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107) Biological manifestations of CF ?

Ludwik Kowalski (September 2, 2003)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

Let me continue sharing what I learned at the 10th International Conference on Cold Fusion (Boston, August 2003). In his review of cold fusion Edmund Storms mentioned that some people reported transmutation of elements by bacteria. The classic book in this area is that of C. Louis Kervarn (ISBN 0-916508-47-1). The title is “Biological Transmutations.” The book, costing $18,50, can be ordered by calling 1-800-867-7258 (from Happiness Press in Magalia, California). According to Kervarn (1901-1983) bacteria can speed up the decay of radioactive 203Hg (whose half-life is 46 days). He refers to an experiment of L. Magos et al. in England.

In that experiment radioactive 202HgCl2 was placed into the kidney of a rat. The radioactivity was measured with a Geiger counter. During the first 32 hours the decay curve was exponential as expected. But then the counts per minute started to go down with respect to the exponential curve. Sixteen hours later (at t=48 hrs) the counting rate was 50% lower that along the initial exponential curve. The experiment was performed at room temperature and evaporation of mercury was negligible. According to authors the first 32 hours correspond to the growth of bacterial colonies. Then bacteria (pseudomonas) start transforming radioactive mercury into something that is not radioactive.

How come that this experiment, performed in 1970s did not become famous? Famous for demonstrating alchemy or famous for reporting results which could not be confirmed by other scientists. After all the announcement of Magos et al. was as unexpected as the announcement of Fleischmann and Pons. Why didn’t it trigger a debate? Does this support the idea that motivation of the cold fusion uproar, in 1989, was political rather than scientific? I do not know how to answer these questions. And I do not know if a less radical explanation could not be found. One may suspect, for example, that bacteria, for some reason, contribute to the redistribution of 202Hg within the rat kidney. This would change the counting geometry and explain the abnormal decrease of the counting rate. (The radioactivity of that isotope consists of gamma rays of 0.28 MeV and of beta rays of 0.21 MeV.)

At the same conference (ICCF10 in Cambridge, August 2003) I met a Ukrainian scientist from Kiev. He is also deeply involved in transmutations of chemical elements caused by bacteria. Vladimir Vysotsii and Alla Kornilova are the authors of a recent book “Nuclear Fusion and Transmutation of Isotopes in Biological Systems.” (Mir, Moscow, 2003, ISBN 5-03-003647-4). The book has two parts, the original Russian text and its English translation. Vladimir gave me a dedicated copy of this interesting book.

It will take some time before I grasp everything. Here is an example of transformation of Mn into Fe. The beauty of this experiment is in its ability to detect 57Fe only (via Mossbauer spectroscopy). Bacteria, whose metabolism is based on iron, but not on manganese, were grown in heavy water containing MnSO4. The amount of 57Fe in water, before introducing bacteria into it, was minimized; it was too small to measure. This was not surprising; natural iron has only 2% of that isotope. But 72 hours later, after iron-hungry bacteria were allowed to grow in the ironless environment, the situation was very different. The amount of 57Fe was much higher than the threshold of detection. Several control experiments, for example, using ordinary water under identical conditions, lead to a conclusion that the progressive accumulation of 57Fe was due to the 55Mn+2D --> 57Fe nuclear reaction.

Yes, I know that the coulomb barrier of several MeV should prevent such reactions. The coulomb barrier theory has been validated in experiments involving so-called hot plasma. But it would be a mistake, I think, to reject experimental data on the basis of a disagreement with that theory. Being applicable in the hot plasma environment it may turn out to insufficient to understand some unknown processes taken place in crystals or in bacteria. The only way to justify a rejection of experimental data is to show an error in a procedure used to validate them. Experimental findings confirmed by several investigators should be taken very seriously. How else could limitations of theories be explored? A theory attempting to overcome the coulomb barrier objections to cold fusion has been described at the conference by an MIT professor, Peter Hagelstein.

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