Back to Morrison Index
(Source: New Energy Times)
Part 1 of Review of the 5th International Cold Fusion Conference.
INTRODUCTION - SUMMARY
The Fifth International Cold Fusion Conference, ICCF5, was held in a luxury
hotel in Monte Carlo, near Fleischmann and Pon's laboratory, from the 9th to
13th April. It was a remarkable meeting both from the scientific and
sociological standpoint - this was the opinion of Martin Fleischmann.
There were relatively few new scientific papers claiming positive effects,
and some stating that earlier effects could not be confirmed, e.g. Bressani.
Some quite unusual claims were made, though many of the most obviously
outlandish claims made at the previous conference, ICCF4, held on Maui in
December 1993, had been avoided. This may have been achieved by controlling
invitations as it appeared that unsuitable people were not sent invitations
unlike previous conferences where those attending the previous meetings were
invited - thus Steve Jones, Tom Droege, myself, etc. did not receive
invitations this time. There was a discussion about censorship and recording.
Some 200 people appeared on the Participants list, which seemed to be rather
enhanced. It was not too clear who was running or paying for the conference -
it was described only as a non-profit making organisation. No conference
chairman was listed. The list of Sponsors is discussed below.
In 1989 there were many funding sources for cold fusion, but they have
mainly dried up though there are still some which are, however special. MITI
through its New Hydrogen Energy Agency, NHE, has spent over $7 million in two
years but only two positive results of rather low statistical significance,
were mentioned. The organisation, IMRA which depends on the Toyota car company,
which is generously funding Fleischmann and Pon's new lab near Nice, did not
report any major excess heat claim. The Electrical Power Research Institute,
EPRI, was said by Tom Passell, to have spent over $10 million - it was implied
but not clearly said, that they had stopped major funding of cold fusion. Other
sources of funding appear to be small. Representatives from French agencies
were present - to report they emphasised - but did not appear very impressed.
Some American government employees who had been friendly to cold fusion, were
also present. While there is some substantial funding, it may be noticed that
if cold fusion had some hope, then very many more organisations would be
expected to fund it, but they are not.
For the first time, the presence of media representatives was not
For two years there have been circulating rumours of sensational results
from Kevin Wolf at Texas A&M, finally Tom Passell presented a graph as a
non-publication - the results are controversial.
Initially it was said by F&P and others that they knew they were observing
fusion because the excess heat was found with deuterium but not with hydrogen,
but now there are so many people claiming excess heat using normal light water,
that this major contradiction is seldom mentioned now.
What was NOT said was most interesting. The NHE have been building exact
replicas of F&P's original 1989 cells, but these tests and the results were not
described. Also F&P have been working in the South of France for some 4 years
now in the new well-equipped IMRA laboratory, but few hints of the work or
results were given, nor was there a general invitation to visit this
laboratory. Similarly people were astonished that Focardi et al. who held a
second press conference in Bologna last month to claim some steady 30 Watts for
four months, did not turn up nor submit a paper (see section B4).
The theory sessions were hilarious. There are many theories of cold fusion
which are inconsistent with one another and this caused some heated discussions
- these involved four of the 5 most powerful voices at the conference - Drs.
Chubb, Preparata, Li, and Vigier (in decrescendo). Then some well-meaning
non-theorists tried to make tables of how the various theories tackled the
major problems and what predictions each theory made - this caused difficulties
for some, with Preparata and friends leaving before they could be asked to
state what predictions their theory could made. Finally the organisers realised
what was happening and abandoned the attempt. Prof. Preparata strongly attacked
the theories of Prof. Li of Beijing. Later it was announced that next year's
conference would not be held in Beijing as expected, but in Japan - for reasons
of infrastructure, it was explained.
It would have been good if someone had presented a compilation of the
experimental results, all the experimental results, not just the positive ones.
One would expect a table giving for each experiment the results for deuterium,
for hydrogen, for deuterium-hydrogen mixtures which Julian Schwinger emphasised
should be better - and for each give the result for excess heat, and for
production of p, n, t, 3He, 4He, gammas, and X-rays; in each case numbers and
errors. This compilation could be used to answer some questions such as (1)
does cold fusion occur in both hydrogen and deuterium in the same experiment?
and what are the ratios of the products? (2) is it a surface or volume effect?
(3) is there a threshold in loading? (4) is there a waiting time for effects
to start?, etc. Instead the opening talk by Dr. Storms was a series of
anecdotes of favourable results with no serious compilation. A graph of
excess heat as a function of surface area was followed by a graph as
a function of volume. The neutron flux was stated without evidence,
to be 10 to 100 per second excluding bursts, but ignored many others
results as such the 1989 claim of F&P of 40,000 per second and also the best
experiment which was done by Kamiokande in Japan and which gave an upper limit
of 10 E-4 neutrons per second.
To enhance the positive results, people who claimed to be producing excess
energy by some other method, were invited and it was suggested that their
claims were based on cold fusion. Thus there were talks from people who
manufacture a new type of pump, discussions of sonoluminesence, and even a talk
about the problems of keeping fish in tanks in Hong Kong - an interesting talk,
perhaps one of the best of the conference.
These notes are meant to give the highlights and an overall impression of
the meeting without boring the reader. So it is not a complete detailed account
of every talk and poster - my apologies to those not mentioned.
Overall, a stranger arriving at the conference could well be impressed by
the luxury, by the large well-organised and attractively printed book of
abstracts (though it may have been noticed that the old trick was used of only
printing on one side of the page to make it look bigger), and the reasonable
lunches with unlimited wine (refused by most people from Utah). Yet there was a
strange air of discouragement which was even stated by some speakers, for
example saying we must find some younger people as they were conspicuously
absent. There were many results, but each seemed to claim something different
from the others, but few appeared to worry about the contradictions - it was
considered another miracle of cold fusion which proved that the subject was new
and exciting and funds were therefore needed to study it further. The lack of
any single clear reliable result that all respected, plus the lack of any
agreed theory, meant that it was not clear what path a True Believer should
pursue. However there are still some sources of funds, especially from Japan,
so there is a good chance that the next meeting will be held in Japan despite
Should there be any corrections, comments or additions, would be pleased to
A1. Conference Sponsors
A2. Funding of Cold Fusion - Major Organisations
A3. Funding of Cold Fusion - Industrial Companies
A4. Media Interest
A5. Cold Fusion Magazines
A6. A Scientific Meeting? Censorship?
A7. Regionalization - Cold Fusion in France
A8. How Long will Cold Fusion Last?
B. SOME EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS ON COLD FUSION
B1. New Hydrogen Energy
B2. IMRA France
B3. Kevin Wolf
B4. Focardi et al. Bologna, Siena
B5. Bressani et al., Turin
B6. Celani et al.
B7. SRI, McKubre et al.
B8. Miles et al.
B10. Patterson cell
B13. Russia, Sopogin et al.
C. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS - UNCLEAR RELATION TO COLD FUSION
C1. Griggs. Hydrosonic Pump
C4. Radioactive decay lifetime changed?
C5. Biology - Fish in Hong Kong
A1. SPONSORS OF CONFERENCE
The following were listed as sponsors giving financial support;
ENECO, Inc. (USA)
Aisin AW Co. Ltd. (Japan)
Aisin Seiko Co. Ltd. (Japan)
Technova, Inc. (Japan)
AGA S.A. (France)
Cegelec S.A. (France)
Novolec S.A. (France)
Riber S.A. (France)
Setaram S.A. (France).
In addition five generous private donations were acknowledged.
It is interesting to note who are NOT sponsoring ICCF5 - these are EPRI
and the Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia, who were the only two
sponsors named of the previous conference in Maui, ICCF4.
It was not clear if all the sponsors understood what they were sponsoring.
In the hall outside the lecture hall were a few displays. One was a French
company which made calorimeters. One of the representatives explained that
their calorimeters were very accurate so they expected many cold fusion people
would want to use them to confirm their excess heat. He then asked why I was
laughing and I explained that the True Believers remaining after six years, did
not really want strong independent checks of their results. Good scientists are
always trying to prove themselves wrong; poor scientists who make an unexpected
claim, vary their experiment only marginally, they say it is not their
responsibility, they stick by their results, it is up to the questioner to
prove them wrong. Later when the representative was dismantling their display,
he said that they had not had any serious enquiries for calorimeters.
On the first day of ICCF3 in Nagoya, October 1992, two researchers of NTT,
then the company with the highest share capitalisation in the world, announced
they had achieved cold fusion reproducibly - and the shares value of NTT rose 8
billion dollars in one day, but then slipped back to normal within a few days.
NTT offered to sell the apparatus but have not heard of any being sold except
one to the Science ministry. As the researchers concerned then transferred, it
is perhaps surprising that NTT are still supporting cold fusion.
ENECO is a company set up by Fred Jaeger which has bought up most of the
cold fusion patents from F&P and almost everyone. In a talk, Fred explained
that they aimed to cover all possibilities so that investors were sure to win.
They have some investors but privately was told they have little capital and
have used much of it to send many people to this elegant and expensive
conference in a five-star hotel - however no financial numbers were given so
this must remain unconfirmed. Would be happy to correct this comment if sent
A2. FUNDING OF COLD FUSION - MAJOR ORGANISATIONS
The largest amount of funding at present comes from an organisation set up
by the Japanese government ministry MITI. Dr. N. Asami said that in 1993, they
founded the New Hydrogen Energy agency, NHE (avoiding calling it cold fusion -
just in case) with a budget of about $30 million over four years. He said that
$2.5 million was spent in 1993 and $5.4 million in 1994. (Dr. Bush asked if he
could apply for funds - no clear answer).
The Institute of Applied Energy set up two NHE labs, in Tokyo and in
Sapporo. They work with the National Labs and with leading industrial
companies. Nine universities and 11 groups are collaborating.
EPRI has been one of the main supporters of cold fusion which could
well have died without its generous funding. In a talk at ICCF5, Tom Passell
said that EPRI had given $10.6 million to SRI(formerly the Stanford Research
Institute)and other institutes. It was impossible to get a straight answer to
the question as to whether EPRI was to continue funding cold fusion, but it
seems that it will not give any serious funding in the future. Thus it was said
that SRI funding would now come from Japan. Looking up EPRI in the World Wide
Web (invented in CERN), could find no mention of cold fusion in its list of
accomplishments nor in its budget for 1995.
Tom made an interesting remark about the question of whether we reward
researchers appropriately. At EPRI if you produce a solid result, you are
fired; if you produce an ambiguous result, you're hired for 10 or 20 years.
This might explain what happened to Steve Jones - when he produced irregular
results supporting cold fusion, he was funded by EPRI; but when he showed that
his results were artifacts and that many other people's results were mistaken,
his funding stopped even though he was continuing research and producing
A3. FUNDING OF COLD FUSION - MAJOR ORGANISATIONS - BECHTEL
Information about industrial funding was scarce since most companies do not
wish to talk about such matters, especially if there is some probability of
From the MITI talks it is clear that some large Japanese companies are
carrying out research together with MITI - it was not clear whether they do it
cheerfully or reluctantly.
In Europe was told several times that the Italian automobile company, Fiat,
is giving finance to the Bologna/Siena group of Focardi et al. (see section
B4). Also another large Italian company is giving funding to cold fusion, plus
a German automobile company - but these funds may be quite small. Shell Oil in
France helped Jacques Dufour initially and is named as a co-sponsor of his
present abstract (see section A7).
There had been rumours at ICCF4 that AMOCO had found excess heat, and at
ICCF5, Dr. M. Eisner described how in 1989, when measuring the gradient of
gravitational fields to find gas and oil, they used the gravitometer for a cold
fusion experiment and found about 30% excess heat. However there were problems
with reproducibility. No one at AMOCO would make a statement, but it seems that
the company have not continued work on cold fusion since then.
Since IMRA depends on Technova which depends on Toyota, no funding
arrangements were given though clearly millions have been spent in setting up a
well-equipped lab in the Sophia Antipolis Science Park near Nice, and another
lab in Hokkaido. No clear description of results on the use of F&P cells was
given, though there was considerable technical discussions of how to treat
palladium and to load deuterium into it. Of their two most important employees,
Pons was ill with 'flu and was rarely glimpsed. Martin Fleischmann spoke four
times - once briefly to open the conference; secondly a paper about positive
feedback explaining that heating the system to boiling and talked of "Life
after Death" which is the emission of excess heat from a cell for three hours
after it has been boiled dry - it was rather obscurant mathematics ("the
experimental protocols become part of the parameter space of the system");
thirdly was a talk entitled "The Experimenter's Regress", "a concept drawn from
the field of sociology" which was Martin at his most charming. Agreed with him
when he said that "When the dust has settled, the sociology of science will be
the most important". He re-examined some of the raw Harwell data of David
Williams et al. and concluded that they had observed bursts of excess heat just
as F&P had observed them. (From other sources learnt that considerable work has
been done to analyse the Harwell data and a draft of a paper has been written).
Fourthly he gave the concluding remarks. Overall for the last few years there
has been a remarkable absence of evidence supporting or making reproducible the
original work that F&P claimed to have done in the five and a half years before
23 March 1989.
A3.1 Bechtel Corporation
On the last morning Mr. Bruce Klein of the Bechtel Power Corporation was
invited to speak. This is a major corporation based in California which is said
to be so powerful that it can get elected a governor of California and a US
President - who appointed some Bechtel people to his cabinet.
Mr. Klein looked like a perfect Californian business man and he gave a
delightful talk explaining how cold fusion should be marketed and developed. He
started by saying that he assumed that cold fusion was established. At the same
time he mentioned the problems of cold fusion, lack of reproducibility and
reliability, no working model, and the fact that the US patent office will not
accept patents - this he did in a manner that had True Believers laughing.
Overall a very pleasant and skilful performance which appeared to delight and
encourage his audience. However he missed out two things. Firstly I commented
that normally in considering a new technological project, the ROI or Return on
Investment, is considered. For example, if cold fusion were successful, this
might mean a profit of a billion dollars and if the probability of cold fusion
working were one percent, then an investment of a million dollars would give a
good Return on Investment. On the other hand the reason that more than 99% of
scientists do not believe in cold fusion, is because of the barrier penetration
problem, the deuterium ions are forced further apart in palladium than they are
normally in deuterium gas, so that the probability of fusion is at least 10 E-50
lower than desired. So if the profit from an investment in cold fusion was even
a trillion dollars, $10 E12, than an investment of one cent would give a factor
of 10 E14 which is very much less than 10 E-50. Thus an investment of one cent
would give a very bad Return on Investment. After the disagreements had died
down, added that secondly, Mr. Klein had asked for a working model - but there
was a working model described with photograph, in 1989, which was claimed to
provide a family with hot water the year round and "simply put, in its current
state it could provide boiling water for a cup of tea". This time people seemed
to remember the photo of Prof. Pons and his water heater, and there were no
In preparing this note, came across a brochure for CETI, the company that
is promoting the Patterson power cell being displayed in operation at ICCF5.
There it was written "'Based on seeing this device at work, I have confidence
in promoting this technology within Bechtel' - Mr Bruce C. Klein, PE, Bechtel".
Must admit this changed my opinion of the beautiful and skilful presentation of
Mr. Klein. Do not know if Bechtel is providing substantial funding apart
presumably from Mr. Klein's expenses.
A4. MEDIA INTEREST
F&P's first press conference on 23rd March 1989 attracted great media
attention. At their first annual conference a year later, there were again many
reporters from around the world. The second and third in Italy and Japan,
attracted a good number of reporters but almost entirely from the host
country. For the Fourth conference in Maui in December 1993, a media expert was
hired specially to deal with the expected host of reporters, but it turned out
that he was under-employed as there were only two - Jerry Bishop of the Wall
Street Journal and a student from the local student newspaper. This time at the
reception desk, was told there was no media specialist and Tom Passell said
during his talk that there was no one, not even Jerry Bishop who had been so
helpful in the past. Even in the local paper, the Nice Matin, did not find any
mention. Does this mean that people were so pessimistic that they did not even
try to raise media interest as they had previously?
A5. COLD FUSION MAGAZINES
Some profit from cold fusion is apparently being made by publishers of
Wayne Green who has a turbulent history, started publishing "Cold Fusion"
which was a glossy magazine with Mallove and friends running it, but after a sho
time there was a break-up with Wayne Green complaining that Mallove et al. were
taking too much of the income - they say otherwise. Now it continues but not so
glossy. At ICCF5, Wayne Green gave out (free) copies of issue No. 9 - price
$10.00. It says that the magazine has "an all-volunteer staff" - does this mean
they are not paid? There are some articles of very non-standard theories; the
most interesting article is Tom Droege's report on his visit to Griggs (see
section C1). There also some experimental results including Dr. Matsumoto's
(see section B11).
The Letters pages are most interesting, especially one reading "I was
delighted to find someone interested in cold fusion. I have been interested in
hydrogen since my neighbor tried to burn me up with heavy water. My wife's
brother had hired the neighbor to break up our marriage even if it killed us.
This was the last of Feb. 1974. Four days later the arsonist burnt down the LDS
Stake House using hydrogen. As you may know, heavy water is a marvellous arson
tool, the building is burned before the fire alarm can go off. Several years
ago, I did the so-called 'cold fusion' experiment. I believe it was in '84 that
the UFO came & indicated they would no longer help me with my experiment. They
explained that I had not conjugated with a certain high school girl. I went to
Las Vegas with the Ancient Astronauts Society and they indicated that I was
back in favor and that I should write the truth about hydrogen. ....... Please
let me help you to get started making tritium heavy water. My brother-in-law
stole $10,000 from me so I am broke".
Gene Mallove gave out copies of his glossy new magazine called "Infinite
Energy" - the name caused some discussion and comment. The price is $5.95 per
issue. The front page is a striking colour photograph of Roger Stringham of
E-Quest (see section C3). It has quite a few adverts which should bring in the
money though some full-page adverts are for the magazine, for Gene's 1991 book
and another is to buy tapes made by Gene et al. of the "MIT Cold Fusion Day -
January 21, 1995".
This first issue contains articles of variable quality. One is the talk by
Nobel Laureate Julian Schwinger read in his absence last year at ICCF4, where
he recounts the saga of his calculations and beliefs in cold fusion. It is
entitled "Cold Fusion Theory; a Brief History of Mine". Initially he thought it
was due not to d-d reactions, but to p-d reactions from the H2O contaminant in
the D2O; later he thought sonoluminescence could be the explanation. He
describes his problems of getting his papers published - the first was
rejected impolitely by Physical Review Letters, so he resigned from the APS,
but managed to publish it in a German journal. Finally he wrote 8 papers
supporting cold fusion. His article begins "As Polonius might have said:'
Neither a true-believer nor a disbeliever be'". There is also a report by Bruce
Klein of the Bechtel Power Corp. on the Patterson cold fusion cell (see section
The Letters were also varied. In one is intriguingly written "I've being
working on a set of biographical vignettes entitled 'Scientists who were
The date and place of the next conference, ICCF6, is given as Spring/or
Summer 1996 in Beijing, China.
Both of the magazines have letters from Arthur C. Clarke who is regularly
supplied with literature by cold fusion advocates. Slightly discouraging, as
after Arthur invited me to give a couple of lectures in Sri Lanka last year, I
tried to give him a somewhat different view of cold fusion but he feels the
weight of positive evidence should not be neglected though I tried to explain
that a judgement should be based on the totality of evidence, both negative and
positive, and not a subset. However he did write that "I am a little
embarrassed to recall that exactly two years ago, I addressed a distinguished
gathering of American, Russian and other naval staff officers (including the
OIC, US Pacific fleet) on the subject of 'cold fusion' - and hinted that the
breakthrough would be 'real soon now'".
A6. A SCIENTIFIC MEETING? CENSORSHIP?
Normally scientific meetings are open and people can speak and note as they
wish. If a True Believer was asked if ICCF5 fulfilled these requirements, he
would answer that it did. However there were worries. Previously the meeting
was widely announced and everyone who went to a previous meeting received a
personal invitation to the next. This time only True Believers and some
selected neutral people appear to have been invited. People who might be
regarded as Sceptics did not receive an invitation - thus Steve Jones was not
invited although he was one of the original founders of cold fusion but who has
now retracted his previous positive results and publishes experiments and
criticisms of positive claims. Also Tom Droege, myself and others received no
invitation. Was told it was advertised in Fusion Technology, the journal
that has a strange refereeing process for cold fusion papers, though it is
regarded as serious for hot fusion papers.
Also on arriving the ICCF5 Information Sheet contained a section on
Recording Policy which says that for copyright reasons, "The filming,
video-recording, tape recording, photographing, or reproduction in any other
form of the proceedings, lectures, posters, or statements of the lecturers, or
any other contents of the 5th International Conference on Cold Fusion is
neither sanctioned nor permitted by the Association or the governing committees
of this Conference." This sounds pretty tough but it is followed by saying that
it can be done "with the express consent of the participant". "We suggest that
the participant in question obtain appropriate assurance, in writing or
otherwise, from the person undertaking such recording of the reasons for and
the future use of any such recorded material."
Have never seen such rules in a scientific conference before. So did not
use my video or tape recorder, but then found that Gene Mallove was recording
extensively everything and Carol White of the magazine 21st Century (has had
interviews with Lyndon Larouche from his prison cell e.g. about cold fusion)
and Mike Melich were also recording freely. So on the final morning brought my
tape recorder and when Martin Fleischmann rose to begin the final talk, asked
him if he minded if I recorded him, adding that Mallove et al. seemed to be
recording freely without having asked permission. Mallove said he had asked
permission, but I replied that I had asked several speakers that morning and
none had been asked for their agreement - Mallove responded that he intended to
ask them afterwards. Martin said that he did not mind being recorded, but would
insist that I let him see what I had written - it was only normal politeness.
So wonder if Mallove, White and Melich will follow Martin's insistence on the
special cold fusion conference practice of consulting people before publishing?
It may be noted that Gene Mallove is selling tapes of the MIT Cold Fusion
Day - wonder if he intends to market his tapes of ICCF5?
After the meeting ended, one owner of a company wished me good-bye and said
he would see me again in Sapporo in October 1996. Said I would be happy to see
him then if I were invited: so suggested we go over and ask Martin if I would
be invited this time. Martin answered that of course I would be invited.
On the other hand this conference resembled a scientific meeting in that,
in general, there was no personal animosity, though the theory sessions were a
little hot at times. Similarly, though I was not on the original invitation
list, was well received by almost all, Martin Fleischmann being especially
A7. REGIONALISATION OF RESULTS - COLD FUSION IN FRANCE
In May 1989 when I was trying to organise all the cold fusion results that
I had collected, decided to group them by country for convenience. But was
greatly astonished to find that some countries and regions had mainly positive
results whereas other had mainly null results. This Regionalization of Results
persisted with time except that some regions that at first had mainly positive
results had switched and now had mainly null results. This is quite contrary to
belief in the Universality of Science.
Later Dr. Scaramuzzi who started the great excitement over cold fusion in
Italy, stated that Cold Fusion stops at the Alps. And indeed for long there
were no positive results to the North - not in Germany, Britain, Switzerland,
Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc.
However in the summer of 1993, L'Express reported that supported by the
theoretician, Prof. Vigier, Dr. Jacques Dufour had begun experiments at the
Shell laboratories near Rouen and then moved to the labs of CNAM, the
Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers. Dr. Dufour was quoted as saying "I
obtain out an energy double What I put in." However at ICCF4, J. Dufour, J.
Foos and J.P. Millot of CNAM, Paris, did not report any positive results but
proposed a theory involving three-body collisions and virtual polyneutron
states such as (proton plus an electron) which would explain the otherwise
impossible results of low amounts of tritium, neutrons and 3He also variable
amounts of 4He, and transmuted nuclei. They said they were going to test this
unusual theory by sparking in hydrogen isotopes.
At Monte Carlo Drs. Dufour and Foos were delighted to tell me that they had
greatly improved and extended their apparatus and while they did have anomalous
effects, they had made a major effort to measure nuclear products and concluded
that they were definitely not observing cold fusion. This is how the scientific
method should work - try and prove yourself wrong. In detail they wrote that
they had observed excess power up to 7 Watts, both on H2 and D2, representing
25 to 30% of the incident energy. They had found very small amounts of 4He and
3He and of neutrons (twice background), no tritium , but copious emission of
low energy (50 to 200 keV) gammas under certain conditions. They conclude that
"part of the excess energy we have measured is not of nuclear origin and
probably comes from the formation of tightly bound hydrogen atoms", e.g. as
proposed by Vigier. Warned them that Tom Droege had pointed out that it is very
difficult to know exactly what is happening with discharges. They were anxious
to find an explanation of their anomalies, so suggested that Tom be invited to
visit them as he has a remarkable wide range of expertise - they appeared to
welcome this suggestion to help solve their mystery.
So it seemed that cold fusion did stop at the Alps, but then next day Dr. J-P
Biberian of Marseille University, presented a paper claiming large amounts of
excess heat using a perovskite, AlLaO3. The deuterated sample was heated to
400 - 600 C and a current applied. He wrote that excess heats of up to ten
times the input energy were found and that neutrons and photons were detected.
He expected that if the current were increased, then the excess heat would
increase, but found it was not the case. In his talk he claimed that a
deuterium density as great as that of liquid deuterium can be obtained, but
seem to remember that the separation of deuterium nuclei in liquid deuterium is
only the same as that of D2 gas, that is about 0.7 Angstroms, and this is
far too large a separation to give cold fusion - it is off by a factor of about
10 E-40 from Steve Koonin and Mike Nauenberg's calculation(1).
When Dr. Biberian was asked if he had done a control with hydrogen instead
of deuterium, he said he had not done so - amazing, six years after F&P's press
So has cold fusion crossed the Alps, or has it slid round the edge via
Monte Carlo to Marseille? We await the result of Dr. Biberian's urgent controls,
with light hydrogen. Will he save the purity of France?
A8. HOW LONG WILL COLD FUSION LAST?
Am often asked how long I think cold fusion will last - but what is new is
that some True Believers asked me this question. A short answer could be
slightly longer than the supply of money. But actually it is more complicated
than that and we need historical examples. N-rays lasted only a few years as
Wood exposed Blondlot's mistake in a devastating way. Allison rays and
Mitogenic rays lasted for more than ten years because there was never any
devastating disproof and because the originators did not disprove themselves or
retract. Polywater(2) lasted for many years as it was supported strongly by a
distinguished Russian scientist and a distinguished American scientist, but
finally first one then the other realised they were wrong and both retracted.
More recently the existence of a 17 keV neutrino(3) was claimed, disproved but
the claimant then attacked the null results (as True Believers in cold fusion
attack the null results from Harwell, Cal Tech, and from MIT) and this caused
uncertainty until there was overwhelming evidence against the 17 keV neutrino.
Then 3 of the 4 main believers, decided they must be wrong and went back to
re-examine their own experiments, and did further experiments which proved
themselves wrong. Their retraction then stopped the matter for almost everyone.
Thus the time a wrong result persists, depends on whether the original
proponents retract or not. Cold fusion started with Fleischmann and Pons
closely followed by a much weaker effect claimed by Steve Jones. Now Steve has
retracted. If Fleischmann and Pons also retract their excess heat results (they
may already have retracted their original 1989 claims to have observed 4He,
neutron and tritium - not too clear), then cold fusion would end quickly. But
if they persist, then it could drag on several years.
1. S.E. Koonin and M. Nauenberg, Nature 33991989)690.
2. F. Franks, "Polywater", publd. by MIT, 1991.
3. D.R.O. Morrison, Nature 366(1993)29.
(c) Douglas R. O. Morrison.
Address for correspondence;
Fax; 41 22 767 90 75
CH-1211 Geneva 23