chapter  12
119 Pages

Large Scale Applications

ByEditors: Peter Komarek, Bruce Strauss, Steve St. Lorant, Luca Bottura and Al McInturff

Rarely in the history of science has so great and useful a discovery as superconductivity had so long a period of gestation before acceptance by the technical world. From the very beginning the phenomenon was burdened by the stigma of arcane science, metals such as mercury, tin and lead that are unsuitable for any practical application, nonexistent theoretical underpinnings, the very low and difficult-to-achieve temperatures, and even early doubts by the discoverer as to the practical value of zero electrical resistance. In the following two years attitudes changed so much so that by the Third International Congress of Refrigeration held in Chicago in 1913 Kammerlingh Onnes was able to speculate: “. . . When all outstanding questions will have been studied and all difficulties overcome, the miniature coil referred to may prove to be the prototype of magnetic coils without iron, by which in future much stronger and . . . more extensive fields may be realized than are at present reached in the interferrum of the strongest electromagnets. As we may trust in an accelerated development of experimental science this future ought not to be far away . . . ”