šŸŒ± Seedling thought

24 of 365, LK-99 I want to believe

planted on in: 365 day writing project and 365DayProject.
~459 words, about a 3 min read.

This is day twenty-four of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row; currently 6.58% complete with a two-day streak.

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For those paying close attention to the various news feeds the term LK-99 will already be familiar for all others LK-99 and the growing excitement around it is due to it potentially being the First Room-Temperature Ambient-Pressure Superconductor! If confirmed then this will usher in a new phase of human history as big if not bigger than humanities mastering of electricity itself.

There is however reason to be skeptical, my thoughts are in line with those Anton relays via his video: If This Superconductor Is Real, It's a Nobel Prize! But Let's Talk First. I want to believe, but we have seen similar claims made before that where soon retracted; however, a discovery of this magnitude has the eyes of the entire scientific community boring into it, so we should soon have our answer.

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There are a number of institutions and people attempting to replicate the experiment, this forum post makes some effort to compile known replication attempts a number of which have failed to replicate the properties claimed by the original publishing team.

That's not to say their result isn't going to be reproducible, in science and especially materials science; when there is bad methodology documentation, it is normal for early replication attempts to fail. When a materials properties originate from its specific atomic configuration its the difference between growing crystals or having a clump of a material; both can contain the same ingredients but may have completely different properties.

At time of writing manifold market is predicting a 49% chance that LK-99 will be replicated before 2025[1], that is to say almost half of people asked think that this is real. The original paper submitted to arXiv on the 22nd July 2023 lists three authors and currently there are a number of other contributors fighting to have their names added to the list, that to me is a big green flag. You wouldn't want your name associated with a fraudulent discovery, especially one with this many eyes scrutinising it.

I want to believe LK-99 is real but I will remain skeptical until one or more of the teams successfully reproduce the result as we all should be.

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  1. This is the first time I have heard of manifold.markets; it advertises itself as a "play-money prediction market platform where you can bet on anything." Ultimately the predictions are a result of thousands of people betting on which outcome so take the 49% with a heap of salt. ā†©ļøŽ