Douglas R.O. Morrison's Cold Fusion News
No. 21—18 March 1990

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(Source: New Energy Times)
Dear E632 and WA84 Colleagues,


The First Annual Conference on Cold Fusion will be held on 28 to 31 March 1990. Here we review the past year in particular new results and information since the last CF News in November.

On 23 March 1989, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons announced at a Press Conference that they had produced excess heat and fusion products in a simple table top experiment. They had used heavy water and an electrolytic cell with a palladium cathode and had obtained Fusion at room temperatures - Cold Fusion. The dream of unlimited power with little pollution! - the solution of an ecological problem. Rapid confirmation from Steve Jones's and other groups launched world-wide excitement about Cold Fusion.

However there was a major discrepancy between the amount of power claimed from deuterium fusion and the very low rate of the fusion products which should be produced by the fusion. This made many doubt and in Cold Fusion News No. 4 (9 April) it was stated that more and more of the characteristics of Wrong Results in Science were being observed - or Pathological Science - the name introduced by Irving Langmuir in 1953. The Regionalisation of Results was discovered and presented on 2 May to the American Physical Society (CF News No. 13) where it was noted that Northern Europe and the major labs and the North-East of the USA found almost no fusion while reports from the Rest of the World were overwhelmingly in favour of Cold Fusion. The world was said to be divided into "Believers" and "Sceptics". Conferences were held which were mainly for Believers with positive results - this despite protests that in Science both positive and negative results should be considered simultaneously. However the Sceptics with negative results, continued to gain in number and sophistication of their experiments, in various regions of the world - this was described in Pathological Science terms as three phases; In Phase 1 there is the original announcement followed by rapid confirmation Phase 2 has about equal numbers of positive and negative results Phase 3 has an avalanche of negative results (CF News No. 4).

The world followed this evolution in 1989 with Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe now all reporting only negative results.

However in 1990 we have a new phenomenon which requires the introduction of PHASE 4 - most results are positive! What is happening is that in much of the world scientists have made their experiments and found nothing and they have read the literature and concluded that there is nothing serious in Cold Fusion, so they have stopped tests, press conferences and there are only a few publications of older experiments. On the other hand "Believers" are continuing tests and are publishing their positive results. The two statements below are correct;

A. there are now more positive results being presented (or published?) than negative ones

B. The rate of new positive results is decreasing. The rate of new negative results is decreasing much more quickly, so that the ratio of negative to positive results is rising.

It is up to the reader to chose which statement he likes.

In July the Cold Fusion Panel with co-chairs John Huizenga, a distinguished chemist, and Norman Ramsey a physicist who was a 1989 Nobel laureate, and which was set up by the DOE, gave an interim report saying that no "convincing evidence that useful sources of energy will result" had been seen and "No special programmes to establish Cold Fusion research centres are justified".

In August the National Cold Fusion Institute in Salt Lake City was established. The funding came from the State of Utah.

In August a Cold Fusion Research Institute was established in Japan. It has not been easy to get information about experiments in Japan though a few early experiments were boosted in the newspapers, though looking at the papers suggested some of them were of poor quality, e.g using a single BF3 counter. However there could be many commercial experiments that are not reported. It has been said that several hundred people may be working on Cold Fusion.

In India the large Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, BARC, reported that six experimental teams had found evidence for Cold Fusion and several hundred people were working on it.

In November the final report of the DOE Panel appeared confirming the conclusions of the interim report, There was one curious omisssion - in the interim report it was said that small experiments might be justified to study some unexplained effects reported and these experiments should be peer-reviewed, but in the final report the peer-review requirement was not made.

In January Stan Pons began a series of 32 experiments at the NCFI to determine the best conditions and materials, and he was intending to start a further series of 32 experiments.

The First Annual Conference on Cold Fusion will be held next week, 28 to 31 March at Salt Lake City. The programme is crowded starting at 08.30 and going on to 20.15.

A persual of the programme is interesting. There are no experimental talks from Europe although at one time some regions' media were filled with stories of positive results. However there is one European theoretian down to talk - Prof. G. Preparata of Milan. There are no speakers from Japan. From BARC there is the Director, Dr. P.K. Iyengar and an experimentalist. There is a theoretian from the National Taiwan University. All others are working in the USA and as far as I could judge there are 17 experimental talks, 7 theoretical and 9 where it was difficult to be sure from the title. One has the impression that all the talks will be positive though some of the people going to the conference are not "Believers". Among the theoretical speakers are Nobel laureate Julian Schwinger and Peter Hagelstein from MIT. There are also two panel discussions whose members would all be considered "believers". The Governor of Utah, The Honorable Norman S. Bangarter will attend a Reception. Desert at the Reception will be provided by Mrs. Fields Cookies.

The role of the media has been important.

The Wall Street Journal had an article on 9th March which was favourable to Cold Fusion. It was entitled "Doubts Recede over Cold Fusion but an Explanation Remains Elusive". The article concentrates on work at Los Alamos by Edmund Storms and Carol Talcott who have reported large amounts of tritium. At first they had trouble reproducing their effect but claim that 7 of their last 9 cells gave tritium. They recorded up to 80 times higher tritium levels than in the new heavy water. The Indian experimenters at BARC are quoted as having obtained as much as 20000 times more tritium than originally present. David Worledge of the Electrical Power Research Institute, EPRI, (who are the only source of research funds since the DOE officially stopped funding) says that 22 different cells have given tritium. More experiments have been reporting excess heat; mentioned are Charles Scott of Oak Ridge National Lab, Prof Huggins of Stanford University and Prof Bockris of Texas A&M. Prof Bockris is quoted as saying "There's no doubt of the existance of an effect", unquestionably a nuclear reaction of some sort. The big problem is that "we still can't reproduce it at will".

Dr. Storms sent me a copy of his paper and a compilation(author not given) of positive results which lists 12 groups having observed tritium production. There is, however, not a list of experiments which failed to find tritium and the upper limits they gave.

It is clear the Wall Street Journal technical section is not the same as the Science section of the New York Times. If some subject is known to be controversial, the NYT takes care to consult experts with other views; for example members of the DOE Panel who would have warned readers of their study. They might also have pointed out that the levels of tritium reported are many orders of magnitude less than that expected from the excess heat claimed.

The first book on Cold Fusion has appeared - it seems hastily written and had poor reviews in Nature and The San Francisco Chronicle. Two other books should appear shortly, also written by experienced writers - one is by Frank Close who is a theoretical physicist and the other by Gary Taubes - the two books can be expected to be written in contrasting styles and to be more complete than the first. British ITV has had a programme about Cold Fusion with Frank commenting. On 26 March the BBC will show a programme on Cold Fusion in the respected "Horizon" science series. For the 23 March anniverary many newspapers will have articles.

A major feature of the past year is that it has allowed many people to have a glimpse of modern Science and scientists in action - the circumstances were extreme but maybe that is a good way to test a structure. It is unusual to announce important new results by press conference and then to give too few details (though it could be argued that the possible importance of the effect justified it). However it was seen that means of communication are now extremely rapid - by television, newspapers, telex, telefax and electronic mail. The latter is now the preferred means of communication among scientists, particularly physicists who are involved in international experiments and who have extensive networks already set up. Experiments were performed quickly world-wide and the results exchanged. Meetings were held at which all could present their results freely (it is an aberration that astonished many that at a few meetings only allowed positive results - this is not normal Science). A consensus soon emerged that room temperature fusion could not provide power. Everyone was disappointed for if it were true it would have been important for the world. While by far the greatest number of experiments did not observe any fusion products, some did and this has encouraged some scientists to continue. The fact that all agree to, that the positive findings are erratic and irreproducible, encourages these scientists but is discouraging to most. Even more discouraging to most scientists is that while those claiming power say they observe watts, those claiming fusion products observe them at a rate corresponding to nanoWatts or picoWatts or even less.

The names "Believers" and "Sceptics" was applied by believers. It might be more accurate to say that among those who have worked on or closely followed Cold Fusion, there are three classes - two small ones, "Believers" and "Sceptics" and one large one, "Non-believers"

The Regionalisation of Results is a fact though very disagreeable. It could be considered as a reminder that Scientists are People first and Scientists second.


There are many other items of news - here are a few.

1. Argentine Ingenuity.

On Friday I received two papers from Dr. Granada of the National Atomic Energy Commission and two other institutes in Argentina. Both papers have been accepted by the J. of Nuclear Science and Technology. The first long paper describes how the application of a pulsed current through a cell gives a correlated neutron production in a repeatable manner. As the counting rate is very low, about 0.1 neutrons/sec, they do not claim fusion nor give a number of standard deviations. To reduce their background to make the neutron signal stand out, the normal technique is to go underground. However since there are no Gran Sasso or Frejus or Mont Blanc tunnel laboratories in Argentine, they had to find another solution - so they went underwater in a submarine! (a conventionally powered one they state). This reduced the background by a factor of 70 and they state they observe a three standard deviation effect. However these numbers suggest that they were not observing any effect in their first experiment and their graphs seem to bare this out.

2. Joint Sceptics - Believers Experiment

At the Santa Fe meeting in May, Moshe Gai challenged Steve Jones to do a joint experiment with him by placing one of his cells that he said gave neutrons, inside Moshe's detector. Steve, as a good sport, accepted. The experiment was performed in August and went happily. IN early November a brief note was given to the DOE panel saying that no neutron bursts had been found, apart from some associated with cosmic rays. Thus it seemed an ideal solution had been found, Believers and Sceptics work jointly and establish the truth. This would be new as in my Pathological Science studies, I have not come across a case where this happened fully. However there was soon major disagreements as Steve calculated that the experiment of 10 days was too short to measure the neutron bursts that Jones and Menlove had reported finding at Los Alamos. Since then there have been many rather heated exchanges, so it seems that history repeats itself and Believers and Sceptics cannot do joint experiments, desirable though this would be. Maybe this is another characteristic of Pathological Science that I should add to the present 18.

Have just heard that Nature has refused the Jones-Menlove paper.

3. Explanation of an Excess Heat Measurement

It had been suggested By Dick Garwin at Santa Fe that if the incoming current was measured by a DC device, then if there happened to be an oscillation, the AC current coming in would not be recorded. This would upset the heat balance and be recorded as an excess heat. A. Bruggeman et al. of the Nuclear Research Centre at Mol in Belgium at first found excess heat after two months. However the effect was observed in both D2O and H2O cells; also no neutrons were observed but a previously non-observed defect occurred in the gamma measurement circuit giving an ordered peak pattern in channels corresponding normally with energies from 4 to 8 MeV. The tritium yield increased by 65% which is a normal enrichment. It was clear that the "excess heat" was not due to nuclear reactions. It was shown that this "excess heat" could be reproduced by adding an AC current. Also it was shown that the circuit used earlier could oscillate. They are to be congratulated on their honest and full description of their work - alas too rare.

When I told Martin Fleischmann of this, he said that they check for this and it was not the explanation of the effects they observe.

4. Excess Heat from Minnesota

Prof. Oriani reported last year that he had observed large bursts of excess heat. The effects were erratic but could last as long as 10 hours. He was welcomed in Salt Lake City and given considerable media attention. When I phoned him in January he told me that after the accidental fire, he rebuilt his apparatus but had not been able to repeat his experiment. His name is not on the list of speakers at the First Annual Cold Fusion conference. Incidently he is the first person I have met who was at the actual seminar in 1953 at General Electric where Irving Langmuir gave his talk on Pathological Science - he said it was a great talk and it stuck in his memory.

5. Edward Teller Invents a New Particle.

At the NSF/EPRI meeting in Washington where only positive results were presented, Edward Teller suggested that it might be possible to explain some of the major contradictions by postulating a new particle with appropriate properties. He called it the "Meshugtron". He explained to me that he gave it that name as "Meshuga" means crazy in Hebrew. He does not believe the results suggest cold fusion (for he is an expert on the subject and knows one cannot simply ignore all the other experiments that have been performed, some of which he had himself proposed). However he enjoyed trying to invent a new particle for which he gave an appropriate name.

6. Fusion from Fracture of Crystals?

It has been shown that fusion should occur at vanishingly low rates in static conditions when deuterium is loaded into metals such as Deuterium. However it has been suggested that if a crystal fractures under stress(e.g. from the loading) then the deuteron ions might be accelerated by the transient high fields across the cracks to reach an energy high enough to cause fusion(would this be "hot" fusion?). Calculations at the Santa Fe meeting suggested that the numbers were not right for such an occurence However Menlove et al. claim to observed ions with TiD(0.8) and Klyuev et al claim (Sov. Tech. Phys. Lett. 12(1986) 551) to have detected neutrons from the fracture of single LiD crystals. Dr P. B. Price of Berkeley, Nature 343 (1990)542, reported that he had tried to repeat the experiment with LiD crystals and found no effect at 90% confidence. He then shows that in TiD2 and PdD2 this effect would be most unlikely.

7. Visit to BYU and the National Cold Fusion Institute

At BYU Steve Jones showed me his lab. They are doing some interesting work but it seemed on a surprisingly small scale - one would have expected that they would have been much better funded. One experiment is to look for neutrons (they are fortunate in having a really experienced neutron expert) from a titanium sample where the deuterium is loaded under pressure. Was surprised to find that their loading is very light with D/Ti only about 0.3. This is different from the philosophy elsewhere when one tries for the highest possible loading of deuterium.

The National Cold Fusion Institute has developed quickly and lots of good quality equipment is being installed. The people seemed reasonably free and open A first set of 32 cells had just been installed for a carefully planned series of tests to try and establish conditions and materials which would give reproducible effects. It was planned to start a second set of a further 32 cells for further tests. Unfortunately Stan Pons was occupied with a funding agency so that I could not see these series of tests. Incidently an advantage of Salt Lake City in winter is the proximity of Alta which is one of great centres of powder skiing with 12 1/2 metres of snow per year.

8. Solar Neutrinos and Cold Fusion

Particle Physics is in the strange situation just now of having a theory, called the Standard Model, SM, which works in the sense that almost every time one does an experiment it is in agreement with the SM. Yet one knows that the model must be wrong and expects that by going to higher energies, e.g. the SSC or LHC, new physics will be found. One of the few places where there is a disagreement is with neutrinos from the Sun. An experiment over the last 20 years by Davis et al. has given an average rate of 2.33 +/- 0.25 SNU which is much lower than the theoretical values of Bahcall of 7.9 +/- 0.8 SNU. A second major discrepancy is suggested by the variation of the neutrino flux with time which it has been suggested is inversely proportional to the number of sunspots. Several fascinating theoretical explanations for these two effects have been proposed. Recently the large Japanese neutrino detector, Kamiokande, (which had a major success in detecting neutrinos from Supernova 1987A) observed 4.2 +/- 0.7 SNU which agreed closely with the values obtained by Davis's much smaller experiment. As the sunspots are close to a maximum now, people are awaiting new results from Kamiokande. At a recent meeting Davis called out "Now is the time". However some members of the Kamiokande experiment want to close it down for a long period to install a Cold Fusion cell in its centre!

For what it is worth, in a recent lecture on Pathological Science, it was suggested that both results are probably Pathological. The belief of Bahcall that he can determine the flux of neutrinos from the centre of the sun to only 11% seems to show an excessive belief in his assumptions - and it is interesting to note that Turck-Chieze et al. calculate with almost the same input values, a value of 5.8 +/_ 1.3 SNU which is consistent with the experimental value of Kamiokande.

It is to be hoped that Kamiokande will continue to study this important question where it can make a unique contribution at the present time.


There has been much more happening since my November CF news but have been too busy with my normal work, however this is a not-unrepresentative sample. It will be very interesting to see if at the First Annual Cold Fusion confernce, new evidence will be presented, e.g. from the 64 cell experiment at NCFI, which will change peoples judgements.

Douglas R. O. Morrison.