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The leader in news and information on low energy nuclear reactions
Sept. 10, 2006 -- Issue #18

Copyright 2006 New Energy Times (tm)
Published by the New Energy Institute Inc. six times per year

Staff 
Editor and Publisher: Steven B. Krivit
Copy Editor: Cindy Goldstein
Web Editor: Sally Robertson

Science Advisers:
Edmund Storms
John Armstrong

Support Team
Randy Souther
H.P.
Nick Palmer
V.F.
John Rudiger

 
Contributors
Bennett Daviss
Edmund Storms
 
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EDITORIALS AND OPINION
1.   From the Editor: Report on the 2006 Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference
2.   To the Editor
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
3.   The Communications Institute National Energy Symposiums
ANALYSIS AND PERSPECTIVES
4.   Bubble Fusion Discoverer Taleyarkhan Strikes Back
5.   Reasonable Doubt
6.   Amber's Answer To The Question Of Reproducibility
7.   On The Allegations of Fraud Against Fleischmann and Pons
8.   The Five Press Conferences Of Cold Fusion
PUBLICATIONS
9.   Cold Fusion Book Published by Kozima
10. Fourth Widom-Larsen LENR Theory Paper Released
SCIENCE AND ENERGY NEWS
11. The World's Second Most Expensive Science Experiment

12. Electric Power Research Institute Cold Fusion Videotape Released
13. Steorn Challenges The First Law Of Thermodynamics
14. Brigham Young University Professor Steven Jones Rebukes Cold Fusion, Again
15. BP: Beyond Propaganda
16. Walter Meyerhof, Stanford Cold Fusion Foe, Dies At 84
17. Gustave (Bob) Kohn: February 12, 1910 - August 20, 2006

 

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“The problems of this world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.”

— John F. Kennedy


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EDITORIALS AND OPINION

1. From the Editor: Report on the 2006 Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference 


Steven Krivit
Photo: Daniel Bosler

During the last week in July and the first week in August, the National Defense Industrial Association and the Office of Naval Research hosted the 2006 Naval Science & Technology Partnership conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

On Aug. 2, Frank Gordon, head of the Navigation and Applied Sciences Department at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, Calif., gave a seven-minute presentation which provided a brief overview of the history of low energy nuclear reactions, historically known as "cold fusion."

Frank Gordon presenting in Washington, D.C., at the NDIA Science and Technology conference (Photo Steven Krivit)

Panel of energy experts at NDIA Science and Technology conference (Photo Steven Krivit)

LENR research was one of many other research areas and applications presented at the conference. They included inertial confinement fusion, fuel cells, biodiesel, coal, wind, and synthetic hydrocarbon liquids.

Later that day, professor David Nagel from The George Washington University presented a more detailed review of the worldwide LENR research.

Pamela Boss of the San Diego SPAWAR Systems Center presented a detailed overview of her group's 17 years of LENR research, which includes 15 papers published in peer-reviewed journals since 1990. The latest paper was published last year in the prestigious German science journal, Naturwissenschaften.

Boss included in her presentation results of the group's latest research using external electric and magnetic fields. She also set up a viewing station in the exhibit hall with a microscope and physical samples of the latest experimental evidence for conference attendees to see and touch.

A clear majority of the people I spoke with at the conference were astounded to learn that "cold fusion" research had continued past 1989. Their surprise was understandable.

Seventeen years ago, The New York Times reported that Douglas R.O. Morrison, a physicist representing CERN, the European scientific consortium for nuclear research, said that cold fusion "was an example of 'pathological science,' in which an erroneous experiment initially gained some support, then prompted skepticism and finally led to denunciation."

Attendees' reactions to the conference presentations and discussions at the viewing station fell clearly into two categories.

"Giggle factor" most aptly describes the first of these groups. Despite the fact that nothing humorous was discussed or presented, conference attendees were confronted with the paradox that "cold fusion" research was being treated with legitimacy and respect, in contrast to the current dominant public view.

These attendees appeared confused and expressed incredulity. It was inspiring to see none of the hostility that was so prevalent in 1989.

The second of these groups comprised those who were fascinated and interested - in new possibilities.

Pamela Boss presenting in Washington, D.C., at the NDIA Science and Technology conference
(Photo Steven Krivit)

Frank Gordon explaining results to General Larry Farrell and other physicists and journalists at the exhibit booth. (Photo Steven Krivit)

The recent SPAWAR work, which will be discussed in detail in a forthcoming New Energy Times issue was a hot topic. This is the first LENR experiment that is relatively simple, can be repeated on demand and shows hard evidence of nuclear reactions.

Sadly, only half the Navy LENR researchers, those from the SPAWAR lab in San Diego, presented their research at the conference. The other, "silent" researchers work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

One of the Naval Research Laboratory researchers, Ashraf Imam, a metallurgist, invented and patented a palladium/boron alloy that demonstrated phenomenal results: It allowed Melvin Miles, an electrochemist at the Navy's China Lake laboratory, to achieve a 90 percent positive run rate in his LENR experiments which demonstrated excess heat.

I heard that these two gentlemen were subsequently directed to work in other areas and were not permitted to report their LENR findings in scientific conferences or journals in the last few years.

I do not know whether such directives came to these men because their supervisors failed to see the relevance of their work or because their supervisors feared political repercussions from working in controversial "fringe" science.

I met Imam at the National Defense Industrial Association conference, which he attended as a guest. He was friendly to me; however, he refused to speak with me on the record about these matters.

Another Naval Research Laboratory researcher, nuclear physicist Scott Chubb, was listed several years ago as an author in " Thermal and Nuclear Aspects of the Pd/D2O System - Vol. 1: A Decade of Research at Navy Laboratories." Apparently, his supervisors were displeased with his association with this subject matter, and it nearly cost him his job.

I spoke with a fourth researcher with the Naval Research Laboratory on Aug. 1 when I learned that his group would not be represented at the conference the next day. He is involved with two LENR experiments and has received funding from DARPA and the Naval Research Laboratory. He requested that New Energy Times not identify him and he declined to discuss details of these experiments on the record. He told me that he went up through several levels of management to get permission to discuss his LENR research at the conference; however, they denied his request.

I asked him specifically why they blocked his participation in the conference. He said that management was afraid that, if negative publicity came about because of the stigma of cold fusion, Congress would accuse them of working on "pathological science" and cut their budgets.

To be honest, such fear is understandable. Yet the underlying facts of today's research in LENR are not congruent with pathological science.

I am sad that this second group was prohibited from presenting its work publicly, which likely would have helped to support a meaningful dialogue and, in turn, help to validate research in this area.


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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:

Clearly, cold fusion is disruptive science and, based on what we know, has potential to be disruptive technology. Because of the disruptiveness, we don't know how it will play out. But things won't stay the same.

The "holy grail" is small, inexpensive, and efficient energy appliances. With a compact available heat engine, the conversion into any other form of useful energy is just a matter of application of the appropriate converter.

I don't think that this will spell the demise of large power industry, especially if the technology turns out to be difficult to control and/or maintain.

One of the things that large industry does for people is relieve the burden of maintenance and upkeep and press that burden on true experts that can be efficient. It's why, even though small power plants are certainly available to anyone, there is no large distributed infrastructure of these small plants.

Everyone talks about energy independence, but it requires the availability of not only a ubiquitous energy source but also reliable and efficient technology to exploit that source.

A problem I think about is the thermal cycle efficiency of the converter. We need conversion efficiency to be high, so that we don't waste heat. Even if the fuel is essentially free, waste heat still has to be dealt with. Eventually, all of the energy we dissipate in the business of making energy radiates into outer space.

Meanwhile, it has to be dealt with locally; it heats up the things around us. There isn't any practical way to avoid this, even if greenhouse gasses were suddenly brought under control.

For high conversion efficiency, high temperatures and/or pressures are required, which makes the technology more dangerous and less suitable for small operation. Power plants are dangerous mainly because of the high energy densities involved.

That density is not reduced by making a device smaller; only the total quantity of available energy is smaller. It is important to note the technological reasons why the power industry became big business.

As a technical sort of guy, I don't think I would suffer much, no matter which way the technology goes. We will need operators, engineers, technicians and repairmen, no matter what.

But I don't want to see people invest in long-term projects that will become obsolete because of upstart technology. That also would seem to be a waste of energy. Nuclear power is absolutely a long-term investment. It takes years to design and build a plant, and it takes lots of expert work to keep it running correctly.

The only thing that makes it viable is that the fuel is abundant and cheap (yes, I know about the limited supplies of yellowcake, but more than 90 percent of the available energy is still in the nuclear fuel even after it has reached the end of useful life).

William Rostron
West Union, South Carolina
 

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NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
 
3. The Communications Institute National Energy Symposiums

Sacramento, Calif., Oct. 12
The Communications Institute is taking the National Energy Symposiums show on the road. The inaugural National Energy Symposium took place on June 15, 2006, at the University of Southern California.

The second symposium is scheduled for Oct. 12 at the California state capitol in Sacramento. The title of the event is "Facing California’s Energy Future." This symposium is sponsored by University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology, UC Energy Institute, University of California Davis Energy Efficiency Center - Institute of Transportation Studies, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, The Communications Institute, and the California State Senate Office of Research.

New York, N.Y., Oct. 31
On Oct. 31, the Communications Institute is co-producing "Covering the Energy Debate," a special seminar for the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. This symposium will take place at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York City.

Washington, D.C., Dec. 7
The Institute will be holding the third National Energy Symposium in Washington D.C., on Dec. 7th in the Cannon Caucus Room in the Cannon House Office Building. Preliminary sponsors are John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology , Congressional Quarterly, and some of the National Energy laboratories. Please check here for updates.

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4. Bubble Fusion Discoverer Taleyarkhan Strikes Back
by Steven Krivit

On May 8, 2006, science journalist Eugenie Samuel Reich published a series of four articles in Nature which came as close as possible to accusing Purdue physicist Rusi Taleyarkhan of committing fraud without actually saying so.

Taleyarkhan's research -- nuclear reactions in a novel mechanism that could have immense technological potential -- apparently seemed too good and too profound to Reich and Nature.

Reich's series of four stories in Nature was replete with innuendo and groundless speculation, building a house of cards on which to base the thesis that her journalistic investigation would lead to "the end of bubble fusion."

The core of the Reich/Nature allegation was based on speculations made by physicist Seth Putterman and his associate Brian Naranjo at UCLA that an on-hand source of Californium-252 was responsible for the novel results claimed by Taleyarkhan.

Months earlier, Putterman, after receiving $800,000 from the U.S. government, failed in his effort to replicate the Taleyarkhan experiment.


Rusi Taleyarkhan
(Photo Steven Krivit)

Taleyarkhan's collaborator, Richard T. Lahey Jr., a professor of engineering and physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, told IEEE Spectrum 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."

Putterman and Naranjo disagreed with Lahey and told IEEE Spectrum that the UCLA team performed the replication "according to blueprints provided by Taleyarkhan's group."

Naranjo, with the help of Putterman, a direct competitor of Taleyarkhan for research funds, speculated that the nuclear emissions from Taleyarkhan's experiment were the result of contamination. But there was little to suggest that this was just an innocent mistake, according to the way the story was reported by Reich in Nature.

Taleyarkhan is far too experienced a scientist to make such a careless mistake: allowing contamination from on-hand source of Californium-252 to interfere with the results. The very clear implication was that Taleyarkhan had spiked his experiment intentionally.

And thus, within a matter of hours after the Nature story broke, Taleyarkhan's name and reputation, as well as Purdue's, were being defamed around the world in print and electronic media.

Reich never mentioned the word fraud; she didn't have to. It was a well-executed assist, though Reich told New Energy Times that she failed to see New Energy Times' perspective that her story was "ugly journalism." Reuters introduced the word "fraud" in the story and used the word fraud in its suggested headline. Many newspapers picked up Reuters' story.

Two days later, on March 10, New Energy Times investigated the controversy and identified numerous questions about the manner in which the Reich/Nature story developed.

Since we completed our March 10 investigation, we have been following this story closely. There is much more to it. This article will not go into all of the details; however, New Energy Times has received important news this week, as well as a set of key facts that appear to vindicate Taleyarkhan.

Earlier this week, Physical Review Letters accepted for publication a paper by Brian Naranjo, who initiated this controversy by speculating that Taleyarkhan's bubble-fusion neutrons were the result of Californium-252 contamination.

However, Taleyarkhan has been a busy man in the last few months. In addition to hiring attorneys to help him defend his personal and professional rights, undergoing a University administrative examination, and enduring numerous personal challenges and disruptions, he decided to tackle Naranjo's charge head-on.

He and his colleagues, Robert Block and Richard Lahey Jr. of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Robert Nigmatulin, former president of the Ufa branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and Yiban Xu, a postdoctoral research assistant at Purdue, tested Naranjo's speculation empirically. They performed experiments in which they intentionally exposed the test device to Californium-252.

According to their findings, a different spectrum results, refuting the Naranjo claim.

"Rather than argue about the merits or demerits of attempts at a computer code calculation for a ‘presumed experimental configuration and instrument settings-cum-performance,’ we directly obtained additional experimental data with our laboratory’s Californium-252 source with the same liquid scintillation and sodium iodide detectors and settings used before. We then show by direct one-on-one comparison that the reported spectra in our [earlier] paper for neutron and gamma photons are significantly different from corresponding spectra derived from a Californium-252 source."

This paper, too, was peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters earlier this week.

Yet another paper by Taleyarkhan is also on the way.

Andrei Lipson from the University of Illinois, an expert on the use of CR-39 track detectors, had submitted comments regarding the Taleyarkhan work to Physical Review Letters in the traditional manner. The Taleyarkhan group's rebuttal to Lipson has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication, as well.

Furthermore, Taleyarkhan reports to New Energy Times that there have been four successful public demonstrations of his bubble fusion phenomenon since March 2006.

Taleyarkhan told us that he and his colleagues invited outside visitors and experts into their laboratory to offer real-time demonstrations of bubble fusion. Taleyarkhan asserts that all four successful results have been acknowledged in written affidavits and documentation. He has provided us with three of these, which are summarized below. The fourth has been promised.

One independent group, a professor and two students from a university in Texas, obtained successful results in an audit of Taleyarkhan's experiment, confirming the key elements of the discovery with two independent detection methods. One used a liquid scintillation detector; the other used a passive CR-39 track detector. This group has submitted its results for peer review in the proceedings of a forthcoming international conference as well as a respected peer-reviewed journal.

Taleyarkhan has requested that the identity of this group be withheld pending review of its papers; however, New Energy Times has obtained a pre-print of the paper. The summary reads as follows:

"Neutron production during self-nucleated acoustic cavitation of a mixture of deuterated acetone and benzene has been verified with two independent neutron detectors. No neutron production is observed for the deuterated liquid when cavitation is not present, and neutrons are not produced with or without cavitation for the non-deuterated liquid. These observations support previous results showing deuteron-deuteron fusion during self-nucleated acoustic cavitation of a mixture of deuterated acetone and benzene."

William Bugg, a nuclear research professor at Stanford University with more than 50 years' experience, visited the Purdue laboratory on June 6-7 and provided a strong endorsement of Taleyarkhan’s use of CR-39 track detectors, generally considered to be an unambiguous diagnostic method for detection of nuclear emissions. Observers can see results from such detectors with their own eyes instead of depending on complicated electronic devices.

CR-39 track detectors permanently record neutron or charged particles emanating from a nuclear source by an etching procedure after exposure. They are used routinely by health physicists to measure exposure of individuals to neutrons, which, unlike charged particles, can present a serious health risk. The detectors provide a permanent record of the exposure and can be examined microscopically track by track at any time after the experiment.

Bugg's report says he found "statistically significant excess neutrons over the background in the two deuterated sample detectors located on the chamber and none in the undeuterated sample."

The third testimonial New Energy Times has obtained is that of Ross Tessien of Impulse Devices Inc.

Tessien wrote, "The experiment conducted yesterday revealed that the background sample tracks were in the range of about 15-16 tracks, whereas the chamber-mounted detectors experienced an increase to approximately 28 and 39 tracks, respectively."

 

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ANALYSIS AND PERSPECTIVES
 
5. Reasonable Doubt
By Bennett Daviss
Original published in New Scientist, Vol. 177 Issue 2388 - 29 March 2003, page 36

No sooner had cold fusion surfaced than it was written off, and the idea that you could extract virtually limitless free energy from water quickly became taboo. Yet a small band of researchers at the US Office of Naval Research have come up with some puzzling observations that no conventional theory can explain. Some of them started out as sceptical as the rest, but they now believe they have evidence that cold fusion is worth pursuing. Bennett Daviss takes up the story.

LAST YEAR, the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego released a two-volume report. Its soporific title, "Thermal and Nuclear Aspects of the Pd/D2O System: a Decade of Research at Navy Laboratories", belies its contents. The report lays out the navy's evidence that cold fusion is real, a verifiable nuclear event that liberates more energy than it consumes.

If this claim were being made by almost anyone else, it probably would - and maybe should - be greeted with an embarrassed silence. But behind this research is the organisation that sponsored 50 Nobel prizes, produced radar, the laser, the Global Positioning System and thousands of other discoveries and products used every day around the world. After more than 200 experiments, conducted over 10 years at various navy laboratories, several of its researchers are willing to declare that these laboratories have played host to events that not only indicate that cold fusion is real, but that can't be explained in any other way.

"I had a bit of unease about putting my name to this," admits Frank Gordon, director of the San Diego centre's navigation and applied sciences department, who wrote and signed the report's introduction. "But our data is what it is and we stand by it."

Though the report has indeed been greeted by silence, the navy scientists are not embarrassed. They believe the experiments it describes could make a vital contribution to a hugely important scientific discipline. Indeed, Gordon is now calling for government agencies to begin funding cold fusion research again.

It's a brave gesture. Mainstream scientific opinion has stood against cold fusion since shortly after 23 March 1989. That's when Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, working at the University of Utah, announced that they had created fusion in cells composed of a palladium electrode immersed in a bath of "heavy water", in which oxygen is combined with the hydrogen isotope deuterium.

In deuterium, each hydrogen atom, with its nucleus of a single proton, is replaced with the hydrogen isotope deuterium, which holds both a proton and a neutron at its core. Palladium readily absorbs deuterium atoms, but Pons and Fleischmann were claiming that deuterium nuclei were being packed into the palladium's molecular lattice in such a way that their nuclei were fusing together and releasing energy. However, overcoming the repulsion between two positively charged nuclei and bring them together requires an enormous amount of energy. It normally takes conditions of heat and pressure found in the Sun. Achieving fusion at room temperature, using a small piece of equipment sitting on a lab bench, was widely believed to be impossible.

Within a few months, the Energy Research Advisory Board (ERAB), a panel of prestigious scientists appointed by the US Department of Energy to test the claim, pronounced to the contrary: Pons and Fleischmann were, to put it politely, mistaken. Since then, cold fusion has been as respectable in science as pornography in church.

Except, perhaps, in the US navy. According to David Edwards, assistant to the executive director of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), navy researchers rule nothing out until all avenues have been explored. "If we thought the underbelly of a dung beetle would make a better radar reflector than the material we're using now, we wouldn't hesitate to investigate that possibility as thoroughly as we needed to in order to make a judgement," he says.

After about 30 minutes, the temperature of the cathode rose about 3°C above that of the surrounding liquid.

And so, if researchers have time not claimed by assigned projects, they pretty much do what they want, using discretionary funds controlled by their department chiefs. "In 1986, when superconductivity became a hot topic, managers asked if anybody in our labs was working on it," says materials engineer and former navy officer David Nagel, who has since retired as a head of the division of condensed matter and radiation sciences at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington DC, and is now a research professor at George Washington University. "About 40 hands went up. With cold fusion, the same thing happened. It was unstoppable."

The prospect of cold fusion was irresistible to the navy. Calculations showed that a cubic kilometre of ordinary lake or ocean water contained enough deuterium to rival the combustion energy in all the world's known oil reserves. Then there were claims that some credible attempts to replicate Pons and Fleischmann's work had indeed seen something strange.

The navy's researchers were also influenced by personal contact with Fleischmann. A world-renowned electrochemist and Fellow of the Royal Society, he had long been a contract researcher and consultant for the navy, and several of its scientists had published papers with him. Many navy researchers were unwilling to accept he had gone off the rails. "We knew his abilities," says Pamela Mosier-Boss, an electrochemist at the San Diego centre. "I had to believe that he had something real going on there."

Boss's job, researching fuel cells and innovative propulsion systems, made it imperative for her to investigate the cold fusion claims if there was even the slightest chance they might hold up. So she and her colleague Stanislaw Szpak began to probe them. Both were well-established in the profession: Szpak had published more than four dozen papers in refereed journals, Boss more than two dozen. Both had made numerous presentations at professional meetings and had had their work included in volumes of proceedings. They felt confident that if anyone was well placed to make an objective assessment of cold fusion, they were.

Colleagues Miles respected were reporting tantalising amounts of extra energy popping up in their own tests.

Their first move was to make their own palladium electrode using a technique called co-deposition. They passed an electric current through a solution of palladium chloride in water that had been slightly enriched with deuterium. At the negative electrode, the cathode, which was made of copper in some experiments and silver in others, the current liberated palladium and deuterium gas, which were deposited together in spidery black filaments. In more than 100 such trials, Szpak and Boss saw something odd. After about 30 minutes, the temperature of the palladium-coated cathode rose about 3 °C above that of the surrounding liquid.

This takes some explaining. The bath's electrical resistance is greater than the cathode's. Resistance to current creates heat, so if the only heat source was the current flowing into the cell from the external battery, the electrolyte should have been warmer than the palladium. Because the reverse was true, the unaccountable energy had to be coming from the cathode: the metal had to be liberating energy. Spzak and Boss appeared to be witnessing a net energy gain.

While they were carrying out these experiments, Melvin Miles, an electrochemist long familiar with palladium-hydrogen interactions, was working not far away from them at the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake, California. A former college professor, Miles had been a NATO postdoctoral fellow in Munich and a visiting scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. By the time cold fusion came along, he had published 97 electrochemistry papers in professional journals and proceedings.

Miles had also been part of the process that had originally confined cold fusion to the trash pile. On hearing Pons and Fleischmann's announcement he tried to replicate their work. He built two cells using cathodes cut from a millimetre-thick piece of palladium wire that he found in the lab, but after a week or so he saw no unusual amounts of energy and no signs of nuclear reactions. He dutifully published his findings, and they were cited as evidence in the ERAB panel's negative report to the energy department.

But Miles wasn't satisfied by this, and continued his investigations. "I'm naturally sceptical of my own work, as any scientist should be," he says. Besides, colleagues he respected were reporting tantalising amounts of extra energy popping up in their own tests. So he ran a dozen experiments from March through to August 1989. Not one showed a glimmer of anything unusual.

But that September, everything changed. He was working with a new and much thicker piece of palladium from a manufacturer that Fleischmann had recommended. Miles set up two experiments side by side, using the 6-millimetre-thick rod. After a week or so, both began to deliver a sustained yield of between 20 and 30 per cent more energy as heat than they consumed as electricity. The cells' range of error was 0.02 watts, or 1 per cent. The excess energy measured was as high as 0.52 watts. "Enough to be beyond that range," Miles notes.

From September 1989 right through to July 1992, Miles ran eight separate experiments with the same cathodes made from the new palladium. "I didn't readily accept the finding of excess heat," he says. "I kept running the tests to see if the result was consistent." Each consistently delivered between 5 and 30 per cent excess energy. He also performed two other tests, using regular water in place of deuterium oxide, but using the same design, equipment and measuring devices. Those two experiments produced no excess heat. When he was convinced, he published the results in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry and Interfacial Electrochemistry.

The researchers had evidence of excess heat. They had also seen evidence of nuclear reactions. But it wasn't enough.

Then two things happened to give the navy's programme a boost. First, Michael Melich became intrigued by the work of colleague Wilford Hansen, a professor of physics and chemistry at Utah State University. Melich is a physicist, former branch head in the ONR, and now a research professor at the Naval Post-Graduate School. He came across a study in which Hansen had cross-checked Pons's and Fleischmann's raw data through a variety of mathematical analyses and found no flaws in their results.

Sponsored by an agency of the US defence department, Melich began to dig deeper into the negative cold fusion results reported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the UK Atomic Energy Authority labs at Harwell, and the California Institute of Technology that formed the basis for ERAB's conclusion. With five colleagues, he visited CalTech to review the data. The group found a hostile reception and was denied access to lab notebooks and other key data. MIT officials told Melich that they had thrown away all the data and notebooks and had nothing for him to review. Visiting Harwell, Melich found that the researchers had made an earnest attempt but hadn't realised the complexity of what they'd taken on. Faced with a looming publication deadline for Nature, "they stopped the experiments at about the time they were beginning to learn how to do them", Melich says.

The second boost was that navy research officials decided to treat their scientists' cold fusion research a little more seriously. Up to this point the cold fusion work at the navy labs had been informal - experiments were carried out in researchers' "spare time", funded by their department chiefs' discretionary budgets. But after Miles, Szpak and Boss had been at their benches for three years, they had collected enough evidence to convince those higher up the ladder to formalise their efforts. Robert Nowak, an electrochemist and a programme manager in chemistry at the ONR, suggested to the executive director, Fred Saalfeld, that they give the programme a formal budget and coordinate the research. They decided that Boss and Szpak should pursue co-deposition and that Miles would test various forms of palladium electrodes made by Ashraf Imam, the NRL's metals wizard.

From the beginning, the idea was to keep things modest. "We put less than $1 million a year into the programme," Nowak says. "Above that level, the red flags go up." Saalfeld and Nowak never gave the programme its own line in the ONR's budget, but allotted money to it from miscellaneous funds. "We were to keep working and we were allowed to publish our results, but we weren't supposed to say a lot about it," Miles recalls. "Some people were worried that word would get out and it would jeopardise the navy labs' funding from Congress for other research. We didn't even call it 'cold fusion'. We called it 'anomalous effects in deuterated systems'."

That was still not enough to keep the sceptics off their backs. "Fairly prominent individuals within the physics community voiced threats," Nowak admits. "They said that they were aware that federal funds were going into cold fusion research and they were going to do what they could to stop it."

Saalfeld also had to defend his decision to other scientists and managers at the ONR, and several of them remained unpersuaded by the data and drafts of papers that were circulated in-house. "I told them that there is a phenomenon here that we don't understand, it might have relevance to naval science, and we're going to explore it," he says. The fusion researchers didn't soft-pedal their colleagues' criticism of their experiments. "I'd like to think that we did a good job of internal checks and criticism," Nagel says. "In our lab, there was a wide range of opinion, from open-minded interest to certainty that this wasn't worth our time. All of those opinions were expressed."

The initial results gave sceptics reason to doubt. In July 1992, Miles received Imam's first attempt at making a suitable electrode, a palladium-silver alloy. "It produced nothing," Miles recalls. "Energy in was equal to energy out." For almost two years, while Boss and Szpak logged success after success, Imam sent Miles a steady stream of palladium alloys, and even various forms of unalloyed palladium. None produced any excess heat at all.

Until, that is, the summer of 1994. That's when Imam alloyed samples of pure palladium with boron proportioned at 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75 per cent. When Miles tried the new materials, eight out of nine tests yielded a 30 to 40 per cent energy gain. It seemed that the more boron, the more excess energy.

But why didn't the ninth one work? When Imam examined the sample he found that unlike the others, which all had a flawless surface, this one had minute cracks that had appeared when it formed. A correlation between cracks and null results has been noted by many researchers, before and since.


Photos by Misha Gravenor
The electrochemical cell used in cold fusion research looks deceptively simple.






Before his work on cold fusion, Melvin Miles had
published 97 papers on electrochemistry.



Frank Gordon released funds that allowed navy
researchers to investigate cold fusion claims.





The Office of Naval Research says it is
"not embarrassed" by its investigations.





Though retired, Stanislaw Spzak is
still working on the experiments.



Pamela Mosier-Boss remains convinced that
cold fusion merits further research.

In 1997 Miles, with more than 100 publications to his name, was reassigned to work as a clerk in the stock room.

So the researchers had evidence of excess heat. They had also seen telltale evidence of nuclear reactions in the form of tritium and otherwise inexplicably large amounts of helium (see "Search for the smoking gun"). But it wasn't enough: even Miles's success with Imam's palladium-boron samples was too little, and it came too late to save the programme. By 1995, after watching Miles trying and failing to wring excess energy from Imam's electrodes, Saalfeld and Nowak decided to stop giving the project any more money.

"For close to two years, we tried to create one definitive experiment that produced a result in one lab that you could reproduce in another," Saalfeld says. "We never could. What China Lake did, NRL couldn't reproduce. What NRL did, San Diego couldn't reproduce. We took very great care to do everything right. We tried and tried, but it never worked."

And so, Saalfeld says, they decided to declare failure and move on. Nagel regrets that it had to come to this. "I've looked at the data from the navy's work and elsewhere," he says. "I've seen reports of experiments where adequately skilled people - who didn't have their minds made up in advance - equipped themselves satisfactorily, did good calibrations and controlled experiments, had good signal-to-noise ratios, and met all of the other criteria, and reported anomalous energy. I've asked myself time and again: what's the probability that all of these experiments are wrong? I think it must be vanishingly small." But he also understands why Saalfeld made the decision he did. "Until we understand how it works and can reproduce it reliably, no one can be absolutely sure that cold fusion is real."

The opponents of cold fusion are not short of ammunition: there are still more questions than answers.

Neither of these criteria is close to being met. "In my experiments I'm still not able to control when the excess heat is large, small or even present," Miles admits. And, although there are various theories about the process and the by-products of cold fusion, most of them still contain gaping holes (see "Explaining the inexplicable"). There are certainly no compelling scientific arguments.

With the money gone, Szpak and Boss moved on to other projects. Miles wasn't so lucky. In 1996, Nowak left the ONR, robbing the navy's cold fusioneers of their front-line champion. Around the same time, Miles's boss left, and his replacement discontinued the discretionary funds that had been supporting the work. To make things worse, Miles couldn't find other work. "I couldn't get ONR funding for anything," he says. After failing to find new projects to take on, in 1997 Miles - with an international reputation and more than 100 publications to his credit by that time - was reassigned to work as a clerk in the stock room.

So what's the next step? There isn't one. The navy's report on 10 years of research into cold fusion might as well never have been written, for all the response it has generated. And Nowak says there is no point trying to take things forward. "To do the same experiments at the same level another 100 times wouldn't be compelling," he says. "We have reached the limit of accuracy and precision possible by doing that. But to expand into new tasks, which might well involve educating decision makers in Congress or setting up a programme and hiring 100 people, would have put cold fusion back on everyone's radar screen." People ideologically opposed to cold fusion "would have come out of the woodwork to kill it all over again", he says.

Those opponents are not short of ammunition: there are still more questions than answers. But Gordon thinks there is enough reason to start things up again. "What we have seen so far doesn't fit nicely into currently accepted theories, but that doesn't diminish the results from experiments by scientists throughout the world," he says. "It's time that this phenomenon be investigated so that we can reap whatever benefits accrue. It's time for government funding organisations to invest in this research."

Public money may again go into this field whether or not the scientific establishment approves.

And that may happen. "We haven't ruled out returning to this line of research," says John Pazik, director of physical sciences at the ONR. Public money may again go into this field whether or not the scientific establishment approves. "We're not at all embarrassed by this report," Pazik continues. "There is evidence of 'anomalous effects' in these systems." He won't use the f-word: no one has verified that a fusion process is taking place, he insists. Something is going on, though, and the navy may eventually see fit to investigate it further. "But there are budgetary constraints combined with funding and research priorities that will keep us from returning to it any time soon," he warns.

Miles is ready and waiting. He escaped from the stock room in 1997 when Japan's New Hydrogen Energy Program - its euphemism for cold fusion research - invited him to spend six months as one of its visiting scientists. During that time, he ran 11 experiments and three control tests. Of these 11 experiments, 10 yielded anomalous energy. These included tests that used Imam's palladium-boron blend, and three new tests of the co-deposition method. When he returned, Miles wrote papers detailing some of his results, which were published in 1999 in Fusion Technology and a year later in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry and Interfacial Electrochemistry. He has now been invited to China to continue his research.

Boss is also ready get back on board if the work is funded. And though Szpak has now retired, he still comes in to the San Diego lab to work at refining the co-deposition technique, supported on a shoestring budget that Gordon, his department chief, supplies.

A modest revival would be best, Gordon believes. "If you put a bunch of money into this, you'd probably have the same result you had in 1989 - a lot of unqualified people would start working on it and we'd begin to convince ourselves again that this can't work." Melich agrees. "The worst thing that could happen to cold fusion is to make a big blip on the scientific radar screen again," he says. "It needs a modest amount of funding - a few million a year with a firm, multi-year commitment - run by people who aren't political and are more interested in the science than they are in building their resumés. The energies being reported are vastly too big to be chemical in origin. But that still leaves a huge question. Where the hell is all that energy coming from?"

Bennett Daviss is a science writer based in New Hampshire

 

(In accordance with Title 17, Section 107, of the U.S. Code, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. New Energy Times has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of the original text in this article; nor is New Energy Times endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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6. Amber's Answer To The Question Of Reproducibility
By Steven Krivit

In January, science editor Michael Lemonick wrote a story for Time magazine about the alleged fraud by a Korean scientist performing cloning research. He compared it to the alleged fraud of Fleischmann and Pons and their claim of cold fusion.

Lemonick received strong responses from cold fusion researchers; most letters were not fan mail, he said.

Lemonick and I struck up a polite conversation about the subject, and after a few exchanges, he invited me to speak with him and his science class at Princeton, where he is an adjunct professor.

"Clearly, cold fusion has been assigned to the 'crank' category by many scientists," Lemonick wrote. "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."

I wasn't sure what to expect from the students. The only exposure that most 20-year-olds typically have to cold fusion is the move "The Saint," starring Val Klimer and Elizabeth Shue.

I asked the students to prepare for my lecture by reading the New York Times' May 3, 1989, story "Physicists Debunk Claim of a New Kind of Fusion." I chose this story because it reflected a general cross section of what most of the public knew about cold fusion.

I enjoyed the conversation with Lemonick and the class on April 3. The students were curious and inquisitive, and the planned lecture gradually shifted into a lively two-way discussion and, at times, debate.

I was able to answer most of the students' questions, but a few caught me off-guard. I had been immersed in the subject matter so deeply for six years that I hadn't been able to predict some of the questions which were obvious to these newcomers.

The most contentious subject was reproducibility or, more precisely, the lack of it. I explained that the experiments were difficult to reproduce and that only a handful of researchers claimed that they could repeat their experiments consistently.

Scott Chubb, a Princeton physics graduate now working for the Navy, was there as my guest, and he reminded us about the two Navy-developed methods which claimed very high levels of repeatability.

The first method was the palladium/boron alloy invented by Ashraf Imam at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and used by Melvin Miles, at the time with the Navy's China Lake laboratory in California.


The second method was the work pioneered by Stan Szpak and Pamela Boss at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, Calif.

But things didn't add up for Amber Hovey, at the time a freshman at Princeton. Something didn't make sense to her.

"The issue of reproducibility is the biggest argument about whether this is a real scientific effect," Hovey said. "And so if researchers can show that the cold fusion effects are highly reproducible, it would seem to be in their best interests. Since you say there are a couple of researchers who can repeat their experiments every time and get positive results, then why don't the rest of the 200 researchers in the field reproduce those experiments so they can finally prove this to the world?"

I was able to speculate on a few of the possible answers to Hovey's question, but I didn't want to stop there.

Several weeks later, I sent out a query to each of these 200 researchers and put the question to them, more or less as Hovey had asked it.

Apparently, it wasn't a question that many of the researchers were willing - or able - to answer. I received only a dozen replies. Of these, only half directly answered the question. Now, granted, there are significant cultural and language barriers that often get in the way with international surveys, so the low response was not entirely surprising. Also, the question would not be appropriate for the theorists or scientists working in managerial capacities on cold fusion projects.

The responses I did receive, however, were consistent, clear and illuminating. Three of the clearest answers appear below. Amber, I look forward to future questions from you or anyone else on this subject.

Response from Dennis Cravens, professor of chemistry and physics at Eastern New Mexico University at Ruidoso:

There are several reasons that come to mind as to why other researchers would not act as the question suggests:

1. Other researchers do not believe the claims of 100 percent repeatability. Perhaps they believe that too few experiments were run to have a meaningful statistic.
2. Other researchers may lack the resources to make or obtain the required material. 
3. Other researchers often have seen good results on experimental runs based on special materials, but they have failed later when the material "runs out."
4. Other researchers have tried and failed to make such replications work, and they just have not announced it.
5. Other researchers do not know the exact material sources or lot numbers to ensure that they have the right materials.
6. Other researchers may be unaware of the critical material analysis of the active material.
7. Other researchers have their own work in progress that they deem more important.
8. Other researchers are getting tired of chasing new claims by others.
9. Other researchers are out of money.
10. The calorimeters of other researchers are already "full" of other experiments that interest them.
11. The question is focused on "acceptance," but many people in the field have long ago given up on being "accepted."

Basically, the premise of the question is wrong. Reproducibility is the most significant impediment for public acceptance; that is correct. However, it is the lack of curiosity and independent thinking on the part of the scientific community that is more important. 

In my view, the entire scientific establishment has slipped slowly from investigating and experimenting into engineering and seeking to bring forth commercial products. They have lost their first love of learning something new just to learn and discover. Reliability, reproducibility and products are engineering words, not learning words. Transistors were not reliable at first, earthquakes are not reproducible and supernovas are not good products. Curiosity, learning, and exploring are why I entered science and why I remain interested. 

 

Response from Winthrop Williams, adjunct professor of physics, Portland State University, EECS Instructional Lab staff, U.C. Berkeley


Thank you for asking this crucial question. I have been primarily pursuing an experiment which purportedly yields transmutation, rather than huge amounts of excess heat. My reasoning was to obtain extraordinary evidence such as the production of chemical isotopes which could have come only from a nuclear process.

Excess heat is very difficult to show to a skeptical third party, but molybdenum concentrated in mass 96 is a rare thing, indeed. Given the choice, I would prefer to demonstrate an effect which is sufficiently subtle that not everyone would even care to pay attention but those who understood it would be dumbfounded. Furthermore, such individuals, having once seen a true effect and having then repeated it themselves, could never be dissuaded by any number of contrary claims or statements by other scientists, no matter how distinguished.

Some who may think they understand an excess heat demonstration may dismiss it just as easily, as soon as some authority tells them it was flawed. As to the specific excess heat experiments you cite, I confess I had not been aware of the palladium-boron alloy work, but I am aware of the co-deposition experiment and may try it in parallel with the isotope transmutation work. Maybe I sometimes try too hard to do the ultimate experiment, when something simpler will do just fine or even better in terms of achieving my intention of spreading hands-on experience with what I see as an invitation into the deeper nature of physical reality.

 

Response from Jean Paul Biberian, p rofessor of physics, University of Marseilles-Luminy

Here are my comments:
 
1. Scientists like to bring their own contribution to a field; they do not want to spend time reproducing what others have done.
 
2. Replicating experiments that, in the past, did not convince the scientific community at large is useless. The original replications did not convince skeptics then, nor would more of the same convince them now.
 
3. Replicating an experiment is not as simple as it looks. Most of the time, one has to spend a month of work for not such an important scientific contribution.

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7. On The Allegations of Fraud Against Fleischmann and Pons
By Edmund Storms

[Editor's note: The primary claim of Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons was that of excess heat, which they were expertly qualified to measure. They suspected that their chemistry experiment had yielded some form of nuclear reaction, an area of study, however, in which they were not highly skilled.

One of their sets of nuclear measurements was wrong, and critics jumped to the conclusion that this mistake was the rational explanation for the astounding claim of excess heat. Some critics alleged that it was not just a mistake but, of more sinister nature, intentional fraud.

A clear, concise and precise account of this history had been difficult to obtain directly from Fleischmann or Pons; they have been reluctant to discuss this history.

Edmund Storms, who performed research on materials used in nuclear power and propulsion reactors at Los Alamos National Laboratory, now retired after 34 years of service, explains this part of cold fusion history.

Fleischmann and Pons individually had visited the staff at Los Alamos on two occasions in the first few years after the discovery. Parts of this account are based on Storms' direct communication with Fleischmann and Pons, and other parts are based on well-known historical facts.]

Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons anticipated that the reaction that they expected would produce neutrons because they were anticipating a typical hot fusion reaction within their cell. So they looked for neutrons. They didn’t have the instrumentation to detect neutrons, but they did have the means to measure the gamma rays that would result from neutrons interacting with the water surrounding their cold fusion cell.

So they put a gamma counter on their cell. Not being nuclear physicists, they were not too knowledgeable about what the gamma spectrum should look like. When they got the spectrum, they said, "Oh, well, that’s close enough. Obviously, we’re getting neutrons."

Well, they published this in their preliminary note on April 10,1989, and somebody who was knowledgeable about these spectrums pointed it out to them and said, "Hey, wait a minute. This is wrong. This can’t be." So Fleischmann and Pons said, "Oh, OK, you’re probably right." So then they shifted their spectrum to correspond to what it should be.

And it was on that basis that they got nailed for lying, or whatever. I think it was an honest mistake, in the sense that they realized they had probably made an error the first time, and the spectrum should be shifted. The problem they brought upon themselves was not coming forth and saying what they did and being upfront about it.

The accusations of fraud were first made by Ronald R. Parker, the director of the MIT plasma fusion center, on April 28, 1989, in an interview with Nick Tate of the Boston Herald.

Another senior scientist at the MIT plasma fusion center, Richard Petrasso, was quoted two years later in the March 17, 1991, issue of The New York Times that MIT was mistaken to allege fraud. “I was convinced for a while it was absolute fraud," he said. "Now I’ve softened. They probably believed in what they were doing."

Part of the explanation for these mistakes by Pons and Fleischmann was that they were under such pressure from the skeptics. At the time, Pons and Fleischmann were absolutely inundated. They were getting hate mail, they were getting death threats, they were getting calls from people who wanted them to tell them what they had done so they could develop it and make millions and they were being called by physicists who said they didn’t know what they were talking about and that they should go back into their cave. I mean, in the middle of the night! They couldn’t get any sleep! It was just terrible. And so there was a tremendous amount of pressure on them. And I think being totally open under those conditions—it was very human, but it was very difficult to be totally open. So I don’t think it was fraud. I think it was just sloppiness on their part, probably to some extent from lack of sleep!

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8. The Five Press Conferences Of Cold Fusion
By Steven Krivit

On March 23, 1989, at the University of Utah, electrochemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons announced to the world their discovery of "cold fusion" at a press conference organized by the university administration.

At this press conference, "cold fusion" and its discoverers, Fleischmann and Pons, were still innocent in the eyes of the world's scientists and science journalists. The topic had not yet evolved into the enormous controversy that it later became. At this first press conference, reporters asked questions that reflected cautious optimism; there was no sign of the hostility or outrage that would be so dominant in the coming weeks.

On May 1-2, 1989, a series of three press conferences took place in Baltimore, MD at the American Physical Society meeting, the world’s largest yearly gathering of physicists.

A fifth press conference took place on May 8, 1989 at a meeting of the Electrochemical Society of America in Los Angeles.

Details of the second, third and fourth press conferences have been chronicled in detail in Excess Heat & Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed, 2nd Ed., by Charles Beaudette [1].

Jerrold K. Footlick has described the first and fifth press conferences in Truth and Consequences: How Colleges and Universities Meet Public Crises [2].

Footlick is a writer, university teacher and counselor in the fields of media and public affairs. He spent 20 years at Newsweek, where he created the magazine’s justice department and later, as senior editor, supervised the education, justice, science, medicine, sports and Periscope departments. He developed and edited Newsweek on Campus, a bimonthly magazine for college students.

Excerpts from Footlick’s chapter "Lightning in a Bottle" are enclosed in the text boxes below, with my commentary appearing between the excerpts.

Although Pons and Fleischmann had introduced the discussion [of cold fusion], the physicists' cutting counterattacks soon dominated public attention. Uncertain about the validity of this extraordinary claim, and given no warning, science reporters at major news organizations spun their rolodexes for guidance about nuclear fusion and came up with physicists to comment. Also surprised, and usually angry, most physicists immediately pronounced the science flawed and the method of announcing the finding at a press conference rather than in a peer-reviewed journal article unconscionable.

The familial clash between chemists and physicists at the University of Utah grew particularly nasty. Utah's Department of Chemistry ranks among the nation's elite, and Pons was then serving as its chairman. Nevertheless, none of his departmental colleagues was working on cold fusion, and few knew enough about the experiments to explain or defend them. As it happened, no one in the university's physics department was even working on nuclear fusion, and its faculty was blind-sided by the announcement. Utah physicists who were called by reporters from Salt Lake City and elsewhere were embarrassingly ignorant about this momentous experiment conducted in a neighboring building.

Thus, Utah's chemists were sympathetic but neutral, and its physicists, especially after they heard from colleagues around the country, were condemning. "The anger between the physicists and chemists caught me totally off guard,'' said Pamela W. Fogle, director of university communications, who, as a former science writer, had worked often with scientists in both departments. "I never would have anticipated or expected it. ... I would never have dreamed that there would be this kind of discord and anger. And a lot of it seemed to me to be irrational anger, just people losing it completely. I mean, you could not open a conversation and get a rational discussion."

However valid their science, Pons and Fleischmann turned out to be public-relations disasters. Fleischmann, whose family fled Czechoslovakia for England in the 1930s, became one of his adopted country's leading electrochemists. He also mentored Pons, who earned his doctorate at the University of Southampton. Fleischmann worked mainly in England, traveling occasionally to Salt Lake City, where he collaborated only with Pons. His innocence about media relations caused one of the seemingly endless complications with the cold-fusion announcement.

Although he knew that a press conference had been scheduled for March 23 in Salt Lake City, Fleischmann spoke freely to a reporter for the Financial Times in London the week before. The reporter, who was heading off for an Easter weekend holiday, left his story with the paper, and it appeared on the wires the day before the Utah press conference. This enabled at least one major U.S. newspaper and one Salt Lake City television station to produce stories in advance, increasing the aura of science by hype. Fleischmann later said he had not understood the "embargo'' of an announcement and had not realized he was doing anything wrong; there is no reason to disbelieve him.

Fleischmann took only a small public role in the furor after the original announcement, leaving Pons, who was just as inexperienced in such matters, as the centerpiece of the American controversy; his increasing discomfort -- some have said paranoia -- about all the attention exacerbated the university's problems. A North Carolinian, Pons attended Wake Forest University before earning his doctorate in England. Although he had come to Utah only six years earlier, he was well regarded enough professionally and amenable enough personally to have been elected by his colleagues as chairman of the university's internationally respected chemistry department. University Communications Director Fogle says she had maintained a cordial relationship with him.

Pons's attitude and demeanor began to change as challenges grew heated. "When I first talked with Pons and Fleischmann,'' Fogle recalled, "they were candid and open with information, what I had come to expect as a science writer." But soon afterward, apparently upon the advice of lawyers, they stopped responding to questions or describing their work. "That was very frustrating to me as a communicator," Fogle said. A university scientist who knew him before he was famous said, "Stan was very gracious, very articulate, he had a warm sense of humor. He was concerned about students, he was an excellent teacher, students really enjoyed his classes. He was highly regarded in the chemistry department." Then within a month of the announcement came a startling change. "I think that the controversy hurt him deeply. He did not know how to deal with it, and it was at that point he started relying on his friend Triggs. He relied more and more on Gary as it got tougher and tougher.''

Gary Triggs was a childhood friend, who was a lawyer in North Carolina.

University authorities attribute much of their problem immediately after the announcement to the fact that Pons now listened almost exclusively to Triggs, who apparently had no special expertise in either science or patent law. At one agonizing point, Triggs threatened "legal action'' against Michael H. Salamon, a Utah physicist, who reported in the British journal Nature that he and his colleagues had rechecked the electrochemical cells on which the Pons-Fleischmann claims had been based and found no evidence of nuclear fusion.

Certainly, the threat of legal action was inappropriate for a matter of science.

Salamon's expectations, like those of most physicists at the time, were that fusion should show easily noticeable levels of gamma rays, neutrons and tritium. Even Fleischmann and Pons did not understand why the reaction failed to exhibit the conventional fusion characteristics.

"The interesting phenomenon about this," Fleischmann said during the press conference, "is that the rate of generation of tritium and the rate of generation of helium-3 is only one-billionth of what you would expect if the fusion reactions were those experienced in high-energy physics."

However, they did understand that their experiment was releasing unexplainably large quantities of heat, and they were extremely confident about those data. Salamon, like many physicists early on, expected to see signatures of conventional nuclear reactions. Salamon disregarded the heat measurements, as such parameters were not considered part of "normal" nuclear research.

The observation of anomalous excess heat was not unlike the initial observation of radioactivity by Pierre and Marie Curie. They were confident in their observation, yet they lacked complete understanding of it.

Marie Curie writes: "More striking still was the discovery of the discharge of heat from radium. Without any alteration of appearance, this substance releases each hour a quantity of heat sufficient to melt its own weight of ice. This defied all contemporary scientific experience."

In hindsight, the Pons-Salamon confrontation appears to show the two men "talking past each other." Pons most likely was saying the heat measurements show evidence of a nuclear reaction and Salamon probably was saying it can't be a nuclear reaction if there are no neutrons.

Salamon was almost certainly without training in electrochemical heat measurements, and even if he was in possession of some related training, he most certainly was not in the same league as Fleischmann and Pons. It is easy to imagine that Fleischmann and Pons would have been outraged at Salamon’s shortsightedness and, at least in their view, hubris and ignorance when he announced that he had “rechecked” their cells.

Salamon demanded that the university pledge to defend him as a member of its tenured faculty and indemnify him if necessary. At the same time, the university believed it was committed to defending Pons, also a tenured professor. Thus, it faced the ludicrous prospect of supporting both sides in an academic freedom lawsuit and indemnifying the loser. Ultimately, the university ended its relationship with Triggs, he apologized in writing to Salamon, and the split did not proceed.

It is commonplace to blame lawyers in crises like these, just as it is to blame journalists, but here the excess caution of lawyers and the naiveté of Utah administrators in dealing with them particularly cluttered the issues. Patent lawyers from California and Texas were called into the planning process months before the public announcement -- that is, months before a report of the work was submitted to a journal and months before anyone except a handful of people knew about it. The lawyers focused not on the protocols of science or the intellectual reputation of the university but rather on enhancing the financial opportunities of the two scientists, the institution, and the state.

Utah's approach reflected the growing belief that a university deserves to benefit should its faculty's research prove lucrative. Peterson wanted to position Utah to gain financially from cold fusion, as Stanford University had from recombinant DNA, the University of Wisconsin from rat poison, and Indiana University from fluoridated toothpaste. He was particularly concerned with patents, since a few years earlier the federal government had given institutions the right to patent the results of federally sponsored research. To critics, Utah's thinking was dominated by greed rather than a sense of discovery.

At the same time, Utah further angered the scientific world [physicists, in particular] by reneging on an agreement with Steven E. Jones, a physicist at neighboring Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo. Having discovered that they were doing related work, Pons and Fleischmann agreed with Jones to make simultaneous announcements in separate papers for the journal Nature. According to Utah officials, Pons and Fleischmann soon developed second thoughts about the agreement. They decided that their work demonstrated energy production, while Jones' did not. But an additional factor made them, as one colleague said, "irate.'' Earlier they had sought a Department of Energy grant, and Jones, acting as a referee, is said to have asked repeatedly for additional information. Pons and Fleischmann came to believe that some of Jones' work was based on information derived from theirs, and therefore he did not deserve equal credit. So without so much as informing Jones or BYU, they arranged to publish in the Journal of Electrochemistry instead and proceeded to announce their findings at the press conference.

Peterson said that lawyers had advised him, Pons and Fleischmann, and James Brophy (the vice president for research) that the university risked losing international patents if news of the discovery became public before Utah had established its rights. In retrospect, other lawyers believe they were being hyper-cautious. But Utah officials found it hard to challenge their counsel, who said in effect: "We understand the stakes; we wouldn't be here if you hadn't thought to bring us in; we know more about how to handle this than you academics do."

Thinking first of the legalities and financial prospects, however, made an enormous difference in how the news was announced, and ultimately received. To protect their secret, for example, Peterson and Brophy did not alert Utah's own physicists, who might have injected caution into the process early and might not have been so aggressively opposed afterward. Worse, the fear of losing exclusivity pushed Pons and Fleischmann to rush their paper into the Journal of Electrochemistry before it had been thoroughly vetted by other scientists and before they had refined their own work; Pons pointedly said later that the announcement was premature. But facing science-by-press-release criticism, Utah authorities noted that the findings had in fact been submitted to the journal in advance of the public announcement (it appeared about a month later). They also dismissed as haughty the criticism of some physicists that the journal in question was "obscure.'' The Journal of Electrochemistry is small, yes, but this is because the field of electrochemistry is small.

Fleischmann and Pons were interested in intellectual primacy. The University was interested in patent priority. Fleischmann has gone on record with multiple historians asserting that the university was driving the early release, that he and Pons had wanted and needed another 18 months before they felt prepared to present the results. Gary Taubes has chronicled an eye-witness observing "Fleischmann 'almost in tears' as the consensus finally emerged that they would call a press conference" [3].

In August 2006, New Energy Times spoke with Chase Peterson, the president of the University of Utah in 1989.

"The decision to announce was Martin and Stan's," Peterson said. "Then the University stepped in to help. It is quite possible that Martin did get cold feet but no one in the University ever heard from him that the announcement should be cancelled."

At the 17-year mark in this history, it is difficult to know exactly what happened. The best that this writer has been able to deduce is the following.

Initially, in January and February of 1989, Fleischmann and Pons were adamant about needing another 18 months before they were ready to go public.

When the attempted collaboration with Jones broke down, all parties at the University of Utah agreed to go public, contingent on the acceptance of Fleischmann and Pons' scientific paper.

A week prior to the press conference, Fleischmann sensed the impending fiasco and developed second thoughts. He told nobody in Utah; perhaps he felt too intimidated and outnumbered to go against Peterson, Brophy, the attorneys and perhaps even Pons, who had placed his trust in his attorney, Gary Triggs. Fleischmann may have therefore attempted to use his political contacts in the United Kingdom to influence the University of Utah to halt the impending press conference.

Nonetheless, the process by which this article was published could hardly be considered routine. Under usual circumstances, a scientist sends an article describing a piece of work to an appropriate journal. The editor submits it to a qualified peer, perhaps two or three, who review the work, check some of the results, and perhaps question the author, who may then revise the article.

Other interested scientists might receive pre-prints and offer corrections. (In this day of e-mail, information spreads far faster and more widely than it once did.) Here, Pons and Fleischmann -- and probably their lawyers -- rushed to publication because they feared that information was leaking out. They apparently requested the Journal of Electrochemistry to turn the article around within a few days. This meant little time for a peer to review the paper carefully and no time for a large number of scientists to even learn about it before the press conference. But such was the reputation of Pons and Fleischmann that the journal was willing to accept the article on their terms.

The two dominant forces were the rush for patent priority and the desire for intellectual primacy. It is true that information had, in fact, started to leak out and the rumors were beginning to become unmanageable.

The lawyers, not the news officers of the university, even controlled the critical press release that accompanied the public announcement. Fogle says "three batches'' of lawyers vetted it -- "I'd never had lawyers review a news release'' -- eliminating important information that might have alleviated some of the initial skepticism among reporters and scientists. The original draft, for example, included specific details about the experiment, how it was set up and how long it took to generate the results. The fact that it often took months for the experiment to produce results was excised; thus, other scientists were not warned that they could not have overnight success in replication.

The "incubation time" required to load the proper ratio of deuterium into palladium to achieve the minimum threshold turns out to have been the primary reason for all the early failures to replicate the excess-heat effect. This threshold did not become widely known until several years later, long after a majority of the world's exasperated and frustrated scientists abandoned their research efforts in this area.

The draft also offered details on the paper, its title, the journal in which it was to be published, and when. The lawyers seemed totally dense about the significance of this information. They eliminated all of it; then, as a compromise, they restored mention of the paper's submission to a journal in a single sentence on the second page. "The lawyers were beyond my control," Fogle said with resignation. "But these were concessions I would fight over, significantly fight over, if l had to do it again. I wish I had known what boundary I could push to get what I knew was needed.''

Here are the highlights from the University of Utah press statement, "embargoed for release'' on Thursday, March 23, 1989, 1 p.m. MST:

SALT LAKE CITY - Two scientists have successfully created a sustained nuclear fusion reaction at room temperature in a chemistry laboratory at the University of Utah. The breakthrough means the world may someday rely on fusion for a clean, virtually inexhaustible source of energy. ...

"What we have done is to open the door of a new research area," says Fleischmann. "Our indications are that the discovery will be relatively easy to make into a useable technology for generating heat and power, but continued work is needed, first, to further understand the science and second, to determine its value to energy economics."

[After two more paragraphs discussing nuclear fusion, this is the entire second paragraph of page 2:] Their findings will appear in the scientific literature in May [emphasis added [by Footlick]] ... [On page 3 of the release, the researchers address the background of their work:] Pons calls the experiment extremely simple. "Observations of the phenomenon required patient and detailed examination of very small effects. Once characterized and understood, it was a simple matter to scale the effects up to the levels we have attained.''

The researchers' expertise in electrochemistry, physics, and chemistry led them to make the discovery. ''Without our particular backgrounds, you wouldn't think of the combination of circumstances required to get this to work '' says Pons.

Some may call the discovery serendipity, but Fleischmann says it was more accident built on foreknowledge. "We realize we are singularly fortunate in having the combination of knowledge that allowed us to accomplish a fusion reaction in this new way." ...

The research strategy was concocted in the Pons' family kitchen. The nature of the experiment was so simple, says Pons, that at first it was done for the fun of it and to satisfy scientific curiosity. "It had a one in a billion chance of working although it made perfectly good scientific sense.''

The two performed the experiment and had immediate indication that it worked. They decided to self-fund the early research rather than try to raise funds outside the university because, says Pons, "We thought we wouldn't be able to raise any money since the experiment was so far-fetched.''

Add insouciance to lack of detail.

At once the cold fusion announcement was labeled ''science by press release," which was particularly unfortunate for Utah since its Office of University Communications is one of the most admired in the nation. In particular, the office, headed for many years by Raymond Haeckel and since 1990 by Fogle, has earned the respect of science writers for its handling of a number of medical and genetic advances at Utah, including the artificial heart and the discovery of genes for neurofibromatosis, colon cancer, and common hypertension. But the public affairs office could not get a grip on the cold-fusion episode.

Fogle, who was then director of the news service under Haeckel, first learned about the project two months before the eventual release from Vice President Brophy, who said that a major story was coming but that he could not tell her whose work or what department. "I went back to him the next day," Fogle recalled, ''and said, you know, Jim, I can't do anything to prepare for this story until I have a little bit of information. I've got a science writer who is going to need to research the area.' So he told me that there was work going on in the chemistry department on room-temperature fusion. l knew about hot fusion, but I did not know about any other kind. So I sent Jim Bapis, the science writer, to the library and said, 'Learn everything you can about fusion, hot and otherwise.'''

"As a former science writer," Fogle said, "I'm familiar with all the hoops that you jump through before making a major scientific announcement, all of which lend credibility to the work that you're doing." Still, although outside lawyers had been consulting for months, the news service received no further information until a week before the announcement was scheduled. After a press release was hurriedly prepared, and edited by the outside lawyers, the news service was ordered not to distribute it in advance, even under embargo, either to newspapers and television stations in Salt Lake City or to key science reporters around the nation.

Everyone in the administration assumed that an embargo would be broken. But Fogle argued that if reporters at least had the release in hand, they would better understand what they were dealing with, especially when they began to call their stable of experts for comment. (As it happened, the experts on fusion might not have been able to help much, since they were physicists and this report came from a chemistry department.) Further, if they had no meaningful information about the announcement, national science reporters, most of whom are in New York and Los Angeles, would have little impetus to cover the press conference.

The administrators compromised. They created a single paragraph of information that Fogle was to use -- and not expand upon -- when calling key science writers around the country whom she dealt with regularly. She was also not allowed to invite the reporters to arrive a day early and study the information. Fogle remembers first calling Jerry Bishop of the Wall Street Journal, the nation's most highly regarded science reporter.'' (see footnote) [W]hen he started asking questions, I realized I needed to answer those questions, so I did to the best of my ability." Still, without the release, most reporters were reluctant to come, although some newspapers and television networks sent stringers. "I think the curiosity got them more than anything else," Fogle said. "But I felt as if I had not served the role I should have served in providing them with the information they needed to make the judgment. It makes for a little notch in [our] believability.''

Footnote from Truth and Consequences:

So intense was the anger among some physicists that they attempted to have the American Physical Society national journalism award given to Bishop in 1990 rescinded shortly thereafter because he had won it for coverage of cold fusion. In a 1991 article for a National Association of Science Writers publication, Bishop assessed the episode: "If [the cold-fusion story] was true, it would be one of the big scientific stories of the century. If it wasn't true, there was going to be a lot of controversy. Either way, our readers would like to know what happened, and we could set it in context. ... The concept that it's irresponsible to report things before they've been peer-reviewed simply doesn't apply in cases like this or in a lot of science reporting."

The university news service did not worry about the Salt Lake City media, with which it had excellent relations. Local television reporters were cooperating in arrangements to open Pons's laboratory on the morning of the news conference, for both television and still pictures, because everyone expected chaos after the announcement.

Then Fleischmann's ill-timed interview in England took effect. Fogle was at her desk at about 5:30 p.m. on the eve of the press conference when she received a call from Ed Yeates, the science reporter for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, a friend with whom she had worked for a decade. Yeates said that he had called a researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who told him that the London story was on the wires. Yeates said he considered the embargo broken and was running an advance on that evening's news. A few minutes later, Fogle turned on the television set in her office and saw a computer-generated image prepared by Yeates with the help of the Los Alamos researcher. "My lord, that's what the experiment looks like," she remembered saying to herself.

The next day the press conference itself went smoothly, although reporters mainly ignored the introductory warning from President Peterson that the experiment might be fusion or it might only be interesting science. But no one was prepared for the reaction to the news. The university press office handled more than 1,500 calls in the following four weeks, from reporters, scientists, attorneys, brokers, literary agents, book authors, corporate executives, and philanthropists. At various times, 10 staffers were responding to media inquiries, directing callers to researchers, and trying to quell false rumors. But tension increased between the lawyers -- both the university's and Pons', who demanded secrecy- and the public-relations staff, who thought it important to provide clear external communication. And it didn't help that Pons and Fleischmann, who had been cordial and candid at the first press conference, had now stopped talking.

In the weeks following the announcement, the two chief boosters of Pons and Fleischmann's research, Peterson and Brophy, pushed for government and private financial support. In April, testifying before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Peterson exhibited a touch of the defensiveness that colored many of the university's actions: "What led to the Utah experiments? A capacity to see an old problem from new perspectives was required. Chemists, electrochemists, looked at a problem traditionally reserved for physicists. ... I would like to think that it may not be by chance that it happened in Utah, a university which has encouraged unorthodox thinking while being viewed by the world as a conservative, even socially orthodox, place. There in fact may be something valuable in isolation from more traditional centers." His critics claimed that Peterson was campaigning for earmarked funds. He insists that all he sought was federal support for cold-fusion research, with which Utah would take its chances. In any case, no federal funding resulted. But an enthusiastic Utah state legislature appropriated $5 million almost at once, primarily to create the National Cold Fusion Institute, which was established in the summer of 1989 in the university's Research Park.

Audio recordings of the March 23, 1989 press conference are available at New Energy Times:

http://newenergytimes.com/audio/1989UtahPC1.mp3
http://newenergytimes.com/audio/1989UtahPC2.mp3
http://newenergytimes.com/audio/1989UtahPC3.mp3

The second, third and fourth press conferences took place in Baltimore, MD at the American Physical Society meeting. Two special sessions on cold fusion had been added to the conference. They took place on the evenings of May 1 and May 2. A very brief press conference occurred at 4:00 p.m. on May 1 and a longer one occurred later at 5:00 p.m. The fourth press conference took place on May 2 at 10 a.m.

The American Institute of Physics had invited Nathan Lewis of Caltech to host this conference. Lewis reportedly had conducted the most thorough examination of cold fusion in response to the Fleischmann-Pons claims and was thought to be an ideal speaker to brief the press.

“As most of you know," Lewis said, "we’ve been working on this since day one, in fact, since the evening of the [Utah] announcement."

"We’re going to do the experiments necessary to see if this works," he told the world's science media.

Despite having learned about "cold fusion" only 39 days earlier, Lewis' confidence that his team at Caltech would unequivocally prove or disprove "cold fusion" was, at best, bold, to assert that he could prove a negative.

At worst, it was disingenuous. Thirty-eight days earlier Lewis had told his two postdocs, who had already begun building a "cold fusion" experiment, that it wasn't worth more than one day's effort.

At this press conference, Lewis summarized the presentation he would give later that evening.

"We’ve uncovered a lot of methods that do not work. For instance, not stirring your solutions [in the cell]. You have temperature gradients [differences between one point and another]. The one electrode will inherently generate more heat than the other. The electrodes, being big pieces of wire, also were cooling pins. They are efficient at removing heat from the system if you do not agitate the system and stir it. The temperature you measure depends on where you put the thermometer. You can get a very large range of errors this way and those errors place serious doubt on the accuracy of the numbers that were measured by Pons and Fleischmann. When we stirred the solution uniformly to obtain measurements that were independent of where you put the thermometer, we see no evidence for any excess heat."

Unfortunately, Lewis neglected to consider that Fleischmann and Pons were world-class electrochemists. Not only did Fleischmann and Pons take heed of the basic basic requirement to stir the cells in order to insure a uniform temperature measurement across the cell, but they designed their cell in such a way that the natural geometry of the cell, in conjuction with the bubbling action of the electrolyte, accomplished the task without the need for external stirring devices.

Moments later, Lewis told reporters, "we believe the excess heat will turn out not to be there." The finality of his conclusion was unambiguous. Later that evening during the presentations, nearly every physicist as well as Lewis, the lone chemist, presented "evidence" for every conceivable flaw, and then some, that Fleischmann and Pons had supposedly made.

The next morning at 10 a.m., Lewis' colleague physicist Steven Koonin gave his press conference. Koonin had amused the audience the night before with his defamatory comment that "we are suffering from the incompetence and perhaps delusions of Drs. Pons and Fleischmann."

Koonin repeated parts of his presentation from the previous evening and added yet more invective and ridicule.

“It’s all very well to theorize how fusion might take place in a palladium cathode," Koonin said, ... "One could also theorize about how pigs could fly if they had wings, but pigs don’t have wings.”

In addition to "violating" theory, Fleischmann and Pons were chastised for violating a sacred protocol by announcing their discovery before their paper appeared in the published literature.

“If we’re going to have publication with press conferences," Lewis said, "we should have peer reviews as press conferences, too.”

 

Six weeks after the [Utah press conference, and a week after the Baltimore press conferences], the new celebrities, Pons and Fleischmann, were quickly added to the agenda for a semiannual meeting of the Electrochemical Society of America in Los Angeles. One of the smaller scientific organizations, and unsophisticated about public attention, the society reacted badly to the novel circumstances. Organizers of the meeting angered reporters at the outset by demanding that they pay the full conference registration fee to hear the cold-fusion presentation -- contradictory to the norm at scientific meetings, which reporters are usually encouraged to attend gratis. Only a handful paid, but Pons and Fleischmann agreed to participate in a press conference afterward.

Soon the schedule was falling apart, and the two chemists, who were supposed to speak in the late afternoon, did not get on until late evening, by which time everyone was tired and annoyed. And the Pons-Fleischmann presentation -- much anticipated since this was their first opportunity to address their own scientific society -- was a dud. Hugo Rossi, dean of the College of Science at Utah, who attended the meeting, was shocked. It was "so weak," Rossi said. "We had discussed what they were going to do, and I was convinced that they were going to come on very strong, with very important results. Instead they showed what was basically a silly video of bubbles in a tube."

Rossi was oblivious to the significance of the "bubbles in the tube." This videotaped demonstration provided a graphic rebuttal to the most significant allegation of procedural error, made the week before at the Baltimore American Physical Society meeting, challenging Fleischmann and Pons' claim of excess heat.

lf the presentation was weak, the press conference was a fiasco. The Salt Lake City newspapers and television stations were all represented, along with a sizable Los Angeles press contingent and some national science writers; as many as 150 reporters and a dozen television cameras jammed into a room much too small and much too hot. After a few timid questions, a physicist 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.

This was only one of numerous insults public and private. Physicists at Utah, pressured by their friends at other institutions, were demanding that the university disavow the research. In one bizarre case, a man who claimed to come from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology camped outside the doors of Pons and Fleischmann's laboratory, trying to force his way inside when the door was opened. Telephone calls and faxes arrived from around the world, calling for more information or calling the experiment a fraud.

Taubes identified this man as Marcel Gaudreau, a nuclear engineer with the MIT Plasma Fusion Center.

Pons and Fleischmann had a right to consider themselves harassed. And they were not prepared psychologically for stardom. Fleischmann appeared to have little understanding of American behavior; the relatively little time he spent in Salt Lake City was out of sight in the laboratory. That left Pons to oversee the experiments and respond to questioners both inside and outside the university. And this unassuming chemist, once regarded as friendly to colleagues and solicitous of students, changed. Fogle said that when Pons suddenly refused to speak with her, she could not provide answers to reporters that might have slowed the critical onslaught.

Dean Rossi was also puzzled. A mathematician himself, he thought he could moderate the clash among the university's chemists and physicists, so he had volunteered to serve as director of the National Cold Fusion Institute when it was established in 1989. But Pons and Fleischmann were "incredibly secretive," Rossi said. "Almost immediately, several laboratories [at Utah] in chemical engineering and in physics and in metallurgy started up experiments and tried to get basic information, filling in some of the details that were missing in the [original] article. Pons and Fleischmann felt this was harassment. [We thought] they should have been really anxious to have their colleagues at this institution rather than at other places confirm their results.''

Rossi's doubts intensified after the Los Angeles meeting. "I began to think this wasn't just a kind of paranoia but was really their lack of confidence in their own work. I began to share the skepticism of some other scientists." Rossi said he then carefully reread their original paper and concluded that "It is a bad paper. It's confusing. It's contradictory. The data is massaged data; they don't present the raw data that they had."

Rossi's perspective explains some of the reasons for the development of the skeptical perspective toward Fleischmann and Pons. Rossi did not fully comprehend the numerous variables and nuances of the controversy, both technical (as in the debate over the bubbling and the cell temperature gradients) and human. He failed to understand how Fleischmann and Pons felt harassed. No wonder Fleischmann and Pons were less than enthusiastic about cooperating with the National Cold Fusion Institute, which Rossi had volunteered to direct.

As history has revealed, Fleischmann and Pons did not lack confidence in the core of their claim, excess heat, as evidenced by their 58-page seminal paper in 1990, which stands unrefuted as of 2006. However, and by all accounts, including that of Fleischmann and Pons, their original eight-page "preliminary note" was a mess. Additionally, the two chemists acknowledged -- though not quickly enough -- shifting one of the data sets. This data shift, of the gamma spectrum, has been recognized historically by observers on both sides of the controversy as a sloppy, innocent mistake, though it does not invalidate their heat measurements, the result of a completely different set of scientific tools and observations.

References:
[1] Beaudette, Charles, Excess Heat: Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed, 2nd. Ed. South Bristol, ME, Oak Grove Press, 2002.
[2] Footlick, Jerrold K., Truth and Consequences: How Colleges and Universities Meet Public Crises, American Council on Education, August 1997.
[3] Taubes, Gary, Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion, New York, N.Y., Random House, 1993. p. 97.

 

(In accordance with Title 17, Section 107, of the U.S. Code, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. New Energy Times has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of the original text in this article; nor is New Energy Times endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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PUBLICATIONS
 
9. Cold Fusion Book Published by Kozima

Hideo Kozima, a nuclear physicist from Shizuoka, Japan, who has proposed his own model to explain the "cold fusion" phenomena, has published a second book on "cold fusion." According to the publisher, Elsevier, the book is targeted for physicists, energy researchers and mechanical engineers.

ISBN: 0-08-045110-1
Pages: 208
Imprint: Elsevier Science
Hardcover: $155 (Amazon)

Blurb from the back of the book:

From this natural phenomenon which previously seemed impossible to you, you should realize that there may be others which you do not yet know. Do not conclude from your apprenticeship that there is nothing left for you to learn, but that you still have an infinite amount to learn. B. Pascal Pansées

In 1989, the discovery of the now-infamous “cold fusion process” was announced at a press conference on the [day after] a scientific paper about the discovery was accepted for publication in a scientific journal. This discovery was greeted with great interest across the globe because of its potential application as a greener, more environmentally friendly energy source and because such a phenomenon is impossible, according to accepted theory. At the time, the physics and chemistry of the cold fusion phenomenon were too complicated to be understood based on current thinking.

In this book, a traditional approach is developed to explain the cold fusion phenomenon, using models and quantum dynamics in tandem. The results show elements of the new science of the cold fusion phenomenon, where neutrons in solids seem to be a key element in an interdisciplinary region of traditional solid-state physics, nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry.

Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty. Galileo Galilei

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10. Fourth Widom-Larsen LENR Theory Paper Released

[Editor's note: New Energy Times first reported theoretical developments from Allan Widom, a condensed matter physicist with Northeastern University, and Lewis Larsen, chief executive officer of Lattice Energy LLC in issue #13 on Nov. 10, 2005.

We also reported further developments of their theory in issue #15 on March 10, 2006.

New Energy Times does not peer-review papers, and thus, has no means by which to validate or assess the viability of the Widom-Larsen theory. The following text is provided by Lew Larsen for the interest of the reader, at the discretion of the reader. New Energy Times makes no endorsement.

We do, however, find an interesting apparent relationship between the theoretical discussion of applied electric fields and the application of electric fields in the Szpak at al. experimental work at the Navy's SPAWAR San Diego laboratory. We like seeing an apparent answer to the historical questions "Where are the neutrons?" and "Where's the dead graduate student?"]

Text provided by Lew Larsen and Alan Widom:
"Theoretical Standard Model Rates of Proton to Neutron Conversions Near Metallic Hydride Surfaces" by A. Widom and L. Larsen soon will be submitted to a refereed journal and is preceded by three related publications by us that are referenced and briefly summarized below.

This paper aims to answer an important question posed by many astute readers of our earlier publications on this subject. Assuming that one accepts the rest of our physics, can we show computations demonstrating that these claimed proton to ultra low momentum neutron conversions can take place at the substantial rates observed in the laboratory?

In the attached paper, we discuss how to compute low energy nuclear reaction rates for the process of radiation-induced electron capture by protons or deuterons producing new ultra low momentum neutrons and neutrinos.

For protons or deuterons in the neighborhoods of surfaces of condensed matter metallic hydride chemical cell cathodes, the radiation energy required for such nuclear reactions may be supplied by the applied voltage required to push a strong charged electric currents through certain chemical cells.

The rates of the resulting ultra low momentum neutron production are computed from the standard electroweak theory in satisfactory agreement with the available experimental data.

We think our theory can explain all of the major features exhibited in many seemingly anomalous experiments (historical and collectively known as cold fusion) that have been regarded by many nuclear physicists as theoretically inexplicable.

In contrast to other earlier theories, involving penetration of Coulomb barriers, our new theory of low energy nuclear reactions uses the well-accepted standard model of electroweak interaction physics. We think that the key process responsible for producing most of the experimentally observed anomalies is not a form of fusion.

On the contrary, we believe that the key processes driving the behavior of these systems are weak interactions. In that regard, our work extends well-accepted Standard Model physics to include collective effects in condensed matter. No new microscopic physics is assumed or is necessary to explain the data.

Prior Related Widom-Larsen Publications

Text provided by Lew Larsen:
1. "Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces," published in March 2006 in The European Physical Journal C - Particles and Fields.

The mass of electrons embedded in collectively oscillating surface plasma oscillations can be markedly increased (renormalized) by the extremely high electric fields (> 10*11 volt/meter) occurring in surface layers of protons or deuterons of loaded metallic hydrides. The resulting "heavy" electrons can react spontaneously with local protons or deuterons to produce neutrons and neutrinos.

Neutrons created collectively under these conditions have almost virtually zero momentum or equivalently very long quantum mechanical wavelengths which dramatically increase neutron absorption in the neighborhood of condensed matter surfaces. These ultra low momentum neutrons can catalyze local nuclear reaction networks. Examples of such reactions are provided.

2. "Nuclear Abundances in Metallic Hydride Electrodes of Electrolytic Chemical Cells" [Cornell arXiv physics preprint server - arXiv:cond-mat/0602472 v1 20 February 2006, also submitted to a peer-reviewed journal]

This preprint discusses a model for the anomalous patterns of nuclear abundances experimentally observed in metallic hydride cathodes of electrolytic chemical cells. These experimental transmuted nuclear abundances have been something of a scientific enigma since they were first published by George H. Miley. The data is interpreted as primarily the result of a neutron absorption spectrum.

Ultra low momentum neutrons are produced (along with virtually inert neutrinos) by the weak interaction annihilation of electrons and protons when the chemical cell is driven strongly out of equilibrium. Appreciable quantities of these neutrons are produced on the surface of a metal hydride cathode in an electrolytic cell. The ultra low momentum of these neutrons implies extremely large cross sections for absorption by various "seed" nuclei present on or near the surface of a cathode in a chemical cell, increasing their nuclear masses. The increasing masses eventually lead to instabilities relieved by beta decay processes, thereby increasing the nuclear charge. In this manner most of the periodic table of chemical elements may be produced, at least to some extent.

The experimentally observed pattern of distinctive peaks and valleys in the transmuted nuclear mass-spectrum reflects the neutron absorption resonance peaks as theoretically computed employing a simple and conventional neutron optical model potential well.

An intriguing possibility is briefly noted in the paper. The varieties of different elements and isotopes that we find in the world around us were thought to arise exclusively from nuclear reactions in stars and supernova explosions.

However, recent astrophysical calculations have indicated some weaknesses in the above picture regarding the strengths of the neutron flux created in a supernova.

Our paper says, "It appears entirely possible that ultra low momentum neutron absorption may have an important role to play in the nuclear abundances not only in chemical cells but also in our local solar system and galaxy."

3. "Absorption of Nuclear Gamma Radiation by Heavy Electrons on Metallic Hydride Surfaces," [Cornell arXiv physics preprint server - arXiv:cond-mat/0509269 v1 10 September 2005, also submitted to a peer-reviewed journal]

This preprint provides a theoretical explanation for effective suppression of gamma radiation and efficient absorption of ultra low momentum neutrons in LENR systems. It explains why neutron absorption by nearby nuclei in LENR systems do not result in the external release of large, easily observable fluxes of hard energetic gammas and X-rays. Specifically, we show that surface electrons bathed in already soft radiation can convert the hard gamma radiation into soft radiation. The number of gammas in the energetic region from 0.5 MeV to 10.0 MeV is strongly suppressed at the condensed matter surface, and the energy appears as softer (less energetic) heat radiation. The short mean free paths of both ultra low momentum neutrons and hard gamma radiation are computed in the neighborhood of condensed matter surfaces. In LENR systems, the gamma absorbing layer of surface electrons already bathed in soft radiation has the ability to stop a very dangerous ~5 MeV gamma ray in less than two nanometers -- two-billionths of a meter. With existing materials technologies, it would take ~10 cm of lead, ~25 cm of steel, or ~1 meter of very heavy concrete to accomplish the same degree of shielding.

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SCIENCE AND ENERGY NEWS

11. The World's Second Most Expensive Science Experiment
By Steven Krivit

For the last several years, major progress in hot fusion research, also known as plasma physics, has stalled while representatives from seven nations have argued where to locate the experimental reactor. This research project is second in cost only to the International Space Station.

When the battle for the Cadarache, France, site of what may turn out to be the world's most expensive science experiment concluded earlier this year, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor public relations group made the best of this project's belated news.

ITER is the double-or-nothing bet for the future of hot fusion research. In 1951, the first U.S. program started with the hope of turning the material known as heavy water into a new source of potentially cheap, unlimited nuclear energy. Numerous experimental reactors have been built in the last few decades, but by all accounts from experts, no hope exists for any of them ever to be a practical source of energy. The previous reactors were not big enough, experts said.

According to Wikipedia, the ITER folks wanted to change the meaning of the acronym because they thought that "thermonuclear" would scare people. Thank you, George Orwell.

Not all plasma physicists were, or have been, sipping champagne and joyously celebrating. Researchers from Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have been keeping a running clock on the numerous delays of this science and bureaucratic mammoth for several years.

In terms of superlatives, this science experiment also may turn out to be one of the world's longest-running experiments, exceeding 100 years before its full results are demonstrated. However, ITER proponents see the project not as workfare but as cathedral building, reminiscent of the multicentury projects from medieval times.

Is there any better alternative that I know of? No, but other, parallel research alternatives are being neglected and ignored. LENR anyone?

I don't expect New Energy Times to devote much more space to ITER in the coming years. After all, the next milestone we've been promised is not for another decade. So as a (perhaps) final word on ITER for this decade, I bring to you an anonymous quote from someone who wasn't afraid to call it like he saw it. Those of you in the field probably will be able to figure out the author. Please do not read the following quote if language offends you.

I am not sure that I have ever mentioned it to you, but controlled fusion has been a real problem with me for more than 40 years. I was involved in some of the first meetings where this crap was first promulgated. I told them then that they were full of shit, because they had not the slightest notion about how to achieve it.

It is hugely important to understand the difference between science and science fiction. A good scientific problem is one that is just slightly outside of our "sphere of understanding" -- it's far enough out that success expands our "sphere," but it's close enough so that you have a pretty good idea about how to solve it. Science fiction is stuff that is so far outside the sphere that you have no idea what the path to the solution might be.

These guys have now spent billions of dollars producing nothing and most often clogging the literature with nonsense.

I guess that you know that my field of research was surface physics. One of the most amusing (but so sad) results of the fusion program was when the Princeton folks found that radiation from their plasma was desorbing gas from the walls of their vacuum chamber, a problem that was easily predictable, and was predicted. Overnight, they were throwing millions of dollars at completely unqualified and inexperienced people who were trying to do surface physics. Their work was nonsense, but it corrupted the literature for years.

These billions of dollars that have been spent have mostly caused good people to waste their talent on bad problems.

Listed below are a few of the most interesting articles I collected when this news surfaced earlier in the year. Click on any headline to read the entire article.

World's Most Expensive Science Experiment
By Sabra Lane
PM (a radio program of the Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fusion Reactor Work Gets Go-Ahead
BBC News
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Where the Dream of Harnessing the Sun's Power Could Come True
By James Randerson, science correspondent
The Guardian
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hail the Artificial Suns
By James Morgan
The Herald (UK)
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

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BITS AND PIECES
 
12. Electric Power Research Institute Cold Fusion Videotape Released

New Energy Times has obtained an unpublished videotape of an EPRI presentation on cold fusion from May 24,1989. Despite the fact that the subject was only two months old at the time, speaker Joe Santucci demonstrates a remarkably accurate and insightful review of the subject matter. According to Santucci, the CIA, among others, was involved in cold fusion research 17 years ago.

Click here to go to chapter list. Requires Windows Media Player

(In accordance with Title 17, Section 107, of the U.S. Code, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. New Energy Times has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of the original videotape; nor is New Energy Times endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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13. Steorn Challenges The First Law Of Thermodynamics
By Steven Krivit

"I think the point that we're making is that this publicity stunt, and it is a publicity stunt, has one direct aim, and that is to grab the attention of the scientific world really to get them angry enough to have to deal with this.

The question we're asking is an honest question to the world of science: either prove this works or prove it doesn't work - whatever you find, and to also make absolutely sure the answer is put into the public domain. As far as we're concerned, we're not asking a question we don't know the answer to."

- Sean McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer of Steorn

As far as I know, there is no such thing as free energy, or magnetic motor energy. Science textbooks make it clear that such talk is nonsense, the equivalent of perpetual motion. And no inventor has come forward so far to physically demonstrate to the public that science has been incomplete in its understanding and explanation of the physical universe.

Last week, principles from Steorn, an Irish technology company posted a full-page ad in the Economist magazine challenging the world's physicists to a duel: Come test our machine, and prove us right or wrong.

"Our position on this is that we don't expect anybody in the general public to believe us at this point," McCarthy said. "We're just asking people to believe the process [of the audit.] We're saying that at the end of this process, the answer is going to be published whether we're right or wrong."

They are inviting a panel of scientists to audit their claims, with virtually no restrictions, except to publicly disclose their findings once the audit is complete.

Without a doubt, the manner in which Steorn has proceeded is unconventional. But then, so is its claim: energy with no apparent material source.

Naturally, it makes no sense for them to proceed in a conventional scientific manner. The peer review process is grossly incapable of handling unconventional claims and paradigm-challenging research.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with Sean McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer of Steorn, and ask every question that I could think of. My conclusion at the end of our talk is that I have no idea what to make of all this. However, I can say that McCarthy was very direct and forthcoming with me.

Steorn has issued a bold challenge to the physics establishment, and this establishment will not acquiesce without a fight.

I predict that none of us will know whether this claim is valid for months, perhaps years.

If the company's panel of experts determines that the claim demonstrates new science, the remaining question is, Who will pay attention to it and who will ignore it?

If the panel of experts concludes that new science does not exist, well then, Steorn's claim to generate energy and get the respect of the scientific world will just be one more approach that doesn't work.


Introduction to the interview and two sound clips (2:47 minutes)
http://newenergytimes.com/audio/2006Steorn-McCarthyIntro-Aug24.mp3

Full interview, (51 minutes, includes introduction)
http://newenergytimes.com/audio/2006Steorn-McCarthyFull-Aug24.mp3

Related news story:
The Scientists Who Claim They Can Create Free Energy

Steve Boggan
Dublin (GUARDIAN NEWS SERVICE), published in The Hindu
Friday, August 25, 2006

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14. Brigham Young University Professor Steven Jones Rebukes Cold Fusion, Again
by Steven Krivit

Facing the harsh spotlight for his outspoken views on the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, physicist Steven Jones once again turned against "cold fusion" and its discoverers, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, this time when reporters brought up Jones' earlier controversial involvement with cold fusion.

According to Deseret Morning News, Jones has been placed on paid leave by his employer, Brigham Young University, in response to his high-profile involvement with conspiracy theories regarding the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

Jones was involved in a bitter conflict with Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in the months preceding the March 23, 1989, University of Utah cold fusion press conference and with other cold fusion researchers in the following years.

However, as reported in New Energy Times issue #16, Jones conceded to a private online group of condensed matter nuclear science researchers on Feb. 13, 2006, that the Fleischmann-Pons claim of excess heat is real.

Although Jones remained relatively unscathed for his part in the early Fleischmann and Pons controversy 17 years ago, he has not been so fortunate in this controversy. A hundred news stories on Jones were published within the first two days after Brigham Young placed him on leave, and many of these mentioned his involvement with cold fusion. When asked about cold fusion by Deseret Morning News on Sept. 9, 2006, Jones once again took an adversarial position.

"In those days, it was pretty clear I refuted them," Jones said.

Jones’ statements regarding cold fusion are inconsistent, and he apparently is attempting again to distance himself from the cold fusion controversy.

Furthermore, Jones' statement is ludicrous. While there may be some similarities between his experiments and those of Fleischmann-Pons, the electrolyte used by Jones, which he called "Mother Earth Soup," was not suitable to replicate the Fleischmann-Pons effect.

Full article Sept.8, 2006
Full article Sept.9, 2006

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15. BP: Beyond Propaganda

Advertising Executive Who Created British Petroleum's Ad Campaign Not Convinced It Has Moved Beyond Petroleum

Beyond Propaganda
By John Kenney
The New York Times
Aug. 14, 2006

"Why did all big oil company advertising look alike? The typical helicopter shot of a tanker at sea, sunlight reflecting off the logo as it dissolves to a towheaded urchin on the beach, frolicking in the pristine waters. A voice like Morgan Freeman’s saying, 'At Gigantico Petroleum, we’re on the move to keep the world on the move. And to fill this tanker with cash.'

So we thought, What if you stripped away the corporate-speak? What if you engaged in the debate that was happening with oil and energy and the environment?"

Full article

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16. Walter Meyerhof, Stanford Cold Fusion Foe, Dies At 84

Stanford Report, June 7, 2006

In the late 1980s, Meyerhof criticized scientists at the University of Utah and Britain's University of Southampton who claimed to have achieved "cold fusion"—which if true could have solved the world's energy problems. When a respected engineering professor at Stanford, Robert Huggins, claimed to have confirmed one part of the cold fusion experiment, Meyerhof and others tried to reproduce it [sic] and failed. "Tens of millions of dollars are at stake, dear sister and brother, because one scientist put a thermometer in one place instead of the other," Meyerhof told an Associated Press reporter.

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17. Gustave "Bob" Kohn: Feb. 12, 1910 - Aug. 20, 2006

Text provided by Mildred Kohn:
Since 1946, Gustave "Bob" Kohn had been a research chemist for Chevron’s Ortho Division in Richmond, Calif., where he rose to the level of senior scientist. He served with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in India after his retirement in 1975. There, he helped India increase its rice production to the point at which it was self-sufficient. On his return, he and his wife, Mildred Kohn, moved from Berkeley to Palo Alto, where he was in charge of pesticide research at Carl Djerassi’s company, Zoecon.

Kohn was drafted into the Army before the outbreak of World War II. In January 1942, he was shipped to Canton Island, an atoll in the Phoenix Islands, where he assisted in the building of an airstrip so planes could refuel after flying west from the Hawaiian Islands on their way to Guadalcanal. He was sent from the Pacific to Iceland to await the invasion of Europe. After the invasion, he supervised the medical laboratory in the American Hospital in Paris.

Kohn belonged to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was very active in the American Chemical Society, for which he chaired the Committee on Patents for many years. In l983, he was named Inventor of the Year by the Patent Law Association of San Francisco in honor of his earning patents for 150 new agricultural chemicals.

Kohn died of Alzheimer’s disease at 96. Besides his wife of 56 years, he is survived by his daughter, Ann Kohn, and her son, Gabriel Rivera; his son, Joshua Kohn, his wife, Heather Kohn, and their daughters, Cora and Ruby.

Text provided by Roger and Julie Stringham:
Bob was a large man who walked at a fast pace, was always well-dressed, and was interested in everything. In 1989, he became associated with “cold fusion” along with Tom Passell and Russ George. Bob went to Bay Area meetings, out-of-state meetings and international conferences.

Bob put his reputation on the line and backed financially and intellectually the experimental "cold fusion" results that were emerging in various parts of the world. He was convinced that this was the solution to the energy crises the world faced.

He was involved with the experiments, discussing results and making many suggestions on how to get “cold fusion” back into mainstream science. He was particularly interested in the isotopic nuclear spin alignment and arrangement in the palladium lattice. With his influence in the American Chemical Society, he was able to arrange a “cold fusion” section in the 1995 American Chemical Society Anaheim conference. There were about 10 “cold fusion” presenters, and Bob made sure all the well-connected attendees stopped to visit the “cold fusion” displays. He let us know that he was sticking his neck out and that it was our responsibility to do good research to vindicate his position. He wanted to see this research validated before he died.

To promote “cold fusion” Bob and his wife, Millie, hosted lunches, teas, and dinners at their home in Los Altos, Calif. Bob will always be remembered as a person who immersed himself in the support of “cold fusion.”

 

 

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