The leader in cold fusion news and information.
May 10, 2006 -- Issue #16
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EDITORIALS AND OPINION
1. From the Editor
2. To the Editor
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
3. Pirelli Labs to Collaborate with ENEA on Cold Fusion Research
4. RCCNT&BL-14 - 14th Russian Conference on Cold Nuclear Transmutation of Chemical Elements and Ball Lightning
5. Transcript of Department of Commerce Hearing Available
ANALYSIS AND PERSPECTIVES
6. A Close Look at Russ George's D2Fusion Inc.
7. The Inventor of Everything
8. D2Fusion's Details Demystified
9. $2 Million, Theoretically
10. D2Fusion Takes Cold Fusion Figurehead for a Spin
11. Experts Argue About Cold Fusion
12. Purdue University Scientist Stands By His Findings
14. SCIENCE AND ENERGY NEWS
15. BITS AND PIECES
“When a paradigm shifts, everyone goes back to zero;
your past guarantees nothing in the future if the rules change."
— Joel Barker
"Koonin’s presentation showed the deep conflict experienced by those with expert knowledge when faced by an utterly impersonal heresy whose potential
sweep of change was quite inconceivable."
— Charles Beaudette
EDITORIALS AND OPINION
1. From the Editor
[Note: This article has been revised since the publication of this issue. The updated version is here.]
The Cold Fusion Problem
What's the real problem with cold fusion?
Is it that it fails to conform to conventional theory?
That it is not a practical source of energy yet?
That it's impossible to replicate?
Or that it is pathological science?
No, it's none of the above.
The cold fusion problem is not a science problem; it is a human problem.
Cold fusion had four initial problems on the day it was announced to the world, March 23, 1989.
- The magnitude of the claim and its potential impact were immense.
- Hot fusion had failed to meet its promised expectations; cold fusion posed an imminent threat.
- There was a worldwide comedy of communication errors; this caused a tragic breakdown in scientific communications.
- Cold fusion was, and still is, a difficult science problem to solve.
This article examines five distinct periods in cold fusion's history.
||March 23, 1989
||Cold Fusion Announcement
||May 1, 1989
||Baltimore APS Denouncement
||Nov. 12, 1989
||Department of Energy Report
||Excess Heat Validation
||Department of Energy Re-examination
This first period lasted 39 days, during which the story was reported in the press with optimism and, gradually, with increasing skepticism.
On May 1, the first period of cold fusion's history came to a close. The turning point was the American Physical Society meeting in Baltimore, Md. No one has captured the essence of that critical turning point better than David Goodstein, California Institute of Technology vice provost and professor of physics.
"For all practical purposes," Goodstein wrote, "the cold fusion episode ended a mere five weeks after it began on May 1, 1989. All three scientists from Caltech [Steven Koonin, Nate Lewis and Charlie Barnes] executed between them a perfect slam-dunk that cast cold fusion right out of the arena of mainstream science."
One reporter who witnessed the meeting wrote, "Steve Koonin and Nate Lewis nearly killed cold fusion between them. Koonin later said that someone told him that he hit a triple and Lewis hit a home run. 'He was good,' Koonin said about Lewis. 'People were just stunned.'"
At Baltimore, the initial four problems gave way to two secondary reactions.
As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer predicted for any new truth, cold fusion was met with violent opposition and outright hostility.
Because this was a science de novo, the mass media failed to recognize the new, true experts in this new field.
During this second period, after May 1, the cold fusion story reported in the press was nearly entirely negative. Within days of the Baltimore conference, most people in the world would have learned that the idea of cold fusion had all been a big mistake.
Since cold fusion hasn't been prevalent in the mass media since that time, the impressions made in the first week of May have largely determined public awareness of cold fusion to this day.
This second period lasted for six months, until the Department of Energy's first cold fusion review panel concluded its investigation and decided that cold fusion wasn't deserving of a special research program. The organizers of the review selected committee members who had made their rejection of cold fusion publicly known, so it's not surprising that the committee came to the conclusion they did.
The Nov. 12, 1989, publication by the Department of Energy's cold fusion committee marked the beginning of the third period of cold fusion. The negative response by the Department of Energy made official the public perception that had been established through the scientific and mass media.
This third period was a largely quiet and largely ignored period for cold fusion, except for those researchers who stayed active in the field.
By early 1995, over 20 replications of the Fleischmann-Pons excess heat effect had been published. This was a significant milestone.
"Excess heat" is the term used to describe the key phenomenon of cold fusion, where more heat is measured than can be accounted for by known science. This energy is produced without harmful radiation or waste, and it can be achieved in room-temperature experiments. It is this factor that indicates a novel source of energy. These experimental characteristics are profoundly auspicious, and in fact, sound too good to be true. They are at the heart of this science controversy.
Among the early published papers was the 58-page seminal Fleischmann-Pons paper, "Calorimetry of the Palladium-Deuterium-Heavy Water System," published in 1990 in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry.
While critics easily found faults in their 1989 "Preliminary Report," this later paper has not been invalidated. Only one group has attempted to challenge the 1990 Fleischmann-Pons paper.
In 1992, the Wilson group at General Electric published an attempt to refute the 1990 paper, but Fleischmann and Pons subsequently responded to the Wilson critique. Wilson et al. failed to rebut.
Since this paper has not been refuted, it therefore stands that the Fleischmann-Pons work is valid according to the strict interpretation of the normal rules of engagement for science.
From this point forward, all further informal critiques to the Fleischmann-Pons work are consequently pathological, they have failed to follow the scientific method.
In March 2004, word leaked out that the Department of Energy would take a second look at cold fusion. Eight months later, the mixed conclusion of the Department of Energy's review committee had little official impact on the field.
However, the press coverage generated by the second review sparked a turning point for cold fusion. We are now in the fifth period of cold fusion's history.
The Magnitude of The Claim Is Immense
The first problem with cold fusion or, more properly, the field of condensed matter nuclear science, is that it is so big. Bigger than most of us can imagine, comprehend and process. What we now know about the subject is just the beginning of a major scientific and technological revolution. Being able to change one element into another with "relative" ease, and being able to produce energy with "relative" ease, sometimes challenges the minds of even the most avid acceptors.
The reason this is a problem is that, in 1989, there was no way for most people to comprehend the magnitude of cold fusion. Nearly everybody underestimated what the claims implied.
Many of those who did sense the magnitude were in utter disbelief. "Large heat release from fusion at room-temperature would be a multidimensional revolution," one of the most prominent scientists in the United States said in 1989.
Physicist Jean Paul Vigier, who worked closely with the famous French physicist Louis de Broglie and American David Bohm, was an editor of Physics Letters A. A few years after the cold fusion announcement he was one of the few physicists who not only recognzied the magnitude of the claim, but who also had the courage to look honestly at it.
"There is something new coming up," Vigier said. "You know, professors who teach physics hate to change their courses. Generally they don't appreciate monsters which crop up which cannot be explained within the frame of the present knowledge."
The magnitude and the implications are still difficult to see except by spending ample time speaking to the researchers who are on the leading edge of this field. Because many people failed to, or were initially unable to assess its magnitude, they reacted and responded to it in odd ways.
The public expected those who introduced the field to have had the foresight and the wisdom to introduce it and their discovery properly. People expected critical observers to react rationally. People expected the news media to be able to identify the experts in a new, unrecognized field of science.
None of those expectations was met, and the failure to meet those expectations was symptomatic of the larger failure: to recognize the magnitude of what was being presented to the world.
Hot Fusion Had Failed to Meet Expectations; Cold Fusion Was an Imminent Threat
The second problem is that hot fusion doesn't work.
It's not that hot fusion doesn't work scientifically. Fusion-producing plasmas are real. They are reproducible and repeatable on demand. Most researchers in the hot fusion field are hard-working, intelligent people who care just as much about the environment and humanity as anybody else.
But the field hasn't been funded with the intent to create an interesting science project. The point of the last 56 years of hot fusion research and the $20 billion from taxpayers' pockets has been to deliver a working source of energy.
Granted, the field has well-understood science, and it is proven. What it does not have is a useful technology following from the science. No one has invented a reactor to provide useful energy from that science.
"But we've made lots of progress," advocates from the hot fusion industry say. "We are getting closer and closer to making as much energy from our experimental reactors as they consume."
On occasion, those advocates proudly report how much energy the Tokamaks produced, but they'll neglect to make it clear that the experiments consumed more energy than they generated. This isn't a lie, however; it is merely deceptive.
And some hot fusion advocates say, "Well, theoretically, if we had run such-and- such experiment with tritium-deuterium, rather than deuterium alone, we would have seen a net energy gain." Fine. Now, do it.
Is the point to bash hot fusion research? No. Do we know for certain that hot fusion won't work? No. Does society need to investigate every possible alternative to fossil fuels? Certainly.
So, hot fusion researchers, keep at it. Do it. Make it work. But don't say that the idea of cold fusion wasn't a major problem for you in 1989.
The day the news of cold fusion hit, the Financial Times wrote that hot fusion wasn't expected to achieve the necessary conditions to succeed until 1992.
"Even then, it is not clear whether [the Joint European Torus] will achieve the 'break even' state, in which the energy produced by the nuclear reaction exceeds the energy spent heating up the reactor," the Financial Times wrote.
Cold fusion was a big problem for hot fusion in 1989. It still is. The war against cold fusion isn't just about science.
The congressional hearing regarding cold fusion on April 26, 1989, marked an imminent threat for the hot fusion community. It faced having to share some of its funding (and stature) with the new fusion researchers and the new fusion laboratories.
The hot fusion field had been on a long losing streak, both in funding and public confidence, when Fleischmann and Pons came along.
Were hot fusion researchers afraid of cold fusion? Look no further than the statements from Steven Earl Jones of Brigham Young University.
Months before the physics community voiced its outrage at Fleischmann and Pons, Jones had no problem envisioning that his version of cold fusion might be the answer to the world's energy problems.
On Dec. 10, 1988, Jones wrote, in a draft proposal to the Department of Energy, "We have demonstrated for the first time that nuclear fusion occurs when hydrogen and deuterium are electrolytically loaded into a metallic foil. This remarkable process obviates the need for elaborate machinery to generate and contain plasmas to induce fusion. We are now exploring means to enhance the fusion yield of this new process."
On March 24, before Jones knew how violently his colleagues in the physics community would react to the Fleischmann-Pons announcement, he submitted his cold fusion paper to Nature.
In the next few weeks, the pessimism and skepticism of the Fleischmann-Pons announcement escalated. Jones' paper was already in the hopper.
On April 27, Nature published his paper. His conclusion states, "The discovery of cold nuclear fusion in condensed matter opens the possibility of a new path to fusion energy." This same issue also included a very negative forecast from Richard Garwin on cold fusion as a potential source of fusion energy.
On May 1, in front of the world's physics community at Baltimore, and after Fleischmann and Pons had triggered an outrage in the nuclear physics community with their proposal of cold fusion, Jones changed his tune.
On May 3, The New York Times reported the news of Jones' Baltimore presentation. His work was "less contentious," the Times wrote, than that of Fleischmann and Pons.
Jones "did not claim that any useful energy was produced," the Times wrote. "The result suggests the possibility of fusion, he said, although it is not likely to be useful as an energy source."
The Times reporter could not have been expected to have caught this contradiction from Jones' paper in Nature.
"Physicists who have investigated Dr. Jones's report have been fairly restrained in their criticism, acknowledging that Dr. Jones is a careful scientist," the Times said.
The Times article continued, "[Jones] drew cheers and laughter when he concluded his talk by saying, 'Is this a shortcut to fusion energy? Read my lips: No!' He defended his own experiment, describing his results as a 'fragile flower' that would never grow into a 'tree' producing useful energy, but could nevertheless 'beautify' science."
As an aside, Jones would, in later years, vehemently and publicly disparage the growing body of evidence that evolved to validate the Fleischmann-Pons type of cold fusion.
Privately, though, in recent years, Jones appears to be seeking investment funds to develop cold fusion as an energy source, despite the fact that his version of cold fusion produces a trillionth of the energy than the Fleischmann-Pons version.
Not surprisingly, as cold fusion (as a potential energy source) is coming into greater acceptance, Jones conceded on Feb. 13 that the Fleischmann-Pons claim of excess heat is real.
On May 1, 1989, the physics community didn't seem to mind that Jones had completely contradicted what he had written just days earlier. It was relieved that Jones had publicly recanted his heretical proposition. After all, chemists doing cold fusion were easy to dismiss, but one of their own, a physicist? That would have been too much.
Fleischmann and Pons, however, made no such retraction. Their threat to hot fusion was clear and present. They posed a threat not only to hot fusion researcher's stature and funding, but also to their entire worldview of physics.
Unlike Vigier, most physicists failed to consider the possibility that the Fleischmann-Pons claim of excess heat may have been valid.
Consequently, a few representatives from the hot fusion field took it upon themselves to minimize the cold fusion threat. As they saw it, cold fusion was a waste of money on a non-existent phenomenon, and they were doing their duty to prevent the public from having false hope.
Comedy of Errors; A Tragic Breakdown in Scientific Communications
The third problem was a massive breakdown in scientific communication. Yes, Fleischmann, Pons, the University of Utah administrators, their attorneys and Pons' private attorneys can all be faulted for their part in the events of 1989. So can Steven Jones at Brigham Young University, his collaborator Jan Rafelski at the University of Arizona and Ryszard Gajewski at the Department of Energy.
Nevertheless, after studying the history carefully, I do not think anyone could say that they could have done better in 1989 than any of these players.
I also can understand the horrific predicament that electrochemists Nathan Lewis of Caltech and Alan Bard of the University of Texas at Austin were in when they failed or, in the case of Lewis, perceived that they failed to replicate the Fleischmann-Pons experiment.
Gary Taubes, in his morbid account of cold fusion history, which Bard and Lewis reviewed and approved before publication, clearly shows the early struggles of these two chemists and their failures to replicate cold fusion. It is easy to understand why these two scientists made their hasty decision that cold fusion could not be so.
Lewis played a key role in "debunking" cold fusion in Baltimore, but that was only after he failed in the first few weeks to get his cold fusion cells to work.
After all, how would it look for chemists with prominent reputations such as these two to fail in their attempt to replicate the experiment of the century? The same experiment was reported in the Financial Times as being "no more complex than work done by chemistry undergraduates."
Of course, it was indeed extremely complex, but only a few people recognized that fact early on. Who wouldn't have been mad as hell if, like Lewis and Bard, they didn't understand the experiment and couldn't get Fleischmann or Pons to teach them the very intricate details that were required?
Of course, quite a few researchers did have early successes, but that is part of another, forthcoming story.
Ardent cold fusion fans may consider this compassion for Lewis and Bard's failures overly generous. Did these two make an a priori judgment against cold fusion before they even began their first experiments? The evidence does not support this hypothesis.
The history shows that Lewis and Bard did try their hardest, at least for a short while. Unfortunately, they didn't have what it took to make cold fusion work or, in the case of Lewis, the awareness that it might have worked. Even if Lewis consciously changed the calibration constant every day to insure that the "noise" was eliminated, is it not difficult to understand his predicament.
With the outrage toward, and the rejection of, cold fusion from the plasma physicists, how could Lewis have risked telling the world that his experiment might have, just possibly, shown a very weak and uncorrelated signal of excess heat?
Lewis brought good news to the Baltimore physicists. First, he was a chemist, and second, as he told them, he was an objective scientist.
His colleague, theoretical physicist Steven Koonin, had submitted a paper to Nature on April 7, 1989, only two weeks after the Utah announcement, explaining why cold fusion was unlikely, though the clear implication was that cold fusion was theoretically impossible. "We know of no plausible mechanism" for cold fusion, Koonin wrote.
A week earlier, Richard Garwin may have been the first prominent scientist to state publicly his rejection of cold fusion.
His daughter, Laura Garwin, was an editor at Nature. When she received the Fleischmann-Pons manuscript in late March, she immediately formed a negative opinion about it. "I was extremely surprised that that paper got published [in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry]," Laura Garwin said. "It didn't have the elementary control experiment. The obvious thing you see when you look at that paper is, Why didn't they do it with H2O? Any high-school student could've refereed it, because of that obvious ingredient of the scientific method."
Certainly this was a natural, honest concern on the part of Laura Garwin and many other bystanders. Fleischmann and Pons' first problem was that they underestimated the critics' incredulity of their work by several orders of magnitude.
Understandably, running a control of H2O would have seemed like a pretty stupid idea for Fleischmann and Pons. After all, a substantial body of knowledge existed on the subject of palladium electrolysis in normal water, and there had been no previous reports of anomalous effects.
What got them in hot water was that Fleischmann and Pons just didn't feel the need or the desire to explain everything to others. This attitude was typical of the subsequent communications, or lack thereof, between Fleischmann and Pons and the rest of the scientific world.
It may or may not have been helpful for Fleischmann and Pons to show a plain water control. Laura Garwin's point was that cold fusion was clearly a mistake; a plain water control would have shown the effect identical to the heavy water experiment and revealed that their hypothesis and experiment was somehow flawed, or so she might have thought.
Robert Huggins, a materials scientist at Stanford, perhaps one of the first to claim a confirmation of Fleischmann and Pons, did, however, run a normal water control. But this confirmation was summarily dismissed by Stanford atomic physicist Walter Myerhof.
Myerhof showed a comparison of Huggins' work to that of Fleischmann-Pons, the former reporting 0.2 MJ of energy, equal to 20 MJ/mole of palladium, the latter reporting 4 MJ equal to 20 MJ/mole of palladium.
Myerhof explained that typical chemical reactions produce only a few hundredths of energy per mole of palladium and that there is "no known chemical or physical process that can explain this 'excess energy.'" On this point, he was absolutely correct.
"What is the solution to this problem?" Myerhof asked the Baltimore audience. He outlined a few likely scenarios that would explain the problem. Myerhof didn't do any of his own experiments. He wasn't an electrochemist, and he certainly didn't have a background like chemist and materials scientist Steven Crouch-Baker, working on the Huggins team, who learned calorimetry at Oxford.
According to Huggins, Myerhof did go into Huggins' laboratory to inspect the work, and he spent an entire five minutes learning how Huggins et al. had theoretically made their mistake.
Yet Myerhof had the arrogance and hubris to assert the claims of excess heat as "fictitious" because it was "impossible to explain with known chemical or physical processes."
Few cases of the cold fusion controversy show such short-sightedness as well as pathological skepticism. Sadly, Myerhof was a featured source for the New York Times on May 3, and many of the world's other media outlets.
Myerhof also explained to the Baltimore audience that both the Fleischmann and Pons and the Huggins experiments were faulty because the cells were not stirred. According to his analysis, this created nonhomogeneity of temperature within the cell and the illusion of excess heat.
"Now this is the situation as of two weeks ago," Myerhof said. "The ground is shifting so rapidly that one doesn't always keep up with everything. I hear now that they are stirring the water. So I am discussing the case of two weeks ago which has this particular kind of configuration."
Myerhof's main point -- purely speculative -- was that the cold fusion cells were not stirred.
Fleischmann and Pons never needed to stir their cells. Their unique cell geometry, which was misreported in the press and misunderstood by the science community, ensured homogeneous temperature gradients without the need for mechanical stirring. They used the natural turbulence of the cell to do the mixing.
Myerhof goofed. He cannot be charged with lying; he most certainly believed he was speaking the truth. However, his actions do raise serious questions about his process of scientific evaluation, skepticism and the publishing of negative results.
But this wasn't enough for Myerhof. He had to top off his presentation with a derisive poem mocking the cold fusion researchers.
"Tens of millions of dollars at stake,
Dear sister and brother
Because scientists put a thermometer
At one place and not another."
The crowd loved it.
I wanted to discuss this history with Myerhof, however I was told by his wife that he is in a nursing home and would be unable to comment.
The story about why Huggins and his group stopped their cold fusion research is unfortunate. Huggins had a falling out with Joe Santucci, the program manager at the Electric Power Research Institute, which was funding the Stanford research.
"We got in trouble with our money source," Huggins said. "Our project manager wanted to set up a private company, so he wanted to keep everything real secret. And he got upset at us because we were telling people what we were doing.
"Santucci got very upset because we had visitors, and we were openly telling them what we were doing. You just cannot keep an activity in a university secret. The purpose of a university is for people to learn from each other.
Photo by S. Krivit
"Anyway, he got really mad, and turned our program off. Some of my people ended up going over to SRI and worked there."
I had some trouble finding Huggins' papers at first but finally found his group's key cold fusion paper from 1990. It was under the name of one of his assistants, Martha Schreiber. I asked Huggins why his name wasn't listed first, since he was the senior researcher.
"I make a habit of putting my name last when I have the opportunity," Huggins said. "Most of the 360 or so publications I've been involved with have my name last. I've always thought students need the visibility a lot more than I do."
A few months ago, two Stanford physics students approached Huggins, recently back from a decade of work abroad, to mentor them in cold fusion experiments. He and the students are eager to start cold fusion research, but unfortunately, they, like many researchers, have little in the way of materials and equipment.
Going back to 1989, on April 12, Richard Garwin attended a one-day cold fusion conference in Erice, Sicily. Two weeks earlier, his daughter had selected him to referee both the Fleischmann-Pons paper and the Jones paper. Garwin's report of the Erice conference was published in Nature on April 20. Garwin concluded, "Large heat release from fusion at room-temperature would be a multidimensional revolution. I bet against its confirmation."
Garwin had privileged information when he published these remarks on April 20. His carefully worded bet clearly differentiated between the Fleischmann-Pons claim and the Jones claim.
Not surprisingly, he rejected the Fleischmann and Pons paper and accepted the Jones paper, which was published by Nature on April 27. This was the beginning of the factionalism that continued to grow, with mainstream physicists cautiously accepting the Jones work but rejecting the Fleischmann-Pons work.
Since very early on in cold fusion's history, some people have thought that Fleischmann and Pons were trying to hide something. Aside from constraints by the patent attorneys, there does not appear to be any evidence to support this claim. Jerrold Footlick, a former Newsweek journalist, in his book "Truth and Consequences," performed the best investigation on this matter.
However, they clearly seemed reluctant to share details with others. This does not indicate an insidious cover-up; this is merely intellectual arrogance: "Hey, if you're not smart enough to figure this out for yourself, don't waste our time. Don't try this at home."
Most of the critics’ minds were made up quickly. After all, on the face of it, cold fusion did look ridiculous. When the world's critics started bearing down on the two inventors, to "cooperate" with the critics seemed useless. They were outnumbered, thousands against just two.
Footlick recounts the final straw for Fleischmann and Pons, which occured at the May 8, 1989 Electrochemical Society meeting press conference in Los Angeles:
"After a few timid questions, a [scientist] from the California Institute of Technology—a nonjournalist
who had crashed the press conference—commandeered a microphone and began shouting loaded questions at Pons and
Fleischmann. Soon everyone was grabbing microphones and interrupting each other; a number of people, some of them physicists
cholerically denouncing the work, stood on chairs to shout. Pons and Fleischmann sat stony-faced in the television lights, perhaps
stunned, certainly angry. After a few minutes, they announced that they would participate no longer, stood up, and walked out."
Cold Fusion: A Difficult Science Problem to Solve
The fourth, immediate problem with cold fusion was that it was difficult for the original experimenters to repeat and difficult for others to replicate.
People often compare cold fusion to the other big science news of the 1980s, high-temperature superconductivity.
They believe that high-temperature superconductivity was valid because it was easily replicated and that cold fusion was not valid because no one had replicated it.
This is a misinformed and erroneous conclusion on several points.
Cold fusion was replicated first in 1990 and subsequently numerous times. However, cold fusion was and remains, much harder to replicate than high-temperature superconductivity.
This difficulty did not signify that cold fusion was false, only that the hypothesis of cold fusion was still uncertain.
Mark Goldes, chairman and chief executive officer of Room Temperature Superconductors Inc. of Sebastopol, Calif., remembers that it was "estimated that 1,600 scientists across the world went quickly to their laboratories trying to and largely succeeding in reproducing high-temperature superconductivity."
"Within days of the first announcement by J. George Bednorz and K. Alexander Müller of IBM at an American Physical Society meeting," Goldes said, "high-temperature superconductivity was quickly reproduced around the world."
There was no theory to explain the phenomenon; in fact, this "extraordinary breakthrough showed that the original theoretical temperature limit for superconductivity was wrong," Goldes said.
"To this day," according to Goldes, "nobody can claim that they have the theory. At one point, it was our understanding that there were more than 50 competing theories."
Regardless, the lack of a theory did not prevent the acceptance of high-temperature superconductivity.
The main difference, as Goldes said, is that "the initial paper had enough details that people who were familiar with superconductivity at low temperature could immediately see how to proceed."
The second difference is that, unlike cold fusion, which, for all intents and purposes, came out of nowhere, high-temperature superconductivity was a follow-on from a pre-existing field -- in physics.
It has taken many years for researchers to understand the technical complexities of cold fusion. A forthcoming paper by Graham Hubler of the Naval Research Laboratory in the Journal of Surface Coatings & Technology provides an excellent overview of these challenges.
Violent Opposition and Outright Hostility
The violent opposition and hostility toward cold fusion was a symptom of the first set of problems. And the climate of hostility became a significant impediment to a reasonable and rational scientific debate.
Let's get back to the researchers who have been working in hot fusion. Of course they were, and still are, fearful of losing federal research funds. With a science-averse administration like Bush's, nearly everyone is afraid that their next federal research grant won't be approved or, if it is approved, won't be funded. The good news for hot fusion researchers is that their funding has been steady in recent years, and even slightly increased this year.
But in 1989, when Fleischmann and Pons showed up with their test tube reactor, hot fusion funding was on a steep decline from a one-time purse of a billion dollars a year. Hot fusion researchers were scared. Fleischmann and Pons threatened their funding, their livelihood and their stature.
And they or their representatives retaliated quickly, viciously and aggressively.
As Goodstein mentioned, his colleagues Koonin and Lewis led the charge against Fleischmann and Pons.
"My conclusion," Koonin said in 1989, "based on my experience, my knowledge of nuclear physics and my intuition, is that the experiments are just wrong, and that we're suffering from the incompetence and perhaps delusion of Drs. Pons and Fleischmann."
After the applause, Koonin concluded, "The phenomenon of cold fusion was not unknown to the ancients." He then proceeded to read an Aesop's fable known both as the "Boasting Traveler" and "The Leap at Rhodes," which Koonin suggested might be relocated to Salt Lake City.
In a sophisticated, intelligent manner, Koonin was saying only one thing: I don't believe Fleischmann and Pons and I don't trust them.
Koonin can't be faulted as being evil. He's just ruthless. He "calls 'em as [he] sees 'em," as he told me a few weeks ago.
Koonin must have been convinced that he was helping to set the standards for correct scientific investigation and, in his view, Fleischmann and Pons simply had not lived up to these standards.
Perhaps Lewis and Koonin, in their failure to perform a successful experiment and to conceive of a plausible mechanism, could have announced to the audience at Baltimore and to the world, via the assembled press, that they were simply unable to confirm the Fleischmann and Pons experiment.
Perhaps they could have left it at that. But they didn't. They insulted Fleischmann and Pons and "hit them really hard," as Koonin said. Koonin's assault was premeditated and carefully thought out. “I talked to a lot of people before I settled on those words," Koonin said a week later in a May 8 interview.
Perhaps Koonin had at least some peripheral recognition of the damage he had done. Not only did Koonin believe that they had done a good job at Baltimore, he also remarked, "That we said these things just won't matter."
In retrospect, it certainly did matter. What scientist, from that point forward, would want to risk such public defamation and humiliation by expressing interest in and support of cold fusion?
Many critics took every conceivable problem with cold fusion, significant or petty, real or imagined, and made a very convincing case why cold fusion should have been dismissed and ignored.
In the course of the critics' campaign, the effect of their reaction also made the United States an inhospitable place for Fleischmann and Pons to live and work.
The harassment went all the way to Pons' children, who could not walk through the halls of their grade school without being taunted and shamed by other students, who had heard from their parents of the alleged misdeeds of Fleischmann and Pons.
Critics faulted Fleischmann and Pons for not responding to the miscommunications, which were just as much their own fault as anyone's. But they did this at the same time they were berating, shaming and butchering Fleischmann and Pons privately and publicly.
Not being experts in public relations, Fleischmann and Pons reacted in the only way they knew, and they retreated.
In the last sentence of "Excess Heat and Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed," Charles Beaudette asks, "Why, so often, must the next Columbus be brought home in chains?” Perhaps we should accept this as inevitable, part of human nature. Or not.
And what of the rest of the scientific community that allowed this to happen? Some of those who were present May 1, 1989, at Baltimore cheered enthusiastically at the public flogging of Fleischmann and Pons. Some looked away.
A few of them have provided eyewitness accounts of the "uncivilized" human drama that occurred that evening and a week later at the May 8 Los Angeles Electrochemical Society meeting.
Dorothy Browner Hubler, wife of a U.S. Navy scientist, was at the Baltimore meeting:
"I was just appalled at the kind of verbal responses that were given. I did not expect to hear profanity; I did not expect to hear people calling other people names. I can understand an emotional reaction, but I thought this was just a little bit out of control."
Not all scientists at Baltimore were hasty with their judgment and mockery, however.
Justin Kirk Dickens, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, despite having made more than 300 runs using a variety of configurations and failing to see neutrons above background, was somber and resolute.
"We shall continue," Dickens said, "and we shall continue because we should stay in the scientific arena as long as it is not understood."
I was curious what happened with his research. I was recently able to contact Dickens but he declined to comment.
Mass Media: Failure to Recognize the New Experts
The May 3, 1989, New York Times article by Malcolm Browne, reporting on the May 1 Baltimore meeting, was perhaps the most destructive media assault on this new science. We cannot blame the Times, however, or Browne. Every word in his article is factual and objective from a journalistic point of view. But he missed the real story.
Browne and the New York Times were not alone. However, his article provides an excellent display of the problem.
The problem was that he was reporting what the self-appointed experts told him at Baltimore. Fleischmann and Pons were unavailable for comment in Baltimore; they did not attend the meeting. As they predicted accurately, they were tried in a kangaroo court and hanged.
The outspoken individuals in Baltimore were not experts in cold fusion; they were far from it. But there was no way for Browne or any other reporter to have known this in 1989.
In 1989, most reporters, with the exception of Jerry Bishop of the Wall Street Journal, did not realize that yesterday's experts in nuclear science were not the experts in today's condensed matter nuclear science.
Cold fusion went through a dark tunnel over the next 16 years. Most reporters and news outlets, like many critics in academia, also bet against cold fusion, and this position has made it difficult for them to reconsider their public stance.
The 2004 Department of Energy review, while mixed, sparked new interest in the field.
Kenneth Chang has been covering cold fusion objectively for The New York Times in recent years. Fortunately, he knows the true experts and sources in this new field.
In January, Michael Lemonick, author of the 1989 Time magazine cover story on cold fusion, mentioned the subject of cold fusion in a very derogatory manner in an article on the Korean stem cell controversy.
A few members of the cold fusion community vehemently informed him that his understanding of the field was outdated and very wrong.
Lemonick and I subsequently began a friendly discussion on the current perspective of cold fusion.
"Clearly, cold fusion has been assigned to the 'crank' category by many scientists," Lemonick said, "but I'd love for my students to hear from someone like you, who has thoughtful arguments and evidence that this label may be very wrong."
A few months later, on April 3, I spoke with him and the students in his class, "They Laughed at Einstein: How Science Responds to Cranks and Visionaries," at Princeton University.
Lemonick, the students and I had a lively two-hour conversation about cold fusion. It was a learning experience for all. We didn't agree on everything, but we had an honest, productive dialogue, which is something that is sorely needed in this subject area.
Optimists Refuse to Give Up; Pessimists Get Worried
Months and years went by after the initial uproar in 1989 and some of the most outspoken representatives appear to have become concerned that cold fusion might have been real.
They noticed that cold fusion wouldn't die, like a few pessimists had predicted. They noticed that a few researchers were steadfast in their conviction, despite overwhelming pressure to conform and give up.
And when pessimists presented a clever argument that might appear to offer a conventional explanation for the Fleischmann-Pons claim, cold fusion researchers would provide the evidence to the contrary.
Despite the fact that Douglas Morrison denounced the entire episode of cold fusion as pathological science on May 1, 1989, he still traveled to every international cold fusion conference until his death in 2001 to observe and report.
Despite the fact that they publicly denounced cold fusion in 1989, Alan Bard, Charlie Barnes and Howard Birnbaum visited SRI International in 1991 to see, and in fact confirm, what was rumored to be a positive cold fusion experiment exhibiting excess heat.
Despite the fact that Richard Garwin and Nathan Lewis publicly maintained that cold fusion was a fluke, they had no problem accepting money from Lee Hammarstrom, working with a "black" Department of Defense program, to audit the SRI cold fusion experiment two years later in 1993, also confirming the evidence for excess heat.
Garwin has denied that he confirmed the SRI experiment. This is reasonable. How would it look for him? Being one of the most prominent physicists in the United States, if not the world, he publicly bet against cold fusion, when it was only 28 days old.
The audits by these prominent scientists were first reported in The Rebirth of Cold Fusion. To date, mainstream media has not informed the public of these audits, perhaps for good reason. Who would want to be the bearer of such bad news: that respectable members of the science community were not forthright with the public, that they withheld significant information about a potential new energy source?
In public, however, these men conspired (con-spire: to act in harmony toward a common end) with Gary Taubes to write a very destructive book on cold fusion, in which they attempted to commit cold fusion to a very short life. Taubes thanked them on the first page of his book for reading the entire draft before it was published and for providing their "suggested corrections."
Mike Epstein (with apologies to Lizzie Borden) wrote the following summary of this malice in his review of the Taubes book:
"Gary Taubes took an axe
Gave Pons and Fleischmann forty whacks
And when he saw what he had done
He gave John Bockris forty-one."
Behind the scenes, these well-respected scientists saw supportive evidence of cold fusion, but they didn't inform the public. And what if they had? Imagine the outrage if the public learned that the truth about cold fusion was suppressed or ignored? Imagine the outrage from the critics' peers. They would have been instantly labeled "believers." It was, as it still is today, a no-win situation for them. Unfortunately for them, as more time goes by, more evidence of their negligence is appearing.
The best they could do, perhaps, was hope that cold fusion researchers would figure out the mechanics and the theory of cold fusion so irrefutably that it would be easy and without risk for them to support the new fusion.
In the following years, when cold fusion poked its head out from under the Taubes party's premature burial, these critics looked for ways to explain away and dismiss cold fusion. As time went on, cold fusion researchers eliminated the causes for each of these critiques, one by one.
When nearly all the possible reasons to dismiss cold fusion were exhausted, some of the critics demanded that cold fusion research meet the expectations of a technology, rather than a science.
"It's been eleven years since [the SRI report]," Garwin said. "For a real phenomenon, you would think that it would have emerged and be on the way to exploitation."
I resisted asking Garwin if he thought hot fusion was a real phenomenon, since it had been going for 52 years at the time and it's not expected to be commercially exploited for at least another 50 years.
Other critics, who had run out of legitimate scientific critique, resorted to slander, with the tacit permission of mainstream science.
"Just by looking at these guys on TV, it is obvious that they were incompetent boobs," Princeton University physicist Will Happer said. Happer was a member of the 1989 Department of Energy cold fusion review panel, as well as former head of the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Research (now the Office of Science).
Pathological Skepticism and Disbelief: A Case Study
Compact examples of this unscientific behavior, showing the hatred, fear and disbelief of the few outspoken world science representatives, are rare.
Recently, however, I came across one such article that is replete with such language.
Three authors signed their names to this article: A. V. Arzhannikov, G. Ya. Kezerashvili and É. P. Kruglyakov. The title is "On Russian Conferences on Cold Fusion and Nuclear Transmutation," and it appeared in a Russian Academy of Sciences Physics publication in 1999. [42 (6) 615 – 616 (1999) Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk]
In Russia, instead of attacking Fleischmann and Pons, critics attack Yuri Bazhutov at the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radiowave Propagation of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Granted, Bazhutov is known for some unusual ideas, but this does not mean his ideas may not be significant some day.
Bazhutov has led many, if not all, the Russian cold fusion conferences. He will take the lead on the forthcoming International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science next year in Sochi, Russia.
The authors of this 1999 Russian Academy of Sciences article start by pronouncing that the "final conclusion to be drawn from [cold fusion] studies is definitely NO." [Emphasis is original]
This is reminiscent of 1990, when Nature editor Sir John Maddox prematurely pronounced that cold fusion had reached its terminal resting state.
From there, the authors make a blanket and unsubstantiated character attack on Russian cold fusion researchers: "Many of those involved do not live up to academic and, in some cases, even to good faith standards." I found no facts in the article to support this claim and must conclude that these are merely the opinions of the authors.
The authors criticize "the cold nuclear fusion community" for turning into "an isolated entity." That researchers of a
paradigm- breaking phenomenon will get the blessings and goodwill of the incumbent science authorities is not likely. Machiavelli would strongly disagree.
The statement by the authors that the community produces "numerous publications of highly improbable and extraordinarily bizarre content," only reveals their own limited imagination and inability to consider new science.
The authors observe but are in abject disbelief when confronted by experimental evidence by Luch researcher Irina Savvatimova:
"She has achieved what thus far the world's entire physics community has not been able to do: transmute elements (change nuclei of one element into another) over most of the periodic table. While skilled physicists build particle accelerators to be able to occasionally observe a single event of this kind, their colleagues at ‘Luch’ do this effortlessly by just bombarding metal surfaces with ions in a common gas discharge. And miracles like this abound throughout the conference proceedings under review."
If you can put aside the sarcastic attitude of the authors for a moment and read this paragraph literally, it's brilliant. The authors got it right. They unintentionally explain the perspective and magnitude of the paradigm that cold fusion stands to break.
And is Savvatimova the only one to observe anomalous isotopic abundances in her "cold fusion" work? Readers of New Energy Times already know the answer to that question. Unfortunately, the authors of the article are probably unaware of the world of cold fusion outside of their small Russian window.
Astute readers may notice a relationship among the Savvatimova work, the Widom-Larsen theoretical work, and the Miley and the Iwamura experimental work.
So, yes, these miracles do abound. A revolution in science is occurring before our eyes. Some people will lead the revolution, some will follow and others will get in the way.
The authors voice their disbelief at the results of Alexandr Koldamasov, whose work was further developed by Hyunik Yang. "One of the most ‘outstanding’ results was achieved by A. I. Koldamasov, in whose work the fusion process takes place in the field of an electric discharge."
The jury's still out on the Koldamasov-Yang hydraulic-electrostatic work. I wouldn't be so quick to mock this experiment.
The authors continue: "For ten years now, we have been witnessing the formation of a weird self-isolated community - indeed a sect - that produced something inconsistent, incorrect, and simply illiterate, whereas traditional science, while looking at all this with disgust, does nothing whatsoever to let its attitude be known. Neither the Russian Academy of Sciences nor the Ministry of the Nuclear Power industry have spoken out."
Presumably the authors seek to put a halt to this research, or perhaps defame its proponents as Americans like Happer have done.
It bothers the authors that Bazhutov had the "nerve" to ask for government funding to learn more about the science. Bazhutov's request was for "'facilitating the creation of a prototype unit for completing the research, obtaining stable results, developing technology for translating these results into practice, and for carrying out experimental work with the aim of establishing Russia's priority in this area.'”
The authors are annoyed that Bazhutov has not perfected the results yet. Consequently, they don't see why he should be given a chance to do so. "Clearly Mr. Bazhutov has let the cat out of the bag: no stable results yet - but give us some money! Where is the logic here, for heaven's sake?"
Cold fusion proponents try to find the answers to solve these problems. Opponents try to find reasons to dismiss cold fusion. Really, where is the logic? And what type of researcher is most likely to contribute to solving global problems facing humanity?
The authors express the same objection voiced by MIT researchers when the University of Utah requested congressional support for a national cold fusion research center in Utah. History repeats itself. "And, mind you," the Russian authors protest, "it is Luch which should be appointed as the lead institution on the project."
Bazhutov does have the skills, the experience and the background in the field.
The authors continue their scorn of Bazhutov's request to the Russian government. "Should the said research be funded, the institute would be able to develop and create demonstration units capable of confirming the possibility of excess heat release and reduced waste radioactivity. Thus we see how ‘research work’ of a highly questionable nature may become the subject of a highest-level discussion in the country."
Are these matters appropriate for discussions at highest levels in every nation? As stated in the 2004 federal testimony of U.S. patent examiner Thomas Valone, it is "a noble and patriotic act to make [one's nation] less dependent upon conventional energy by seeking alternative forms of energy."
The Scientific Press: Facing the Stigma and a Pressure to Conform
This brings to light the next problem with cold fusion. With hostility against cold fusion and the institutionalized stigma against it, few editors and journalists have the courage or perhaps the political stamina to withstand the climate of skeptical terrorism.
Is terrorism too strong a word? There is a Navy scientist who nearly lost his job just for presenting a cold fusion paper as a Navy representative. There is an MIT professor who was given a choice to stay in the JASONS or continue his interest in cold fusion. There is a retired Navy scientist who was given a choice to be a filing clerk or find work elsewhere after a new department head, unfriendly to cold fusion, took over the group he was in. And there is Valone, the U.S. patent examiner who was fired, in a large part, for his support of cold fusion.
Last month, a journal editor terminated a dialogue with Mel Miles, an electrochemist with the University of La Verne, regarding his manuscript submission, which reported results from a run of nine cold fusion experiments. Eight of them yielded excess heat. The explanation for the failure of the ninth is known.
The editor refused Miles' request to send his manuscript to reviewers who were skilled in cold fusion. That the editor declined to do so is unconscionable, however understandable. I speculate that the editor was terrified to be the first in more than a decade to publish a paper reporting evidence of excess heat.
On the other hand, consider the editors of Naturwissenschaften, the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, European Physical Journal A and the European Physical Journal C for publishing "cold fusion" papers in recent months. I have been privileged to have insights into the challenges they and the authors faced to get these papers through the review process, and I commend them for their courage and discipline.
Two cold fusion skeptics have been quoted from time to time in the press over the last 10 years. However,
I have a hunch that Robert Park, in contrast to what we wrote about him in "The Rebirth of Cold Fusion," has read a few cold fusion papers recently and senses the winds of change. Notice what Park has said about cold fusion in the last few years - or, more specifically, what he has not said -- and you'll see what I mean.
I would expect that Park, an expert in pathological science, would be able to recognize pathological skepticism as well.
Take, for example, Bard, one of the chemists who failed in his attempt to replicate the Fleischmann-Pons effect in April 1989. He, along with Koonin and Garwin, were quick to denounce cold fusion publicly. All three were selected by two prominent authorities in conventional nuclear science as members of an "expert and well-balanced" Department of Energy cold fusion panel to help assess cold fusion's validity.
Two years after Bard failed to replicate the Fleischmann-Pons effect, he personally (and secretly) inspected the cold fusion research at SRI International in 1991.
His conclusion was that the research "has been carried out carefully and has shown some excess heat effects that cannot readily be attributed to artifacts or errors." An honest skeptic would conclude that there was evidence -- not proof, just evidence - of possible excess heat, but not Bard.
In the report, Bard states that, before he can accept cold fusion, he must see "detection of nuclear products at levels consistent with the excess heat levels."
As noted in the testimony at Thomas Valone's Department of Commerce hearing on Oct. 28, 2004, "Dr. Melvin Miles and his collaborators [at the Navy's China Lake laboratory] were the first to show that a correlation exists between the rate of excess enthalpy and [helium]."
These results were published in two peer-reviewed journals, the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry in 1993 and Fusion Technology in 1994.
A few years later, the SRI team also measured a very high correlation, and a handful of other researchers have done so, as well.
Since the mid-1990s, most cold fusion critics, having exhausted all other possible conventional explanations for cold fusion, have stated that reproducibility on demand is the ultimate requirement to accept cold fusion.
In 2004, Bard indicated that, for him, full reproducibility is "not good enough." Consequently, he failed to honor his agreement that correlation would be an acceptable goal. He stated that he now will require cold fusion experiments to produce 1,000 percent excess heat and that an accepted theory must exist to explain the phenomenon.
Bard's assertion that the scientific method requires a 10x magnitude of effect is unacceptable. Certainly, good science requires a strong signal-to-noise ratio. However, a scientist who measures "only" a small percentage of heat excess with a high signal-to-noise ratio provides valid scientific data. The SRI International's 90-sigma result would provide reasonable confidence for an honest skeptic.
Does Bard's assertion that an accepted theory is required hold water? No, an accepted theory is not required for a valid scientific phenomenon.
Bard set a goal for cold fusion researchers. They achieved that goal. Bard then changed the goal. They met the next goal. Bard changed the goal again. This is called "moving the goalposts."
Astute observers will note that, in the last 12 years, with the exception of perhaps one, no cold fusion critics have engaged in a proper scientific debate, challenging cold fusion papers in the scientific literature.
Although the general public still remains largely under the misunderstandings created by Koonin, Lewis and others, no one is willing to challenge cold fusion expertly, formally and directly in the published literature.
The scientific validation for cold fusion had emerged by the end of 1994.
Charles Beaudette wrote the most thorough assessment of the primary signature of cold fusion, excess heat, in chapter 14 of "Excess Heat & Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed, 2nd Ed."
"Validation is an ongoing process that becomes more secure with each successive corroboration," Beaudette wrote. "Protocol ordinarily allows the original experiment full confirmation if it is successfully replicated once. That corroboration was properly done in the fall of 1989 by Oriani."
The Oriani group's paper, " Calorimetric Measurements of Excess Power Output During The Cathodic Charging of Deuterium Into Palladium " was published in 1990 in Fusion Technology.
"With confirmation, an experimental observation is admitted into the company of mainstream science even if it conflicts with theory," Beaudette wrote. "During that admissions process, the confirmation must include a full consideration of possible systematic error, error that may be common to every trial."
Beaudette provides an in-depth analysis from seven examples of excess heat replications. Readers wishing to learn of power, integrated energy, signal-to-noise ratios, control cells, various precautions against prosaic errors etc., are encouraged to read this chapter in his book.
At the end of the chapter, he presents a summation of 21 independent validations of excess heat .
He makes a point that should not be missed by any reader.
From this point forward, the challenge to reject cold fusion now is raised to a higher level. In order to reject the claim of excess heat, each and every one of these papers, as well as the seven specific examples reviewed by Beaudette, must be refuted - without exception.
This is not shifting the burden of proof from the claimant; this is the scientific method. These are the published claims. They must be formally refuted, and if not, then accepted.
Many people, myself included, have at times engaged in various arguments about the validity of cold fusion. The debate has even approached the Supreme Court once in recent years, but they chose not to hear the case.
As mentioned earlier, since the 1990 Fleischmann-Pons paper has not been refuted, according to a strict interpretation of the scientific method, their claim of cold fusion stands. This, then, is the defense for cold fusion.
Professional scientists and amateurs alike can argue about cold fusion in Internet chat rooms until the cows come home. In the end, none of these arguments matters. Fleischmann and Pons, and consequently cold fusion, have not been scientifically disproved in the published literature.
Ever since the Wilson critique, and the Fleischmann-Pons response to Wilson in 1992, not one paper has been published to challenge the Fleischmann-Pons seminal paper. There can be no misinterpretations about this. Their claim has stood for 14 years.
I would like to see someone take this fact to the Supreme Court, if necessary, and challenge the Patent and Trademark Office. It is beyond belief that patent examiners today cite "evidence" from Internet discussion lists to deny cold fusion patents.
Bruce Klein, a senior engineering executive from Bechtel Corp., realized the same thing in 1995.
At the 5th International Conference on Cold Fusion, Beaudette writes, Klein "reported the results of an informal survey carried out over the previous eighteen months. This overview included substantive visits to several laboratories. The following quote from that report expresses his view of the field:
'The first [premise] is that the cold fusion effect in its various forms is real. There exists sufficient experimental evidence at this time that this issue no longer needs to be addressed. It is not justified to devote additional resources to demonstrate the existence of the effect.'”
In 2003, Sharon Begley of the Wall Street Journal, after attending the 10th International Conference on Cold Fusion, also put the pieces of this puzzle together.
"The only thing pathological about cold fusion is the way the scientific establishment has treated it," Begley wrote.
Not My Hat!
The cold fusion problem is no longer a scientific problem. It is a human problem.
The biggest mistake of cold fusion was not the rushed University of Utah press conference. It was the rapid dismissal of this new field and the very human but not very objective response to it from the orthodoxy.
This orthodox response has used every logical and illogical argument to avoid saying, "I just don't believe it." This would be a fair and understandable statement.
Why not admit that they "just don't believe it"? Because such an admission runs counter to the self-professed image that science's practitioners are objective and dispassionate. Science is not supposed to be about feelings, emotions, belief or disbelief.
It is unfortunate that Garwin and others rushed so hastily to judgment against cold fusion, and consequently made it difficult for themselves to retract their initial skepticism. Garwin made no effort to hide his disbelief within the first month after cold fusion's announcement.
"Somebody is going to have to eat his hat," Garwin wrote on April 20, 1989, in Nature. "Within the next few weeks, experiments will surely show whether cold nuclear fusion is taking place; if so, it will teach us much besides humility."
Garwin's suggestion that a resolution would be known within weeks, taken alone, might be considered merely optimistic and simplistic. Taken in the context of his "bet against its confirmation," however, this comment was disingenuous.
Garwin is not known for being a thoughtless man; I can only conclude that the Fleischmann-Pons claim was so offensive and so preposterous to him that his emotions got the better of him.
University of Utah President Chase Peterson got it right on March 23, 1989:
"The full story of the research Professor Pons and Professor Fleischmann will announce today will not be known for months or years, as others confirm and challenge and enlarge their ideas and their data."
Extraordinary Claims: Extraordinary Resistance
Many nuclear physicists have a fair and honest reason to reject cold fusion.
From their perspective, the claims of cold fusion are truly extraordinary. Consequently, experts in nuclear physics have an extraordinarily difficult time accepting cold fusion.
This is not extraordinarily difficult to understand. Cold fusion is unlike any nuclear reaction they have ever heard of.
Excess heat is the most challenging of the cold fusion effects to validate. It is transient, leaves without a trace, and its measurement is not for the impatient or the inexperienced. It requires extensive experience in calorimetry, the measurement of heat.
Nuclear physicists generally know little about nor have any training in calorimetry. Consequently, they are inherently unqualified to evaluate this, the most significant aspect of cold fusion.
It is the electrochemists, and only those with specialized training in calorimetry, to whom this provenance is rightly assigned.
There is a reason that Galileo was the first to observe flaws on the surface of the moon: he was the best lens grinder of his day and had a telescope capable of the finest resolution.
There is a reason that Fleischmann and Pons were the first to confidently report excess heat: they were some of the best electrochemists of their day, having custom-made a calorimeter capable of discerning as little as two milliwatts.
The fact that "cold fusion" exhibits extraordinarily low signatures of nuclear radiation is a paradox. On the one hand, it suggests an extraordinarily benevolent source of energy; on the other hand, it presents an extraordinary challenge for nuclear physicists to measure.
Fortunately, new work in the area of nuclear transmutation, which does leave tangible results, is providing new data to help in the adjudication of this novel field. These new research studies should enable a broader range of experts to make confident assessments.
Part of the cold fusion controversy has been self-imposed by Fleischmann, Pons and their followers, including some of their "believers," who place the word "fusion" prominently on the cover of their books.
The final and perhaps most significant problem of cold fusion is that this word "fusion" has created a battle for provenance. Battle lines have been drawn to assert and conversely reject the hypothesis of nuclear fusion.
If "cold fusion" makes energy, in the form of heat, without harmful radiation or byproducts, in ordinary laboratory environments, does it really matter what the underlying mechanism is?
As of last summer, it didn't to Martin Fleischmann.
"In the end, I don't care what the explanation is," Fleischmann said. "It could be bananas as far as I'm concerned."
Steven B. Krivit
Editor, New Energy Times
Executive Director, New Energy Institute Inc.
[I would like to thank Nadine Winocur, Edmund Storms, Charles Beaudette, Kirk Shanahan and Michael Lemonick and his science class for their thoughtful dialogue with me on various matters that served as background to this article. Thanks to Brian Josephson, Nick Palmer and Randy Souther for their assistance in obtaining source documents. Many thanks to editors Cindy Goldstein and Sally Robertson.]
2. To the Editor
(Letters may be sent to "letters" at the New Energy Times domain name. Please include your name, city, and state or province.)
To the editor:
The psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences article is interesting. The writer uses every trick of rhetoric going to heap scorn on cold fusion.
In the environmental arena, the argument about the reality of the global warming threat is almost over. Only the hard-core deniers and the seriously compromised, such as those in Bush's regime and "Big Oil," are still trying to fight the inevitable.
When I was much more active in the environmental movement as coordinator of the Jersey branch of Friends of the Earth, 10 to 15 years ago, it was really hard to endure the abuse that many sectors of society heaped on our heads when we warned them about the future. I despaired about humanity's seeming wish to be stupid (particularly the cleverer, more articulate people!).
I really did think, back then, that just explaining with logic and evidence would be enough and that people would "get it" straight away. I have been watching cold fusion go through the same abuse, and now it seems as if it may be about to surface at last.
I hope that someone writes a definitive history of this so that the ignorance and puffed-up vanity of the supposedly great and good in what should be the most objective and reasonable of disciplines, physics, will be laid bare for all to see.
If there is one thing that infuriates me, it is those who are convinced they are being clever or fair whilst they actually are being the opposite. When they use their position in society, or the gravitas of their chosen career, to patronise, publicly humiliate or crush those who actually are more clever and more reasonable etc. than them, it drives me to distraction!
St Lawrence, Jersey, U.K.
To the editor:
What is your opinion on the unbelievable claims by Hyunik Yang? Do they fit with your previous information about IESI experiments? It appears to me so extraordinary that it brings a serious doubt on the whole affair.
As you may or may not know, I was bound by an embargo agreement until Feb. 1, 2006, that restricted what I could report. On top of that, I see this situation as potentially volatile. I did not, and I still do not, have hard evidence to make a clear evaluation of the matter. For this reason, I was, and still am, extremely cautious to report on, speculate or discuss much more of this story. I know well the damage that can be done when incomplete and misunderstood scientific information comes out in the press.
The claims that you've heard from Yang generally do match other claims I have heard both from IESI and Yang. The major question is the reliability of the energy measurements, input and output. I have discussed this concern with numerous people, and I have a good idea of how a proper measurement should be made. I also have no idea whether Yang has done such.
I have asked politely about this matter, and he has politely declined to give me more information. At one point, Yang had accepted my request to bring an engineer to his lab to perform measurements, but when the time got closer, he chose not to allow our audit. This is the best I can do until he chooses to give me more access. - SBK
To the editor:
In the coming months this nation faces an unprecedented crisis in petroleum energy resources. This is the real one and we will simply not be prepared for the shock.
For a time I have felt we had a few years before we bit the bullet. However, with major oil producing nations like Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico, etc., becoming destabilized and the signal given by the Saudis at the Offshore Tech Conference in Houston this past week regarding the Saudi oil field depletion caused by overproduction, some feel the time is the present.
My friends in the oil business are deeply concerned because of the increasing negative factors that determine production of crude on a worldwide scale. Their big concern is panic because there are so few options. Panic spells totally uncontrolled prices. Should the OPEC nations elect to receive their pay in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, we could experience a crisis within a crisis.
Since Hurricane Rita struck the upper Texas coast, our group of companies has been studying what we learned from the panic situation brought about by nearly one and a half million people trying to rapidly exit the Houston metropolitan area.
For those not directly involved, the event was little more than a newspaper account. For those caught in the mass exodus, being on a freeway and caught in traffic for some 20 hours and eventually running out of gas is an eye-opener. An even bigger eye-opener is that most of those same people returned to their same posture of denial after six months.
Our small town of Weimar, Texas, midway between Houston and San Antonio on Interstate 10, was overwhelmed with people trying to exit the freeway in search of gas and food. The town has six policemen and was overwhelmed by the onslaught of thousands of people. Without the volunteer fire department of some 60 officers assisting the police to maintain order, utter chaos would have ruled. People trying to break into and ahead of the lines waiting to fuel, fast food places having to close because of the unruly, and a lawless attitude left an impression on the town.
We have concluded that a gasoline shortage could trigger a scenario similar to the 1973 gasoline fake shortage except this time the shortage would not be fake. We have concluded that designing a business plan that includes this scenario is prudent.
This is what our nation faces, and the sooner our leaders stop thinking the problem has no solution, the sooner we can start producing alternate energy resources. Identifying the problem is the first step.
The importance of having a reliable source of new energy news and information cannot be overemphasized. New Energy Institute and New Energy Times have important tasks ahead.
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
3. Pirelli Labs to Collaborate with ENEA on Cold Fusion Research
By Steven Krivit
Pirelli Labs S.p.A., of Milan, Italy, announced a partnership with ENEA, the Organization for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment in Frascati, Italy, on April 27.
The 5-year agreement includes three advanced research projects in the field of renewable energy sources and sustainable development.
The first research projects will include basic research into cold fusion, the concentration of light for solar energy, and a new generation of sensors for environmental monitoring.
Daniele Garbelli will be the leader from the Pirelli side, and Vittorio Violante will lead the project on the ENEA side.
Garbelli studied physics at Milan University with Professor Giuliano Preparata and has worked with Pirelli Labs since 1997, primarily in the field of cold fusion.
ENEA, an Italian government agency similar to the U.S. Department of Energy. has officially sanctioned Violante to perform cold fusion research for many years, as well.
"Our primary interests for this project," Violante said, "are to study the related materials science issues and the triggering effects."
According to Violante, no specific funds have been designated for the project at this time.
Violante has a degree in chemical engineering, and has worked extensively in hydrogen storage systems. He has been a visiting scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory and the National Bureau of Standards in Colorado.
Before Violante worked on cold fusion, he participated in the ITER (hot fusion) project as a visiting scientist at the Max Plank Institute of Garching in Munich.
4. RCCNT&BL-14 - 14th Russian Conference on Cold Nuclear Transmutation of Chemical Elements and Ball Lightning
Dagomys (Sochi), June 11-18, 2006
The conference program includes the following subjects:
* Experimental research in cold nuclear transmutation (fusion) and ball lightning.
* Theoretical models with respect to сold nuclear transmutation (fusion) and ball-lightning effects.
* Applications to these problems, technologies and devices.
The chairman of the conference organizing committee is Yuri Bazhutov, vice-chairmen are Vladimir Bychkov and Nikolai Samsonenko, and the scientific secretary is Igor Goryachev.
5. Transcript of Department of Commerce Hearing Available
New Energy Times reported on March 10 the reinstatement of Thomas Valone, a patent examiner who was fired, in a large part, because of his support of cold fusion. According to Science and Government Report, "a federal arbitrator overturned his dismissal, ordering USPTO to reinstate Valone. He also ordered the agency to pay the salary he would have received during his six years off."
New Energy Times has obtained the transcript from the hearing responsible for giving Valone his job back at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It is illustrative and even occasionally entertaining.
At one point, it is revealed that the patent examiner responsible for signing Valone's dismissal "wasn't much into nuclear reactions." His specialty was "fish hooks and mousetraps."
Scott Chubb, a physicist with the Navy was called (as a private citizen, not as a Navy representative) as an expert witness.
The dialogue shows Chubb going through what amounts to a complete lecture that explains the basic facts of cold fusion.
When Chubb typically expounds on cold fusion theory at science meetings, only those who are intimately familiar with theoretical physics can typically follow along with him. In this hearing, Chubb provides an easy, if not delightful tutorial on cold fusion, replete with friendly terms (which he explains) such as "garden- variety helium."
ANALYSIS AND PERSPECTIVES
6. A Close Look at Russ George's D2Fusion Inc.
By Steven Krivit
(Return to Russ George Index)
As the 12th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (formerly the International Conference on Cold Fusion) in Yokohama, Japan, came to a close on Dec. 1, 2005, Xing Zhong Li enthusiastically reported news of a new commercial cold fusion venture. Li is a physics professor at Tsinghua University in China and associate editor of the Journal of Fusion Energy.
"Our senior pioneer, Tom Passell, is involved in a new startup called D2Fusion, Li said. "This company has received a total of $2 million of investment so far, and [Passell] used part of his investment retirement account to buy 10,000 shares. When I get back to China, I will log in to this Web site and put in a little money to show my respect."
The buzz about D2Fusion, a cold fusion company owned by Mr. Russ George, had started months earlier with a series of press releases about D2Fusion's recent acquisition. On Aug. 18, 2005, George completed a transaction to sell and merge D2Fusion Inc. with Solar Energy Ltd. (SLRE). This appears to qualify D2Fusion as the first publicly traded cold fusion company.
According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, George was the sole shareholder of D2Fusion before its acquisition by Solar. D2Fusion was incorporated only months earlier, in March 2005. In the late 1990s, George promoted cold fusion research under the name Saturna Technologies. Before that, he used the name E-Quest Technologies, and before that he was involved with another cold fusion company, E-Quest Sciences Inc.
A Brief History
George and former collaborator Roger Stringham are credited with a set of substantial helium measurements from cold fusion experiments performed in the 1990s. Stringham and George worked on cold fusion experiments while they were part of E-Quest Sciences Inc. Their investigations used the sonofusion method, one of a dozen methods cold fusion researchers use to initiate energy-generating reactions.
The relationship between Stringham and George broke down in 1998 and ended in one of the most bitter divisions in the history of the field, perhaps second only to the parting between Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, the discoverers of cold fusion.
George has had a prominent share of the cold fusion spotlight. He's been interviewed numerous times over the last decade and a half, and his passion for clean energy and plea that cold fusion be given a fair chance have been heard worldwide through National Public Radio and the World Wide Web.
In addition to his interests in cold fusion, George also has an entrepreneurial effort to address climate change with his company Planktos. His interest in carbon sequestration earned him a two-page spread in the prestigious journal Nature; however, a more critical investigation into George's Planktos' activities was performed by Wendy Williams of Northern Sky News.
Russ George, CEO of D2Fusion Inc.
Photo courtesy of Greg Auger
Genesis of an Investigation
I first made contact with George in 2004 when I was writing "The Rebirth of Cold Fusion" with Nadine Winocur. I was inquiring about the origins of the sonofusion work. Based on my initial communication with George, he seemed only a participant in and a promoter of the sonofusion research, and Stringham was the innovator and master of this method.
I hadn't paid any further attention to him until the Yokohama conference. In response to Li's enthusiasm about D2Fusion, I decided to take a second look. I looked first at George's Web site, and then conducted a telephone interview with him on Dec. 20, 2005.
I told him that his company had attracted attention at the Yokohama conference and that I was writing a story on D2Fusion for New Energy Times. George was a bit hesitant to speak with me at first.
"We're now a publicly traded company so I have to be very careful about what statements I'm quoted on," George said, at the beginning of our call.
I encouraged him to take his time and to just tell me whatever he could. After that first call, more questions came to mind, so I called him the next day and conducted a follow-up interview.
After the second interview, I attempted to cross-check some of his statements, as well as statements in D2Fusion's and Solar's press releases and Securities and Exchange filings.
Over the next few hours, I also contacted Dr. Michael McKubre (SRI International, formerly Stanford Research Institute), Dr. Thomas Claytor (who is employed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory), Mr. Roger Stringham (First Gate Energies Inc.), Dr. Scott Chubb (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory) and, at a later date, Mr. Richard Raymond (formerly president of E-Quest Sciences Inc.) and Dr. Thomas Passell (formerly a program manager for the Electric Power Research Institute.) I received responses from all of them.
The field of cold fusion is comprised of a relatively close-knit group of researchers who have been toiling in this scientific ghetto for the last 17 years. Nearly all of the parties listed above have known one another and, in varying capacities, worked with one another over the last decade and a half.
On the day after my second interview with George, to my great surprise, he sent me an e-mail in which he asserted that both of our interviews were now off the record. He provided no explanation, made no request to me, and did not explain to me that he may have said something he regretted.
I was unsure of what to do next. On the one hand, I was not completely surprised that George was uncomfortable with the interviews after the fact. The cross-checks I performed in the next 24 hours turned up numerous, significant inconsistencies. He may have found out that I was double-checking his statements and might
have realized that I had caught him in a compromising situation.
I attempted to reconcile the matter with George, but he would not budge from his assertion that the interviews were off the record. What to do?
After a few weeks of pondering the situation, I decided to do additional investigation. If George wasn't going to cooperate, I'd see what facts I could get from other sources. A few weeks later, I had accumulated information about George and his dealings with cold fusion that were looking more unfavorable by the day. I decided to try once more to speak with him, to give him a chance to respond and refute the information I had obtained, but he declined my interview request.
After the Yokohama cold fusion conference, the continued buzz about D2Fusion attracted the attention of Nobel prize-winner Brian Josephson, condensed matter physicist with Cambridge University.
Josephson alerted me to George's bold claims in early December. He said that George told him that D2Fusion expected to be marketing 1-kilowatt fusion-powered heaters in a few months' time. Their main technical barrier, as Josephson recalled George saying, was getting rid of the heat quickly enough to prevent adverse effects caused by overheating.
When I looked at the D2Fusion Web site, I found that, indeed, it did state such claims, but the posted expectation date was the end of 2006, rather than in a few months.
Either way, these were bold projections. Cold fusion researchers have been searching for the secrets to make this newly discovered science commercially practically for 17 years. The highest, consistent excess power is in the milliwatt range.
For example, consider the recent paper presented by Thomas Passell, who is shown as the Chief Technology Officer of D2Fusion on its Web site.
Passel and co-author Thomas Benson presented their paper, "Glow Discharge Calorimetry," at the 2005 Yokohama conference, and their work appears to represent the most current D2Fusion scientific data.
Based on my conversation with George, Passell and Benson are contractors, not staff members of D2Fusion.
In their slide presentation, Passell and Benson reported 300 milliwatts of excess heat, using the cold fusion method known as "glow discharge." According to my calculations, 300 milliwatts is 10,000 times less power than the D2Fusion public projections. [Update: Their paper was never published in the conference proceedings.]
Considering the limited progress reported so far by D2Fusion, I found these projections to be highly speculative and suspicious.
I spent a significant amount of time discussing this concern with George during our December phone calls. I asked him numerous questions, including whether they had any scientific evidence to show higher power levels than 300 milliwatts yet. I also asked whether they expected to get one kilowatt from a single reactor or, instead, 1,000 one-watt reactors.
His answers were vague and elusive. Nothing that George told me allayed my perception that he had, in the most charitable view, nothing more than a good understanding of cold fusion coupled with a vivid imagination.
Although seeing cold fusion cells generating kilowatts of heat would be exciting to see, these projections seemed to be unfounded. Granted, the fine print in the D2Fusion Web site and press releases states, "a number of these assertions may be considered to be forward-looking statements." However, this disclaimer cannot possibly be intended to condone such apparent exaggerations.
Obscured Origins of Scientific Data
Josephson and I discussed what other evidence George might have to support his "forward-looking statements." Josephson did some poking around and found one of George's papers, which appeared to indicate higher power levels. He referred me to a graph on page 14 of George's March 2005 American Physical Society meeting presentation. The obscure title of the graph is "Heat Results from Sonofusion Device Operated Under Contract with EPRI." The graph displays data indicating 85 watts of excess heat.
This was inspiring, I thought, already a jump of two orders of magnitude larger than the 300 milliwatts reported in Yokohama.
But then I realized the data was 10 years old. Why would Passell and Benson report only 300 milliwatts if older experiments showed 85 watts?
Page 14 of Russ George's March 2005 APS presentation
(Truncation of image was original from George's presentation)
I looked at the bottom of that graph and noticed the footer, "D2Fusion, Russ George," making it appear that this work was attributed to George and his company.
I recalled that the Electric Power Research Institute funding of early cold fusion research was for work performed at SRI International. So I made a copy of the graph, blacked out the attribution at the bottom, and sent it to George and McKubre. I also sent it to Stringham, because he is well-known for work with the sonofusion method. I asked all of them, "Do you recognize this work? If so, can you tell me anything about it? [Who did it, where, when, that sort of thing?]"
The only response I got back from George was, "Read the report that has been posted for years on my Web site."
McKubre responded, "These are not my data. Check with Stringham. Anything George did under EPRI contract was related to Roger's sonofusion cells."
Stringham provided a lengthy and detailed response, which clearly explained the origin of the data:
"This looks like my work that Fran Tanzella (SRI) and I did at SRI for EPRI around 1995. The original agreement with SRI was that George would do the work and I would supervise. At the time, I was working at the E-Quest laboratory on a related project.
"The agreement stated that we were to use the same device that generated helium-4 and tritium at the Los Alamos national laboratory earlier that year. But George got into a bicycle accident and a concurrent illness involving his kidneys and was unable to do any work, so I replaced him at SRI. The graph you provided was the result of all the experiments run at SRI. The graph is how I presented the data in our EPRI report. If you need more details, I have all the records of the work."
Another mysterious aspect of this story is the money trail. Stringham told me that it was a three-way deal among EPRI, SRI International and E-Quest Sciences. EPRI paid the money, SRI provided the facilities and some researchers, and E-Quest Sciences (Stringham and George) were to do the work. Stringham recalls that it was either $40,000 or $50,000 in total.
In 2006, Stringham learned from an SRI employee that, in the 1990s, "when SRI went to get their money out of this account, they found that the account had been closed and all the money taken out."
"It was something that SRI had intended to pursue, but they didn't," said Stringham, who had been a staff member at SRI earlier for 15 years.
"The people in the SRI energy research group said they didn't get their money," he remembered.
"I couldn't figure out why," he said. "I never looked closely at it back in the 1990s. To compensate SRI, I had agreed to put together a comprehensive search and report on cavitation papers. It was the size of a telephone book. So I felt that they received fair compensation."
"I hadn't realized that SRI never got any of their money," Stringham said in January. "I had thought they just never got a fair share of the money and that I was making the report to compensate for a shortfall. But I didn't know it was a 100 percent shortfall for the six months of work that was performed at SRI."
Finally I got around to asking Stringham whatever happened to this device that was producing 85 watts of excess heat.
"It's sitting in my basement," Stringham said.
Well, are you using it, I asked?
"No, it's too big and bulky," Stringham said. "It uses expensive equipment and consumes much more input energy."
Compared to what, I asked?
"Compared to my newer designs. These are much, much smaller and efficient to operate."
Readers can learn more about Stringham's work in the Jan. 10, 2005, issue of New Energy Times.
Naval Research Laboratory Non-Sonofusion Research
So what about these rumors I've heard about Navy sonofusion work, I asked Stringham? And what about the melted palladium and text shown on the D2Fusion Web site?
"That would be a piece of palladium from my experiment. There's no question about that," Stringham said. "There was no such thing as Navy sonofusion work," he added.
"In 1993, George Chambers of NRL visited Los Alamos National Laboratory to see our sonofusion work," Stringham said. "In 1994, Dave Nagel sent Chambers to SRI International, where we had our little Mark I reactor set up. He brought with him a palladium foil and some very high-quality heavy water. Chambers came there to observe how it worked. He got very excited because it melted the palladium foil. We spent a week there taking data. Chambers then took the palladium foil and did some X-ray diffraction studies on the lattice structure of the exposed foil. The results were very interesting. NRL did not give us any money, but we did appreciate all their support."
I asked Stringham whether Chambers was present when the palladium foil melted in the cold fusion experiment.
"Oh sure, he witnessed it," Stringham said. "We have videos of this at SRI, also from other sonofusion experiments from my Woodside lab way back in 1993, and another done at Los Alamos National Laboratory that shows the foil melting right in front of your eyes."
The text on George's Web site obscures Stringham's role in the work as well, it misleads the reader to think that this was a D2Fusion experiment.
Additional text on the D2Fusion Web site says, "At D2Fusion we also work in sonofusion. Further work to commercialize these sono-fusion reactions is underway."
I am unaware of any such continuing work by D2Fusion.
More Misleading Data on D2Fusion's Web Site
The D2Fusion Web site displays a well-known graph of helium generation from an SRI International cold fusion experiment. The signal for the control cell, using hydrogen, stays flat, whereas the test cell, using deuterium, rises to 11 ppm, over twice the atmospheric background level of 5.22 ppm.
While I was in the process of checking facts for "The Rebirth of Cold Fusion," I had asked McKubre for a clarification on the history of this work.
"This work was performed at SRI International by myself and Fran Tanzella in collaboration with Russ George," McKubre said. "Russ' contribution was to the experiment setup and some of the helium measurements, but not to the calorimetric analysis, which was mine.
'I was the supervisor, Tanzella was the SRI project leader and George was a visitor working closely but intermittently with Tanzella. At the time of George's involvement with us on this project, he was not affiliated with D2Fusion, and it would be misleading to suggest" that this is his company's work.
This work at SRI showed not only evidence of helium-4 evolution but also strong evidence refuting previous skepticism.
John Huizenga, the chair of the 1989 Department of Energy cold fusion review, asserted that cold fusion was pathological science on the basis that there was no evidence of correlation between energy generation and nuclear ashes. Huizenga has yet to issue a retraction.
SRI International Cold Fusion Experiment Showing Correlation of
Heat and Helium Production in D2 Gas Cell
SRI International Cold Fusion Experiment Showing Helium Increase in Sealed Cells
Containing Pd on C Catalyst and D2 (H2) Gas
I also wondered about D2Fusion's "technology." When I read about the EPRI report on D2Fusion's Web site I noticed that the title creates the impression that the EPRI report is based on "D2Fusion Technologies."
This seemed odd, considering that the EPRI report was dated 1996 and D2Fusion didn't exist at that time.
A second thing on that page that was odd was the fine print which said that D2Fusion was "formerly E-Quest Sciences." The third item that caught my attention was the statement that the EPRI Technical Report was "Prepared in accordance with contractual agreements between D2Fusion Technologies Inc. (formerly E-Quest Sciences), EPRI, and SRI International."
Roger Stringham, the founder of E-Quest Sciences was unequivocal about these matters:
"There is no way D2Fusion is in any way connected to E-Quest Sciences. I held 65 percent of the stock, Dick Raymond held 20 percent and Russ held 5 percent or 10 percent."
According to the state of California, E-Quest Sciences never formally dissolved, distributed corporate assets, or was merged.
Stringham also provided me with a list of 10 E-Quest Sciences patents, patent applications and copyrights dating from 1991 to 1998. All list Stringham as either author or inventor. George's name does not appear on any. According to Stringham and Raymond, the pair split from George in 1998 and continued in the same location with the same name for another year while George started to do business as E-Quest Technologies. Stringham and Raymond state that no E-Quest Sciences technology was ever sold or transferred to George or any of his companies.
"We had the entire technology before George ever joined the company," Stringham said.
The dates on the list of patents and patent applications support Stringham's claim.
International Borders No Boundary for George
"George's travels also took him to Japan," Ted McDonough, of the Salt Lake City Weekly, reported on Oct. 20, 2005. "There he met an aging cold fusionist who designed a cell using deuterium gas George claims works 100 percent of the time. George is basing his company, D2Fusion, on the technology."
The "aging cold fusionist" is none other than physicist Yoshiaki Arata, a man credited with historic achievements not only in cold fusion, but also in hot fusion. Arata is recognized for starting the hot fusion research program in Japan many decades ago.
I was surprised to see this report that indicated George was basing his company on the technology developed by Arata. His cold fusion method uses a unique application of nanoscale palladium.
When I asked George to comment further on this quote, he said, "This is not correct, as it is out of context. I may have said that Arata's cell works 100 percent of the time, which as I recall, Arata has said many times. Some of our technology is based on similar nanodimensional powders to what Arata uses, but we use them and have reported our use many times in different configurations. This is hardly to say that anyone using nanopowders is basing their work on Arata's findings. Indeed, many people have found nanodimensional materials have a great utility in cold fusion."
According to McDonough, the Weekly had not received any corrections to the story.
When I asked Arata to comment on the Salt Lake City Weekly story, he replied, "I was quite surprised to know of Mr. George's activity and his quotation about our work."
A statement on George's Web site claims that he had a role in the SRI International replication of the Arata "Double-Structure" cathode.
However, McKubre did not agree.
"George was not involved at all, in any way, with the SRI-Arata replication. Certainly, he did not facilitate anything, so the cited phrase "The SRI/Arata replication work we facilitated produced dramatic findings of helium and tritium" is not supportable. George may not even have been aware of our approaches to Arata and was never present at any of the discussion or meetings in setting up this collaboration. D2Fusion did not even exist at that time. George was welcomed into Arata's lab only because of his relationship with us as a visiting scientist. The results of this relationship were more or less as Churchill described sex: 'The position ridiculous, the pleasure fleeting, the consequences damnable.'
"However, two beneficial things did result from George's activities in this arena.
"First, he brought back samples of the palladium-black from some of Arata's successful, unsuccessful and blank runs from Japan. These were analyzed by Brian Clarke using his unique mass spectrometer up in McMaster University in Canada. Clarke concluded that he had seen nothing compelling by way of helium-3 or helium-4, but Passell later arranged and paid for these samples to be later analyzed by nuclear activation analysis.
"Second, George's efforts with the Arata samples piqued Clarke's interest. I already knew Clarke, and George was not in any way involved in my dealings with Clarke, but this increased interest did make it easier for me to get Clarke to agree to analyze the gas and metal samples from the SRI / Arata experiment. The results of this, published in the joint Clarke/SRI International paper*, are, I believe, the clearest and most unambiguous evidence of fusion products ever achieved in a cold fusion experiment."
[* W. B. Clarke, B. M. Oliver, M. C. H. McKubre, F. L. Tanzella and P. Tripodi, "Search for 3He and 4He in Arata-Style Palladium Cathodes II; Evidence for Tritium Production," Fusion Science and Technology, 40 (2), (2001)]
I also asked McKubre to comment on the Solar Sept. 30, 2005, 10-QSB/A Securities and Exchange filing which states, "George's successful experimental prototypes have been tested at Stanford Research Institute."
McKubre was unable to confirm the claim. In addition, he wrote, referring to Tom Passell's recent involvement with D2Fusion, '"I am not ready to comment on this situation. Tom is an old friend and a cold fusion hero. I do not want to do anything to embarrass him."
Russ George Speaks at APS meeting
As I continued to review the D2Fusion Web site, another anomaly that caught my attention was the statement that a D2Fusion paper was "submitted to the American Physical Society by the Navy on behalf of Russ George" for the March 21-25, 2005, meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Nobody needs the U.S. Navy to submit a cold fusion paper for presentation at an APS meeting. You just need to give it to Scott Chubb, an APS member who chairs the APS cold fusion sessions. It is true that Chubb works for the Naval Research Laboratory, but the Navy had nothing to do with this paper of George's. The irony is that, as of March 2005, the subject of cold fusion was still an officially forbidden topic and Chubb was not permitted by his commanding officer to represent the Navy in his own APS paper. Chubb was required to list his paper independent of his Navy affiliation.
Graham Hubler, who also with the Naval Research Laboratory, was not permitted by his commanding officer to use the words "cold fusion" in his forthcoming paper in the Journal of Surface Coatings & Technology.
After more poking around on the Web, I found an interview of George by Connie Hargrave of "Share International," done in March 1999. Hargrave wrote that, in 1998, George was the first ever to be accepted by the prestigious American Physical Society to present a cold fusion paper.
According to the APS Web archive and Chubb, who has been the chair for all the March APS meeting cold fusion sessions, Chubb and his uncle, Talbot Chubb, were the first to break the long absence of cold fusion at the March APS meeting.
"Talbot and I submitted abstracts about cold fusion for the March 1996 meeting," Chubb said. These were presented as posters, and the Chubbs were also the first to give an oral cold fusion presentation, with their March 20, 1997, talk, "Paired-Particle Coherence in a Lattice."
Interestingly, Chubb credits APS spokesman Robert Park, who had been highly critical of cold fusion, for the encouragement:
"After the March 1989 APS meeting in Baltimore," Chubb said, "no one had thought of submitting any cold fusion papers for presentation to an APS meeting until Park suggested it, years later, in 1996."
When I found George's APS paper, I saw that he listed his affiliation as E-Quest Technologies. It was his former affiliation, E-Quest Sciences Inc., in which his former collaborator Stringham had developed the sonofusion cold fusion method in 1989.
George's abstract stated, "In experiments conducted beginning in 1989 we have observed anomalous heat production and associated helium isotope production from novel experiments using high energy ultrasound and associated cavitation to load deuterium and hydrogen into metal lattices to high stoichiometric ratios."
This was not correct. If he had listed E-Quest Sciences Inc., where he worked with Stringham, this may have been correct, though George apparently had no involvement with this work until 1992.
George had found media attention years earlier at an American Chemical Society meeting in Anaheim in 1995. Chemical Engineering and News quoted him explaining his rationale for not calling the work cold fusion: "I always hate to call [our process] cold fusion because it's not cold at all," George says. He prefers to call it 'microfusion' or 'sonofusion.'"
Times have changed. Ten years later, at the 2005 March APS conference, George said he now "prefers to call it 'solid-state' fusion."
"George has stepped on a lot of toes," Chubb said in January, though he credits George with significant contributions to the cold fusion field. "He came in as somebody who didn't know anything about the subject and went on to learn a lot of stuff. He has great vision, and he's paid attention to key aspects of the field."
"He cut to the important aspect of things. He's gotten to the key things that should be done. For example, he chased the helium trail. George wholeheartedly went in and spent time with key investigators. His perspective was entirely unique, and it was absolutely helpful. He identified the key helium experiments, specifically the ones that were simple and straightforward such as Arata, Case and Stringham. He arranged for the helium measurements to be done, and he performed fundamental mass spectrometry."
Chubb also praised George for bringing in investors to the field and for being one of the original students of the field.
"He went out of his way to be involved with the people who were doing the key work in the field and did good stuff," Chubb said. "George should be viewed as a student of cold fusion, one of the original students, and I think he's got a very valuable perspective. He's been very idealistic, and he's gone out of his way to support the field from the beginning."
There is no disagreement about George's enthusiasm and support for the cold fusion field.
As Stringham recalls, "When George was first introduced to what is now called sonofusion, he bubbled over with enthusiasm. He wanted to help in any way he could. His great talent was selling it to anybody who would listen - he was very persuasive. George would make sure that he talked to the right people. He could connect to some individuals in a way that would apparently benefit everyone involved. He was able to garner resources without cost for just the privilege of doing a good service for the field of cold fusion. His enthusiasm was contagious.
"For example, George contacted Dale Tuggle and Tom Claytor at Los Alamos National Laboratory and convinced them to look at my cavitation device and convinced me to pack up the cumbersome Mark I & II devices and go to Los Alamos not just once, but twice. This is where we got some good helium-4 and tritium data that corroborated Dave Thomas' mass spectra measurements at SRI and Tom Davidson's mass spectra measurements at the U.S. Bureau of Mines of helium-4."
"Our work will proceed with the participation of a number of the world's most noted fusion scientists and laboratories," George said in the March 2005 APS meeting.
According to the 10-QSB/A Securities and Exchange filing for Solar, dated Sept. 30, 2005, D2Fusion "is a research and development company staffed by scientists and engineers." It also states, "The [D2Fusion] teams are lead by Dr. Thomas Claytor at the Los Alamos facility (also of Los Alamos National Laboratory)."
But according to a conversation I had with Claytor, he was an outside consultant to D2Fusion, not an employee. Following up on an earlier comment from George, I also asked Chubb whether he was working with D2Fusion, and he said he wasn't.
I asked Claytor what his involvement with D2Fusion was.
"We're consulting with them, but we're not part of it," Claytor said. "We'll be doing the helium gas analysis. We are not doing any research or development for D2Fusion, just the testing, verification, validation, that sort of thing. We haven't seen anything, though; we haven't got anything [to test] from [George] yet."
George's 2005 APS presentation ended with a grandiose listing of prominent "organizations and people [that] have contributed to the work of D2Fusion."
I picked General Atomics from the list and inquired about its contribution to the work of D2Fusion. I spoke with Mike Schaffer, a plasma fusion physicist there.
Schaffer said that George had visited General Atomics in the past and that George gave a presentation to General Atomics on cold fusion.
"He spoke about some of his work from around 1999," Schaffer said, "primarily with his palladium-on-carbon catalyst research with his stainless-steel ultra high-vacuum reactors."
I noted the perception that Schaffer had of "George's" carbon catalyst work. Knowing that this was Les Case's innovation, I placed a call to Case in New Hampshire. Case is a chemical engineer and former professor from Purdue and Tufts. He has 30 patents to his name.
"I'm the guy that really started the catalytic cold fusion," Case said. "George didn't really invent anything. What George was doing is he saw this as a fruitful field to get some traction in, and he's banged around trying this, that and everything, and he finally got some money, and he's trying to pull things together and to make an advance of some sort. I'm sure he can do it if he keeps at it long enough."
"Mike McKubre and his team at SRI replicated my work," Case said proudly. [See related story, D2Fusion's Details Demystified, below]
From my conversation with Schaffer, I was curious about how General Atomics had contributed to D2Fusion. Well, it didn't contribute to D2Fusion, per se. According to Schaffer, they did end up teaching George a few things. "He would ask questions, and I tried to answer as best I could," Schaffer said. "But the collaboration was very limited."
"We are interested in many research areas, but we don't endorse or criticize the work George has done," Schaffer said, "I find, however, the captions [on his Web site referring to our work] in poor taste. We don't put captions implying that other people are doing bad research or have bad ideas on our site."
Giving No Credit Where Credit Is Due
George's D2Fusion Web site displays a cold fusion "Library," but this is not D2Fusion's library. It is operated by LENR-CANR.org.
I checked with the Web masters of LENR-CANR.ORG, Jed Rothwell and Edmund Storms to see whether they had agreed to allow George to replicate its index on D2Fusion's Web site.
Not only did George fail to request permission from Storms or Rothwell, but also he failed even to credit the source of this index on the D2Fusion site, creating the appearance that the library is an asset of D2Fusion.
George's Early History with Cold Fusion
"Beginning in the spring of 1989," the D2Fusion Web site says, "principal scientists Russ George and Roger Stringham took an interest in new anomalous heat generation phenomena. Research focused on the use of ultrasound induced cavitation."
The statement implies that a scientific interest on the part of both Stringham and George began in 1989. This appears to differ from the facts.
Stringham started working on the acoustic cavitation-induced fusion (sonofusion) immediately after Fleischmann and Pons announced their discovery.
"I immediately tried a palladium foil in cavitating deuterium, Stringham said. "This was an easy step as I was already working with a unique cavitating system. The results were very encouraging. Bill Snook did the machining for me and Steve Wolff helped with some experiments.
"I engaged patent attorneys Hugh Finley and Howard Peters to file for a U.S. patent in 1990. I contacted Dick Raymond and Larry Klein, and we formed a small group interested in promoting this new idea for producing energy - an alternate energy source without carbon dioxide and radiation.
"In 1992, I talked to Tom Passell and told him that I was using cavitation to produce excess heat. He told George, Scott Chubb and others. George and Chubb immediately called me, and George and I scheduled a meeting at Buck's restaurant in Woodside, Calif.
This was the first time George was introduced to cavitation-induced fusion. About six months later, a group was formed, and we appointed Dick Raymond president of E-Quest Sciences (I held the majority of the stock along with Raymond, Klein, Wolf, George and Tom Benson)."
When I asked George in 2004, as part of the research for "The Rebirth of Cold Fusion," how he got involved with cold fusion, he explained that his interest began as a filmmaker.
"I was working on a project with EPRI in March of 1989 in one of my multiple personalities as a film producer/director/writer," he said. "In that my father was a nuclear scientist, I tell people I learned nuclear physics at my father's knee, Indeed, it is true.
"I used to hang out with some of the EPRI nuclear scientists at coffee and lunch even though I was working on environmental stories. As cold fusion evolved in Utah, I was buddies with the key EPRI players who were overseeing EPRI's instant response to replicate it.
"I saw and heard lots of details and was totally convinced by the data coming in that it was real. I figured I would make a documentary film about it, and since I had some connections to the PBS show "Nova," I talked to them about doing the definitive documentary.
"Of course, as time went on, the story went into the toilet with the controversy. It would have made a good documentary, but Paula Apsel, the executive producer at "Nova," was married to a physicist, and I think he joined the ranks of the ardent skeptics. The "Nova" opportunity went away."
The Man Behind the Curtain
As I tired to learn about the so-called technologies of D2Fusion, my requests to inspect their calorimetry were turned down and my offers to sign nondisclosure agreements were declined. I came to recall a profound e-mail sent to me in 2004 from a cold fusion researcher.
"It is strange, as some of the key people in cold fusion have been one of the impediments, either being overly promotional or the polar opposite," the e-mail said. "I think the latter is largely driven by some people's desire for ownership of the field. Hence they won't tell all. The former promoters usually just don't have all that much in the way of real data, some none at all, or very suspicious data."
I found this quote rather insightful and, in retrospect, ironic. Perhaps you've already guessed which cold fusion researcher, unfunded at the time, sent me the e-mail.
In another email from July 2005, George wrote, "In the field of cold fusion, there seems to be a pervasive and absurd desire to define various modalities in terms of single individuals, when in fact the work is highly distributed and collaborative by nature. It is a disservice to all and to the field to continue to try to single out individuals for priority. Woody Guthrie once explained the real roots of creativity best. He said, 'They say stealing ideas from one person is called plagiarism. I steal from everyone. They call that research.'"
Looking Back to Go Forward
Cold fusion is entering a new era. Many people who thought it had died years ago are finding out now that it was only "mostly dead." That means, of course, it is alive.
This is a triumphant time for cold fusion. The field has held on to life by a thread, it has sustained itself by the determination and the courage of a few brave visionary scientists who are confident enough in their work to trust themselves over the roar of the ignorant naysayers. Only now, 17 years later, are mainstream science and science media starting to realize that a major misunderstanding has occurred.
Certainly, many scientists believe that they understand what happened with cold fusion in 1989 and that their conclusion is based on solid facts. Perhaps they are right, based on the data they were given.
But the early data and news accounts from the naysayers in 1989 have been discovered to be as error-filled as the Fleischmann and Pons first rushed and incomplete preliminary note.
In the coming months, I'll be preparing a detailed forensic investigation of exactly what happened in those initial formative weeks of cold fusion's birth. The inaccuracies and errors presented in the first 50 days were everywhere, not just in Utah.
The Responsibility of the Condensed Matter Nuclear Science Community
This is an important time for the world's cold fusion researchers. They have been seeking respect and funding for years. So far, little of either has come. But the times, they are a changing. Researchers have asked the public to look carefully and thoroughly at the results they have achieved. They will get the attention they seek. They also should expect that their work and their claims will be scrutinized like never before.
This is not a time for carelessness, exaggeration or spin. As more people find out that there is good evidence to support the claim of a new source of clean energy, even an effect that generates an excess of a few watts and is poorly reproducible will be recognized for what it is and should have been in 1989: an immense opportunity and cause for genuine hope for the entire planet.
7. The Inventor of Everything
By Steven Krivit
Bill Harrington is a colorful character and innovator in the world of leading-edge science and technology. In 2005, he worked briefly with Innovative Energy Solutions Inc. until the company was unable to pay him his salary and his attorney suggested that he find employment elsewhere. (For more details on Innovative Energy Solutions, see the March 10, 2006 issue of New Energy Times.)
According to Harrington, he has a degree in electrical engineering and worked for Hughes Aircraft for 20 years. He was awarded half a dozen patents while he was with Hughes and another dozen with Irvine Sensors. He had been designing what would have been the world's fastest Internet router.
"It would have been the first commercially successful application of superconducting electronics," Harrington said, "but the project came to a screeching halt after the dot-com bomb."
Harrington also did some work in Europe for NATO for a number of years, he says.
Harrington recalls a conversation he had with Russ George, who was making claims to the innovations pioneered by Dennis Letts and Dennis Cravens, two cold fusion researchers in Texas and New Mexico, respectively.
"I've developed an immense amount of respect for Letts and Cravens," he said. "These guys are the two unexpected wild cards of cold fusion.
"The recognition of these two is wildly disproportionate to what it should be based on their talents, backgrounds and skill level. They have given so much more than anybody would have ever imagined and pushed things ahead so far, and nobody's given them much credit because they've opened some very interesting ground.
"I was talking with George one day, and, to my surprise, he told me verbatim that he was working with Dennis Letts and that he was responsible for instigating the laser triggering work.
"The reason why I know this is not true is that nobody gave these guys [Letts and Cravens] credit until I got got McKubre and [Peter] Hagelstein [of MIT] on the phone and told them, 'Hey, you need to look at what Letts is doing. It's impressive.'
"George tried to take credit for having been involved with it. He told me verbatim. But I know that's not true. Letts has only seen him in passing."
A phone call to Letts provided confirmation. "I've never met George or spoken with him," Letts said. "George is very famous for claiming that he's invented almost everything in the known universe."
8. D2Fusion's Details Demystified
By Steven Krivit
On Jan. 22, 2006, I asked Michael McKubre, director of the SRI International Energy Research Center to comment on the text and photos on the D2Fusion web site as shown on the left. I received the following reply the next day:
"The top picture is of the west end of our big lab at SRI. The big stainless objects are two of the dewars we routinely use for calorimetry. The smaller long stainless cylinders with radial grooves are the vessels we originally used in the SRI/Case replication work done with George's participation.
"These vessels were bought to SRI by George. We had the tops cut off and, originally, swagelok fittings with a thermowell welded in for calorimetry. The big swageloks proved a nuisance to seal, and we had them replaced with conflat seals in later experiments.
"Later on, we changed the geometry of our experiments, and this design also was successfully used by Vittorio Violante at ENEA to produce heat and helium. Certainly the claim below the lower photo implying some connection between D2Fusion or George and the ongoing activities at ENEA is misleading and without substance.
"Similarly, SRI & EPRI did not help George or D2Fusion study these reactions. George worked briefly in our lab with EPRI funding to help us understand the Case effect. He may have done work elsewhere. I am not aware of it or of any results.
"The bottom picture is the SRI Extrel Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer. I add the emphasis because George obscures this owner- and operator-ship. The Extrel was purchased by EPRI for SRI in late 1992 as part of the initial facilities setup for the SRI Energy Research Center.
"This center was set up by SRI, at SRI, with SRI facilities support. Most of the money came from an EPRI contract -- hence the EPRI label on the spectrometer. George seeks to convey the idea that this spectrometer was owned and operated by EPRI and that he was given access to it by EPRI. This is nonsense.
"As with all facilities in our lab, the spectrometer is and always was under our total control. George provided free labor, paid for directly by EPRI. Fran Tanzella trained him a little to do routine and repetitive helium-4 analyses on our machine in our lab. Some of helium-4 results in 'George's' helium-4 graph were obtained in this mode by George. Most points were measured by Tanzella."
9. $2 Million, Theoretically
By Steven Krivit
About one year ago, New Energy Times reported that Russ George had said at the March 2005 APS meeting that he had "formed a company with a group of investors" and was now privately funded to perform cold fusion research. He had told people he had sold his company for $2 million.
A year later, the financial statements of George's investors, Solar Energy Ltd. tell a very different story.
For starters, the 10-KSB Securities and Exchange filing on April 17, 2006, states the total "amount spent during each of the last two fiscal years on research and development activities were $22,103 in 2005 and $0 in 2004" for all of Solar's activities.
The $2 million does not seem to exist anywhere except on paper. Rather than receiving actual money, George sold his company for a "debenture," (an unsecured debt backed only by the integrity of the borrower.) At a later date, George converted the debenture into shares of Solar stock.
Solar's only cash income in 2005 appears to be $141,000 from Central Shipping Investment Inc., a Panamanian shipping company, and some of chief technology officer Tom Passell's IRA.
New Energy Times is aware of at least three companies that are funded in the order of several million dollars, each with real cash, paying real salaries, and performing substantial research. George's D2Fusion subsidiary of Solar, does not appear to be one such company.
The following excerpts are from the April 17, 2006, SEC filing:
- "We have a history of significant operating losses and such losses may continue in the future."
- "Since our inception in 1994, our operations have resulted in a continuation of losses and an accumulated deficit which reached $9,538,518 at Dec. 31, 2005 . we may never be able to achieve profitability."
- "We will need additional financing to fund our subsidiaries. We will need additional capital to fund Planktos for its iron-fertilization prove-out program and D2Fusion's research and development."
- "Our current assets are insufficient to conduct our plan of operation over the next twelve months."
- "Management believes that the Company will require a substantial infusion of capital over the next twelve months in order to fund the research and development efforts of both Planktos and D2Fusion. Since the Company has no revenues and a substantial need for significant capital, operations will continue to rely upon our ability to raise capital from private debt or equity placements."
- "Should funds become available over the next twelve months, the Company will require a minimum of $2,000,000 to fund the ongoing development of cold fusion technology and $1,500,000 to fund the 'iron-fertilization' prove-out program."
- "Should sufficient funding fail to materialize in the next twelve months the Company will have to abandon ongoing research and development efforts and may be forced to curtail or cease its activities."
Russ George has his work cut out for him. Not only does he have to produce the promised multikilowatt reactors, but he also has to sell stock in a perpetually indebted company.
10. D2Fusion Takes Cold Fusion Figurehead for a Spin
By Steven Krivit
On March 23, 2006, Russ George's company, D2Fusion, distributed a press release asserting that cold fusion pioneer Dr. Martin Fleischmann had joined the D2Fusion staff.
Fleischmann has received only promises, while D2Fusion made quick use of the most prominent name in cold fusion in a press release that significantly mischaracterized both Fleischmann and his relationship with D2Fusion.
The following interview took place on April 12, 2006.
Dr. Martin Fleischmann
Steven Krivit: What is your involvement with D2Fusion?
Martin Fleischmann: They want to do a variety of things. I told them I'm interested in just one thing, to have a look at the effect of electric fields, the superposition of electric fields on electrolytic charging. And they seem to be quite keen on this idea, so if they are going to do that, I would be involved with them.
SK: Are you currently employed or in a contractual relationship with D2Fusion?
MF: No, no.
SK: Any kind of formal agreement?
MF: No. I'm not interested in that, Steve. I just want to see the scientific question answered.
SK: Can you tell me how this relationship came about?
MF: It emerged from some conversations which I had with [George]. You know, I'm not interested in doing the same thing over and over again.
SK: And expecting a different result; that's the definition of insanity, right?
MF: [Laughs] I've never been able to do what I would call the Cöhn effect. I've touched on it, but I've never been able to do it. And the work that was done in Italy [De Ninno et al.] shows that something interesting was there. This is something I was never able to do in Utah and was never able to do in France, either.
SK: Do you anticipate doing hands-on work or just working as an adviser?
MF: Well, it's depends on immigration.
SK: Did you see the press release that D2Fusion put out about you?
SK: I'd like to get your comments on a few things that it stated. They say you are D2Fusion's senior scientific adviser.
MF: Well, if they want to represent it as that, that's OK by me.
SK: "The company will employ Dr. Fleischmann's experience and expertise to produce prototypes of solid state fusion heating modules for homes and industry."
MF: That's a little bit jumping the gun.
SK: "At D2Fusion, Prof. Fleischmann will work in conjunction with Dr. Thomas Passell."
MF: That's very likely.
SK: "Dr. Fleischmann's genius inspired a generation of audacious researchers and there are now thousands of scientific reports confirming the reality, safety and stunning promise of solid state fusion energy. Aided by his insight and most recent discoveries, we believe it is time to start delivering that potential to the world."
MF: Well, you'd expect them to sell their ideas, wouldn't you?
[I read Fleischmann the quote at the bottom of the press release which asserted, among other things, a certainty about cold fusion's safety. I asked him how close the quote sounded like something he would say. "Not much," Fleischmann said. "I'm a cautious man, I'm a very cautious person."]
SK: Well, the way they wrote the press release, it gives the appearance that it's a quote from you, and that you're saying it's safe.
MF: I don't know about that.
SK: Is that a problem for you?
MF: Sure. One of the things one has to do is find out what the safety factor really is.
SK: Did you know they are representing to have multikilowatt reactors by the end of the year?
MF: [Groan] Oh, dear, no. That's running before you can walk.
SK: That's all I've got. Any parting words?
MF: I think they're making a big mountain out of a molehill. They're blowing this whole thing up into a great big boondoggle.
SK: Which whole thing?
MF: My involvement with them.
SK: But you're their hero, you know.
MF: [Laughs] I'm a hero for lots of people, but I know how much work is involved in this. I also know my age.
MF: Hmmm. It weighs heavily on me. These things, these problems are sent to try us. All I want to do is to investigate a very limited number of options. I know what I can do in a certain length of time. I'd like to design a sensible program and execute it.
SK: I only hope that you get such a chance.
11. Experts Argue About Cold Fusion
By Haiko Lietz
Originally published in the German newspaper Handelsblatt, March 23, 2006.
Among physicists, the public dispute over "bubble fusion," often referred to as "cold fusion" in the same breath, continues to rave, since both promise to be a source of fusion energy.
Rusi Taleyarkhan of Purdue University in Indiana claimed fusion of hydrogen atoms in an acetone solvent, after its hydrogen atoms were replaced by deuterium (heavy hydrogen with a neutron in the core), and exposing it to an ultrasonic field.
Taleyarkhan claims that tritium (hydrogen with two neutrons in the core) and neutrons developed, products which provide evidence of fusion.
Seth Putterman and Brian Naranjo of the University of California, Los Angeles, speculated about a prosaic explanation for the claim, thus indirectly denouncing it as fraud.
With fusion energy, large amounts of energy are released. Controlled "hot fusion," modeled after the process that creates energy in the sun and the stars, is considered an important energy source for the future.
A major requirement is that the deuterium fuel must be heated to multimillion-degree temperatures in order to overcome the repulsive, electromagnetic strength of their particles.
Taleyarkhan sees bubble fusion as a form of hot fusion, yet it is often compared with cold fusion. On the one hand, it is hard to imagine how acoustic waves in collapsing bubbles can produce several millions of degrees Celsius.
On the other hand, "cold fusion" represents both an idealistic solution to the energy problem and, in some people's minds, conversely, scientific fraud.
Cold fusion was introduced 17 years ago today by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons as deuterium fusion at room temperature. The two chemistry professors asserted that the reaction was caused by a reaction with a cathode made from the precious metal palladium.
As a consequence of the reaction, an anomalous amount of excess heat developed. This claim incited great controversy. Most scientists consider ed fusion at room temperature impossible, particularly because it did not produce the neutrons, which would be expected from conventional fusion.
Since 1989, cold fusion has been investigated continuously by several hundred researchers around the world. Romanian chemist Peter Glück assessed the developments and offered his perspective:
"In approximately 10,000 experiments, no excess heat developed. These provide forensic value. Approximately 1,000 developed 10 to 30 percent of excess heat. Those experiments help to maintain the optimism for better results. Less than 10 experiments, however, produced more than 1,000 percent excess heat. These have to be reproduced because they have technological significance." The field now recognizes the success or failure of palladium cathodes according to this "Glück Critierion," which distinguishes among cathodes that are "dead, ill, or healthy."
One of the dramatic "healthy" reactions occurred in the laboratory of Tadahiko Mizuno of Hokkaido University in Japan. A fusion cell in 1991 evaporated two buckets water, although the current supply was switched off.
In 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy evaluated selected results of cold fusion: Three of the reviewers thought that the "most intriguing results" came from research work in Germany.
Physicists of Technical University of Berlin bombard metals such as palladium with a deuteron beam. In a temperature range between hot and cold fusion, they are measuring abnormally high fusion rates and even an unexpected weakening of neutron production. These results were published in the "European Physical Journal A" in February.
"If it is confirmed, it should be a very important finding in the history of nuclear physics," Akito Takahashi of the Osaka University said. Today researchers know that the search for neutrons holds little promise as a method to confirm cold fusion, because practically none develops.
This fact, however, became clear only in the early 1990s. By that time, the interest of the mainstream science community was gone.
"Although cold fusion has the potential to solve our energy problems, it is a scarlet letter for science and politics," said chemist Jan Marwan, who took an early leave from his academic career so he could work to develop cold fusion as a commercial energy source in his lab in Berlin.
12. Purdue University Scientist Stands By His Findings
The last issue of New Energy Times provided an in-depth analysis of the investigation by Eugenie Samuel Reich, writing for Nature, about Purdue bubble fusion researcher Rusi Taleyarkhan.
The Nature investigation did not accuse Taleyarkhan of fraud. However, it sufficiently conveyed the implication. Within hours, Reuters tacked on the "F" word to its own headline, and the Reuters story was then syndicated worldwide. Within 24 hours, the defamation of Taleyarkhan and Purdue was ubiquitous.
Sadly, however, the article was based largely on speculative data, innuendo and circumstantial evidence.
On Saturday, Erico Guizzo, writing for IEEE Spectrum, began to dig out facts about the research and approached Taleyarkhan with an apparently more neutral approach.
Taleyarkhan had told New Energy Times that Reich's approach to him was "accusatory and hostile."
The parallels to the Fleischmann and Pons story are striking.
IEEE Spectrum , 2006, on the Taleyarkhan story:
"A group of researchers specifically funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to reproduce Taleyarkhan's results saw no evidence of fusion."
The New York Times , 1989, on the Fleischmann and Pons story:
"Other major research groups gave details today of experiments failing to validate the Pons-Fleischmann results."
IEEE Spectrum , 2006, on the Taleyarkhan story:
"[Taleyarkhan] says that Putterman was using a design 'that was doomed to failure' and that he told him so when visiting his laboratory at UCLA last year."
Martin Fleischmann, commenting on the May 8 Electrochemical Society meeting in Los Angeles:
"The horror of the Caltech cell was revealed. I recall saying to Nate Lewis, 'You can't do the experiment in this way.'"
The New York Times, 2005, on the Putterman-Taleyarkhan controversy:
"By contrast with the earlier claims, the UCLA researchers do not assert that their invention will provide unlimited energy. 'What we've built so far,' Dr. Putterman said, 'no chance.'"
The New York Times , 1989, on the Steven Earl Jones claim:
His work was "less contentious" than that of Fleischmann and Pons. Jones "did not claim that any useful energy was produced ... The result suggests the possibility of fusion, he said, although it is not likely to be useful as an energy source."
The New York Times , 2005, on the Putterman claim:
"'I think it's very persuasive,' said Dr. William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton."
The New York Times , 1989, on the Steven Earl Jones claim:
"Physicists who have investigated Dr. Jones's report have been fairly restrained in their criticism, acknowledging that Dr. Jones is a careful scientist."
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (The more things change, the more they stay the same).
New Book Published on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science
Kohgakusha Co., Tokyo, Japan has published a new book written by Akito Takahashi, of Osaka University, titled "Cold Fusion 2006 - Emerging Condensed Matter Nuclear Science." The book is written in Japanese, although many figures are drawn using English words. The contents of the book are extended from his keynote paper and tutorial lecture from the 12th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science.
Copies of the book may be purchased at http://www.kohgakusha.co.jp/books/detail/4-7775-1208-8
and at Amazon.
"The Status of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (aka 'Cold Fusion')"
By G.K. Hubler, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Presented at the International Conference on Surface Modification of Materials by Ion Beams, Sept. 6, 2005, in Kusadasi, Turkey. Accepted for publication as "Anomalous Effects in Hydrogen-Charged Palladium – A Review" in the Journal of Surface Coatings & Technology
"Approximately 200 scientists from around the world have been conducting experiments in Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (CMNS) more or less continuously since 1989. Considerable progress has been made on several fronts that include improved reproducibility of excess heat production, D loading of cathodes, measurements of nuclear ash, and evidence of low-level energetic particle emission. The materials science of loading is well enough understood that it is clear why the many groups that tried to reproduce the heat effect in 1989-90 were doomed to failure from the start. Less encouraging are the facts that there is still no viable physical mechanism to explain the heat effect, and triggering the heat effect is still not empirically understood.
This talk will discuss data that has led me to believe that there positively is anomalous heat production in Pd-D systems. It will cover the evidence for heat production that points toward a nuclear explanation or an energy storage (battery) explanation, and offer some insight as to why, after 15 years, there still are no answers to this question. It will also discuss low energy nuclear cross-sections in metals and low-level nuclear emissions in the context of excess heat production. A conclusion will be that this area is at a minimum an unexplained physical phenomenon and should be viewed as a viable field free from stigma so a young scientist could work in the field without fear of damaging his/her career."
"Experimental and Theoretical Screening Energies for the 2H(d, p) 3H Reaction in Metallic Environments"
European Physical Journal A
K. Czerski[1, 2,] A. Huke[1,] P. Heide and G. Ruprecht[1, 3]
 Institut für Atomare Physik und Fachdidaktik, Technische Universität Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 36, 10623, Berlin, Germany
 Institute of Physics, University of Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland
 TRIUMF, Vancouver, Canada
(Received 13 July 2005 / Published online 23 February 2006)
The study of the 2H(d, p) 3H reaction at very low energies in deuterized metallic targets provides a unique possibility to test models of the electron screening developed for dense astrophysical plasmas. Here, we compare the experimental screening energies obtained by our group as well as by other authors for different target materials with theoretical predictions based on an improved dielectric function theory. The calculations are performed within the self-consistent regime and include polarization of both quasi-free and bound electrons. Additionally, the cohesion screening, arising from different binding energies of deuterons and α-particles in crystal lattices, is taken into account. The proposed theory predicts only a weak material dependence of the screening energy in agreement with our experimental results but fails in the absolute strength of the effect by a factor of 2. The projectile-velocity dependence of the screening energy corresponding to the transition from the weak-screening regime to the strong-screening limit is discussed.
"Evidence for a Host-Material Dependence of the N/P Branching Ratio of Low-Energy D+D Reactions Within Metallic Environments"
European Physical Journal A
A. Huke[1,] K. Czerski[1, 2,] T. Dorsch, A. Biller[1,] P. Heide and G. Ruprecht[1, 3]
 Institut für Atomare Physik und Fachdidaktik, Technische Universität Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 36, 10623, Berlin, Germany
 Institute of Physics, University of Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland
 TRIUMF, Vancouver, Canada
(Received 6 July 2005 / Published online 16 March 2006)
Angular distributions and the neutron-proton branching ratio of the mirror reactions 2H(d, p) 3H and 2H(d, n) 3He have been investigated using different self-implanted deuterized metallic targets at projectile energies between 5 and 60. Whereas the experimental results obtained for the transition metals Zr, Pd, Ta and also Al do not differ from those known from gas-target experiments, an enhancement of the angular anisotropy in the neutron channel and an attenuation of the neutron-proton branching ratio have been observed for the (earth)alkaline metals Li, Sr and Na at deuteron energies below 20. Experimental results are discussed with consideration of the special problems arising from the properties of these chemically very reactive target materials. A first theoretical effort explaining simultaneously both n/p asymmetry effects based on an induced polarization of the reacting deuterons within the crystal lattice is presented.
"Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces"
The European Physical Journal C - Particles and Fields
Alan Widom, Physics Department, Northeastern University, Lewis Larsen, Lattice Energy LLC
Received: 3 October 2005 Published online: 9 March 2006
Ultra low momentum neutron catalyzed nuclear reactions in metallic hydride system surfaces are discussed. Weak interaction catalysis initially occurs when neutrons (along with neutrinos) are produced from the protons that capture “heavy” electrons. Surface electron masses are shifted upwards by localized condensed matter electromagnetic fields. Condensed matter quantum electrodynamic processes may also shift the densities of final states, allowing an appreciable production of extremely low momentum neutrons, which are thereby efficiently absorbed by nearby nuclei. No Coulomb barriers exist for the weak interaction neutron production or other resulting catalytic processes.
"On the Laser Stimulation of Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction in Deuterated Palladium"
K.P.Sinha and A.Meulenberg
Models to account for the observed experimental results for low-energy nuclear reactions in palladium-deuteride systems are presented along with calculated results. The crucial idea is a mechanism of improved probability for the needed penetration of the Coulomb barrier for a D-D reaction. This facilitation occurs, in general, with the formation of D^- ions at special frequency modes (e.g. via phonons) and, specifically for the laser-stimulated case, with utilization of enhanced optical potential at a selected interface. Both mechanisms may work individually, or together, to increase the probability of barrier penetration.
14. SCIENCE AND ENERGY NEWS
[Hot] Fusion Power: Will It Ever Come?
By William E. Parkins
Friday, March 10, 2006
"New physics knowledge will emerge from [hot fusion research]. But its appeal to the U.S. Congress and the public has been based largely on its potential as a carbon-sparing technology. Even if a practical means of generating a sustained, net power-producing [hot] fusion reaction were found, prospects of excessive plant cost per unit of electric output, requirement for reactor vessel replacement, and need for remote maintenance for ensuring vessel vacuum integrity lie ahead. What executive would invest in a [hot] fusion power plant if faced with any one of these obstacles? It’s time to sell [hot] fusion for physics, not power."
No Future for [Hot] Fusion Power, Says Top Scientist
By David L. Chandler
Thursday, March 9, 2006 t
[Hot] nuclear fusion will never be a practical source of electrical power, argues a prominent scientist in the journal Science.
Advocates of the technology insist it is too soon to give up and that great progress has been made. "I was less convinced 30 years ago [that fusion could become practical] but we have made incredible progress," Miklos Porkolab, director of the Plasma Fusion Center at MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told New Scientist. "The science is going to work," he said, "and the rest is economics."
But Porkolab concedes that a functioning power-producing fusion reactor is probably 50 years off, and that is too far in the future for any reasonable conclusions to be drawn on its economic viability. "It depends on what the price of oil is going to be 50 years from now," he says.
Coal Miner's Slaughter [Coal Energy Not Immune to Deadly Risk]
By Christopher D. Cook
In These Times
Wednesday Jan. 25, 2006
"For a couple of klieg-lit days in rainy West Virginia, we were reminded - once again - that the dark and hidden project of coaxing coal from the earth remains a deadly business. The January 2 nightmare of Tallmansville added 12 victims to history's mountain of slain miners. Tallied as regrettable isolated incidents, these deaths were in many ways predictable fallout from corporate profit pressures and permissive government regulation."
Nuclear Reactors Found to Be Leaking Radioactive Water
By Matthew L. Wald
The New York Times
Friday, March 17, 2006
"WASHINGTON, March 16 — With power cleaner than coal and cheaper than natural gas, the nuclear industry, 20 years past its last meltdown, thinks it is ready for its second act: its first new reactor orders since the 1970's.
But there is a catch. The public's acceptance of new reactors depends in part on the performance of the old ones, and lately several of those have been discovered to be leaking radioactive water into the ground.
Near Braceville, Ill., the Braidwood Generating Station, owned by the Exelon Corporation, has leaked tritium into underground water that has shown up in the well of a family nearby. The company, which has bought out one property owner and is negotiating with others, has offered to help pay for a municipal water system for houses near the plant that have private wells."
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Says Not to Worry
By Matthew L. Wald
The New York Times
Saturday, March 18, 2006
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a report released yesterday that the risk from the tritium-contaminated water leaking from the Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor is so small that it is unlikely to affect the health of plant workers or the public.
The leak was discovered last fall next to the spent-fuel pool for Indian Point 2, which is in Westchester County, as workers dug a new foundation for a crane that will take fuel out of the pool for storage in dry casks.
Water in the pool is contaminated with tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that is incorporated into the water just as normal hydrogen is. Several weeks ago, samples from a new monitoring well found that the tritium has come closer to the Hudson River than previously believed, although the presumption since the leak's discovery was that the tritium would eventually reach the river."
Utilities Offer Energy Dept. Site for Waste [Nuclear Waste? Not In My Backyard!]
By Matthew L. Wald
The New York Times
Monday, March 20, 2006
"WASHINGTON, March 19 A group of nuclear utilities that is planning to build a private nuclear waste dump on an Indian reservation in Utah has offered to sell space there to the federal government. The move could help the government avoid billions of dollars in potential legal damages over its failure to build its own repository.
The Energy Department signed contracts in the 1980's with each of the nuclear operators, promising to accept their spent fuel beginning in January 1998, in exchange for a payment of a tenth of a cent for each kilowatt-hour they generated.
The project now appears to be at least 20 years behind schedule, and the department faces approximately $50 billion in damage claims from the utilities, many of which have resorted to building giant casks adjacent to their reactors to store the old fuel.
In a letter to the chairmen and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate Energy Committees, Private Fuel Storage said it could begin taking fuel within three years, at a cost of about $61 million a year. In the letter, which was sent in December but released last week, the company estimated the Energy Department's costs to maintain the fuel at the reactor sites at about $500 million a year.
The fuel is currently kept at 72 sites whose storage costs vary widely. At some sites, the reactors have been retired and torn down, and maintenance and security personnel remain in place simply for the fuel. At others, while construction of the casks was expensive, the cost to maintain them is small."
15. BITS AND PIECES
JCF7 – 7th Annual Meeting of Japan CF Research Society
Kagoshima, Japan, April 27–28, 2006
JCF7 took place last month at Inamori Memorial Hall on the Korimoto campus of Kagoshima University. The conference was chaired by Akito Takahashi, emeritus professor at Osaka University, and was organized by Yasuto Takeuchi of Kagosima University.
JCF7 program and abstracts
But Where Are the Nuclear Ashes?
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