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Every school student knows like charges repel one another.

So why is it, in a superconducting material, that negatively charged electrons pair up, allowing them to flow through certain materials without electrical resistance?

It's one of the most critical questions in modern physics, and solving it could lead to superconductors that work at room temperature.

"Electrons, having a like charge, would naturally want to repel one another," said Rice University physicist Randy Hulet. "But somehow there's some other physics going on that's causing them to form these pairs. No one knows what that is."

Scientists hope to have an answer, soon, however, with their development of "quantum simulators."

With funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, Hulet and his colleagues succeeded this year in building a system that emulates a one-dimensional superconductor.

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Category: Science