Ask Hackaday: What If You Did Have A Room Temperature Superconductor?

The news doesn’t go long without some kind of superconductor announcement these days. Unfortunately, these come in several categories: materials that require warmer temperatures than previous materials but still require cryogenic cooling, materials that require very high pressures, or materials that, on closer examination, aren’t really superconductors. But it is clear the holy grail is a superconducting material that works at reasonable temperatures in ambient temperature. Most people call that a room-temperature superconductor, but the reality is you really want an “ordinary temperature and pressure superconductor,” but that’s a mouthful.

In the Hackaday bunker, we’ve been kicking around what we will do when the day comes that someone nails it. It isn’t like we have a bunch of unfinished projects that we need superconductors to complete. Other than making it easier to float magnets, what are we going to do with a room-temperature superconductor?


We draw schematics as though wires have no resistance. But in real life, that’s not true. Electrons flowing through a wire will cause some loss. However, in 1911, a Dutch physicist, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, pioneered low-temperature research. At the time, common wisdom observed that while lowering a metal’s temperature reduced resistance, it was likely that at absolute zero, electrons would be immobile and, thus, no electrical current would flow at that temperature. Onnes, observed quite the opposite. Starting with mercury, he observed that at 4.2 K, very near absolute zero, the resistivity of the material abruptly went to zero.

Of course, getting materials near 4.2 K is a big problem. For example, liquid nitrogen — which is usually used in labs when you want something cold — boils at 77 K. Even then, cooling things with liquid nitrogen isn’t very practical for most applications. However, there are some ceramic materials that exhibit superconductivity above 90 K so it is possible to use superconductors today if you are willing to cool with something like liquid nitrogen.

Superconductors don’t exhibit electrical loss, so a current can travel forever in a loop of superconducting material. Experiments have observed currents traveling in a loop for nearly three decades with no measurable loss, and the ories predict currents would sustain at least 100,000 years if not more than the lifetime of the universe.

The physics behind it all is hairy. In normal conductors, electrons flow across an ionic lattice. Some electrons collide with the ions, converting some of their energy to heat. In a superconductor, the electrons bind in weak pairs known as Cooper pairs. The pairs form a type of superfluid that can flow without energy dissipation. You can see a more detailed explainer in the video below.

One important takeaway about superconductivity is that it disappears above given current and magnetic field levels. So in addition to characterizing superconductors by their critical temperature and pressure, it’s also important to know the critical current density and critical magnetic field strengths.

Obvious Cases

There are several places where superconductors are used today: SQUID (superconducting quantum interference devices) are very sensitive magnetometers that use Josephson junctions, superconductors with a thin insulating component. These are common in labs, MRI machines, and quantum computers. It is possible to use them to locate submarines, too. They do not need to pass large currents and are not subject to strong fields. Presumably, if you had room-temperature superconductors, you could form Josephson junctions with them, and all of these devices would become less expensive and easier to operate.

Another place we see superconductors already is in electromagnets for things like MRIs, particle accelerators, levitating trains, and fusion reactors. These are the applications that require high current or are subject to strong magnetic fields. Today, these applications all require liquid nitrogen or liquid helium. If future room-temperature superconductors end up having high critical current densities as well, you could cheaply build very strong electromagnets.

Certainly, places where we use cold superconductors today would just get better. But there are also several new applications that you could do today but the cooling overhead is too prohibitive. Of course, some of it will depend on the characteristics of the unknown magic material. For example, you often hear people say that electrical transmission lines could be superconductors. That’s true, but only if they have high critical magnetic field parameters, because otherwise they don’t really work for AC current. On the other hand, we use AC partly as a hedge against losses, so if you were willing to change the whole system, you could possibly use superconducting cables to transmit lower DC voltages long distances, but then you’re relying on a high critical current density.

Consumer Electronics

We aren’t entirely certain what superconductors will do for consumer electronics. Better magnets might mean better motors, so maybe your electric drill will be lighter and more powerful. Lower resistance in components could mean less heat loss and higher battery life. You often hear that superconductors will lead to phones that last weeks on a charge. Maybe, but our guess is not right away. We doubt that the loss in interconnect is really what’s draining your phone battery. However, it is true that components that have fewer inefficiencies could lead to longer battery life. It might allow faster charging, too. After all, GaN charging is more efficient because it produces less heat than conventional electronics. A superconducting charger would be even faster.

In general, you could expect warm superconducting electronics to be able to handle more current in smaller spaces. There is some thought they may also be faster. Eary Josephson junctions (admittedly, in liquid helium) were much faster than conventional transistors in use at the time. Of course, transistors are better today, but presumably widespread use of superconducting junctions would also bring improvements.

What Will You Do?

The truth is, though, since we don’t know the properties of the room-temperature superconductor, we don’t know what it may or may not bring. Maybe you won’t have a superconducting cell phone because it would reset itself whenever you encountered a magnetic field. We simply don’t know.

However, we did want to ask. If you could open your web browser and order superconducting parts right now, what would you do with them? Do you want wire? Coils? Switching devices? And why? Let us know in the comments below.

If you have access to liquid nitrogen, maybe you are already using superconducting material. If so, let us know that, too. Or, perhaps you are working on making the next material to claim room-temperature superconductivity.

Featured Image: The eight toroidal superconducting magnets at the heart of the LHC, credit: CERN.

79 thoughts on “Ask Hackaday: What If You Did Have A Room Temperature Superconductor?

  1. Not the same discussion, but a conversation at work someone posed the idea of what if we had things like the Ironman arc reactor.

    My answer was railguns.

    My answer for this is also rail guns. Even if superconductors only solve part of the problems with them.

      1. The Josephson effect and some low-friction coatings might still solve both problems, so long as the Lorentz force would behave the same way in a superconductor (which I don’t know why it wouldn’t, but still not my area of expertise), but that would mean your superconductor would also have to be incorporated into either your projectile or an armature/sabot pushing on the projectile.

      2. Superconductors can’t solve everything, but it can also help with the power problem. generator feeds a superconductor storage “battery”, then you can pull the power out faster than a capacitor can. It’s a part of the puzzle, not a magic bullet.

    1. Superconductors don’t solve anything for railguns – neither does an arc reactor.

      The issue with a tail gun is friction with the rails and the high maintenance that that causes. We can already provide power sources that can power rail guns (they just linear motors, not magic, don’t need exotic power sources, just a gas generator).

      Superconductors don’t necessarily do anything for cool guns either as the critical issues are how dense a current the cool can carry and how fast the magnetic flux can be quenched and built up.

    2. I’d do the opposite – explosion-inductive cell generators (yes, probably for use in a railgun, or a laser). The current designs are limited by coil resistance, you’d be able to collect the energy of the explosion more efficiently with a superconductor.

    3. BAE systems built a railgun testbed. They got it firing. The problem was the cavitation caused the barrel of the railgun to have a significantly shorter service life than current conventional naval guns.

    1. Well, I believe that solar wind erosion isn’t a particularly fast process, for example Venus have that thickest atmosphere out of rocky planets in our solar system while not having a substantial magnetic field.

      But magnetic field on Mars would be helpful to protect from some solar radiation.

      As for my answer, if there would be a room temperature superconductor that would be fairly easy and cheap to produce maybe solving climate change?

      I guess we could create giant solar farms on Sahara, Saudi desert Australia etc. and connect them through grid? I guess stronger magnets would mean more efficient power generators.

      1. ” for example Venus have that thickest atmosphere out of rocky planets”

        And yet, no water! The problem isn’t retaining an atmosphere, it’s retaining an *Earth-like* atmosphere, and specifically, water. Why is H2O loss easier than CO2 loss? Because of that “H.”

      2. Just put charged globes on poles spread over your settlement. The charges repel incoming particles and you get the protection of a planetary magnetic field without the cost (and vulnerability) of world-spanning electric cables.

        1. That’s actually backwards: a giant electric dipole would be far, far worse. Once you get into the upper atmosphere, you’re talking more about ions than actual molecules, and a giant electric dipole would remove those reaaaallly fast. There was a study a few years back that the detected electric field from Venus may have had as much or more of a role at stripping the atmosphere as the solar wind did.

          Needs to be magnetic.

        2. No requirement for world-spanning electrical cables.

          Just a stack/array of super-conducting loops independently powered as electromagnets at each pole. So an independent North-pole electromagnet and a South-pole electromagnet station, they should be able to couple to each other through the planetary core if strong enough. I assume they would need to be buried from the surface a bit to prevent things like rovers from getting stuck / pinned down at the surface where a loop is by the magnetic field.

          1. Magnets are dipoles, not monopoles. Sticking one on top and one on bottom doesn’t produce a dipolar field. They’d only start looking like a dipole once you got so far away that the vector difference between the two is negligible.

          2. I was thinking more along the line of how you can have two coils on opposite ends of a ferrite rod to make a transformer, but maybe that is a wrong line of thinking.

          3. No need for multiple ground-side installations, just put one big one (a few Tesla) at the Mars/Sun L1 and fit it with solar panels and sails for station keeping. You only need to deflect solar wind a few degrees to make an umbrella for the planet. Doesn’t help with cosmic rays of course, but I’m not sure how well regular magnetic fields help with those anyways.

            Aside from allowing you to keep an atmosphere, which this would do too.

          4. “just put one big one (a few Tesla) at the Mars/Sun L1 and fit it with solar panels and sails for station keeping.”

            Was actually proposed a few years ago, but never saw details on the field strength and size needed: just mentioned “inflatable structures” which… kinda implies “really big” – ballparking would probably put it in the ~kilometer scale (or at least hundreds of meters). The downside to something like that is that because you’re not actually generating the field at Mars, it’s not particularly easy since magnetotails can be affected by the solar wind (or other things!) pretty easily.

            I’d have my doubts about whether or not you’d be able to stationkeep at L1 with an object that size. Not an easy problem. If you could do all that, though… I’m not sure the “room temperature” part matters.

    1. My thoughts exactly. This could be really interesting as energy storage to electrify cargo ships and other super large vehicles that are impractical to electrify through batteries.

  2. Re:MRI.
    The underlying physics means that scans with MRI will always take time. A typical sequence is like 5, maybe 10 minutes long. A usual run of sequences may be 45 min or an hour.
    Maybe true high temp superconducting may make the instruments cheaper and more readily available in places where they do not already exist but won’t exactly help the techs and radiologists etc needed for the whole system to work.
    It is maybe like asking what if we had passenger cars that could all do 200mph easily and go 1000mi on a tank of gas. The infrastructure in place won’t support it.
    This is a fun thought experiment, good article thank you.

    1. “Maybe true high temp superconducting may make the instruments cheaper and more readily available in places where they do not already exist but won’t exactly help the techs and radiologists etc needed for the whole system to work.”

      Sometimes to make progress you need to go back and rethink the system. MRIs need huge magnetic fields, machines full of precious helium and they cost a fortune – so you take very good care of them, give them a tech. Because they’re expensive they tend to be used for ‘hard’ problems, it’s worth having a radiologist look at all of output.

      Now go the other way. If the machine is cheap it’s going to get used for all sorts of things. If it’s cheap the problems it is used for are generally simpler. Do a good job of getting the software usable and the med techs that are already there doing xrays could easily do mri’s instead. Needless to say AIs can already beat humans in diagnosing from imagesin some domains, so you office mri could be very useful without a significant need for more radiologist or extra staff. You can always get a radiologist to look at the output if needed.

      1. the mri machine isn’t actually that expensive in the grand scheme of things. but the licensing is. So more of these problems could be solved by nullifying the patent than any fancy new technology. The fancy new tech will likely have equally high licensing fees. soooooo…. there’s that. it’s a problem of how we choose to structure our society rather than making new discoveries.

    2. But if the machines were cheaper and easier to maintain, even small clinics could justify having one; instead of having an X-ray machine. Hell, veterinarians might have one in office.

      The vet I used for years had their own X-ray machines, and the doctors and techs could diagnose most simple things. When my cat got a bowel blockage, they sent the images off to some radiology experts for a second opinion. Because what might be constipation could also have been a foreign body obstruction.

      Imagine the same, but with MRI scans. Since there is less competition for the use of the machine, a single patient might get multiple weighted scans done at once. Instead of waiting six months or more for a non-emergency scan, get one next week and wait for the radiologist to write a report. If there are obvious problems, any doctor might be able to spot it and ask the radiologist to expedite the report.

      And easier maintenance. And the ability to recycle machines without just venting the liquid helium.

      1. Horse veterinarians used to always call “the x-ray guy” to take x-ray pictures (with film) and process them same day, then overnight them to the vet. Once digital sensors came about, overnight everyone bought their own, because they could take the x-rays, immediately rule out the common problem, then immediately image again somewhere else.

        Ditto for backpack sized ultrasound units and the ability to just email images around.

        Our cat vet has onsite digital x-ray (computer based) and ultrasound units (that you connect to your phone!)

        Dentists also went digital decades ago; they could keep using their old x-ray sources, just replace film with a digital sensor.

        Some large animal hospitals have “open” MRIs.

  3. You forgot a crucial dimension : cost.

    What will you do with a room temperature that costs a million dollar for each centimeter of wire ? probably not a lot in the electric drill market.

    1. That’s part of the entire plot of James Cameron’s Avatar, but the cost is 28 million per kilogram of “unobtanium” (the fictional element that is their universe’s room temperature superconductor)

  4. I have a comment from a previous post about what to do with superconductors that are too weak for high-power applications.

    Essentially, I suspect that all sorts of things would become possible with signals if we had superconductors on the analog side. For example, normally antennas have to be a certain size to achieve any useful effect. If they had zero losses, maybe we could fit a massive beamforming array in the same space. Generally, the parts behind the antenna are all imperfect, and a perfect component (superconductor) could surely be leveraged to make better filters, parts with lower receive noise/loss, or something that would at the end of the day mean better signal and therefore better performance for all our wireless gadgets.

    Or maybe incredibly good inertial sensors are suddenly possible to shove in a phone or VR headset or ring, and now we have nearly perfect positional tracking and all sorts of things start having directional displays, gesture interfaces, or something like that. Maybe someone figures out a way to make camera sensors significantly less noisy / more sensitive with superconductors, and suddenly cameras can see just as well as a human eye in the dark.

    1. “For example, normally antennas have to be a certain size to achieve any useful effect. ”

      Antennas have to be a certain size because they’re trying to capture an electric/magnetic field of a certain size. The losses have nothing to do with the fact that it’s not a perfect conductor. The actual resistive losses of an antenna are usually utterly trivial.

      1. Commonly, antennas are sized so that they resonate at their design frequency. To do that, they’re not the exact same size as the wavelength they’re trying to use, but might be a number of odd multiples of one quarter of that. A wave hasn’t really got a width or a height – when we’re not looking at individual photons, there’s just a field which is the combination of everything that’s interacting, plotted in space and time.

        It’s true that the holes in a microwave oven door let light out without letting much of the microwaves out, and that this depends on wavelength, but that’s not because they are too large to fit. It’s better to say that it’s because the field of the microwaves can induce a canceling field in the metal grid so that when they add together, the result is nearly nothing. The field of the visible light can’t do that, but it’s harder to explain why. It’s easier to handwave if you’re familiar with how diffraction behaves, in that a pinhole or thin slits and such will produce visible effects where a large hole will not, and that this depends on wavelength too, such that if I wave my hands you may believe that to a radio wave, the small holes approximate a flat sheet without a binary pass/block nature, while to the light rays, the majority of their opening is free real estate. It also helps if you know that the resolution of a microscope is limited by the angle of the light rays that it can capture, because lenses have to map points on the object to points on the image by many different paths, so that the fields traveling different paths all coincide to produce the image in detail again. We pretend because it’s easier that there’s a two-dimensional image that grows and shrinks and is flipped over, but really what’s happening is that the fields spread everywhere all the time, because when we’re not getting into photons and quantum, light is just the spread of the information of the disturbance of charges. It’s a lot easier to use the other explanations, until you get to the point of asking awkward questions like whether light slows down in glass. You have to say that technically, light itself doesn’t slow down, but at the same time for almost all purposes, it definitely does. Basically, the light’s field makes movement in the glass’s charges, and the combination of the fields produces the same effect as if it was actually possible to slow down the light, even though the actual information flows at the same speed as usual. Essentially, light is nothing but annoying math abstracted away so we don’t have to look at it.

        1. “It’s better to say that it’s because the field of the microwaves can induce a canceling field in the metal grid so that when they add together, the result is nearly nothing.”

          This is just semantics. The fields are fundamentally additive, so you can decompose their basis however you want – you can represent it as an incident and reflected portion, or you can represent it as a modified scale wave in the confined medium. They’re both identical representations because a wave of a specific wavelength (frequency) has no time structure. It’s easier for some people to think of the incident/reflected, it’s easier for others to think of the wave and mode structure.

          This doesn’t stop when you get to single photons, by the way. Photons are just quantized wave excitations, and are fundamentally frequency superpositions – a photon with zero spread in its frequency is infinitely spread in time. They’re not “different” – all the quantum “particle not wave!” bit involves limitations on the *universe* in how the fields can be excited, not a change in what the photon *is*.

          “Basically, the light’s field makes movement in the glass’s charges,”

          Again, semantics. It’s a useful concept to understand! But neither of the descriptions is wrong. The light *is* the field. There is no fundamental separation between the “light’s field” and the “field from the glass charges.” It’s just the electromagnetic field, period.

          Trying to split it up into different components can lead to a lot of problems. For instance, suppose a charged particle crosses into a medium. That causes light to be produced, which we call “transition radiation.” If the particle is moving fast enough, it also produces light *in* the medium, which we call Cherenkov radiation. There *is no separation* between these two processes. You cannot cleanly point to a portion of the light and say “TR” and another part and say “Cherenkov.” The equations that we have for both are *approximations* of the full EM solution in various limits.

          It also causes problems in higher-level physics when people forget that “the medium” has to exist! There’s literally a doofy paper out there claiming that friggin’ antifreeze can generate warp drives because the guy forgot this exact concept with gravity.

          1. If you’re going to start by acting like a radio signal is like physical peg that only fits through a hole that’s its size or larger or only interacts with an antenna of exactly its own size, of course I’m going to oversimplify things and avoid talking about things like the nature of photons. Frankly I thought I had still overshot the mark, but I thought it was very clear that I was trying to give intuitive examples that sound more believable, rather than going in any greater depth than necessary or wording things in a strictly correct way.

            Just semantics? Assuming you mean that in the common way, I would say that choosing how to word things or how to frame an idea based on your audience is clearly a good practice if you would like that idea to be successfully communicated. If one way seems not to produce the right idea, then the other way can be better even without being as correct as possible. So… yes, of course I spent time framing things in certain ways that no longer seem to be a productive use of time.

          2. “start by acting like a radio signal is like physical peg that only fits through a hole”

            Dude, the only thing I said is that the size of an antenna is related to the size of the fields it wants to capture. I didn’t say they were the *same* size. All else being the same (antenna type, dielectric, etc.) you shrink the antenna, the corresponding wavelengths shrink proportionally.

            “Just semantics? Assuming you mean that in the common way, I would say that choosing how to word things or how to frame an idea”

            Yes, and what I’m saying is that there is no “better” or “worse” choice. It just depends on which one resonates with the person you’re talking to. They’re both absolutely fundamentally correct. It’s just an excitation of the field.

          3. And while for a known antenna design, wavelength scales with the size, knowing the size doesn’t mean you know what bands it can be used on. You can have a matchstick sized ferrite loop antenna that receives long wave or medium wave signals quite well, even if transmitting is a non-option for it, while a microwave antenna array may easily be, to borrow a phrase, larger than a breadbox. While it doesn’t make sense to do this, you could have an efficiently matched wire antenna that was a fraction over a hundred times the wavelength of the band you were operating it on.

            A more realistic example would be using the common practice of using the same wire antenna for multiple bands between 80m or 160m and 10m, maybe even shorter. The principle determinant of whether it’ll be efficient in practice is often going to be whether it’s a fraction too long or short to be resonant at a particular frequency rather than just how many multiple wavelengths long it is. You might use a travelling wave antenna as a counterexample, or mention that the performance is better when you bother to match the impedance, but still.

            That said, it’s still good sense to expect that an electrically small antenna is going to appear to have a small radiation resistance which can mean its loss resistance is significant. For example, a small loop antenna for HF is a typical example of something where good transmission efficiency is generally achieved by minimizing contact resistances and by minimizing the resistance of conductors by for instance using large copper pipe.

            As for semantics, the point is exactly your quote: “It just depends on which one resonates with the person you’re talking to.” I was aiming to resonate with someone who didn’t know how things work, rather than someone who does but prefers to think of things a different way.

          4. “And while for a known antenna design, wavelength scales with the size, knowing the size doesn’t mean you know what bands it can be used on.”

            I never said it did. Apparently what I said was confusing to you, so let me clarify it: keeping the geometry and permittivity/permeability the same, the size of an antenna cannot change without its frequency response changing.

            In addition, a second point which I didn’t mention is that while the electrical size of an antenna (its “effective height”) is obviously not its *physical* size, they’re not unrelated! Which means, in some sense (although there’s nothing simple here!), a small antenna *cannot* beat a big antenna barring massive differences in resistivity (loss) or impedance match. I mean, this part’s obvious, if you just think about dish antennas – you want more gain, you need a bigger dish.

            “the common practice of using the same wire antenna for multiple bands between 80m or 160m and 10m, maybe even shorter.”

            Again – I never said an antenna is designed for only *one frequency*! You can set up the field in the antenna in multiple different ways depending on the frequency. Large-bandwidth antennas generally have many different elements, so the field sets up differently on different elements depending on the frequency.

            But for a *fixed geometry* (and electrical parameters) – scaling the antenna changes the frequency response.

            “I was aiming to resonate with someone who didn’t know how things work”

            As I said before, the disagreement I have is when you said it is “better” to think of it one way. Neither way is incorrect. The field is not actually “coming in and reflecting” versus “coupling its fundamental modes determined from its geometry.”

      2. Making a small, highly directive antenna usually results in an antenna that has a very low impedance at the frequency of interest, and also has a narrow bandwidth. That very low impedance means that small resistive losses in the antenna elements result in significant losses. Superconductors might help somewhat.

        Superconductors won’t help the bandwidth (inductive/capacitive) problem, and as you rightly point out they won’t much help a small antenna capture more power from a big wave.

        1. Yeah, tiny antennas are usually called “electrically small antennas,” and you could imagine improving them somewhat with a superconducting material in the same way that you generate superconducting high-Q filters. But they’d still be bad antennas.

        2. I was thinking about things like cell networks, wifi, wisp stuff including starlink, etc. Those generally already have as much fixed gain / directivity as was thought practical. Even fixed clients still sway a bit and may often make the link with multiple contributing paths instead of just the path you expect to see. In some cases the client may be small, cheap, and/or low power, while the base station picks up the slack to make the link work. (eg handheld phone, giant tower with much fancier equipment) To be fair, sometimes you have a meatier client than that, such as with conventional wisp’s. If it’s starlink maybe they’ll eventually have a meteor client, too.

          Anyway, if superconductive materials allowed either client or base station to improve anything that affects the link budget, it’s still a win. It’s a lot easier to scale data rate over fiber than wireless, when we’re always limited on bandwidth, cell density, power, etc.

    2. I can’t remember the name of the company, but 10-15 years ago there were superconducting RF filters made for cellular base station applications iirc. They came in rackmount units, occasionally popped up on eBay, and contained the filter plus a cryocooler unit to keep it cold. A friend of mine proposed buying one for the cryocooler to get yourself a steady slow supply of liquid nitrogen, and I kind of regret not doing so then — I can’t really find them anymore. Regardless, once can assume that if it was considered feasible to make self-contained cryocooled superconducting filters at one time, that room-temp superconductors would certainly be welcome in RF communications.

      1. Superconducting RF filters are pretty common products from those companies (via thin-film methods) since you can get an absurdly high Q and narrow notches.

        For a lot of science applications though the cryo portion isn’t a drawback since you already want to hold the receiver at cryo to kill the thermal noise. But yeah ultra-high Q filters could be a use case.

  5. Maybe room or high temperature superconductors could help solve heat dissipation limitations on computer processors on the consumer / business level.
    Heat density in data centers is a big issue.

  6. Obviously a piercing ring! Where? Obviously!
    I suppose that using it to fly cars over Earth’s magnetic field will do and also as a giant generator in the Sun’s magnetic field. Free energy and also is cooled in the vacuum of space.

  7. hyper^Hdloop on the moon! *lol* with solar freaking roadways! Imagine traveling around the moon at night (140.15K;-133°C; -208°F, a few places on the surface in shade can go as low as 27.15K;-246°C ; -410°F) and hitting day (394.15K; 121°C; 250°F on average near the Moon’s equator). But in the real world the expansion and contraction would make it impossible on the surface, and the radiation, once place on the moon that you do not want to spent too much time is on the surface. Yea it is beautiful in it own way, but stay there too long and it will be the end of you.

    The vast majority of humans on the moon, will spent most of there time underground. 2 meters underground on the Moon, the temperature remains constant (probably around 243.15K;-30°C ;-22°F to 233.15k;-40°C; -40°F). Only about 15 cm of lunar regolith is required for basic shielding. But 10 meters has been suggested (ref: 10.1016/j.pss.2012.07.014). No matter what for long term living on the moon it will be underground! We here on earth are totally blessed with our atmosphere which provides approximately 10,332 kilograms per square meter of shielding from radiation. The thermosphere (∼85 to ∼500 km altitude) converts X-rays from the local star into mostly harmless heat.

    Anyhow wandered off topic there a bit, if we are going to be living underground on the moon maybe overhyped loops would be the fastest way between groups of humans traveling through vacuum in the shattered bedrock of the moon.

  8. There is a common abbreviation for “room temperature and pressure”: STP, which stands for “standard temperature and pressure.” In the U.S., that’s 20°C and 1 atm. Alas, in some other places it’s 0°C and 1 (very slightly different) atm.

  9. Since I don’t have alien sun flowers that emit heat rays or room temperature superconductor cloth, I will just have to do the boring thing and focus a parabolic mirror array at one end of a super conductor while hooking the other end to a thermoelectric generator.

    1. Pacific DC Intertie has been online since 1970. And has received numerous updates through the decades of operation.

      There are a ton of big HVDC interconnectors between Norway, Sweden, and Western Europe. And we’re perhaps only 20 years away from a European-N.African super-grid of HVDC links connecting a wide range of energy sources to a single wide area synchronous grid (hence “super”).

  10. It’s not at all certain that high temperature superconductors would be useful in all or most applications where low temperature ones are now used. The difference in noise level between high and low temperature SQUIDs is profound. So even though liquid nitrogen is extremely cheap and abundant compared to He, the other costs outweigh the benefits many times. Also the mechanical characteristics of high temperature superconductors can be pretty awful.. Think of making wire out of ceramic vs. a relatively nice soft malleable metal like niobium. On the other hand if we can get superconductors that will stand up to more extreme magnetic fields and currents, the magnet applications alone (if we can fabricate them) could be epochal. Of course superconducting wires and coils still have inductance, they are not (quite) magic.

  11. Maglev version of pneumatic tube system in a city, to avoid filling the skies with amazon delivery drones. Compared to ordinary pneumatic tubes it aught to have less friction, be quieter and able to switch tubes with less acceleration and jerk.

  12. Cheap and easy consumer access to SQUIDs would be really nice, actually. You could use them for neural interfaces (at least, “read only” interfaces) without having to do brain surgery. Zero resistance also makes it easier to make certain super-precise super-consistent clock circuits — together, you could theoretically have home versions of a lot of lab/medical equipment. I’d be interested in that!

  13. ASCEND demonstrator project by Airbus UpNext aims to develop use of superconductors to boost the performance of electric- and hybrid-electric propulsion systems in future low-emission aircraft.

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