Richard Garwin - Still a Disbeliever



New Energy Times Blog Post
Sunday, April 19th, 2009

The “60 Minutes” program on “cold fusion” ran today. (See April 16, 2009, New Energy Times article for more background.) The show featured the research of Michael McKubre of SRI International, which has shown rigorous evidence of excess heat.

“60 Minutes” got IBM physicist Richard Garwin on camera to “critique” McKubre’s claim. The best Garwin could say was, “Probably [McKubre] measures the input power wrong.”

Garwin has quite a long history with “cold fusion.” Just weeks after the 1989 University of Utah press conference announcing the discovery of the possible new source of energy by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, Garwin was the first to denounce the discovery.

On April 20, 1989, he wrote an editorial in Nature stating that cold fusion “will teach us much besides humility.”

“Large heat release from fusion at room temperature would be a multi-dimensional revolution,” he wrote. “I bet against its confirmation.”

A few years later, Garwin went with Nate Lewis (Caltech) on a secret mission for the JASONS (a secretive group of physicists who work for the federal government) to affirm or disconfirm the excess heat being produced in McKubre’s “cold fusion” cells.

On Dec. 23, 1993, Garwin wrote in his report to the Pentagon, “We have found no specific experimental artifact [that is, error] responsible for the finding of 'excess heat'” in McKubre’s laboratory.

“Such an excess could not possibly be of chemical origin,” he wrote.

Garwin informed the Pentagon of the reality of excess heat but has yet to inform the American public or the scientific community. When I told him (in a Sept. 3, 2004, telephone interview) that I had obtained his Pentagon report and published it, we had the following conversation:

Garwin: How long has that report been on your Web site?
Krivit: About half a year. Is there a problem?
Garwin: No, I’m just surprised.

In the same interview, Garwin told me he requires a scientific phenomenon to be repeatable in order for him to accept its reality. I asked him for his definition of repeatable.

“It has to happen more often than not,” he said.

Apparently not willing to concede that he may have partially lost his bet, Garwin told “60 Minutes” today that he “requires” an experiment to work 100 percent of time.

That’s what I call “moving the goalposts.”