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The Rebirth of Cold Fusion
Excerpt from Chapter 13

False Debunking

 

"It appears that the people who would benefit most by this work being discredited have taken the initiative to cause us great difficulty. .. They might cause us difficulty, but they will not stop the science.'' 1

—Dr. Stanley Pons, co-discoverer of cold fusion,
former chairman of the Department of Chemistry, University of Utah

Dr. Melvin Miles, then the lead electrochemist for the U.S. Navy's China Lake cold fusion team, conducted his own post-mortem on the Caltech cold fusion bungle. Miles concluded in a letter written to John Maddox, editor of Nature, that, "contrary to the claims of [Lewis and Miskelly at Caltech], a study of this nature is completely incapable of proving that no anomalous power was produced." [ 23]

In his paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, Miles concluded the following with regard to the Caltech results:

An excess power effect develops that becomes as large as 0.076 W after 161 hours of Pd/D2O + LiOD electrolysis. The excess power density of 1.0 W/cm3 Pd for this analysis of the N. Lewis study is in excellent agreement with our experiments (1.3 W/cm3 Pd at 200 mA/cm2) as well as with the results reported by M. Fleischmann et al. in 1990.[ 24]

McKubre at SRI International expressed his view on what happened at Caltech:

The way that Nate Lewis conducted his calorimetry was just wrong. It was amateurish and silly, actually. What he did was change his calibration every day to make sure that the excess heat was zero; he changed his calibration with the assertion that the answer is zero, so by definition he observed zero every day, even though he had to change his calibration constant to do it.

I think it was a semi legitimate thing for an ignorant and impatient man. Every day they came in, and the calorimetry was either producing positive excess heat or negative excess heat, both of which were unbelievable to Lewis, so that what they did was change the calibration constant so that it went away.[ 25]

The Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Fusion Technology, and the Journal of Physical Chemistry each published Miles' analysis of the botched Caltech cold fusion experiment.[ 26]

Miles believes the opportunity for rebuttal was made available to Lewis, as is standard journalistic practice, but that Lewis “apparently didn't want to debate the point." Miles said, "He just wanted to let it all slide away and disappear.” [27]

Within a five-year period after the Caltech cold fusion experiments, at least five teams of scientists had performed retrospective analyses of the Caltech cold fusion work, and all of them found numerous errors. Both Noninski and the China Lake team concluded that Caltech's results may have replicated rather than disproved the claims of Fleischmann and Pons.