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Not observing a theoretically predicted feature in an experiment can be frustrating, but it is also a crucial step for advancing science. This is what happened when a team of physicists in Austria, Denmark and Spain went looking for a feature that purportedly comes from Majorana bound states, which are exotic quasiparticles that might one day become the workhorses of quantum computing. While the physicists observed a signal with the expected characteristics, their investigations showed that it originates instead from a tiny piece of semiconducting material in the system they studied – suggesting that a different approach may be required to observe these elusive states.

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