4) Three Biographies

Ludwik Kowalski, <kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu>
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, N.J.

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These short biographies of Fleischmann, Pons (chemists) and Jones (physicist) were copied from pages 46-49 of E.F. Mallove's book : "Fire from Ice; Searching for Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furror," John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1991. I strongly recommend this book, and the book of J. Huizenga "Cold Fusion; the Scientific Fiasco of the Century," Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1993, to all those who are interested.

Martin Fleischmann, now a naturalized British subject, was born March 29, 1927, in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia, to Jewish parents. The family came to England to avoid inevitable persecution by the Nazis. Martin went to high school in Sussex, England, during the war, attended Imperial College in London after the war (1947-1950), and later distinguished himself by achieving at age forty the professorial Chair in Electrochemistry at the University of Southampton. Fleischmann has been called a genuine Renaissance man with a reputation for brilliant and creative ideas -- not all of which pan out, but such is the nature of creativity. Surely, when one listens to or is in the presence of Martin Fleischmann, one feels that the image of an exceptional polymath fits him like a glove.

Since 1986, Fleischmann has been a Fellow of the Royal Society, an honor given only to the most distinguished of scientists. The author of over 200 scientific papers -- a number of them with Pons as collaborator -- and a number of portions of textbooks, Fleischmann won the Royal Society of Chemistry's medal for Electrochemistry and Thermodynamics in 1979. He was president of the International Society of Electrochemistry (1970-1972). In 1985 he was awarded the Palladium Medal (how appropriate!) by the U.S. Electrochemical Society. Fleischmann, married since 1950, is a father of three (a son and two daughters), and a grandfather of four. His leisure interests run the gamut from skiing, walking, and music to an appropriate avocation for a chemist -- cooking. (Those few readers who still may think of Martin Fleischmann as a quack will be happy to know that he lives on Duck Street in a nice English town.)

B. (Bobby) Stanley Pons is about young enough to be a son of Martin Fleischmann. It was mildly ironic that Pons was born in 1943 in the small town of Valdese in the North Carolina foothills, because on the day of the cold fusion announcement, the huge oil tanker Exxon Valdez (same pronunciation as Valdese) was coming to grief on the rocky Alaskan coast. There soon appeared a MacNelly (Chicago Tribune) cartoon connecting cold fusion with the oil spill. An oil-soaked bird adrift on a buoy was remarking to a similarly blackened seal or sea lion, "Any more word on how those fusion experiments are going?"

Pons's Italian Protestant ancestors had fled religious persecution in the old world. Now, less lethally but in some fashion, Stan Pons was about to be assaulted by many members of the scientific community. He would need a lot of stamina to fight back. In his youth, as at present, Pons was very athletically oriented, engaging in track and football. The cold fusion brouhaha immediately took away from his love for skiing, which in calmer times he had pursued in the Wasatch Mountains, sometimes with Fleischmann. Pons was also drawn to the world of chemistry as a child, as many youngsters had also been, encouraged by parent-bestowed chemistry sets and the like.

Pons attended Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, graduating in 1965, and began advanced studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. But with his doctorate almost in hand in 1967, he, the eldest of three brothers, left school to work in his father's prosperous textile mills and to manage a family restaurant in North Palm Beach, Florida. Eventually, his love for chemistry drew him back to active science. With the encouragement of faculty at University of Southampton in England, he entered its graduate program in chemistry and received his Ph.D. there in 1978. Martin Fleischmann was one of his professors. After being on the faculty at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Pons came to the University of Utah in 1983 as an associate professor, becoming a full professor in 1986, and Chairman of the Department in 1988. He has authored or coauthored over 150 scientific publications.

Unlike Fleischmann and Pons, however, Steven Jones was well known to physicists and the hot fusion community, which gave him a credibility that Fleischmann and Pons could not match. That Jones came out with a dissimilar but closely related item of cold fusion news at about the same time, ironically, may have boosted the credibility of Fleischmann and Pons in their claims. But there was initial confusion about what Jones was asserting, because of his well-known earlier work on cold fusion of a different sort -- the concept called muon-catalyzed fusion (Chapter 6).

Much of the difficulty that ensued between Fleischmann and Pons on one side and Jones on the othe -- a friction that has now lessened considerably -- can be understood in part from a chasm of personality differences. Jones is the youngest of the threesome, having been born in 1949 and raised a Mormon, with all that his religion's outlook and demanding codes of conduct implies. Jones was a missionary in Europe for the Church of Latter-Day Saints and abides by the faith in not drinking alcoholic beverages, coffee, or tea. He is the father of seven children. His frameless glasses give him an upstanding, almost Boy Scoutish bearing; he speaks in a soft voice and with hesitation at times grinning and laughing frequently. Jones pursues his science with religious fervor, almost literally. His University stationery bears witness, inscribed as it is with the Brigham Young University motto, "The Glory of God Is Intelligence." For about a decade, Steven Jones and his colleagues had been pursuing muon-catalyzed fusion, a technique that they already had shown, experimentally to produce low-intensity fusion reactions at room temperature within a sample of deuterium -- certainly a kind of cold fusion in its own right."

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