The modern world runs on electricity, and wires are what carry that electricity to every light, television, heating system, cellphone and computer on the planet. Unfortunately, on average, about 5% of the power generated at a coal or solar power plant is lost as the electricity is transmitted from the plant to its final destination. This amounts to a US$6 billion loss annually in the U.S. alone.

For decades, scientists have been developing materials called superconductors that transmit electricity with nearly 100% efficiency. I am a physicist who investigates how superconductors work at the , how current flows at very low temperatures, and how applications such as levitation can be realized. Recently, researchers have made significant progress toward developing superconductors that can function at relatively normal temperatures and pressures.

To see why these recent advances are so exciting and what impact they may have on the world, it's important to understand how work.

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