Perspectives

Hydrogen—The First Metallic Element

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Science  22 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5256, pp. 1692
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5256.1692

Summary

Theoretical studies have long predicted that hydrogen will become a metal when subjected to intense pressure, but experimental studies have provided only indirect glimpses of this possibility. In their Perspective, Hensel and Edwards describe results from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in which the crucial quantity—electrical conductivity—has been measured as a shock wave passes through liquid hydrogen. As discussed in a news story by Kerr (p. 1667), the results have important implications for Jupiter, a planet consisting of hydrogen and helium under high pressure.