By Helga Nowotny
The invention of high-temperature superconductivity used to be hailed as an important clinical leap forward, inducing an unheard of wave of pleasure and expectation one of the clinical group and within the foreign press. This publication units this examine leap forward in context, and reconstructs the historical past of the invention. The authors research the emergence of this new study box and how its improvement used to be formed through scientists and technology coverage makers. in addition they study some of the institutional and nationwide settings during which the learn used to be undertaken in addition to contemplating the medical backgrounds and motivations of researchers who entered the sector following the unique discovery.
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Additional info for After the Breakthrough: The Emergence of High-Temperature Superconductivity as a Research Field
Hope centered on the adoption of superconducting components in large-scale energy production, storage, and transmission systems and in sensors for use in microelectronics. A NATO Advanced Study Institute held in 1973 reviewed the achievements and prospects for large-scale applications of superconductivity and magnetism. In the US, the search for alternatives to foreign oil, which had jumped in price during the oil crisis, boosted interest in superconductivity. The variety of ideas for utilization was great: power generation and distribution; marine propulsion; magnets for commercial fusion reactors; high-speed ground transportation, such as maglev (magnetic levitated trains); industrial processing, such as magnets for separating impurities; sensors for process and quality control; and compact accelerators for the X-ray lithography of microelectronic chips (Foner & Schwartz, 1974).
Typically, they worked in groups in government-funded or industrial labs, and only rarely in universities with strong external links. Only a third of the LTS basic research groups continued superconductivity research in the universities, usually in small enclaves outside the leading industrial countries. The Soviet Union (now the CIS) also continued its theoretical efforts; it had a long tradition in the field, and its scientific isolation was also an insulation from market constraints (Pippard, 1977; Waysand, 1987).
Could this avalanche of papers be related to the conviction held by funding agencies and research groups that HTS should be closely observed, in case of a sudden new development or further significant breakthrough? One of our interviewees remarked that this overproduction of papers is even promoted by scientific journals' willing acceptance of articles that are far from being innovative. In this wealth of papers, few researchers attempt to measure significant parameters of microscopic mechanisms in well-characterized samples, and the relation between theory and experiment is unsatisfactory.
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