Will a New Scientific Discovery Solve All Our Problems?

Will a New Scientific Discovery Solve All Our Problems?

A new paper published this week says it will change the world. Can it fix our future?

Two new scientific papers published this week could change your world. A group of physicists in South Korea believe they’ve discovered a room-temperature superconductor.

A superconductor conducts electricity without any resistance. Its effects can seem magical. Induce a current in a superconductor, and it can flow forever. Electricity can be transmitted heat-free, making super-efficient components and incredibly powerful magnets.

The trouble is, the only superconductors we’ve discovered so far work in extreme environments. Anything above 400 degrees below zero Fahrenheit is considered a “high temperature” for superconductivity. The new discovery is a modified form of lead-apatite crystal called LK-99 and is supposed to operate as a superconductor at room temperature and at normal pressure.

“We believe that our new development will be a brand-new historical event that opens a new era for humankind,” states the paper. Mohammad Yazdani-Asrami of the University of Glasgow said it “would be one of the holy grails of modern physics, unlocking major new developments in energy, transportation, healthcare and communications.”

About 10 percent of the electricity we generate is wasted traveling through cables. By replacing those wires with superconductors, the United States alone would save billions of kilowatt-hours each year. Computer components would be revolutionized. Computers would be much faster and much lighter, with no need for cooling fans. It could pave the way for cheap, efficient batteries. You could simply leave electricity flowing around a super conductor and grab it back when you need it.

High-powered magnets would become easy to make. Levitating trains would be coming to a city near you. You may even finally get your Back to the Future-style hoverboard (though it would still have to levitate above another magnet).

Even more radical technologies would become radically easier. Fusion reactors generally use incredibly hot plasma. There’s no container that can hold it—so they use magnets. Current superconductors aren’t great for this. They only work when super cold; the plasma’s super hot—they don’t mix well. A room-temperature superconductor could pave the way for a commercially viable fusion reactor—and all the cheap electricity you could want.

For those worried about climate change, this would solve it: cheap energy, cheap transmission, cheap storage, efficient machines and no carbon. Job done; problem solved.

Quantum computers also use superconductors. But computers generate heat, and super conductors thus far only work when cold. Again, not a good mix. And again, this could soon be solved. Predicting what cheap quantum computing could open is hard—but the possibilities could be far-reaching.

None of this would happen overnight. Developing the LK-99, producing it in large enough amounts, designing these new machines would take years. But the potential is huge.

But if something seems too good to be true, maybe it is.

There are mixed signals on the paper. Some of the authors are pretty unknown. And some of the graphs and data are incomplete. The paper has not yet been peer-reviewed.

The good news is, it shouldn’t take long to find out. LK-99 is not super exotic; it should take just a few days for someone else to make some and test it. If the paper was an outright fraud, surely they would have chosen something that would be more difficult to check?

The shortcomings of the paper could be the result of scientists rushing to get the paper published and claim credit for the discovery of the century. But it could be some kind of mistake. Or maybe the scientists have discovered something interesting, but it falls short of superconductivity.

Regardless of the truth of this particular claim, it leads me to an interesting question: Is there some scientific discovery out there that will solve all our problems? Could I wake up one morning to find that some scientists halfway around the world in a lab I’ve never heard of have made a new discovery that will make all humanity’s biggest problems go away?

Herbert W. Armstrong talked often about a key paradox. Mankind is able to make incredible strides in science and engineering. It seems there is no mechanical problem we cannot solve. Yet no matter how many scientific breakthroughs we make, we still come up against the same problems of poverty, war and unhappiness.

It may seem like LK-99 would solve even these issues and bring about utopia. But if you were to travel back in time 1,000 years, or even 100, and describe the modern world, with all our knowledge, inventions and convenience, I’m sure your baffled listener would be convinced that this modern world must already be a utopia. With so much material prosperity, how could the entire world not be living in absolute bliss?

Centuries of scientific progress have brought us no closer to happy marriages or world peace.

“Why do we find a world of awesome advancement and progress, yet paradoxically with appalling and mounting evils?” asked Mr. Armstrong. “Why cannot the minds that develop spacecraft, computers and marvels of science, technology and industry solve the problems that demonstrate human helplessness?” Science has no answers.

Does that mean I’m anti-science? Absolutely not. My life is better in many ways thanks to science—there is no way I would voluntarily swap places with an 11th-century peasant. I have plenty of food; I live in a sanitary environment, with free education for all. More than that, the cultural achievements of mankind are at my fingertips. I can order almost any book ever written, and it arrives the next day. I can listen to Beethoven, Bach and Mozart whenever I want. I can make a phone call to almost anyone I could want to talk to, no matter where they are on the planet, instantly. Many of the mysteries of the universe have been made plain, and with the latest images from space telescopes, I can marvel at the stars in incredible detail.

But consider the flip side. In the 11th century, man could not wipe himself off the map. And there is also a torrent of evil and vice just a few clicks away. Society’s morals have sunk to a depth that a 12th-century peasant could never imagine. I have more ability to enrich my mind and my life—and more ability to corrupt it.

I’m excited about this discovery. Andrew McCalip is trying to make LK-99 and live tweeting about it as he goes. I’m hitting refresh a few times a day.

I wouldn’t mind a hoverboard. There are some physical problems this would make easier. Perhaps the cheap energy could make my life more comfortable or open up more opportunities to travel. The excitement of watching a potentially world-changing discovery play out in real time is thrilling. I tend to think LK-99 will fall short of being a room-temperature superconductor. But even if it lives up to the wildest hype, I’m under no illusions that this will solve all our troubles.

Cheap, abundant energy could make laser or plasma weapons a reality. The world will still be full of haves and have-nots. And it will do nothing to show us the way to peace.

There are solutions. Problems aren’t inevitable. But they require a different kind of knowledge.

Science looks at everything as being basically material. Whether it’s the mysteries of the universe, the human mind or interpersonal relations, it’s purely physical and open to scientific study.

The Bible reveals that man is created in God’s image and has a spiritual component—completely inaccessible to physical senses or experimentation. Questions surrounding how to get on with fellow man, how to live happily with the opposite sex, how to raise children, how to govern a nation, how to end poverty and war are all spiritual in nature. No amount of experimenting will give us those answers.

LK-99 might bring some incredible physical benefits our way. It might unlock new evils. But it won’t solve these spiritual problems.

Those physical problems have answers. We’re not doomed to suffer these problems forever. But we must look for those answers in the right way.

Physical progress with no spiritual solutions will only bring us closer to destruction. Only when we acknowledge that we cannot solve these problems on our own, and turn to God, can we learn the true solutions. Only through Him can we live the way of life that causes real happiness and peace.

Mankind as a whole is not willing to do that yet. But you can. The solutions to your problems are out there. Herbert W. Armstrong’s free book Mystery of the Ages is a great place to start learning about them. As with all our material, we’d be happy to send you a free copy.