What seemed to be flaws in the structure of a mystery metal may have given physicists a glimpse into as-yet-undiscovered laws of the universe.
The qualities of a high-temperature superconductor — a compound in which electrons obey the spooky laws of quantum physics, and flow in perfect synchrony, without friction — appear linked to the fractal arrangements of seemingly random oxygen atoms.
Those atoms weren’t thought to matter, especially not in relation to the behavior of individual electrons, which exist at a scale thousands of times smaller. The findings, published Aug. 12 in Nature, are a physics equivalent of discovering a link between two utterly separate dimensions.
“We don’t know the theory for this,” said physicist Antonio Bianconi of Rome’s Sapienza University. “We just make the experimental observation that the two worlds seem to interfere.”