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232) Free energy and its impact

Ludwik Kowalski (28/6/05)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

An piece about an inventor:
Arthur A. Axelrad (MD, PhD, FRSC, Emeritus University Professor University of Toronto) is a friend, and a biomedical coworker, of Dr. Paulo Correa. In an interesting article:

about Correa (April 3, 2002), entitled “PAGD, Aether Motors, and Free Energy,” he wrote:

“I would like to tell you what I know about Dr. Paulo Correa and his partner and wife Alexandra, two people who have recently done something marvelous. What they have done is to make a series of startling discoveries in basic science - beginning with their work in plasma physics, a field that is almost certainly going to have a major impact on our world in the near future.

. . . One day, Barbara, my wife, and I witnessed a demonstration by Paulo and Alexandra Correra of this 'Aether Motor' - it was an electrical generating system that could deliver electrical power without any external power input save its connections to two 'orgone accumulator' boxes or to either our insulated bodies or a ground pipe. Since the device moved a motor and drove a circuitry, it had to consume some power; this appears to have been provided by the environment. The event occurred with incredible calm - no explosion, no noise even, no sudden heat, no bright light, just the quiet pulsation of a discharge tube and a quiet turning of a small rotor. Save for the driving of the motor from contact with our bodies, the effect was almost disappointingly banal. It has not always been that way. There were occasions during the evolution of these discoveries when accidental electrical discharges did threaten the lives of our intrepid pair. Fortunately, these accidents never deterred them.

The realization of what we were looking at was mind-boggling. Here before our eyes was what I was brought up to believe to be absolutely impossible! The implications were also enormous - a world of literally free energy without pollution by a 'product readily producible by available equipment and processes at a cost that allows mass marketing for multiple applications'. You would have expected a scene like a Boxing Day Sale in Toronto. But nothing like that happened. Why? I have given a lot of thought to that question.

When an investigator presents the scientific community with a concept that challenges previous beliefs, there follows a series of stereotyped responses: 'He (or she) is wrong.' 'He can't be right because it goes against what has long been accepted as true by everyone.' 'He is self-deluded but wants so desperately for his concept to be widely accepted that he unconsciously selects the data that fit and rejects the data that don't,' or - 'He's lying!' Or 'This isn't even his field, what right does he have to challenge the work of many years by highly trained experts?' Or 'He doesn't work out of a renowned university or institute or major company. How could he be doing anything like what he claims to be so important?' Or 'If we support a thing like this and it turns out to be a fraud, we'll have wasted our company's money and we'll be considered fools.'

Once all of these responses have been uttered and evidence overwhelmingly shows each to be unable to account for what is actually being seen, then it is time for a paradigm shift. I believe that this is what has been happening in the case of Paulo and Alexandra Correra. . . . Despite all the exciting developments, however, money to commercialize these discoveries has not been forthcoming from anywhere. This has not been for lack of trying by the Correas, nor for lack of interest by potential backers. Many have come to them from all over the world and have seen striking demonstrations of the XS NRG TM PAGD reactor, the motors it drives and the batteries it charges, or of the Aether Motor developed at ABRI. These inventions are solidly protected by world patents. They are extensively documented in the patents themselves and recently on the Internet. Nevertheless, the Correas are, at the present time, in the process of shutting down their laboratory for lack of funds.”

I see no evidence that Correas’ inventions, or inventions described at the iESiUSA website, have anything to do with fusion of atomic nuclei.

An old piece written by a physics teacher:
In a 1993 book, entitled “Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science,” I found a section devoted to cold fusion. The author, Alan Cromer, is a professor of physics at Northwestern University. I remember that name because, many years ago, I was using an introductory physics textbook he wrote. Cromer’s description of cold fusion is worth reading; it represent a typical point of view of a mainstream scientist.

“. . . It thus is clear that cold fusion is possible if two deuterium atoms can be squeezed together closer than they are in a deuterium molecule. It is also well known that many metals, including palladium, absorb hydrogen. Therefore, isn't it reasonable to , suppose that if deuterium were forcibly incorporated into palladium by using an electrical current, deuterium atoms could be squeezed together close enough for their nuclei to fuse?

No, it isn't. The palladium atoms are themselves three times farther apart than are the two deuterium atoms in a deuterium molecule. The palladium is able to absorb deuterium molecules because the spacing between the palladium atoms is larger than the diameter of the deuterium molecule. No squeezing is involved. In fact, the deuterium molecule breaks apart inside the palladium, and its two deuterium atoms end up being farther apart in the palladium than they were in the free deuterium molecule.

Furthermore, Fleischmann and Pons claimed that their fusion reaction generated a large quantity of heat. A simple calculation shows that if the heat they claimed was due to fusion, there would have been enough neutrons generated to have killed the experimenters. They interpreted the absence of the neutrons as the discovery of a new type of nuclear reaction.

Scientists weren't immediately aware of all this when the announcement was made at a press conference. So when reporters asked scientists for their assessment of the Utah experiments, there were mixed responses. Philip Morrison observed, ‘Based on the information I have, I feel it's a very good case." He said his confidence in the reality of the reaction was "high, but not conclusive.’ The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Sheldon Glashow said, ‘I don't believe a word of it’ (Chandler, 1989a, p. 5). The amusing comment by Kim Molvig -- ‘I am willing to be open-minded, but it's really inconceivable that there is anything there’ (Pool, 1989, p. 1661) probably reflects the ambiguous use we often make of ‘openminded.’ Most alarming were the comments from scientists that put extraordinary confidence in Fleischmann and Pons: "I'd be extremely surprised if they've done anything stupid. They have a very good track record in electrochemistry. I am pretty excited about this" (Chandler, 1989b, p. 29). In fact, stupidity in science is far less surprising than is the radical overthrow of well-established doctrine.

I was one who was convinced from the beginning that the results were bogus. You could say I was closed-minded on the subject in the sense that I had a deep inner conviction that the experiments were wrong. Within days of the announcement, we had an impromptu meeting in my department to discuss the matter. By then, prepublication copies of the papers of Fleischmann and Pons and the Jones group had arrived over the fax machine. As I examined them, I judged the first unsuitable for publication and the second an interesting and publishable work that was probably wrong. My judgments at that time were more negative than those of my colleagues but were in accord with those of the reviewers at Nature, who rejected the Fleischmann and Pons paper while accepting the Jones group's paper.

In their original press conference, Fleischmann and Pons stated that they had been working on cold fusion ‘in secret’ for five years. This tipped me off at once. Science isn't done in secret. It's too easy to make a mistake. This is true for electrochemists doing electrochemistry and even truer for electro chemists doing nuclear physics. A theoretical nuclear physicist myself, I have a small idea how hard my experimental colleagues work to get everything right. It's a process of constant refinement in which comments and criticisms of other scientists play a vital role. To me, Fleischmann and Pons were acting like a couple of alchemists for whom the scientific revolution had never happened. The public, on the other hand, and many scientists as well, were taken by the romantic notion of two chemists working alone to defeat the billion-dollar hot-fusion physicists. The chemists ate it up.

As soon as [ saw the Fleischmann and Pons paper, I knew my worst suspicions were correct. The paper lacked any references to nuclear physics and, indeed, had hardly any references at all. References are used in all scholarly writing to establish the author's knowledge of the relevant work in the field. A typical scientific paper has about thirty citations, most to recent related work. Fleischmann and Pons had five references, three to their own work and two to works on hydrogen absorption in metals. (One of these was to a 1940 Russian paper.) There was no reference to the huge literature on fusion. A scientific paper differs from a nonscientific one by the requirement that it be consistent with the previous work in the field. This means it must acknowledge the existence of this previous work and show how the new results fit in with the old. A paper may challenge previous work, but it can't ignore it.

The Jones group's paper has eighteen references. They indicate their knowledge of the unlikelihood of cold fusion, but argue that something unusual happens when the hydrogen is absorbed into matter. They interpret some geophysical data as indicating that cold fusion is going on inside the earth. This connects their work to the rest of science. They also give their raw data-the number of neutrons they detect when their cell is off and when it is on. The difference, if any, can be attributed to fusion. Their data are shown in Figure 8.1. The vertical bars on the points indicate the probable error; that is, the true value is likely to lie somewhere on the bar. To accept cold fusion, you have to believe that the positive results around the lOO-channel mark isn't a statistical fluctuation. This 1 find very difficult, given the Jones group's claim that the neutron production "dropped dramatically" after eight hours. Statistical fluctuations are well known to produce dramatic changes in small numbers; that's what makes gambling so exciting. Many other laboratories have since tried to duplicate the Jones group's result. Although some claimed to see a few neutrons, none of these results has held up over time."

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Figure. 8.1 The number of neutrons of different energies detected by Jones et al. with the electrolytic cell on, minus the number detected with the cell off. There is a positive difference in the energy region expected for fusion neutrons (2.5 MeV). Although this difference is statistically significant on its face, such results are sometimes found to result from a bias in the way the data are handled. (Reprinted with permission from S. Jones et al., ‘Observations of Cold fusion in Condensed Matter,’ Nature" 338 [1989): 737)
[I do not know what kind of “bias” was Cromer referring to. Emission of unexplained neutrons was confirmed in subsequent experiments of Jones, as described in units #113 and #131.].
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

The fact that two Utah research groups both had reported cold fusion at the same time greatly confused the picture, as they seemed in some way to confirm each other. However, the most casual reading of their papers, or of the newspapers at the time, clearly showed that the two results were highly inconsistent with each other. The small fusion rate indicated by the neutrons detected by the Jones group, though inconsistent with current nuclear and solid-state theory, isn't as inconsistent as the trillion times higher rate reported by Fleischmann and Pons without the production of the necessary neutrons.

The Fleischmann and Pons paper, for all its extravagant claims, offers no data. Although Fleischmann and Pons measured the temperature change in their fusion cell, they give none of their raw readings. They report only highly processed numbers, without giving any indication how they were calculated. When they saw only one-ten-trillionth (10-13) of the neutrons that their claimed fusion rate should have produced, they claimed the discovery of ‘an hitherto unknown nuclear process or processes.’ When they came in one morning and found their cell burned out, they claimed that fusion did it.

I was surprised how many scientists were prepared to relax their usual skepticism in the face of such an unscientific paper. The chemists were particularly excited, and at a meeting they had great fun claiming that two of theirs had done in five years and with a few thousand dollars what hundreds of physicists with billions of dollars haven't been able to do in forty years. A little team spirit is a good thing, but this was ridiculous. Back home, I was lecturing my physics students on the absurdity of the Fleischmann and Pons claims while their chemistry professor was excitedly expounding on the importance of the Utah result.

There are many lessons from this episode. First, scientists themselves are often poor judges of the scientific process. This isn't as surprising as it seems, since their training is purely technical. Many don't appreciate the seriousness of violations of procedures, such as giving a press conference before publication. More surprising, many took Fleischmann and Pons's incredible conclusions about their own work at face value, even before reading their paper.

Second, scientific research is very difficult. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. For instance, Fleischmann and Pons forgot to stir their cell while measuring its temperature, thereby totally invalidating their measurements. Stirring is a routine procedure, taught to freshman in their first heat experiment, but neglected by a Fellow of the Royal Society working with the chairman of the Chemistry Department of the University of Utah. This isn't to criticize their professionalism; it would happen to any small group working in isolation on a fixed idea. No one, no matter how experienced, can do a complex experiment without the guidance and criticism of others. Isolation is the death of science.

Third, science isn't dependent on the honesty or wisdom of scientists. As a collective enterprise, it rises above individual shortcomings. It will survive Fleischmann and Pons, but only after the wasteful expenditure of hundreds of man-hours of work and at least one death.”

The third conclusion is worth thinking about. Science is a collective enterprise with more or less well established rules of validation. One of these rules states that, in principle, theories guide but reproducible experiments decide. That does not mean that irreproducible experimental observations, reported by qualified people, should be ignored. In the present state of its history cold fusion research is guided by not-always-reproducible experimental observations. All by themselves such observations are not in conflict with theoretical models, they are in conflict with other observations. Conceptual conflicts appear when attempts are made to explain experimental data. The model of two fusionning nuclei, for example, is in conflict with the well established theory of tunneling effect. Attempts to interpret irreproducible “excess heat” results turned out to be counterproductive.

History of the excess heat discovery would probably be very different if the phenomenon were labeled as “anomalous heat,” rather than “cold fusion.” Premature interpretation, implied by the term cold fusion, combined with highly unconventional press release, were partially responsible for the prevailing attitude toward Fleischmann and Pons. But all this would probably become inconsequential if experiments became widely reproducible. Promoting technological applications of irreproducible science does not make any sense to me. The emphasis, at this time, should be on science not on technology. Scientifically unjustified claims of “great inventions” hurt the reputation of honest research. I do not know why a working model of a “free energy” device is not required before a patent is granted to an inventor.

What will do more harm to real cold fusion research, scientifically unjustified claims or negatively-biased attitude of scientific establishment? Inventors should respect scientific explanations, editors of our journals should not deny the peer review process to qualified cold fusion investigators. As a novice-part-time-cold-fusion researcher I would like to dissociate myself from those whose claims are not validated. Saying that something is a cold fusion device, without giving any evidence for it, makes no sense to me. What would be the best evidence? Working devices independently produced (as described by inventors) in at least two or three shops. Theoretically inclined people will certainly find ways to explain reproducibly performing gadgets. Emission of alpha particles, neutrons or gamma rays, from an apparently non-nuclear device, would also be a strong indication that something highly unusual is taking place. Words and promises alone, like "gold from carrots" or “cheap hydrogen” from water, are not sufficient. When will the iESiUSA devices be available on the marketplace? Why is there so much secrecy about them?

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