If the creation of metallic hydrogen - the "holy grail" of condensed-matter physics
- is confirmed, it would not only significantly advance our understanding of the general properties of the element, it would also pave the way for the creation of revolutionary new materials, including room temperature superconductors. In addition, the material could be used as an ultralight and extremely powerful rocket fuel.
"This is a new state of matter--in condensed-matter physics
this is the highest goal," says Shoucheng Zhang, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University.
"I find this one of the most interesting discoveries that has emerged in condensed-matter physics
in the last decade," comments Laurence Eaves of the University of Nottingham in England.
"I think it's going to revolutionize condensed-matter physics
," which examines materials including solids and liquids, adds Kathryn J.
The young newcomer quickly became a star of condensed-matter physics
as he and his colleagues purportedly carried out a string of remarkable and widely acclaimed feats.
However, the new report argues, the labs' strengths and tools should be focused on, if not primarily restricted to, answering questions in DOE's traditional mission areas: national security, energy, environmental science and technology, and the fundamental fields that underpin these disciplines -- principally high-energy, nuclear, and condensed-matter physics
. In particular, Galvin and his colleagues argued, the labs should neither look for new missions nor expand into research arenas now addressed effectively or more appropriately by others in government, industry, or academia.
Consider an analogous situation in the realm of condensed-matter physics
. In principle, it's possible to calculate what happens inside a material using quantum electrodynamics - the mathematical framework and theory for describing the behavior of electrons and other electrically charged particles.
In condensed-matter physics
, for example, experimenters fret over electrical signals generated by the unceasing movement of atoms and ions or by voltages induced whenever dissimilar metals touch.
In 1985, noting the close analogy between symmetry-breaking phase transitions in particle and condensed-matter physics
, astrophysicist Wojciech H.