Science: Frenzied Hunt for the Right Stuff

Washington pushes for U.S. superconductor supremacy

Ronald Reagan positively beamed before the audience of 1,400 scientists and businessmen at the Washington Hilton Hotel last week. Declaring that the "sky is the limit," the President pledged unprecedented federal support for private U.S. efforts to develop a suddenly glamorous new breed of materials: superconducting ceramics. The substances can convey electric currents with no loss of energy at temperatures much higher than conventional superconductors. They open the way for such marvels as levitating high-speed trains and tiny but immensely powerful computers. "The breakthroughs in superconductivity bring us to the threshold of a new age," Reagan said. "It's our task to...

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