1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is space a superconductor?

  1. Nov 24, 2014 #1
    From what i have read on super conducting materials they require extremely low temperatures and that the structure of them becomes altered so that the atoms form a sort of uniform tube instead of more like a mesh pattern. Ie the atoms do not intefere with the passage of electrons/photons through the substance. Doesnt that mean it is creating an outerspace like environment for the energy in the material to pass easily through? Or perhaps giving the material the qualities of space? This may get confusing because we have the term outter space and the term space that we use everyday. When i say space i mean the qualities of outer space. Isnt outer space a super conducter since it allows unhindered movement of electromagnetic force and so making a super conducter is like making tangible/handlable/moldable space?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2014 #2

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Where is the superconducting energy gap, the Meisner effect, the long range coherence, and the transitions temperature of your superconducting space?

    Zz.
     
  4. Nov 25, 2014 #3

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    No, it's a really good insulator.
     
  5. Nov 25, 2014 #4
    Transition temperature seems irrelavant since one doesnt need to transition space into a different form to achieve a superconductor state as one would a metal or some other substance.
    I may be mis interpreting but the energy gap and and long range coherence seem to go hand in hand and the cooper pairing is what allows for the energy gap and it could be posited that space is an energy gap.
    Meisner effect.... no idea... does space have a surface... photons are the carrier of magnetism could the journy to the edge of space and beyond be considered a meisner effect?
    i think i am infringing on the rules of the message board with ungrounded speculatory comments.
    I guess the answer is no space is not a super conductor. Conduction involves the movement of electrons and not photons per say. so i suppose the unhindered transmission and transformation of energy cant be done.​
     
  6. Nov 25, 2014 #5
    Hmmm could you please elaborate
     
  7. Nov 25, 2014 #6

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I don't see what there is to elaborate on. A conductor is something that provides a good pathway for electrons. An insulator is something that provides a poor pathway for electrons. Space provides a VERY poor pathway for electrons so is by definition a very good insulator.
     
  8. Nov 25, 2014 #7
    Phinds, how do you explain the plasma that largely diffused in the space, I think plasma is good conductor. Is it because the density is too low?
    Another thing is a conductor is not necessary a good pathway for electrons, as many solutions are good conductor. You should replace electrons with discharged particles.
     
  9. Nov 25, 2014 #8
    Plasma isn't really anything like a near-perfect vacuum barely a few kelvin above absolute zero, right?
     
  10. Nov 25, 2014 #9

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Deep space has a plasma that would be nearly undetectable. Something like one atom per cubic meter, which is totally irrelevant to the conduction of electrons.
    I think in terms of circuits, in which terms a conductor is by definition something that provides a good path for electrons. In a circuit, deep space is a completely open circuit. I've never dealt with circuits that run through solutions so can't answer that part of your question, although it seems wrong to me to call something a conductor if it does not conduct.
     
  11. Nov 25, 2014 #10

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    This is a perfect example of where, if you go beyond just the superficial, simplistic understanding and definition of something, you'll run into trouble if you don't have a more complete picture.

    A "conductor" is actually a rather vague term. If you think about it carefully, practically EVERYTHING is a conductor, even an insulator. If you have a good-enough current detector, and if you apply a high-enough voltage, even an insulator will "conducts".

    So the question is, how do you categorize something, and when does it become "good", as in a good conductor? In solid state/condensed matter, we don't typically consider whether something is a conductor or not, but rather if something has a "metallic" or "semiconductor" behavior, because both of these can be characterized rather unambiguously (an typical (band) insulator is just a semiconductor with a huge band gap). What we do is we look at the dependence of the resistivity with respect to temperature. If the resistivity increases with increasing temperature, we say that it has a metallic behavior. If the resistivity decreases with increasing temperature, that is a semiconductor behavior.

    This characterization is useful especially when we deal with more exotic behavior of a material, such as when the material actually changes from metallic to semiconducting as you vary its temperature (see, for example, this.) So if we apply this understanding to "space", where will it fall under? Is the question even meaningful? If it isn't, then is the MORE complicated question on whether it is a superconductor or not even makes any sense?

    As has been alluded to in this thread, a "superconductor" is MORE than just a conductor, or a conductor with zero resistance. The Meisner effect ensures of that. There are added criteria for something to be called a superconductor.

    Zz.
     
  12. Nov 25, 2014 #11

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Right ... I should have mentioned that.
     
  13. Nov 25, 2014 #12
    If conducting as we are discussing it refers to the number of electrons that can be moved per given volume of material then i see how space is considered an insulator due to its diffuse nature compared too most objects we are familier with as conductors. I am incorrectly focused on the lack of intereference and freedom of movement that space allows for objects. So Super conducting material is such because both the cooper couples which allow for electrons to be available for motion and the meisner effect reduces resistance to the motion? I understand there are more factors as well. The question is an attempt to understand the nature of space which does not hinder the motion of objects or energy. It leaves things unchanged which is why it appeared to me to possibly be comparable to a superconducting material.
     
  14. Nov 25, 2014 #13
    I may be wrong but wouldnt tiny flexible tubes of space be the ideal medium for trasnmition of signals in computer components? Which is of course impossible. But isnt a tube of wire just material enclosing space making a pattern in and around space that control hiw energy moves through it?
     
  15. Nov 25, 2014 #14

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    You are entirely leaving out the necessity to have something for the electrons to travel IN. In space there is no path.
     
  16. Nov 25, 2014 #15

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    No, absolutely not. Wires are made of ATOMS. Space is made of nothing. A wire provides a path. Make it superconducting and it provides an ideal path. Space provides no path at all.
     
  17. Nov 25, 2014 #16
    Got it, to conduct means to direct plain and simple and space can not direct anything therefore can not be a super conductor or a conductor of any kind.
    So i am mistaken that matter is mostly empty space?
    (So many questions... heheh)
    Electricity is electrons or is it photons? I know it was called electricity based on the electrons apparent relationship to the generation of electricity or vice versa... but hasnt the photon as the electromagnetic carrier replaced this notion? In AC current arent electrons merely moved side to side or circularly and therecore dont really travel through the whole circuit? Is it the electron being passed from atom to atom in electron sharing or is it the electron in essence passing a photon along from electron to electron? If matter has no empty space between its atoms/molecules how is it possible for an electron to move at all?
     
  18. Nov 25, 2014 #17
    Properties of different dimensions is inriguing but those are questions for another thread. i fully agree that our definition for anything is based upon comparisons to other things hence my line of questioning. Thanks for infusing the vaguery of terms into the thread as so many terms such as conductor are borrowed from other systems and through imagery can offer clarity in some cases but just easily cause confusion, such as is my current state.
     
  19. Nov 25, 2014 #18

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Matter is almost entirely empty space, but that is irrelevant to this discussion. It isn't what matter DOESN'T have that counts, it's what it DOES have, which is atoms that allow the exchange of electrons. Space has no such thing.

    it is electrons.

    Google "electron drift velocity".
     
  20. Nov 25, 2014 #19

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Despite the commonly held belief, the consensus here is that matter is not mostly empty space. The reasons why are complicated and are a topic for another thread.

    Electricity is a vague term that doesn't mean much. In any circuit you will have a flow of current, a difference in electric potential (voltage) and several other things, all of which have specific names and do specific things. The term "electricity" is not one of them.

    In an AC circuit the electrons really are moving back and forth. They have freedom to move inside a conducting material and the application of a force will make them move around. (That's a very simplified description. Electrons are actually moving around all the time thanks to their thermal energy)

    Things don't work the same way at the subatomic level as they do at our level. There's no "wall" blocking an electron from moving to another atom. It's all about attractive and repulsive forces. In a conductor, the atoms are all "sharing" their outermost electrons. It is these electrons that are able to move around and form an electrical current.

    Hmmm... I thought there was a consensus that this wasn't really true.
     
  21. Nov 25, 2014 #20
    I can see how matter would be considered not empty space due to all the forces at play each with its repsective particles and i also question how empty space really is... yes photons are not matter but they are "something" and it would seem that even though we percieve space as darkness its really filled with light. Not to sound philosophical but is a photon considered to exist with nothing to interecact with like light reflecting off the moon? This is part of my line of questioning as well.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Is space a superconductor?
Loading...