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184) Three weeks later

Ludwik Kowalski (November 11, 2004)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

As reported in the unit #183, three cathodes (Pd613, Pd616, and Pd615), obtained from the Texas group of D. Letts, were examined with CR-39 detectors. The purpose was to look for possible presence of charged particles (such as those observed by S. Jones et al.). The results were exciting:

1) A very large number of tracks were observed in the CR-39 detectors exposed the Pd613 (much more on one side than on another).

2) A large number of tracks were observed in the CR-39 detectors exposed the Pd616; again more on one side than on another).

3) Only background tracks were observed in the CR-39 detectors exposed the Pd615.

After reporting these results (in the unit #183) I was informed that the Pd613 generated a lot of excess heat, that the Pd616 also generated excess heat (but considerably less), and that the Pd615 failed to generate excess heat. Could this be a coincidence? Yes it could. The issue of a possible contamination with a natural alpha emitter was raised. The main suspect became the so-called “sauce #1” added to the electrolyte in which the Pd613 was used. Small amount of uranium were known to be present in that sauce. Note that the sauce was added only to the cell with the Pd613, it was not added to cells with the Pd616 and Pd615 cathodes.

I performed these quick checks for contamination:

Check #1: Several drops of sauce #1 were placed on a piece a plastic and allowed to dry. A CR-39 detector was then applied to the dry spot for nearly 22 days. The surface was covered with tracks that looked like those due to alpha particles.

Check #2: The Pd613 cathode was sandwiched between the fresh Cr-39 detectors for the second time (also for nearly 22 days). Absence of tracks in this test would indicate that the previously reported tracks could not be attributed to contamination of the cathode. A contaminated cathode, on the other hand, would produce as many of tracks as before. Without counting I am inclined to conclude that most of the tracks due to the Pd613 cathode were caused by contamination. But this is not the only possible conclusion. I will write about this later. The questions to be answered have to do with the “one side of the cathode being much more active than another” and with a strongly pronounced clustering of tracks. The nearly-axial geometry of the cell (a small cathode surrounded by a spiral anode) should not produce the sidewise asymmetry if contamination was coming from the uranium in the electrolyte.

Check #3: The two CR-39 surfaces, on which tracks from the Pd613 were discovered, were checked for their possible contamination. The motivation for this test (also lasting 22 days) was to rule out a possible of a coincidental contamination of the CR-39 detector itself with a naturally occurring emitter of alpha particles. The results are consistent with the idea that a substance on the surface of Pd-613 was transmitted to the detector that was in contact with the cathode (for 820 hours during the experiment described in the unit #183). The tracks on the CR-39 facing the more active side of the Pd613 are much more numerous than on the CR-39 facing the less active side of the Pd613 cathode. This is consistent with the idea of “transferring by contact.”

Check #4: The more active side of the Pd616 cathode was exposed to the CR-39 detector for nearly 22 days. The detector revealed numerous tracks, similar to those of alpha particles. These tracks can not be attributed to the sauce #1 (that sauce was used with the Pd613 only; it was not added to the electrolyte surrounding the Pd616 and Pd615 cathodes). Ignoring the case in which the sauce #1 were added to the electrolyte one is tempted to think that a process responsible for charged particles, when excess heat was generated, is still going on. On the other hand tracks due to particles emitted by the Pd616 might be due to an unknown source of contamination. That source was present when the Pd616 cathode was able to generate excess heat and it was absent when no excess heat was generated (the cathode Pd615). As far as I know, the electrolyte used in all three cells was taken from the same bottle. Likewise, palladium cathodes were cut from the same larger sheet of pure metal.

The situation is far from being clear. I would prefer to say nothing at this time. But at the conference in Marseilles (last week) I was describing the ongoing tests and promised to post my first observations. Please consider them to be very preliminary. The most reasonable thing to do next would be to use a silicon detector (and a telescope of two detectors) to measure energies and to identify particles responsible for the tracks.

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