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Real-Life Unobtanium? The "Project X" Super Element

Pandora-james-camerons-avatar-9473402-550-307 Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are working with a metallic element called niobium to create the next generation of high-energy physics experiments that could solve the mysteries of dark matter, spacetime, and quantum gravity. The result could open new frontiers in physics without the need for accelerators that would have to span the planet in size. 

In his epic 3D scifi adventure Avatar, James Cameron tell's the story of the world's first low-temperature superconductor, which was created in the late twentieth century but proved to be useless because of inherent instabilities. 

Further efforts proved futile, and researchers finally termed their goal "Unobtainium," until the first unmanned exploration vehicle reached Alpha Centauri System and discovered deposits of a room temperature superconducting substance on an Earth-like moon named Pandora - Unobtanium had been found at last.

Unobtanium proved to be the most baffling of scientific discoveries in the area of superconductors as it had an extremely strong magnetic field, reversing prior knowledge that all superconductors repel magnetic fields. Unobtanium had a unique magnetic field and properties of superconductivity, causing it to levitate in magnetic fields under the Meissner Effect. The unique magnetic properties of Unobtanium were used to contain and direct the energy of the matter-antimatter annihilation which propels ships like ISV Venture Star.

ProjectXWorkshop Like Avatar's Unobtanium, the real-world Niobium has assumed huge importance in plans for the next round of linear colliders that may soon unlock some of the most profound secrets of the Universe and spacetime. The current generation of ring colliders, including Fermilab's Tevatron and Europe's newly operating Large Hadron Collider, use thousands of niobium-titanium superconducting magnets to steer and focus their beams of charged particles, which travel in great loops before being steered into collisions that can reveal fundamental properties of matter. Cavities are a small part of these machines, providing a momentary push to the particles each time they orbit the ring.

But linear colliders, including Stanford's current linear accelerator, Fermilab's proposed Project X, and the proposed ILC, string together thousands of cavities into one long line. The resulting linear accelerator creates an immense electric field to push the particle beams toward their collision in a single pass, without any need for steering and recirculating them.

Will niobium and the success of Project X and CERN's LHC lead to profound advances in 21st Century physics and our understanding of the universe?  

Cameron's fictional Unobtanium was not only the key to Earth’s energy needs in the 22nd century, but was the enabler of interstellar travel and the establishment of a truly spacefaring civilization. 

Casey Kazan via University of Chicago


The future projects are really excited.


Lots of unobtainium has been found in the brain cells of D.C. politicians.


"Cameron's fictional Unobtanium was not only the key to Earth’s energy needs in the 22nd century, but was the enabler of interstellar travel and the establishment of a truly spacefaring civilization."

Key word: fictional. The human race will NEVER become a spacefaring civilization. We are not currently a spacefaring civilization.

ALL of our current technological achievements have been as a result of nearly unlimited cheap fossil fuels. Once cheap energy runs out, that's it. We become kaput. Civilization will be utterly and irrevocably changed - for the worse.

@Mark: You make me a sad panda ;(

@Mark: Never is a long, long time.

We've been doing space travel and electronic computing roughly the same length of time, less than half a century, compared to thousands of years of civilization, millions of years of human evolution, and billions of years past and future of the existence of Earth. And already some people feel qualified to say computers will NEVER think, and we will NEVER become a spacefaring civilization. A rash judgment, in my opinion.

Lots of unobtainium has been found in the brain cells of D.C. politicians.

The earth is going to end up as a giant particle accelerator, with one person left alive to operate it, plus one electronic robot assistant, to plant a garden so he will have something to eat. And when he finds out the ultimate secret to the universe, he'll tell it to the robot in his dying breath. The secret will be that he needs a bigger particle accelerator. That will be the end of the human race. The robot will turn itself off, and nothing else will ever happen on planet earth.

I always get attracted towards these kind of mysterious projects and now scientist are working on it and future students will get chance to see and experiment with these kind of projects. I hope i get chance to experiment with it in future.

I am building a website now and I tell you it is somewhat addicting once you start you just can't stop

I would much rather stay busy on project and hobbies then real work!

Humm this is a really interesting project. Let's see what comes out of this project. Hopefully it would be successful.

This is very good article, I am very interested in its topic and read them was a pleasure.

I am building a website now and I tell you it is somewhat addicting once you start you just can't stop

I'm still learning from you, but I'm trying to achieve my goals. I certainly enjoy reading all that is posted on your blog.Keep the information coming. I loved it!

Very informative and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Simply perfect blog post - I save it on delicious - need more posts like this!

Awesome blog! I will for sure drop by it more often!

Great detailed article!

Very informative !

Amazing Post !

Very interesting post, I am looking for RSS to get regular updates.

Your blog is perfect, and I like this article. I find the information I need. I think I can find more useful information here, thanks.

Hmmm'very very good to find out, there have been without a doubt several things that I had not an idea of before.

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