Friday, April 28, 2017

Metallic Hydrogen Has Finally Been Created And It's A Game-Changer

As author Arthur C. Clarke noted, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. We've already worked some incredible technological wizardry: sending messages around the world in the blink of an eye, setting foot on the moon, and making pumpkin spice Pringles (because some magic is pretty dark, don't you think?). 

But until a big leap happens, we can only guess what's on the horizon. We know the direction we're headed, but it's all hazy, and we use what we think of as possible as our guide. But, as Arthur also noted, the only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. 

Almost a century after it was first theorized, two Harvard scientists say they've created metallic hydrogen in their lab. All they had to do was put hydrogen under more pressure than exists at the center of the Earth.

Some say it's the "holy grail" of physics, and it could change the world. Because scientists have chased metallic hydrogen for so long, the discovery has been met with considerable skepticism.  

Researchers believe metallic hydrogen to be "metastable," like diamonds. Extreme pressure creates the object, and it stays that way even when the pressure is released.

If it is indeed metastable, scientists might be able to reproduce metallic hydrogen by spraying atomic hydrogen on its surface – much the same way that crystals and synthetic diamonds are grown.

The possible applications are the stuff of dreams for engineers. Metallic hydrogen would change space flight forever, allowing a rocket to reach orbit in a single stage.

“It takes a tremendous amount of energy to make metallic hydrogen,” Isaac Silvera, one of the scientists, explained. “And if you convert it back to molecular hydrogen, all that energy is released, so that would make it the most powerful rocket propellant known to man, and could revolutionize rocketry.”

It could also be a room-temperature superconductor – the only one in existence. That would have incredible implications for the power grid and improve electric vehicles, energy production and storage, as well as paving the way for high-speed magnetic levitating trains of the future.

That's all likely decades away – in the meantime, researchers have much more work to do. Replicating and producing more metallic hydrogen would be a good start for the skeptics. 


Author: verified_user