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129) Consumed by a Quixotic fiasco?

Ludwik Kowalski (229/04)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

In a message (2/25/04) to a friend, a retired physics teacher, I wrote: “ I tried to summarized what I have learned about cold fusion in a short article that has already been submitted to a journal. They will probably reject it and I might try another journal, probably outside the US. The article addresses readers like you and I would very much appreciate your reaction to it (mostly in terms of readability). Can you spare about 30 minutes to read my article? I would be happy to send it to you as an attached file. On the other hand, I will understand your preference for not being involved. It is a highly unusual "forbidden" topic. But please do not share the article with others at this time. Your comments will remain confidential (if you wish) or I might decide to thank you for them at the end of the article (with your permission). My goal is not to argue for or against cold fusion; it is to convince leaders of our scientific establishment that another formal evaluation of the CF field is desirable. (P.S. I will retire at the end of this semester and becoming a full time CF researcher is in my mind. I am already preparing an experiment to verify the ‘emission of protons’ claim.”)

And here is the reply; it is typical of those who have made their mind long ago and do not want to be involved. “Since you said it would take thirty minutes, I'm afraid I can't afford to read it. I am not familiar with the field, so it would take me much, much longer to read it critically. It seems to me that one can only learn more about this field by doing more and better experiments. I am familiar with the experiments done by Mike Hayden, Walter Hardy et al. [1990 reference is given] and unless a better experiment is done to invalidate that result I am satisfied that there is nothing to the original claims. Jones' muon catalyzed fusion . . . is, of course, physically sound, if not economically so. The Pons and Fleischmann stuff, however, is incompetent. I hope that you can find a better, more rewarding pursuit for your retirement. You and I have many years to go, but not as many as we've already had. I would not like to see your "declining years" consumed by a Quixotic fiasco. . . . I wish you well in whatever you do, but I respectfully suggest that you pick a topic with better a priori prospects than ‘cold fusion’ for your retirement efforts.”

Replying to the above I wrote: “I will not bother you with my paper. Cold fusion refers to several claims which may and may not be connected. Some are definitely wrong, as I convinced myself last year by repeating an experiment (together with H.F. who made the original claim several years ago and who invited me to his private lab).

I want to focus on a recent claim made by a highly respected scientist. A good experiment should always produce an answer, either YES or NO, for a well formulated question. Being able to produce a clear answer about that particular claim will make me happy, no matter what the answer will be. That claim, by the way, has nothing to do with excess heat or with alchemy.

Most people are not familiar with what was going on in the CF field in the last ten years; their opinion was formed on the basis of the soap opera of 1989-1999. My article is a brief summary of what was going on in the CF field recently; it was written for scientifically literate readers. It would make me very happy to see it in print. Yes, we do not have too many years left and we should be selective. I will keep this in mind in deciding how long to explore the ‘unexpected protons’ claim; it is one aspect of CF that I feel qualify to address. . . . “

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