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113) Recent Papers of Steve Jones et al.

Ludwik Kowalski (October 9, 2003)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

Many interesting papers were presented at the 10th international Conference on Cold Fusion (in Cambridge, August, 2003); some of them are already downloadable from the < http://www.LENR-CANR.ORG > web site. (click of ICCF10 PROCEEDINGS and scroll down to the list of papers). One of the most convincing evidence that the unexplained nuclear processes are real was presented by Jones et al. I am referring to his papers on the emission of neutrons and on the emission of charged particles.

1) The paper on neutrons reminded me of the old argument against cold fusion, absence of neutrons commensurable with the reported amount of excess heat. Suppose that excess heat, generated at the rate of 10 W, is due to well known thermonuclear fusion of deuterons. How many neutrons would be emitted in each second? To answer this question one must know that the amount of energy released from each thermal fusion event is about 3.5 MeV and that, on the average, one out of two events is associated with the release of a neutron. The other half are events associated with the release of protons. Converting 10W into 6.25*1013 MeV/s one finds 1.8*1013 fusion events per seconds and nearly 1013 neutrons per second.

This result is by many orders of magnitude higher that what has been observed. The unavoidable conclusion, reached as early as 1989, was that thermonuclear fusion can not possibly by a dominant mechanism generating excess heat in cold fusion experiments. Nuclear reactions taking place in cold fusion remain unexplained (production of heat without emitting a lot of neutrons) but one thing is clear, they are very different from well known thermo-nuclear reactions. Who invented the terms "cold fusion" and “hot fusion?” These unfortunate terms suggest the idea that cold fusion reactions are the same as hot fusion reactions. As far as I know, nobody has ever made such claim, except journalists and some book writers. Did they deliberately create a “straw man” to justify criticism of cold fusion? It is easy to criticize people for claims they do not make. The real claim of scientists studying cold fusion is that some, previously unknown, nuclear processes occur at metals loaded with hydrogen isotopes.

Therefore the issue of neutron commensurability, the central argument of those who criticize cold fusion, is totally irrelevant. Even a very small number of neutrons, emitted from metals loaded with hydrogen, is highly significant in the context of showing that something totally unexpected is taking place. That is why I was very impressed by the evidence, presented by Steve Jones et al., that neutrons have been detected. Their experiment was complicated by the fact that the emission rates are very small. The efficiency of detection of neutrons was maximized by using a setup of sixteen detectors in close proximity to metallic foils loaded with deuterium. The arrangement was able to detect approximately one out of ten neutrons, on the average. Additional complications resulted from presence of cosmic ray neutrons. That background was minimized by performing experiments underground (at the depth of 100 meters), by surrounding detectors with layers of additional absorbers and by using an electronic method of partial rejection of neutrons coming from the outside of the experimental setup. In a typical experiment, lasting several hours, the counting rate was about 8 per hour while the background was close to 2 counts per hour. Correcting such raw data for efficiency, and subtracting the background, the counting rate could be as high as 60 neutrons per hour.

Counting nuclear particles at a rate which is only four times higher than the background would not prevent one from measuring the net counting rate very accurately if sufficiently long periods of time, for example, several days or weeks, were available. Unfortunately such luxury is not yet available when particles are emitted from metallic foils loaded with deuterium. Conditions favoring nuclear processes have not yet been identified but, according to experimental data, they often disappear after a couple of hours or so. Two methods of creating favorable conditions were used by Jones and his collaborators. The first method consisted of placing hot titanium foils into deuterium gas, the second consisted of treating foils with a weak D2O solution of the unusual sulfuric acid, D2SO4. Not every treatment resulted in creating a nuclear active environment, the rate of success, as far as the emission of neutrons is concerned, was about 40%. In my opinion, this fact should not be used as an argument against cold fusion. Further progress can be very fast when a team of highly trained scientists is already able to observe a new phenomenon in one out of two or three experiments. Something significant is still not under their control and additional research is necessary.

2) The second paper presented by Jones and his coworkers described experiments with charged particles. In one experiment such particles, identified as 2.6 MeV protons, were counted at the rate of 2,171 ± 93 counts/hour. This was 400 times higher than the background and the repeatability was as high as 70%. Low energy protons, as described in item #28 (at my cold fusion web site), have already been reported by Lipson and his coworkers. The method of detection used by Lipson was based CR-39 track detectors while the method used by Jones was based on scintillation and silicon detectors. What can be more trustworthy than observation of protons by two teams of highly qualified scientists working in different laboratories and using different experimental techniques? Why are these experimental data ignored by those who keep repeating that cold fusion is voodoo science? The arguments used by them are based on what was known 13 years ago, not on knowledge accumulated in the last ten years.

The authors claim the “repeatability” exceeding 70%. I suppose that it means that nuclear particles are not always emitted from thin titanium foils loaded with deuterium. Why is it so? Because something is still not under control of experimentalists. But being successful 70% of time is very significant, considering the absence of a theory. Keep in mind that Jones’s papers are downloadable from the above web site; my purpose is to summarize them, and to comment.

3) The third paper of Jones and Ellsworth, downloadable from the LERN_CANR.ORG web site, is very different from the first two. I would call it a vision paper; it focuses on old speculations of great importance to planetary science and on anticipated research in that area. Here is how the essential hypothesis was formulated by the authors. “Natural geo-fusion in the earth occurs in or near the core of the earth, in the hot, hydrogen-bearing metals and minerals which are subjected to extreme off-equilibrium conditions deep in the earth. This hypothesis can be tested by measuring tritium and helium-3 in magmatic fluids from hot-spot volcanoes which tap magmas from plumes arising from the core-mantle boundary. In particular, magmatic waters of Kilauea, Loihi, and Icelandic volcanoes are predicted to contain significant tritium. We predict that tritium is also present in Jupiter, originating from ‘cold’ fusion in or near its metallic hydrogen core.”

In the second part of their short paper, the authors speculate that cold fusion might play an important role in nucleosynthesis of elements. Nuclear transmutations, reported by many cold fusion scientists, give credence to such speculations. The article ends with a list of sophisticated analytical tools available to the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Brigham Young University; Steven Jones is a professor in that department. I suppose these tools will soon be used to expand current investigations of new nuclear phenomena. Let me end with another quote from this article; it illustrates a healthy attitude of cold fusion scientists toward research.. “Neither cold fusion nor cold nucleosynthesis is understood at present, nor are the results yet widely accepted by the scientific community. But as we continue to explore together, cooperative experiments at several laboratories giving positive results cannot be ignored much longer.” I hope the authors are right and that the entire field will soon be recognized as a valid area of useful research.

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