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Quantum mechanics provides a useful description of nature at the atomic and subatomic scale, but it also manifests itself in phenomena at macroscopic scales, including lasers, clouds of ultra-cold atoms, superfluids, and superconductivity. Among these phenomena, the recent discovery of new kinds of high-temperature superconducting materials holds the promise of many practical applications—but there is still no theory about how these materials work. See how researchers are approaching this problem from two different directions: a "top-down" approach, closely examining the materials themselves, and a "bottom-up" approach, looking at model systems that mimic the quantum interactions of the superconducting electrons inside the materials.

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