How super are superconductors?
by Staff
In physics, you can’t get something for nothing, but superconductors offer the hope of someday breaking even. Getting them to live up to their potential has given scientists more than a few headaches in the years since they were discovered. Let’s see how much you know about these wonders of electromagnetism.

What happens to current sent through a superconducting wire?

  • It gains a slight voltage boost.
  • It's transmitted without loss of energy.
  • It experiences a sharp voltage drop.

Who discovered superconductivity?

  • Johannes Diderik van der Waals
  • Hugo Christiaan Hamaker
  • Heike Kamerlingh Onnes

In what year did Onnes discover it?

  • 1911
  • 1921
  • 1931

Approximately how cold do conventional superconductors have to get before they enter the superconducting state?

  • 0 K (minus 273.2 C, minus 459.7 F)
  • 39 K (minus 234 C, minus 390 F)
  • 130 K (minus 143 C, minus 226 F)

Superconductors cease being superconductors if they are exposed to which of the following?

  • too large of a magnetic field
  • too much current
  • Both are correct.

Which of the following do NOT currently use superconductors?

  • MRI machines
  • alkaline batteries
  • proton accelerators

How well a material conducts electricity has to do with what factor?

  • how easily its component atoms give up electrons
  • the availability of free electrons to carry current
  • both A and B

You can describe the structure of a typical conductor as which of the following?

  • a lattice of atoms
  • a series of tubes
  • a bevy of bosons

What of the following is NOT a source of resistance in a typical conductor?

  • deformation
  • cold
  • heat

What happens to a superconductor when it is cooled to its critical temperature?

  • It abruptly loses all resistance.
  • It undergoes a phase transition.
  • Both are correct

What are Cooper pairs?

  • elements on the periodic tale that share the same conductance
  • pairings of metals that make good superconducting alloys
  • linked electrons that help explain superconductivity

What is the name of the theory that explains how conventional superconductors work?

  • the XTC theory
  • the BCS theory
  • the Aquitaine Progression

Today, superconductors that fit the BCS model are called "classical." What's the designation for superconductors that do NOT jibe with this theory?

  • exotic
  • strange
  • top

Which of the following elements become superconductors at low temperatures and pressures?

  • selenium, silicon and uranium
  • aluminum, lead, mercury and tin
  • chromium, cobalt, iron, manganese and nickel

Most superconductors are what type of material?

  • alloys or compounds
  • metallic elements
  • metalloids

Which type of superconductor exhibits perfect diamagnetism in every superconducting state?

  • Type I
  • Type II
  • both of the above

What is the vortex state?

  • a feedback loop in which a superconducting current collapses the superconducting state
  • a mixed state in which superconducting current whirls around islands of normalcy
  • Kansas

What year ushered in the age of high-temperature superconductors?

  • 1966
  • 1976
  • 1986

Which of the following has NOT been used as a coolant for superconductors?

  • liquid helium
  • liquid argon
  • liquid nitrogen

In 2000, Andre Geim and Sir Michael Berry won the Ig Nobel Prize for physics for doing what?

  • levitating a frog via diamagnetism
  • breeding the first superconducting snail
  • defenestrating an MRI machine