Superconductor Summary and Special Manifold Announcement!
Manifold is going super - there's no resistance
By David Chee (SirSalty)
An article on why you should be excited about Superconductors and a 10-min breakdown of what has happened thus far if you are out of the loop!
(Bonus: see the end for Manifold’s forecasting conference announcement)
Why should you be excited?
A paper was published by a team of Korean scientists claiming they had produced a material which showed super-conducting properties at room temperature and ambient pressure. Their method uses inexpensive raw materials involving a synthesis process that doesn’t require advanced technology.
Superconductors are materials that can conduct electricity with no resistance, meaning electricity can flow through them perfectly without any loss. Although we currently have superconductors, they require very cold temperatures (or high pressure) to operate, limiting their practical use. If a room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductor were discovered, it would revolutionize our power systems by allowing for near-lossless electrical transmission, leading to massive energy savings. It could also enable new technologies, from more efficient electronics to high-speed magnetically levitated trains, impacting almost every aspect of our technological society.
Many scientists are initially skeptical of the claims as RTP superconductors have been called by some “snake-oil”, with previous fraudulent papers being retracted. But unlike previous claims, the market gives this one a ~25% chance of replicating!
All times in UTC
April 30 - Paper published in Korean Journal by same authors which is cited by Paper#2 (see below)
July 22 - Two papers were quietly published in arxiv.org about two hours apart.
Paper#1 - Published by Kwon Young-Wan with 3 authors. Later revealed in an interview that this was published without the rest of the team’s permission. Worth noting that only 3 people can receive the Nobel Prize.
Paper#2 - Much more detailed and credits 6 authors. Kwon isn’t credited.
July 25 20:53 - First market created on Manifold. Initially settles at around 17%.
July 26 01:30 - Manifold Tweets about it and pins a news dashboard to our home page.
July 26 03:34 - Alex Kaplan tweets thread which goes viral, 29.5M views. Hype begins.
At this point, there are multiple labs across the world that have begun ordering the raw materials needed to attempt to replicate the experiment.
July 27 morning - Rumours from Chinese social media claiming the first batch has been replicated by 中科院物理所 aka The Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It’s said that there was no observable Meissner Effect (levitating, a property of superconductors), but possibly due to the material not being pure enough. The market prob doesn’t react to this news and stays at ~23%.
July 27 evening - Markets on all platforms are down to 12-14%. Multiple people are tweeting it’s probably just a diamagnetic material.
July 28 - Kwon crashes the 11th International Symposium on Metallic Multilayers held at Korea University, Seoul to give an unscheduled presentation on their superconductor findings. Allegedly he had a sample on hand, but the facility was unable to provide the equipment for a demonstration so none took place. He was apparently kicked out
July 28 - Interviews revealing inner-team conflict and Kwon’s disassociation with Korea University and Q-centre a few months ago.
There is a lack of any real news over the weekend. A couple more rumours of various replication attempts trickle in saying no superconducting material found yet, all of the reported replication attempts are compiled in this table.
July 30 - @iris_IGB on Twitter claims to have observed some levitation and diamagnetism in her replication with photographic proof (but refuses to upload video).
July 30/31 - Various bullish signals
Emails from one of the authors saying there were some mistakes and a corrected paper will soon be published.
July 31 - Current market probabilities: Manifold fluctuating between 23% - 30% (Up from 17% pre-Iris tweets/author emails).
When will we know for sure?
We don’t know. Although some replications are being completed, the original papers hastily released due to team conflict have some contradictions and mistakes which need correcting. Once these have been corrected, and the Korean scientists have a chance to collaborate with other labs we will start to get a clearer picture.
Are Manifold’s markets working at this scale?
Thanks to Manifold’s user-created questions, we had a market about whether the paper would replicate hours before anyone else had heard about it! We’ve since been able to cement ourselves as a central source of new information with our tweets amassing hundreds of thousands of impressions and 81,000 unique visitors to our site in the past week.
Regardless of what you think of the probability accuracy, we were undoubtedly the fastest aggregator of news on this topic in the world thanks to our comment section and incentive for users to create markets quickly to capitalise on unique trader bonuses.
There’s nothing to suggest the superconductor markets are any less calibrated compared to how well our markets usually perform (which is extremely well btw).
The one caveat is that many power users in our Discord have complained they have run out of mana to bet. The huge influx of signups, with their 500 free mana, seem to have a tendency to initially bet aggressively on YES with no care about their bankroll. This has overwhelmed the downward buying pressure of our more experienced forecasters. The top 4 NO holders have all been ranked 1 on our all-time top profit leaderboard at some point. Of course, none of them are expert physicists - but it still makes one question if the probability is being pushed up by dumb, optimistic money from new users. (Edit: Marcus has informed me he was in a chemistry phd program)
I look forward to writing a detailed analysis once the market has concluded looking at the stats of new users’ bets and also comparing it to probabilities from other prediction sites.
(we now depart from Superconductor news to bring you some important Manifold ones)
Manifest Announcement - Forecasting Conference!
We're hosting a conference! 🥳 Chat with the Manifold team, special guests like Scott Alexander, Destiny, Aella, Rob Miles, Josh Rosenberg, and more at the first in-person gathering of the forecasting & prediction market community.
More info & tickets: manifestconference.net
WHEN: Sept 22-24
WHERE: Berkeley, CA
WHO: Everyone else in the forecasting community. If you're reading this, you're invited!
Significant site updates
New question-type polls just released
New mechanism for free response markets (fixed payouts, can short, can limit order)
Thanks for reading!