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190) A better name for “cold fusion?”

Ludwik Kowalski (November 26, 2004)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

Naming something is an important component (not the most important) of promoting it. This is probably a well known fact among advertisers and propagandists. The label “cold fusion,” as often stated, is not appropriate even as a generic term for a broad group of phenomena. Other names have recently been suggested, for example: LENR (low energy nuclear reactions); CANR (chemically assisted nuclear reactions); and CMNS (condense matter nuclear science). Before suggesting another name let me say why the existing names are not ideal, in my opinion.

(a) The name cold fusion (CF); would be appropriate for a reaction in which two atomic nuclei fuse into one at not-too-high temperatures. (Temperatures can be expressed in units of energy and by “not-too-high” I mean one eV or less. Only stellar temperatures are high enough to make fusion of atomic nuclei observable.) Fusion of two isolated atomic nuclei is highly improbable at ordinary temperatures. That theoretical conclusion (the tunneling effect) is not disputed by cold fusion scientists. But they often argue that, in condensed matter, fusing nuclei are not isolated. I will return to this in (c) below.

(b) The LENR and CANR names are not ideal because they contain the word “reaction. ” That word also implies interactions between two particles. The particles are atoms or molecules, as in chemistry, or atomic nuclei, as in nuclear science. The name LENR, by the way, has already been used for something else. In most nuclear textbooks low energy nuclear reactions are defined as reactions at which the kinetic energies of colliding nuclei do not exceed several tens of MeV. Using the same name for two different things can be confusing.

(c) The most recently introduced name, CMNS, is not ideal because the term “condensed matter” excludes gases. One of the effects discovered by Oriani (see unit #188), does seem to be taking place in a vapor. Likewise, the sonoluminescent nuclear anomaly seems to be taking place in bubbles.

The name I would like to suggest is CANA -- “chemically assisted nuclear anomaly” or “chemically assisted nuclear activity,” depending on how much is understood. The name is broad enough to include all experimentally observed (anomalous nuclear) effects; it has not been used to describe something else, and it is easy to pronounce, at least in languages with which I am familiar.

Of course, each CANA phenomenon should have its own distinctive name. Generation of excess heat, associated with an anomalous nuclear activity, for example, can be named “Pons effect;” it was first announced by Pons and Fleischmann. Emission of neutrons and protons, discovered by Jones et al., can be named “Jones effect” and phenomena described in the unit #188 can be called “Oriani effects.” Associating new effects with names of those who discovered them has been common in physical sciences. Not all effects, however, are named after their discoverers. The photoelectric effect, for example, does not reflect the name of the scientist who was the first to publish its discovery, or its interpretation. Such approach would likely be appropriate for situations in which effects have been discovered, more or less simultaneously, by several researchers.

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