Douglas R.O. Morrison's Cold Fusion Updates
No. 4a—22 June 1991

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

National Cold Fusion Institute closes down and Second Annual Cold Fusion Conference is to begin.


The National Cold Fusion Institute is closing down at the end of June. Its Director, Fritz Will says that it is sad as they can reproduce production of tritium every time the loading is high enough - reproducible excess heat does not seem to have been mentioned. The reason for the shutdown was absence of funding.

But old soldiers never die - the Second Annual Cold Fusion Conference is starting at the same time, from 29 June to 4 July at Como.

The 15 million roubles for Cold Fusion research from the Soviet Academy of Sciences vanished or never existed.

The new book by Eugene Mallove seems not to have been published yet. It should cause a stir as Gene is strongly in favour of Cold Fusion - will give some excerpts.

Some new positive results and theories, boosted by a press conference, and some negative results. Several data compilations and reports, going up to 551 citations.


At the First Annual Cold Fusion Conference last March, there was some discussion as to whether there would be a Second. In October Steve Jones et al. organised a meeting at Provo, on "Anomalous Nuclear Effects in Deuterium/Solid Systems" - this excluded excess heat effects. Drs. Bockris, Fleischmann, and Pons did not attend. At the end of the meeting it was announced that as a community of scientists existed, a Second meeting would be held probably at Varenna, in the Italian lakes, in the Fall of 1991. However some change has occurred, and now there will be the Second Annual Cold Fusion Conference to be held 29 June to 4 July at Como in the Italian lakes. All effects including excess heat, will be discussed. Drs. Bockris, Fleischmann and Pons are expected to attend. The Co-Chairmen are Drs. Preparata and Bressani. Dr. Jones will not be attending - he says he will be busy with the Kamiokande detector into July.

In a letter, Steve Jones says that at ICENES '91 which concentrates on catalysed fusion topics, Cold Fusion will be discussed. He says that perhaps our first goal should be to refine our research to merit publication in significant peer-reviewed journals(in addition to Fusion Technology). After this one could consider another international research meeting of the kind held in Provo in October 1990.


There were two conferences on Cold Fusion in the Soviet Union in March with some 74 papers offered of which 3/4 were presented. There were more positive results than negative (plus many theory). But many of the major research institutes had done experiments, found no effect, and decided not to present their results - this is sometimes called the Conference Effect. At these meetings, it was announced that 15 million roubles would be given by the Academy of Sciences for Cold Fusion research. David Worledge of the EPRI was the only non-Russian present. In April the NYT announced this.

At the end of May at the First Intl. A.D. Sakharov Physics Conference (a fascinating meeting), was told on the first day by a very senior offical that the 15 million roubles was not for four years but was for one year. However during the Conference, something happened. On the Friday there were two talks on Cold Fusion, one by myself repeating essentially what I had told Andrei Sakharov, and which am told, he greatly appreciated, and a second by Prof. Tsarev who is strongly in favour of Cold Fusion. After this latter talk he was asked that since there was so much activity, how much funding was there, he replied "None, only hope". When was back in Moscow and St. Petersburg last week, did not hear of any discussion of Cold Fusion.


The major book on Cold Fusion currently on sale is that by Frank Close, "Too Hot to handle". It has got generally favourable reviews and was also used as the basis of a news story in the NYT since one of the major stories in the book is the curious account of the gamma ray plot showing neutron detection, presented by Profs. Fleischmann and Pons which changed its position, bin size and number of events in a remarkable manner particularly as the data points and errors on the points did not change. He has been threatened with legal action, but wisely, this has not happened. Frank has been giving a series of lectures in the States, as indeed has Gary Taubes whose book seems to have been delayed until the end of the year.

The Book by Eugene Mallove, "Fire from Ice - Searching for the Truth behind the Cold Fusion Furor", should have been published by now but seems not to have come out. Gene is Chief Science Writer at MIT. His book is very different from Frank's. Gene is a Believer in Cold Fusion. It is very well and smoothly written with strong opinions clearly expressed - it should be a popular book. To give a flavour of Gene's book, will give some abstracts; He describes the evidence in favour of Cold Fusion as "compelling" and "overwhelmingly compelling that cold fusion is a real, new nuclear process capable of significant excess power generation." But then he hedges slightly, "The evidence...... cannot be said to be conclusive." But later, "That excess heat exists is amply proved."

"Irving Langmuir's rules for identifying so-called 'pathological science' are best retired to the junk heap for prejudice and name-calling."

"The peer review process by which articles make their way into journals is not infallible."

Evidence for and against cold fusion is mentioned, but there is a certain tendancy to bias, thus people who are not Believers, usually have an epithet attached to their names to warn the reader to disregard what they are about to read - thus Richard Petrasso and myself have frequently the prefix "arch-skeptic" in front of our names.

The dust jacket has some interesting quotes, particularly from Nobel laureate Julian Schwinger who praises the "sorely-needed, accessible overview of the cold fusion muddle. By sweeping away stubbornly held preconceptions, he bares the truth implicit in a provocative variety of experiments". However it could be noticed that Schwinger does not say he believes in cold fusion though the book says "Almost from 'day one' he had believed in cold fusion". In the book it talks of Prof. Schwinger's paper giving a theoretical explanation of cold fusion which "went directly against the grain of hot fusion dogma". His paper was refereed so toughly by Phys. Rev. Lett. that he resigned from the American Physical Society. He published in Zeit. fur Physik,d, 15(1990)221-225 but with a "prominent apologia, an Editorial Note".

Overall the book is lively. But it is in no way a serious scientific account of Cold Fusion. No attempt is made to discuss and compare the experiments, nor to evaluate the consequence of the low upper limits found by many groups.


New results continue to flow, both positive and negative, but only the positive results achieve media recognition or should it be that only some people with positive results talk to the media? Thus the NYT of 26 April, has the heading "2 teams put new life in 'Cold' Fusion Theory". Both announcements took the form of press conferences. At MIT, after giving a seminar, Drs. Mayer and Reitz describes their theory which suggests that there are new subatomic particles which are fleeting unions of a proton and an electron giving a neutral particle that can fuse with other particles - they call these "virtual" neutrons and also postulate virtual dineutrons and trineutrons. The second paper quoted was by Dr. Mills, a medical doctor who held his press conference at Lancaster, Pa. He claims to have conducted over 1000 experiments and has applied for patents. He claims up to 40 times more heat out than in. The process is a chemical one not nuclear. He uses a nickel electrode in an aqueous solution of potassium carbonate.

Two major reviews of Cold Fusion have been written by Believers. The first is by Dr. M. Srinivasan of BARC, India, has 174 references, and summaries the positive results, concluding "the authenticity of the phenomenon ..... has been established beyond doubt." However the author says that any theory has to explain nine "puzzles" which are in the words of Peter Hegelstein, "in direct contradiction to very basic precepts of nuclear physics". A critic could hardly have put it better. The second with over three hundred references, is by Dr. E. Storms of Los Alamos and also describes and lists positive results and some negative results.

Both these reviews have two major problems, (a) they do not review ALL the results, (b) they do not critically compare the data presented. In particular they do not explain the significance of the upper limits found. Let me explain by two examples - if the upper limit is the same value as the positive result, this does not mean much as they balance; but if the upper limit is one hundred times lower than the positive result, then the probability of the positive result being correct is vanishingly small. A further major problem of lists is that positive results are not seriously compiled to see if they are consistent with one another - in fact they are often incompatible, eg some Believers state that a very high loading ( >0.8 or >1.0) of deuterium into palladium is necessary to achieve positive results, but many use low current densities and Jones et al. use very low loadings, about 0.3.

A Bibliography by Dieter Britz has 551 items. Essentially he scans Chemical Abstracts and other periodicals. He generally gives a succinct summary of the paper. He is unusual in that he seems to start each paper afresh without any bias. Would strongly recommend anyone wishing to make a review of Cold Fusion to start by studying Dieter's bibliography.

Douglas R. O. Morrison.