sure. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks very much.

[00:36:44] Alex Volkov (@altryne): So so folks so so I I explained to folks your thread about MBN, you know, pressure room temperature superconductors that you've offered, what, 2 weeks before the paper came out. And then suddenly, this dropped. And I wanted you to highlight some of the potential applications of superconductors and give us some of the highlights of what happens in this replicating. This is an actual, you know, real thing.

[00:37:08] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

Yeah. Sure. So it's kind of a funny thing. Yeah. I put that thread out there 7 weeks before this story broke. You know, just I have worked with this kind of stuff in in a few different areas now, so it's very, you know, superconducting radio frequency cavities are standard technology in accelerator physics to fill these to work in.

[00:37:31] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

Like, my first job in physics was actually in a condensed matter lab using a a scanning tunneling microscope to look at, you know, electronic structures of potential high temperature superconductors So this has always been sort of like a holy grail of material science, like sort of a holy grail of applied physics. It's one of these properties it's one of these materials where the bulk properties come from its quantum mechanical behavior. And and, you know, when quantum mechanics and its effects escape the realm of the very tiny, it can really manifest as as magical phenomenon at our scale in the world of the kind of the bulk matter or the big stuff.

[00:38:10] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

So, you know, superconductors are used currently today, You know, it's it's they've reached engineering applicability through decades of continuous refinements and improvements. And and some of the biggest things to think about in what lets these things get used in industrial applications is their ability to superconducts at higher and higher temperatures And, also most also importantly, is to operate at higher and higher background magnetic field strengths. And so the way to think about this is that a superconductor, it's allowing current to move through it with zero resistance, but it also perfectly spells magnetic fields.

[00:38:48] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

And there's an operating point of these materials where it's basically the current density and the temperature and the magnetic field kind of put the bounds or the performance envelope on the material. So some conductors can carry tons of current, but they can't exist in a very high field. And so, you know, those are hard to make as useful. You can use them for carrying, like, electricity, which is awesome, but often what you really wanna do is generate very strong magnetic fields. So I think maybe the most familiar to the most people here would be, like an MRI machine. Right?

[00:39:27] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

Magnetic resonance imaging. So the idea there is you're generating very high strength field, and magnetic fields are measured in Tesla, for example. So just for just for context, you know, 3 Tesla is a is a pretty strong field, and that's what is about the strength using an MRI. So, you know, MRIs use these cryogenically cooled magnets, or or they're not I don't think cryogenically cooled. They're actually often just copper, but they do have cooling. But they generate this high strength field, and then, you know, it kind of sets all these little protons in your body spinning and dancing in a little, you know, kind of radiating energy.

[00:40:03] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

And then you have a pickup coil, which is like an antenna, and the antenna is trying to pick up that energy and kinda reconstruct what's going on in your body. And this is how we can get, like, a really high detailed, high fidelity, three-dimensional image of what's going on inside someone without any invasive surgery. So it's, like, you know, MRIs are a real kind of amazing breakthrough in medical imaging. Superconductors if they could work without cryogenics would really simplify and make cheaper and more available, high resolution, high fidelity, three d images of people's bodies.

[00:40:35] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

not just for making the magnetic fields, but also for picking up the signal emitted by the protons that get put into motion by the field in the first place. So it's kind of, like, one sort of off the shelf example. I think another one that's kind of under the radar, we don't think about it's not just in carrying electricity without resistance, which is useful for long range, like energy transmission, that kind of stuff. But if you look at the national grid, I mean, only 5, 7 percent of energy total, which is still significant, but it's, you know, single digit percentage ends up, you know, burning as weight You're suddenly muffled.

[00:41:11] Alex Volkov (@altryne): I don't think yeah. You're suddenly a voice like your -- Oh, better.

[00:41:18] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

Now it's better. Okay. Sorry about that. Yeah. So just gonna say so, you know, National Grid Scale Energy Production. Right? So trans transmitting the energy to its endpoint consumption, there's a bit of waste heat along the way. But what's what's also important to think about is how that energy is produced. It's produced also using high strength magnetic fields. And I was looking into this. There's a a experiment where these guys used sort of more modern high temperature superconducting tape to, you know, retrofit a large DC generator then it had, like, a 36 percent power improvement, right, which is pretty substantial. That's that's a that's a serious win.

[00:41:58] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

Yeah. So there's there's, you know, sort of thousands of places this stuff could be used that would really just, like you know, it would either greatly improve the performance efficiency, reduce the cost, increase the accessibility of what we think of as, like, high technology like MRIs or particle accelerators. But it would also just decrease the cost of basic things like electricity generation and distribution And that's just the beginning. Right? So, you know, this kind of stuff there's a really good analogy here actually with the transistor, you know, for for years, scientists, then electrical engineers and physicists, they had this idea of a transistor. Right?

[00:42:35] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

If only we could have some kind of simple, reliable, current model supplier. We could design all these wonderful things. We could design all these different kinds of logic functions and so forth. And so there was this search for the transistor people were searching for something that could do that, and they had anticipated all the places it could be used ahead of time. And it wasn't until at Bell labs, you know, a very kind of funny crossover here. One of the guys that's on the patent for the transistor is John Bardine. and John Bardeen's actually the only guy to win 2 Nobel Prizes. 1 was for the transistor. The other was for the theory of superconductivity, right, which is Barting Cooper Schiffer Theory, BCS.

[00:43:14] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

So, again, it's one of it's one of those things where, you know, physicists, scientists, engineers kinda thought about this for a long time, realize this be amazing. And there's been this, you know, really complicated random walk through the configuration space of possible materials, right, which is so high dimensional. There's so many things you can construct. So I think it's I'm very optimistic about the field in general. I think one thing to think about with this particular result there's so much artisanal craft and and mastery that goes into producing these materials in a reliable, consistent way You know, science people don't often recognize. It's a lot of art involved too. Right?

[00:43:52] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

Like like, things that are reduced to expert practice us and know how. And so I'd I'd just be cautious on, you know, jumping to conclusions either on this particular result, if it's if it's valid right now. But, also, if some labs can't fail to reproduce it, it doesn't actually rule it out entirely. I I think there's scientists that have traveled to Korea to work with the original authors. I look closely at that. You know, I'd also you know, I my internal odds are kind of like a 1 in 6 chance, this pans out, and it and it could be big.

[00:44:21] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

But that doesn't mean that it's the end of the search or the end of the race, and I'm and I'm also optimistic that Getting people to understand what the massive long term and large scale social benefits of this kind of discovery could be could help direct a lot more basic science research towards this field. You know, I think we spend a lot of things on, like, how to make smartphone cameras better and not a lot of things on and not as much as we could spend on things like high temperature superconductors. And this is a final example.

[00:44:48] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

I mean, so right now, you know, I work as a accelerator engineer, accelerator is a type of magnetic confinement fusion reactor The reason the company I work for can't exist, and and the reason there is this current burn and boom in nuclear fusion, is because we've engineered these high temperature superconductors to work in higher and higher magnetic fields, at at higher and higher temperatures. And and the big economic breakthrough there came when we can have these superconductors that can work at liquid nitrogen temperatures, right, which is 77 kelvin. And it's a lot cheaper to make liquid nitrogen and run that kind of cryogenics than it like liquid helium at, like, 4 Kelvin.

[00:45:24] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

So, you know, we're already reaping some of the benefits of this sort of tech stack maturing over time. And I think really just getting started in terms of, like, the hunt for promising materials. I mean, I'm hoping this results in positive publicity and more effort, more energy, put into the field. I think if this doesn't pan out as the thing, you know, don't give up hope. Right? I mean, this is a long term game. Science sees by starts and stops. There's no fundamental physics here that's impossible. Right? There's no physical principle that says this can't work. Right? This isn't like a a momentumless or massless propulsion drive like the EM drive.

[00:46:04] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

isn't, like, superluminal neutrinos. Right? Those things kind of break laws of physics. This is very much in the realm of, yeah, physically possible. seems seems very you know, in my mind, seems likely there could be something out there given the complexity of state space of electronic structures and given how you know, how large that space of exploration can be. And, yeah, so I think I'm just kind of you know, this is a great time to be interested in material science to appreciate basic science research and educating ourselves on on how good the future can be. You know, I think there's a lot of narratives right now in society and cultural in general. that kinda say, like, you know, you know, we we can't solve our way out of our biggest problems today. Right?

[00:46:43] Andrew Cote (@Andercot):

And and I'm very much on the other side of that debate. I think we can. I think it's through efforts like this. I think it's through people like Andrew at Varda that are willing to do stuff in their backyard or their garage or their fact or their their work workplace on their extra time. You know? I mean, this is the kind of this is the the let's build mentality. Right? And so I think we can build our way out of the world's greatest problems, and I its fundamental scientific advances like this discovery could be that that kind of paved the way out of there too. So, yeah, overall, very optimistic.

[00:47:11] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

Andrew? That that's incredibly well said. That is an incredibly well balanced viewpoint. So how would you advise people to absorb the the next week of the new cycle? I mean, we're very much on a you know, we're we're back dead. We're back type of hype cycle. So how do you advise people to think about the results that they're seeing knowing that this is a a very difficult thing to replicate when it just because it a negative result is shown in a lab that doesn't mean it's not physically possible.

[00:47:49] Andrew McCalip (@andrewmccalip):

It's very difficult to prove the negative here. So tell us how we should absorb the new cycle coming up in the next few days.

[00:47:59] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

So I I I I I I might I might say something about that. I think I think this is basically tacit knowledge transfer, and you Kim Kim seems to have been this kind of, like, artisanal, like, you know, experiment list. So you need people to actually sit there in the lab with this guy, and he needs to demonstrate to them. And they need to pick up and and there might be things that he does, which he didn't write down. That that's the like, my my take on it given that He is the experiment list. He's the synthesis on on the team.

[00:48:38] Ate-a-Pi (@8teAPi):

Given that the team seems to have been only, like, 5 or 6 people, is that this guy is the maybe the only person in the world as of, like, you know, 18 months ago. I'm guessing that, you know, he managed to transfer some of that to the JungTux team. So I'm guessing that at at least one more one more team on on earth has this now. And I'm guessing that this knowledge transfer is now happening to a couple more people. So so you need to see this progress maybe 2 or 3 cycles for, like, a bunch of other people to have learned the skill, and then that's when that's when things get interesting.

[00:49:14] Seo Sanghyeon (@sanxiyn):

I mean, you don't really need to replicate to to verify this. There, the the team can just the team has the working samples. they can adjust the samples to the laps around the world.

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ThursdAI - Recaps of the most high signal AI weekly spaces
ThursdAI - The top AI news from the past week
Every ThursdAI, Alex Volkov hosts a panel of experts, ai engineers, data scientists and prompt spellcasters on twitter spaces, as we discuss everything major and important that happened in the world of AI for the past week.
Topics include LLMs, Open source, New capabilities, OpenAI, competitors in AI space, new LLM models, AI art and diffusion aspects and much more.
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Appears in episode
Alex Volkov
Andrew Cote
Andrew McCalip
Danielle Fong
Seo Sanghyeon