13 January 2011

A Great Day for Drunken Science!

Once again the Fortean Times breaking news section brings real news of interest. Today’s gem relates to a fascinating discovery in the field of superconductivity that may not have happened had the scientists not bee steaming drunk!

According to io9.com Yoshihiko Takano and other researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan were trying to create a certain kind of superconductor by putting a compound in hot water and soaking it for hours. They also soaked the compound in a mixture of water and ethanol.

Things were going well so the scientists decided to have a little party featuring sake, whisky, various wines, shochu (this one’s new to me), and beer. At a certain point, the researchers decided to try soaking the compound in the various drinks they had to hand and seeing how they compared to the more conventional soaking liquids.

When they tested the resulting materials for superconductivity, they found that the ones soaked in commercial booze came out ahead. About 15 percent of the material became a superconductor for the water mixed with ethanol, and less for the pure water. By comparison, Shochu jacked up conductivity by 23 percent and red wine managed to supercharge over 62 percent of the material.

None of this would have happened if the scientists hadn’t had a party and gotten pissed. Well done those men!

8 comments:

H. insciens said...

Ah now.... a whole new area of research has just been suggested to me. Thanks!

Fortean Times is a blast, agreed (and in places not quite as daft as some would claim).

jams o donnell said...

Imagine what great discoveries will be made fuelled by alcohol!

The FT is essential reading. I have been a subscriber since the mid 80s when it was a labour of love and occasional publication

H. insciens said...

I got a mention in it once Jams, in a write-up of a silly (or maybe not so silly) wee thing I had published in Nature. You know what to look for. Happy hunting (but don't you go blowing my cover :)

jams o donnell said...

Ah H I won't be searching. I sold most of my back issues on eBay a while back ( and a tidy sum I got for them!). I did get my name in once but only in the clippings credits!

susan said...

io9 is a great spot to visit foe interesting tidbits even though they do lean heavily toward b-movies.

There should probably be more drunken scientists but hopefully not at CERN.

jams o donnell said...

io9 is new to me. I have it bookmarked for future reference.

As for alcohol fuelled science, perhaps CERN should stay dry!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Ha! What I always say. You can't spoil anything by a bit of alcohol. Just don't mix your drinks and you will be fine and peachy.

jams o donnell said...

True..but never ever drink liquor and water!