Heavy metal: a journey to the centre of giant planets.
Deep inside giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, a fluid of dense metallic hydrogen swills around. Precisely how hydrogen becomes a metal under the extreme pressure conditions of these planets, however, remains poorly understood. To shed some light on it, scientists from the University of Cambridge, IBM Research and the Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology used machine-learning software known as a Behler-Parrinello artificial neural network to simulate the devilishly complex quantum interactions between hydrogen atoms under these unique conditions. The results, reported this week in the journal Nature , upend previous predictions. The simulations suggest that, rather than a sudden transition from its regular insulating liquid state to its more exotic conducting metallic state, as happens when water turns to ice, hydrogen changes in a smooth and gradual way, each hydrogen molecule being split into its two constituent atoms in turn. The discovery may explain several anomalous observations in planetary astrophysics.
From the Economist this morning.
Based on a complete ignorance of the field, I ask myself… is this the future of batteries?