Douglas R.O. Morrison's Cold Fusion Updates
No. 1—23 June-2 July 1990

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


The 23 Cold Fusion News letters that I distributed were meant to be essentially scientific though they gave some news as well. As there are so many good null experiments and so few good experiments that find positive results favouring Cold Fusion, I decided that there was no scientific point in continuing. However surprisingly many people ask me what is happening, and sinc there have been some dramatic developments casting very serious doubts on the tritium experiments, which Believers consider to be their strongest evidence, this is an update.

Hence this Update is not intended to be conventionally scientific. It may concern those interested in Pathological Science: also senior scientists and scientific directors since there is growing activity among US politicians about scientific fraud and misuse of funds - e.g. the National Science Foundation started an Inspector General's office a year ago and now has appointed a criminal investigator. Fraud is very, very rare (in my own field of Particle Physics the most recent example I know of was in 1924 when the positron was "discovered"). The result is that often scientific administrators react badly throwing buckets of whitewash over their colleagues but acid at the honest whistle blower and the media - whereas they could be starting an immediate investigation which they can announce if challenged.

Will those who do not wish to receive an Update please let me know.


Kevin Wolf of the Cyclotron lab at Texas A&M has announced that there was contamination of tritium in the palladium rods he used and this could explain the tritium that he had previously claimed.

Many scientists at Texas A&M had been worried about the possibility of fraudulant addition of tritium to the samples of electrolyte sent for analysis from Dr. Bockris's lab and which gave exceedingly high levels of tritium. There was a bottle containing tritium in light water in the lab. The samples were found to contain light water. Despite repeated requests, Dr. Bockris did not take adequate precautions to prevent someone spiking the samples.

The Senate of the University of Utah has asked the President to resign. He says he intends to leave next year.

Experiments and conferences on Cold Fusion continue.

1. Tritium in Original Palladium Rods
2. Possible Fraud in Dr. Bockris's lab.
3. Other Tritium Claims
4. University of Utah Tries to Cleanse Itself
5. Cold Fusion Experiment in Kamiokande Detector
6. Future Conferences on Cold Fusion and Anonomolous Effects.
7. When did Cold Fusion begin?
8. Problems in Dealing with Fraud.


At Texas A&M there are four groups that have worked on Cold Fusion, those of Kevin Wolf, Dr. Bockris, Dr. Appleby and Dr. Martin. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Kevin Wolf who is a nuclear chemist working at the Cyclotron lab, might have an explanation of the small amounts of tritium he had observed from two of his cells. This was out of dozens of experiments he had run and he was currently operating 100 cells He had been attempting to explain why he found so little tritium and so rarely compared with his neighbour, Dr. Bockris who frequently found enormous amounts. One test was to dissolve completely palladium rods as received from the manufacturer, Hoover and Strong, and those used in light water blank cells. He found low levels of tritium contamination in both cases. He considered this tritium in the original palladium rod might be an explanation of his occasional findings of small amounts of tritium in the electrolyte.

Dr. Bockris said he was startled but as the level was so much lower than his labs' observations "I haven't changed my mind". He noted that "about 2/3 of our work" used rods from Hoover and Strong, although not from the same batch of metal.

The Wall Street article continues "The chemist also noted that it is highly unlikely that positively charged tritium atoms could escape from the negatively charged palladium. Therefore even if the palladium was contaminated, the tritium could not leak out into the surrounding heavy water, he argued". This statement may surprise scientists.

The Hoover and Strong Vice President, Dan Pharr said he was unfamiliar with Cold Fusion research - he worked for the jewelry trade and was not concerned about low level contamination.

People who are experts in palladium and reactors are not surprised as palladium is often used as a catalyst to combine gases in nuclear reactors. Appreciable tritium comes from CANDU reactors which use heavy water, less tritium will come from pressurized water reactors and almost none from boiling water reactors. The palladium is often recycled later. Hence it is not surprising that different samples of Palladium could contain very different amounts of tritium.

One of Dr. Wolf's cells, D6, did give large amounts of tritium. This was in late September and was after three months with no positive results, then just before a visit by EPRI funding agency, both cell D6 and number 4 of Bockris's lab, gave large amounts of tritium. The cell D6 was in front of Wolf's gamma ray counter which did not indicate any gammas - this could indicate that no nuclear process had taken place.

The Electrical Power Research Institution, EPRI, has given money for fuel cell work at Texas A&M for some years and increased their grant when Cold Fusion was announced. In the autumn of 1989, Texas A&M University asked for $1.4 million which was an order of magnitude more - it was for Drs. Bockris, Wolf and Appleby labs.

Dr. Wolf "said evidence that many of the experiments have produced low levels of neutrons is still 'pretty solid'".

David Worledge of EPRI which is funding many Cold Fusion groups including Drs. Wolf and Bockris, "explained that attempts to produce tritium in 'cold fusion' experiments didn't hold much further promise in trying to resolve the controversy. The question was more likely to be resolved by new experiments to detect neutrons and to explain the production of excess heat".

Thus while a short time ago tritium was considered the strongest evidence, now Believers are shifting to other experiments. This is in agreement with one of the characteristics of Pathological Science where the belief stays the same but the supporting evidence varies.


2.1 Account

Science, the official journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has published a long article by Gary Taubes about possible fraud in the tritium claims coming from the lab of Dr. Bockris. Because of the seriousness of writing about fraud, the article is very carefully written (it was two months in preparation). It is important to be clear about what it does NOT say;

1. It is does not say there was definitely fraud

2. It does not accuse any specific person of fraud.

However it does discuss the balance between academic freedom and the need to guarantee the integrity of Research. It does say that despite many warnings, both oral and by memos, Dr. Bockris and the Texas A&M authorities did not respond adequately to the problem. Also while no legal statement has been made, every person can make their own judgement of what is a reasonable explanation of the happenings described below.

The amounts of tritium production obtained in Dr. Bockris's lab are so enormous and so far from the close-to-background values obtained in other labs that they are frequently quoted by Believers and were instrumental in getting the $5 million released for setting up the National Cold Fusion Institute. At the First Annual Conference on Cold Fusion there were 15 groups reporting positive tritium production and as Chemical and Engineering News wrote, Believers "point to the observed emissions of tritium as the unassailable signature of a nuclear reaction".

On 22 April 1989, Nigel Packham of Bockris's group started looking for tritium in the electrolyte solution in the cell. He gave the 3 cells to the Cyclotron Institute who told him that there a trillion of atoms of tritium per millilitre "When I heard this number, my jaw dropped" said Packham. Similar huge quantities of tritium occured from time to time, and people noted that this "miracle" tended to coincide with important occassions such as a visit of a funding agency. One research student who left said that there were just "Too many goddamm 'miracles' in this laboratory" for him.

It can be noticed that the tritium counting rate tended to have a sharp spike and then a long fall-off which corresponded to the radioactive decay of the tritium and dilution of the electrolyte (as gases boiled off and the liquid level was restored) whereas if fusion was occuring for a few days, as excess heat observers claimed, then the counting rate would rise steadily for these days and then when the fusion stopped, the rate would slowly decrease. So the sharp jump could be interpreted as an unusually sharp burst of fusion or it could be interpreted as someone having spiked the electrolyte sample with tritium. Dr Appleby who was observing excess heat for long periods of time, was surprised by the tritium results and asked Dr. Bockris "Look, concerning this tritium - are you sure that someone hasn't been spiking your cells?"

In June 1989 when the DOE panel visited Texas A&M, Jacob Bigelstein, who is an expert on tritium, was particularly sceptical when he found that tritium was being claimed but no neutrons though by charge symmetry and experiments, 1 E5 to 1 E9 neutrons per second (a lethal dose) should have been observed. However Packham showed results for cell A7 where Bockris had wanted to catch a cell in the act of producing tritium. The curve showed zero counts at noon, a very slight increase at 2 pm, 500 000 disintegrations per minute per ml (dpmml-1) at 6 pm and 760 000 dpmml-1 at midnight. Packham had drawn a smooth curve through the points indicating a smooth rise in the tritium rate but Bigelstein said "Well, your data do not uniquely define that curve, I could equally well draw the following kind of graph through your data - go flat across at zero until a point around six hours, go straight up with a step function and go flat across again" Kevin Wolf said "Jake are you implying that someone spiked that sample?" Bigelstein replied "Kevin, you said that. I would never say such a thing".

Normally cells are followed for weeks or months, but it seems cell A7 was only followed for 12 hours. Also since this experiment was so important, it is astonishing it appears not to have been repeated in almost a year. Another surprising feature of this critical experiment was that tritium was observed within six hours whereas Dr. Bockris and other Believers often claim it takes weeks or months.

Bigelstein asked if there was any tritium in the lab and Packham said there was a bottle of tritiated water, five millicuries worth.

In a 18 December memo to John Fackler, Dean of the College of Science at A&M Bockris wrote "This possibility (that the tritium was put there by someone), has been taken seriously by us from the beginning.... we have monitored a certain flask containing tritiated water purposely left in its original position. Not only did we note the original level of the water in the flask but also we measured its tritium content. It has remained unchanged..." However this is in disagreement with a memo dated 4 September from Packham which says that there are many bottles uncontolled in the lab.

It was claimed the cell was carefully guarded, e.g. in November Packham said the cells "were under guard for that time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There was one cell (A7)... that shows the build up of tritium as a function of time, where four people were standing there the whole 12 hours in front of the cell when the samples were taken". However Ramesh Kainthla, an Indian post doc who was the senior member of the team, who took the samples at 6 pm and midnight, said " If you think people were watching the cells all the time that is not true. Watching the cell meant a person in the lab, and once in a while (that person) came in and checked that the current was passing." "If you want to do some mischief, you do not need a couple of hours. You can do it in a very, very short period of time."

In July, Charles Martin who was working on Cold Fusion but not getting positive results, suggested to Bockris at a meeting, that he would run Bockris's cells in his, Martin's lab, and restrict access. However Bockris did not take this offer. However he did take Packham off the job of sampling the tritium "I tried to take Packham off" Bockris says, "because by that time all these stories were floating around. Nigel spikes the tritium. Everyone thinks Nigel spikes the tritium."

Dr Martin copied Bockris's cells and procedure carefully and he controlled access. For the case of two cells with Palladium donated by Bockris, he even ran them at home in his second bedroom. Finally in January, Dr. Martin wrote the final results to Dean Fackler - that none of the 83 cells had given significant signs of tritium.

When Fackler asked Bockris why Martin could not replicate his results, he replied on February 2nd "My tentative judgement of today is that a new field of chemistry has been formed. As for "why cannot Dr. Martin succeed?... we cannot succeed either for long periods of time (e.g. 6 to 8 weeks). The important thing is when we do succeed which may be 10 weeks after we switched on the electrolysis." Yet miracle cell A7 gave tritium in only six hours.

In the group's first paper is written "interference with the experiments is considered improbable because of positive results from the Cyclotron Institute to which entrance is prohibited except by the usual personnal at the Institute." Indeed when Kevin showed me his work, I had to sign in and was given a monitor. Also Kevin had to unlock the door of his neutron counting room. However it turns out there is no guard nights or weekends and Dr. Youngblood, the Director of the Institute, told Dean Fackler that "at least 35 faculty and lab personnal had keys that would open that door".

The above is consistent with No. 5 of Irving Langmuir's six characteristics of Pathological Science: "Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment." However on controlling and thinking, these excuses do not stand up. This has often happened to me with Cold Fusion.

These are very suspicious hints of fraud and the Science article contains much more, but is not absolute proof, though it would suggest that precautions should be taken. However stronger evidence on the possibility of fraud came from Kevin Wolf when he tested the electrolyte from a fusion cell run in Dr. Bockris's lab and which had shown a high level of tritium. It had been sealed in a container since the previous year. He found it contained large amounts of light water. Now if there were fusion of the D2O there should be no H2O produced, but if the sample had been spiked with tritiated water from a bottle one would expect some H2O. On hearing this I contacted Texas A&M and was told there was an explanation - during normal operation there was some contact with the air and H2O could have got in(or as John Fackler put it "there's a concern about that... it is possible that the normal water is just condensation from the moist Texas atmosphere). This sounded to me like Characteristic No. 5 again and I suggested that quantative tests be done comparing the amount of H2O in the sample with tritium with that in other cells with no tritium. However this had been done - Nigel Packham and others had tested 8 cells, two of them sealed, and found 30 to 90% H2O, an enormous amount while Kevin Wolf checked 50 cells in his own lab and "found no more than 1% - usually much less in 48 of them." This might seem strong evidence in favour of spiking but Packham has told Science that he and Bockris are not ready to abandon their results.

Kevin Wolf said that "The proper conclusion is that things (in the Bockris lab) were so uncontrolled and so sloppy (that) those studies don't mean anything."

According to AP, John Fackler said last week that "he had no reason to believe that fraud had occurred and that there were no plans to investigate the cold fusion experiments." "'I have no concrete evidence of anything other than fairly sloppy chemistry.'"

At the NCFI, the Director Dr. Will said that their source of palladium was not from Hoover and Strong. He said the amounts of tritium they had seen, about 1/2 to 3 times background, were so low "we have not made any big point of them." According to the SL Tribune he said the Institute has begun "double-blind" tests to search for tritium. He said 24 labs world-wide had seen tritium but only BARC had reported amounts comparable with the Bockris results but as complete scientific papers from BARC have not been forthcoming, "Nobody is really in a position to scrutinize these results."


In view of this information there would seem to be two reasonable interpretations;

A) there was fraud

B) there was very sloppy science

Either way, the claims of Dr. Bockris's group should be excluded from compilations of results as unsafe.

Experience has shown it is very difficult to prove fraud in a court of law. However scientists who are accustommed to studying lots of data and drawing their own conclusions, can decide for themselves whether the probability of fraud is 50%, 90% or 99% or whatever.


At the end of the First Annual Cold Fusion Conference, a Los Alamos document was issued which listed 15 labs reporting the observation of tritium (my notes give a lower number, but it is not very important). As far as my notes go, only two of these reported enormous production of tritium. One was Dr. Bockris's group which is discussed above, an the other was the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, BARC in India. The latter's results tend to show a sharp rise and then a descent similar to results of Bockris. Thus the possibility of spiking should not be excluded - it might be wise if they were to repeat Dr. Martin's technique of taking one set of samples of cells and isolating them (though not necessarily taking them to their bedroom!)

With the BARC work there are two differences;

1. The tritium results were obtained by several different divisions of BARC and it is said that these divisions are independent.

2. "A unique feature .... is that the first bursts of neutrons and tritium occurred (in 8 out of 11 cells) on the very first day of commencement of electrolysis, when hardly a few Amp-hrs of charged had been passed."

The first of these could be considered strong evidence against spiking while the second could raise doubts.

Several groups at BARC also measured neutrons. They claim that the ratio of tritium to neutron production is 1 E6 to 1 E9 (though there are also values of 1 E3 and 1 E4) and the Bockris/Wolf groups also claim ratios of about this. At the First Annual Cold Fusion Conference this was tuned to 1 E8 and this value was repeated as a criterion that satisfactory theories should meet - and some did! However there are a very large number of experiments which have proved that this ratio is very close to one and hence in agreement with charge symmetry and not 100 000 000 as Cold Fusion Believers suggest.

In a voluminous "Review of the Investigations of the Fleischmann - Pons Phenomena" by Bockris, Lin and Packham, graphs are shown of the variation with time of the tritium counts for 5 labs. Four of them are consistent with the sudden occurrence of tritium and then decay while the fifth is different in that there appears to be frequent increases and decreases in the counting rate so that it could not be due to a single afflux of tritium. However there are two worrying features about this experiment;

1. The counting rates are very low, 100 to 400 dpmml-1. Now the DOE panel report says that D2O normally contains some tritium giving counting rates of 120 to 180 dpmml-1. Also due to different characteristics of d and t nuclei, there is electrolytic enrichment causing the amount of tritium to increase, so that special care is needed to consider values of less than 1000 dpmml-1 as anything other than electrolytic enrichment

2. There are reports that there is a nearby building that occasionally vents off tritium and also a nearby accelerator which can greatly increase the background. There are no detailed reports of adequate precautions being taken by the authors to avoid such local contamination.


4.1 Legal Letters

The letters that Mr. Triggs the personal lawyer of Drs. Fleischmann and Pons (probably mainly Pons as he is an old friend of Pons and lives in North Carolina) sent Mike Salamon and his co-workers asking them to retract a published paper and enjoining them to silence, have caused great offense. The American Physical Society will discuss this at its next executive meeting. Also members are offering to help with a legal defense fund. However that should not be necessary as Joseph Taylor, who is a law professor and vice-president for academic affairs has said the university will defend Salamon et al. if he is sued "in the line of duty." Note that solves the retraction problem, but if Mike makes a statement outside the line of duty, then he could still be sued and the University might not be able to defend him! However a little sanity has returned (would like to think that my series of protests to Martin Fleischmann helped since in the past he has often corrected excesses). Nature writes that on June 5, Mike "received a letter from Triggs apologizing for 'any concerns or misconceptions' his first letter may have caused and assuring him that there is no intent 'to limit in any way the lawful excercise of your academic freedom'. The letter adds that Pons and Fleischmann now 'intend to settle (the) dispute in the court of science through publication". Better, but note that the people who asked Triggs to write the first letter have not themselves commented, and also there is still an implied threat to Mike that he must excercise his freedom "lawfully" - am sure he will, but the law of Tort is still a minefield for scientists who believe that if something is true, you can say it.

From what I have heard, Prof Taylor is a wise person - immediately after the 23 March 1989 press conference he told Chase Peterson in strong terms that it was a major mistake.

That the University paid Triggs $68 000 for patent work although he is not a patent lawyer, has raised some questions.

4.2 Resignation of President Peterson and NCFI Audit

After the College of Science Dean, Hugo Rossi, and 22 professors protested about misuse of $0.5 m of funds being offered to the National Cold Fusion Institute, NCFI, the University president, Chase Peterson agreed to a scientific audit to be conducted by the faculty and said its members would be appointed in the next few days. Also there would be a financial audit. He said he would not resign, "I've considered it hundreds of times before in the past seven years, and I will consider it again in the future".

On Monday 4 June, the Institutional Council, the U's governing board met and the chair, James Jardine supported Peterson, though others were less strong. But in the afternoon the Academic Senate met and passed a resolution which read in part "The academic senate respectfully requests that the Institutional Council and the Board of Regents examine the question of whether continuation in office of the current president is in the best interest of the University of Utah and the community which it serves". The resolution was proposed by a History professor and seconded by a professor of Chemical Engineering. A professor of Human Genetics said "the university cannot continue to lurch from crisis to crisis" and an English professor said "I've resisted this moment for a number of years.... but it seems to have come to this." It appears that there were many things that people were unhappy about and Cold Fusion was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Dr. Pons returned from Europe and gave an off-camera interview where he said he would co-operate with the audit and in fact he was ready to turn over all of his raw data to a review team, with one reservation - he said they had written a 66 page definitive paper that he hopes will be published next month and he wants to hold on to the data until after the paper comes out. This reservation at first may sound reasonable but is ridiculous as at the First Annual Cold Fusion conference at the end of March, Pons gave and distributed a paper of 25 pages plus figures in addition, which he said contains the essentials - so this looks like a typical delaying tactic. At present even Hawkins does not have access to the raw data even though he did most of the work. It is to be hoped that the Senate audit committee will insist on obtaining the raw data immediately to avoid any chance of them being accidentally lost (there are rumours of a critical tape containing raw data on the gamma peak from neutrons being accidentally wiped clean).

However the Salt Lake Tribune wrote that on 11 June, President Peterson announced he would retire in 1991. '"It is my intention to dedicate this remaining year to accomplishing my remaining goals and to position this university for new leadership following the 1990-91 year. At this time I will move on to other opportunities". Despite prior discontent, faculty members pledged their support to the president.'

The NCFI Director, Fritz Will has said he will refuse the controversial $0.5 million. Funding is becomming a still bigger problem for the Institute as their hopes of getting $160 000 from EPRI decreased when David Worledge of EPRI said "We should not proceed with the contract negotations until the dust settles."

The F/EAC (the NCFI supervisory committee) is in the process of choosing members for the two external committees for science and management/financial reviews of NCFI. Some people are unhappy about this since the history of the F/EAC has not been brilliant. Are they the best organisation to choose people which will investigate also their role? And will the review committees contain people who are well-informed sceptics of Cold Fusion? Who decided that the F/EAC was the best organisation to choose a review committee since the University was supposed to do it?

The SL Tribune says that Dr. Bockris was at one time a candidate for the position of Director of the NCFI.

People who turned down offer of jobs from the University of Utah have received a questionnaire asking them their opinion of the State, of U. of U. etc. Cold Fusion and NCFI have been mentioned in the answers.


The Japanese experiment Kamiokande has probably the best detector of neutrinos from the sun and from any nearby supernova as its results for SN 1987A showed. They have decided to place a Cold Fusion cell in the heart of their detector towards the end of this year. The point is that while well-informed Japanese scientists tend not to believe in Cold Fusion, there is no major Japanese experiment that has been done on it. Also the public are not well informed. Thus in the magazine Kagaku (which is the Japanese equivalent of the Scientific American) I have just found out that my notes reviewing ALL Cold Fusion experiments were preceded by an article where Dr Ikegami of the Japanese National Fusion Institute mentioned only the results presented at the First Annual Cold Fusion Conference and which were only positive and where he concluded that there should be something in it.

The cold fusion experiment would be done this year and I am assured that it will not significantly interfere with their work on Solar neutrinos which is of great interest as was shown by the controversy at the recent Neutrino '90 conference where it was not clear whether the theoretical flux of solar neutrinos was different from the experimental values. The cell is so small compared with the large volume of the Kamiokonde detector, that the effect of its presence is negligable.


Despite recent problems, conferences continue to have sessions on Cold Fusion and there is one conference devoted to it. This is at Brigham Young University. It is markedly different from certain other conferences where only positive results were presented. It is called "Anomalous Nuclear Effects in Deuterium/Solid Systems". The requirements for papers are clearly stated, e.g.

"3. Anomalous Tritium Production in Deuterium/Solid Systems
Papers are requested that support or refute the anomalous production of tritium in such systems. Only those experimental results that include comparitive blank runs and documentation of initial tritium content should be presented."

This is very different from some recent conferences and one detects the hand of Steve Jones.

Abstracts should be sent to Steve before 15 September. The Technical Secretary of this International Workshop is Nate Hoffman at Rockwell International Corp., PO Box 1449, Canoga Park, Ca 91304. Fax (818) 700 5118.


Recently people have been trying to find out when Cold Fusion started. Steve Jones has a document witnessed by a notary, which gives the date for BYU as 1986. But when did Pons and Fleischmann start? For their patents to be sellable it is the date of the first experiment which counts, not the first to give a press conference. They have repeatedly emphasised that they had been working on Cold Fusion for five years before March 1989, but have not seen or heard of any firm evidence that justifies this claim. It appears that their first successful "experiment" was the melt-down of their palladium block. According to Time magazine (8 May 1989) this was in 1985 but there are other indications that this only occured in about the summer of 1988. And their first conventional experiments may have started in April/May 1988 and they began to get results in December 1988, i.e long after Jones et al. These dates are not well established but when Dr. Pons makes his lab notebooks available to the enquiry as he has promised, it will become clear.

It is not sure whether the "melt-down" of the palladium block could be considered an experiment as it occured at night when no one was present and there were inadequate measuring and recording devices.


Scientists are educated to study and believe experimental results. And when young they do. Their culture makes them very trusting and there results an exceptionally good working atmosphere. However magicians such as Randi say that scientists, especially physicists, are the easiest people to deceive. This is because they virtualy never encounter fraud in their work and rarely hear lies.

The consequence is that when there are good grounds for suspecting fraud, scientists generally do not know how to deal with it.

Let us distinguish two cases;

1) If there is no suggestion of fraud, then for the sake of academic freedom and for good working relations with your colleagues, then I feel very strongly that one should not start or have a special investigative office.

2) If there are serious doubts and if they have been expressed widely, then the the priorities are different. The reputation of the supervisory institution is at risk. It and the people implicated need to have a clear opportunity to defend themselves. In other words an enquiry should be set up as soon as possible.

Institutions often defend themselves by internal enquiries which are whitewash jobs. From the historical point of view, this often succeeds but it leaves a bad taste and good people tend to leave the institution. Dick Feynman's wonderful account of the Challenger enquiry in his last book, is an example of a whitewash that mainly succeeded apart from Dick's actions.

Supervisors sometimes feel that inviting in the person for him to explain is an adequate enquiry but there is the fundamental problem that it is very difficult to say to a colleague to his face that there are doubts. To have a real enquiry it is necessary to have outside people who are experts in the subject. I was at the 23 March 1990 meeting of the National Cold Fusion Institute supervisory board where the dubious results and the even more dubious financial statement were approved and the correct questions were sometimes asked but mildly and and any answer was accepted with little thought as to whether it was correct or adequate - the questioning seemed a formality.

So the fact that someone was questioned and gave answers does not mean very much. It is necessary to have a record of the questions and answers which are agreed by all, for often the explanations change with time or turn out to be untenable when checked. And a follow up is needed to check, often experimentally, if the explanations are correct. Note that what is suggested here does not in any way restrict academic freedom.

In conclusion, fraud is very, very rare, but if a number of people seriously consider it the most likely explanation, then it is best to have an independent enquiry quickly.

Douglas R. O. Morrison.


Have just received a copy of the letter that Dr. Storms of Los Alamos has sent to the Science magazine on June 25. It contains some results that he said he sent to Gary Taubes on 9 April.

In it he describes adding some tritium to one of his cells (it is a semi-closed cell with a catalyst) and he compares the variation with time of the tritium counting rate and the ratio of counts from the electrolyte and the gas, with what was observed with Dr. Bockris's cells which gave tritium counts. He concludes the two factors are different and hence the suspicion of the fraudulent addition of tritium is irresponsible.

As Dr. Storms letter does not seem to address the basic problem, some comments will be made;

1. Firstly it is important to note what was NOT considered in his letter;

a) That light water was observed in those of Bockris's cells that gave tritium

b) That the amount of light water was 30 to 90% in the cells that gave large amounts of tritium but only 1% or less in Kevin Wolf's cells that gave little or no tritium.

2. It was an excellent initiative of Dr. Storms to try the experiment of adding tritium but two main features should have been taken into consideration;

c) the basic question of light water - he should have added a tritium -ligh water mix which could reproduce the final mixture of the sample with 30 to 90% light water and a tritium counting rate of about 1 000 000 dpmml-1.

d) One should compare like with like. Apart from the fact one cell was closed and the other open, there are two major differences between the the Storms and Bockris experiments;

i) The tritium counting rate in the Storms experiment increases over some 20 days and is thus inconsistent with a single spike. In the published results of Bockris et al., the rate jumps suddenly up and the increase seems to occur in six hours or less.

ii) The counting rates in the two experiments differ enormously, so different that the two experiments cannot be safely compared. In Storms's experiment the counting rate is very low, in the hundreds of dpmml-1. In the Bockris experiments the counting rate is about a million dpmml-1. The rate in the Storms experiment is so low that the DOE panel warned that with the increase in tritium due to separation by electrolysis, one should treat counting rates of less than 1000 dpmml-1 with care.

It is perhaps of interest to compare the power estimated from the experiments of Storms, Bockris and Fleischmann and Pons.

Assuming Storms increases his counting rate by 100 dpmml-1 in 10 days, then the average power is about 1 E-9 Watts or a nanoWatt (note 100 dpmml-1 is about the normal content of tritium in D2O - it varies from about 75 to 200 dpmml-1).

Assuming Bockris achieves a rate of 7 E5 dpmml-1 in 10 hours, then the average power would be a few E-4 Watts or about less than a milliWatt from all sources.

Fleischmann and Pons claim to have measured excess heat of about 10 Watts which would have given a tritium rate of 1 E11 dpmml-1. In their first paper they indicated a tritium rate corresponding to less than 1 E-7 Watts or a tenth of a microWatt.

If someone should wish to test experimentally the effect of spiking as a possibility, then it would be best done by adding a tritium/H2O mixture identical to that in the bottle in Dr. Bockris's lab (the mix is known since Dr Bockris said he had measured the radioactivity and the level in the bottle) Then an amount should be added which gave 30 to 90% H2O.

Scientists do not like the idea or suspicion of fraud. It would be nice if it were to just to go away. But with a vigourous investigative journalist who is finishing has a commercial aspect, this is unlikely. A rapid external enquir might be the best way to settle this very, very rare occurrence.