By Helga Nowotny
The invention of high-temperature superconductivity was once hailed as an enormous medical leap forward, inducing an exceptional wave of pleasure and expectation one of the clinical group and within the overseas press. This publication units this learn 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 was once formed by way of scientists and technological know-how coverage makers. additionally they research a number of the institutional and nationwide settings during which the study was once undertaken in addition to contemplating the clinical backgrounds and motivations of researchers who entered the sector following the unique discovery.
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Additional resources for After the Breakthrough: The Emergence of High-Temperature Superconductivity as a Research Field
Liquifiers, refrigerators, and cryostats developed for physical and medical applications are now so efficient and reliable that some HTS materials may be used - not because they have higher critical temperatures, but due to other good qualities - alongside LTS at liquid helium temperatures. 24 The context of the discovery technological optimism for LTS does not seem completely unfounded. It did not ignore technical, economic, and political constraints, but assumed they could be overcome. The success of LTS as a contingent technology depended on the future of the systems and programs utilizing it - which looked bright at the time.
Everyone wanted to get in on the ground floor of any emerging applications. A kind of gold fever had broken out in the research community; after years of disillusionment, unfounded reports, and stagnation, suddenly it was again possible to "do physics" and to dream of superconductivity at room temperature. Through its intense media coverage, superconductivity had also captured the public interest. It was described as the scientificfindingwhose technological applications would sooner or later transform everyone's daily lives.
The BCS theory attracted considerable media interest: the New York Times heralded it with the headline "The Discovery of a Superconducting Alloy at Room Temperature is now Imminent" (Ortoli & Klein, 1989:1957). The BCS theory helped scientists understand why there are two types of superconductors - but did not predict what material would fall into which category, nor did it provide a clue for finding better superconductors. It was not without predictive power, though, having led to the discovery of coherence phenomena such as the Josephson effect.