10) A Russian Connection
Ludwik Kowalski, <kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu>
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, N.J., 07043
In October 2002, I attended the International Conference on Emerging Nuclear Energy Systems in Albuquerque. There I met a Russian scientist, Alexander Karabut. He was one of the authors who published an early report (1) on nuclear processes taking place in so-called "cold fusion." Here is what was written about this work by one of the opponents (2) of CF. "Some of the most incredible results were reported by groups from Russia. . . . [For example, (1). That group reported observing] charged particles with thirteen different energies ranging up to the maximum of 18 MeV, neutrons with energies up to 17 MeV, gamma rays, x-rays of several energies, many radioactive isotopes, palladium fission fragments and an increase in helium concentration in cathodes by mass spectroscopy. Some of the radiation effects continue for times of minutes to hours after the [current] is turned off. The above Russian results could not be verified in other major Russian laboratories, such as Dubna."
These critical words were written ten years ago. Since then the byproducts of nuclear processes were reported by many groups in several countries. Karabut spent ten years to study nuclear process associated with generation of excess heat. His talk at Albuquerque was the summary of findings. Knowing Russian I helped the author to improve the translation and had a chance to ask for clarifications. Karabut thinks that the scientific establishment in Russia considers cold fusion to be voodoo science. In fact, after returning to Moscow he sent me an interesting book. The author (3) heads the "Commission to Oppose Pseudo-Science and Falsifications in Scientific Research." I had no idea that such a commission has been created by Russian Academy of Sciences. The book ranks cold fusion at the same level as N rays, astrology, extrasensory perception and magic.
Karabut hinted that the antagonism against cold fusion in Russia has more to do with the competition for very limited financial support than with objectivity. I am not in a position to determine the validity of this hint. But my impression of Dr. Karabut was very positive. He graduated from the Soviet equivalent of MIT and worked as a weapons scientist in top secret laboratories (until they were closed after 1990). His main instrument was a glow discharge chamber in which cathodes, such as Pd, could be loaded with deuterium. The maximum voltage used was 1500 V, the maximum current was 100 mA. The chamber was equipped with a very sophisticated flow calorimeter and various detectors. My translation of Karabut's presentation will probably be posted on this web site. For the time being let me summarize their major findings.
1. Alpha particles of 14 MeV and protons of 3 MeV were identified when the cathodes were Pd, Ti and Ni, but not Ta. I like the idea of using the 1/r2 law to demonstrate that particles were emitted by the cathode. No charged particles (above the usual background) were detected when an identical experiment was performed with H2 instead of D2
2. Gamma rays were studied with a Ge-Li detector. A bombardment of a Pd cathode for about ten hours produced enough gamma activity to be observable (above the background) for up to eight days after turning the current off. Numerous nuclides were identified on the basis of their characteristic peaks and decay times. In particular all nuclides of the A=101 beta radioactive chain (from Rb to Ru) were present. The first nuclide of this chain has a 31% chance of decaying by emitting a neutron.
3. A large variety of non-radioactive nuclides also appeared in the cathode after it was exposed to D2 in the glow discharge chamber. Several analytical techniques were used to identify stable elements, including mass spectroscopy. The isotopic composition of iron, produced in the cathode, was found to be very significantly different from what is common in nature (50% of 57Fe near the surface and 30% at the depth of 400 nm, instead of usual 2.2%).
4. The rates at which some of the recognized nuclides are produced are roughly 10% of what be required to match the rate at which the excess heat is generated. In other words, the Russian team tentatively identified some of the non-radioactive "ashes" of the mysterious nuclear combustion process. This is an important finding; absence of ashes was often presented as an argument against slow nuclear burning.
5. Coherent x-ray radiation, associated with atomic L and M levels of solids, was observed in some experiments.
Such observations, if confirmed, would be extremely significant and I am surprised that they are not used widely as arguments in cold fusion debates. Some of them could be verified using standard equipment available in most nuclear laboratories. A piece of Pd was used as a cathode of a D2 discharge tube and this resulted in large changes of isotopic ratios of several elements. How could this happen without a nuclear process of some kind? Why doesnt this happen when D2 is replaced by H2? These extremely important questions would have been answered more quickly, I assume, if the area of cold fusion research were not isolated from mainstream science. My own impression is that cold fusion is still blacklisted by the scientific establishment. Why are mistakes made in 1989 still used against honest cold fusion researchers?
1) A. B. Karabut et al., Phys.Rev, Lett. A 170 265 1992
2) J.R. Huizenga, "Cold Fusion: The Scientific Fiasco of the Century,"
Oxford University Press, 2nd edittion, Oxford, 1993. (The November
1989 ERAB report to the DOE, called "Cold Fusion Research. A
Report of the Energy Research Advisory Board to the United States
Department of Energy," is available at http://www.ncas.org/erab)
3) E.P. Krugliakov, "The Highwaymen of Science," Nauka, Moscaw, 2001
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