The scientific world was taken aback when two Harvard scientists claimed they had created a stable sample of metallic hydrogen. Now, they have reported that the sample has vanished.
Scientists everywhere were either excited or skeptical when Isaac Silvera and Ranga Dias announced their discovery. They attract much interest, since this was the first attempt to prove that this material actually existed. They declared that they needed more research to show that this material of theirs was indeed metallic hydrogen, but now they reported that it was gone.
Metallic hydrogen is a solid form of hydrogen that has metal properties. The general belief is that it is created only when hydrogen gets exposed to extremely high pressures in the suitable conditions. If metallic hydrogen existed here on Earth, it might be extremely useful, since it can be used as a room temperature super capacitor or in the creation of better rockets.
The Harvard scientists claimed to have created metallic hydrogen by compressing the atoms at 495 gigapascals using a diamond anvil. The diamond they used was treated with certain substances, such as aluminum, which prevented the hydrogen atoms from escaping.
Silvera and Dias were afraid that, if they performed more testing on the sample they created, it might be destroyed or affected. This might be the cause of the vanishing. Recent reports said that the diamond anvil was damaged while they were preparing for the movement of the sample to be tested in Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.
The damage on the diamond anvil caused a lower pressure which was applied to the sample, and it has disappeared. Or it might look like it disappeared, since the sample measured only 1.5 micrometers by 10 micrometers. It might still be somewhere hidden in the equipment or it could have return to gas state.
Now, the scientists are working on a new and improved diamond anvil that would not get damaged as easily as the first one. If they succeed, they might be able to produce a new sample of metallic hydrogen in only a few weeks.
If everything goes according to their initial observations, this might constitute as evidence in support of the authenticity of the sample. However, a new sample would require testing, too, so that we could know it is metallic hydrogen and not an excess of aluminum from the diamond anvil.
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