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297) From recent messages on the CMNS list
Ludwik Kowalski; 5/7/2006
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043
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1) What is the current situation with Colorado2 results?
1) Experimental results (COP=1.24, st.dev. = 0.13), described in the unit #271, at my CMNS web site, should be summarized and published. As I wrote before, I will start writing the draft as soon as Pierre Clauzon sends me conclusions from Gerards analysis, and the appendix written by their reputable chemist. I expect that Gerards investigation will determine the percentage of tiny droplets in the escaping mixture of vapor and liquid. Presumably that percentage will be much smaller that 24% needed to create an illusion of COP=1.24. Richard also promised to investigate the possibility of that kind of illusion. The appendix will presumably rule out a possibility that excess heat is due to well known chemical reactions.
While waiting for these two things I started worrying that the COP>1 might be an illusion due to the temperature dependence of L, latent heat of evaporation, as shown in:
But this turned out to be a false alarm. The latent heat of evaporation is nothing else but the difference between the enthalpy of one kilogram of water in our highest state, escaping vapor, and our lower state, liquid water at 100 C. In other words,
Enthalpy, H, is a state function. It means that L does not depend on what might happen to a unit mass of water between the initial and final states. Inspired by a contribution of Michel Jullian (spreadsheet for thermochemical calculations) I wrote:
Mizuno, Naudin and Iorio did not comment on what I wrote about the possible illusion of excess heat resulting from the temperature dependence of L. Why are they not responding? Does it mean they agree about the possibility of illusion or that they agree with what Michel J. and John N. wrote about the issue? For some reason messages from Michel and John were not clear to me. But this morning someone explained their position to me. This convinced me that the temperature dependence of the enthalpy of evaporation, L, cannot possibly be the cause of an illusion, at least not in the way that I was thinking.
The argument goes like this. Enthalpy is a state parameter. Suppose that one gram of water goes from state A to state Z in a sequence of steps,
A --> B --> C --> D --> E --> . . . --> Z
A is when water is at 100 C
B is when water is at 300 C (for example, very close to the cathode)
C is when that water becomes vapor
D is when that vapor changes into XXX (for example, by a sequence of nuclear reactions)
E is when XXX turns into YYY, etc. etc.
. . . .
Z is when the LSE (last something else) becomes one gram of steam escaping from the Mizuno-type cell.
The amount of electric energy, Q, needed to transform 1 gram of water from A to Z does not depend on what happened between A and Z, it must be equal to (Hz-Ha), where Hz and Ha are enthalpies in the states Z and A. . . . In other words, poorly understood intermediate processes (what happens during plasma electrolysis) are totally irrelevant in the contest of excess heat, as in Paris1 and Colorado2 experiments. The COP>1 can be an illusion associated with tiny droplets (mistakenly assumed to be vapor), but that has nothing to do with the temperature dependence of L.
Richard Slaughter is experimenting with a new cell; it is the beginning of his Colorador3 experiment. Instead of using an open cell, as in Paris1 and Colorado2 setups, his new cell is nearly totally closed. A small hole in the lid prevents accumulation of potentially explosive hydrogen and oxygen. The pressure in the cell is very close to one atmosphere. Only a small amount of vapor escapes into the air, most vapor condenses inside the cell. The mass of the escaping vapor is measured, as in Colorado2 experiment. With this approach the COP is calculated as:
COP = (Q1+Q2+Q3) / E
where E is the electric energy received by the cell during an experiment while (Q1+Q2+Q3) is the thermal energy removed from the cell. As before, Q1 stands for the energy needed to produce the escaping steam while Q2 stands for the energy lost by conduction, convection and radiation. The ways of measuring E, Q1 and Q2 were described in unit #271. And what is Q3? It is thermal energy removed from the cell by a flow calorimeter. The cell is designed to minimize Q1 and Q2. But these two quantities are measured, as in Colorado2 experiments.
The flow calorimeter, also acting as a condenser, is the major addition. It is a flat spiral copper tube below the lid (inside the cell). Icy water enters the tube at one end and comes out at the other end, at a slightly elevated temperature. The Q3, for a known rate of flow, is calculated from the measured change in temperature. Most of the vapor created during the experiment condenses on the spiral tube. Suppose that 100 grams of liquid water is turned into vapor but only 10 grams of that vapor escapes from the cell. The remaining 90% condenses on the cold tube and drops down into the electrolyte. Condensation is the heat-releasing process; the latent heat of condensation is numerically equal to latent heat of evaporation. That is why Q3 becomes the dominant component of the thermal energy output.
According to private messages from Richard, preliminary results confirm previous findings -- the COPs are always between 1.1 and 1.3. The new approach is much less dependent on tiny droplets because the mass lost during an experiment is very small. The nearly-closed-cell approach, as in preliminary Colorado3 experiments of Richard, seems to be a very good way of validating reality of COP>1. The totally-closed-cell approach seems to be more complicated (I am thinking about the heated recombiner) and quite dangerous.
The message shown below (blue font) was posted on the restricted CMNS list the day before yesterday. But nobody responded, so far. For some reason most of the recent messages posted on the list do not discuss science. The authors prefer to share historical information, criticize pathological skeptics and discuss social aspects related to negative attitude of scientific establishment toward our field. My expectation was that the list will be used, mostly, to share information about ongoing experiments and to discuss scientific aspects of ongoing investigations. But that is not what I observe. Why is it so?
I did not plan to ask this question. It evolved from my private correspondence with Richard. He shared my initial concern about L and I decided to publicize it on the list. My expectation was that some scientifically-oriented people will comment on what I wrote below. The absence of replies forced me to ask the why is it so question. If somebody asked me to comment of a scientific topic, and if I had something to contribute, for example, to criticize or to agree with an idea or proposal, I would do so at once. That is why I expected to hear from Mizuno and Naudin. Why didnt they answer, one way or another?
[I am removing that message because it was wrong. Was this obvious to Mizuno and Naudin? If it was then why didnt they correct me?]
2) What is pure research for?
An interesting message appeared on the list, several hours after the above was posted. Referring to an article in The New York Times (4/27/06), one subscriber asked about benefits society received from research in the area of high energy physics. My reply was as follows:
Suppose a politician asked Michael Faraday about usefulness of electromagnetic induction that he was discovering. The answer would probably be "Someday you can tax it." I know that many are familiar with this phrase; it is often attributed to Faraday. The episode presumably took place around 1830s. Faraday was probably motivated by desire to discover laws of nature, not by vision of transformers and generators supporting the way of life of future generations. I do not think it was possible to anticipate usefulness of electromagnetic induction when it was discovered, nearly simultaneously, by Faraday and by Henry. That is what I used to tell students each year. How can I resist to say it again?
I do not know what fraction of our GNP (gross natural product) should be allocated to pure research. The National Academy of Sciences should answer this question. Yes, I know, that this is a political and economic issue, not a scientific issue. The primary purpose of this list was to discuss CMNS topics. Yes, I know, everything is interconnected. Yes, I know that CMNS was nearly killed by politically-oriented people. But what I would like to see more often are message describing work in progress, and issues generated by ongoing projects.
3) Added on 5/8/06:
Two messages I posted during the weekend did not generate any replies. Does it mean that people agree with me about a possibility of illusive COP>1? I do not think that it means this. It probably means that people do not care. They prefer to express opinion on topics which belong to sociology and history of science rather than on scientific topics per sei. About ten such messages appeared in the last two days. Here is an interesting quote from one of them. Responding to what others wrote Jed Rothwell observed:
. . . I think that on balance, at least with regard to revolutionary discoveries such as cold fusion, if we must choose between anarchy and excessive control, anarchy is better. Perhaps that is not the case with more conventional or incremental breakthroughs.
Consider this. If people such as Mizuno and Miles had not been fully tenured, and a Fellow of the Institute in Miles' case, they would not have been allowed to do cold fusion research. They had the freedom to defy the norms and do "forbidden" research. They paid a high price for their actions, by the way. The people in charge would have stopped them if they could have, just as they tried to stop Bockris and others.
Anarchy also works better in free market capitalism. In fact, I doubt anything else can work. If large companies such as IBM were given any control over one-man startups, such as Microsoft in 1975, progress would come to a halt. Gates succeeded because no one had any right to tell him what to do. If IBM or any other established company had been aware of his activities, or if they had been allowed to interfere, we would still be using mainframe operating systems. . . .
4) Added on 5/9/06:
Responding to a message posted last night I wrote: I think that X, who is new to this list, is correct. We need more sharing about what we do, and more messages focusing on science, as opposed to sociology of science. Why our best electrochemists, mentioned by Jed -- McKubre, Storms, Miles and Oriani -- did not share their ideas about the GDPE (glow discharge plasma electrolysis) on this forum? Mizuno-type cells of Naudin, Favaurque, Iorio and Slaughter yielded reproducible results. But can we be sure are these results demonstrated reality of excess heat? What should be done to make these results more convincing, as far as excess heat is concerned? Only highly qualified chemists can help us. Why are they consistently silent on that topic? Yes, I am also a newcomer; perhaps there were debates about this in the past and people do not want to repeat themselves. Please summarize past debates for newcomers. Or maybe our experts feel that criticizing each other is not appropriate when we are surrounded by enemies. Something seems to be wrong among us. But I do not know what it is. Yes, this message is also about sociology rather than about science. I am sorry about this.
5) Post Scriptum
I was ready to press the SEND button what this message from McKubre arrived. It was a reply to Jeds message:
On May 8, 2006, at 2:44 PM, Jed Rothwell wrote:
It is a safe bet that the present experts in cold fusion, such as McKubre and Storms, are the people most likely to find the answer. Shockley and his coworkers had the best chance of developing practical transistors in 1948. But you can never be certain of that. Someone might come out of left field with the theory or procedure that makes no sense to McKubre -- something that seems counterintuitive, or downright crazy. And yet that oddball person might be right. Such things have happened many times in history.
Mike McKubre wrote:
Thanks for the plug Jed, but the answer to our hidden variable(s) almost has to come out of left field; we have covered right field and it isn't there. I do think it is a bad strategy and very much counter productive to attempt to get responses on the CMNS forum by verbal bullying or induction of guilt. In such a forum you need to accept any wisdom shared as a gift, but you should not attempt or expect to compel a response. I don't speak for Dardik or the Energetics folks, or Mizuno or Bockris or any of the others mentioned below, but I know something of their character. I can guarantee you that if these folk believed the CMNS forum to be the most important way they could advance their knowledge - and the world's knowledge - of condensed matter nuclear effects, then you would have their full and active participation.
That reminded me of another group of highly qualified experts. Why are they silent on this list? I know that Darik and his colleagues are reasonably fluent in English. And why don't we hear from Mizuno himself, or from John Bockris? Or from Pamela and Stan? Or from John Dash and other material scientists? Yes, something seems to be wrong among us.
6) Another 5/9/06 addition:
Here is how Jed Rothwell answered my question
[McKubre, Storms, Miles and Oriani do not comment] because they have nothing to say about it. That's what they tell me. They say they have not done the experiment themselves, so they cannot comment. That's the mark of a good electrochemist: he does not speculate about a remarkable experiment that he has not done. Will each of them answer my question in that way? That remains to be seen.
Replying to Jed I wrote: . . . I would like to know what Mizuno would say to someone suspecting that the COP=1.24 (st.dev.=0.13), as measured in Colorado2 experiment, might possibly be an illusion due to the temperature dependence of L. You communicate with Mizuno; please ask him this question. Mizuno probably saw my two recent messages about L. But to make things easy I am going to paste them below. Thanks in advance. And give him my regards. . . . .
Added on 5/10/06:
Last night Rothwell wrote: I have been meaning to comment on this for a long time. Whenever there is an effusion of creative effort, a large portion of the work is lousy. That is the nature of things. People make mistakes before they get things right. . . . It takes a while to separate the wheat from the chaff. That was a comment about absence of mutual criticism, etc. Someone asked about thousands of papers
in the www.lenr-canr.org archive. What fraction of them contain invalid claims? Will this good question be answered? I do not think so. We are surrounded be enemies and some people might think that mutual criticism will be perceived as weakness. In my opinion, mutual criticism is a sign of strength. It lowers the probability of chaff being mixed with wheat. And here is how the question was answered by Jed Rothwell: Ooofff . . . That's a delicate question for me. Naturally people should judge which papers are likely to be valid, and which are not. Storms and I listed some of the ones we find particularly impressive in the Special Collections. I think some of the other papers are marginal, sloppy, or farfetched.
However, I would not feel comfortable listing the ones I dislike. That isn't fair to the authors. Of course I am just the librarian. Not an editor or an arbiter! If anything, I resemble the guy who distributes push-pins and tape during a conference poster session. However, a librarian does have some influence over readers. He puts out books in the "featured" shelf. He selects new books to be purchased. People ask librarians for recommendations, and readers do ask me for papers covering specific topics. Inasmuch as I have any influence I am determined to remain as neutral as I can. I would not want to prejudice readers against an unknown author who happens to have a good idea that I do not appreciate. . . . We have only turned down a handful of papers, mainly from perpetual motion machine inventors . . . This is a library, not a journal. We never turn down papers we disagree with. . . .
Here is how Edmund Storms explained reasons for not being enthusiastic about Mizuno-type experiments. He wrote: You ask why I don't share my ideas about the GDPE experiments. Here are several reasons:
a). I'm busy with my own studies which are hard enough to understand without adding an effort to understand various attempts at replication. Some very unexpected processes are operating that are hard to understand even when a person has access to all of the information, which is not the case when helping someone else.
b) The GDPE method, I believe, is not a good method to use to study LENR or to prove that the effect is real. It is too complex to replicate and interpret.
c) I have commented and made suggestions which were not accepted. It takes too much time to show why the suggestions are worth considering for the effort to be useful to me.
d) No additional replication of the effect will be useful to change minds unless the experiment involves measuring radiation and nuclear products along with heat. In addition, the relationship between the amount and nature of the nuclear products, and heat must fit a plausible model. Anything less than that will be just a good science experiment done for personal amusement and education. The field has gone beyond
needing just another replication.
e) Enough information is available in the literature to start such a project. Additional progress is only made by learning from mistakes and being forced to confront results that don't make any sense. My help would not advance this necessary process.
That is interesting. Would I get involved in GDPE experiments if I knew that Ed and other leading CMNS researchers think that results are too difficult to interpret? Probably not. My impression was that a large excess heat from a Mizuno-type cell is
easier to interpret than many excess heat experiments.
7) L for heavy water:
Referring to L (latent heat of evaporation) another leading CMNS researcher, Mel Miles, wrote that it would be better to call L the ENTHALPY of vaporization. Nevertheless, the term HEAT is often used in textbooks. In another message Mel wrote:
The symbol L represents the Heat of Vaporization-Often expressed as "Delta H(vap)". It is a state function like any other "Delta H" term. Similar to most thermodynamic quantities, it shows a temperature dependence. In my work for D2O ,I always used the following that I found in the published literature:
where T is in Kelvin and L is in J/mol. Thus, at 25.000 C or 298.15 K, L is calculated to be 45401.6 J/mol. The L values for the vaporization of D2O can be readily calculated at any other temperature of interest.
Using this formula for T=373 K (100 C) I got L=41753.6 J/mole. This translates into or 2087.7 J/g. For T=473 K (200 C) the formula gives L=36962.1 J/mole. This translates into 1848.1 J/g. There must be a similar formula for H2O and asked for it, and for a reference. It is easier to calculate L from a formula than from a chart I used before.
8) Appended on 5/11/06:
An interesting observation about the CMNS field was made by an stranger, Mr. V. Godbole (who did study some physics. Life circumstances forced him to work in other fields but he does study theoretical physics on his own. In a message received yesterday V.G. wrote: The solution of the Schroedinger equation - these strange counter-intuitive orbitals caught my attention. Does the particle (electron) spread itself into cloudy s-p-d-f-lobes, does it whizz around the nucleus along warped trajectories, how do the overlaps and hybrids come about - all that mystery or magic puzzles me (and many others). The deuteron is a (quasi) boson for distances above 10 raised to -15 m. How does that work out for an occasional slightly-mobile deuteron in a homogenous deuteride substrate? Can we devise a substrate-hamiltonian H that "condenses" deuterons into soliton-like or coherent-wave-like entities that emerge as a beam (surely a non-trivial difficult and challenging task)? . . .
Are the physicists a frightened (self-) terrorizing community? How can there be anyone an "expert" regarding a purely speculative new quasi-phantastic idea? . . . I have read many "successful" routine experiments in the journals which were just a waste of time and money (but meticulously done and exquisitely presented on expensive paper only for getting a trivial doctorate or habilitation). It is disappointing to say the least. Gone is a Julian Schwinger or Richard Feynmann. If a man has titles (Dr., Prof., Director etc.) then he wants to protect his "reputation". That's the end of pioneering physics.
Apparently, Mr. V. Godbole made several attempts to approach professional physicists but failed to gain their support. Not too many physicists are trained to discuss advanced theoretical ideas. They probably do what I do, when facing a topic with which they are not familiar -- they try not to expose their ignorance. It is hard to find a person capable to discuss a specialized problem. I do not think the refusals to get involved always indicate desire to protect ones reputation.
9) Added on 5/13/06:
The CEO (chief Executive Officer) of particular company, who is also a researcher, was criticized recently, on the restricted list for CMNS researchers. One of the issues was a promise, to potential investors, that a 1000 W will be on the market in several months. This is not the first time that a commercial application of CMNS is being promoted as nearly ready. But time passed and nothing happened. People feel that such episodes hurt our already bad reputation.
I do not think GDPE cells (glow discharge plasma electrolysis), also known as Mizuno-type cells are ready for practical applications. I am still waiting for an appendix about the expected heat from possible chemical reactions, the issue of the percentage of droplets mixed with steam remains unresolved. I would not invest a penny into a company that would try to commercialize GDPE cells at this stage of development. Several people responded. One of them wrote:
There has been numerous posts as to the promise of a kilowatt OU unit from D2Fusion. I was waiting for someone to bring up Patterson's CETI. They had
a Palladium bead cell electrolysis column demonstrating this kilowatt ability already back in 1995 at ICCF-5 and the 1995 PowerGen Conference in Southern California. Eugene Mallove, Jed Rothwell and, I am sure, some members now belonging to this CMNS have witnessed the units. CETI was ready then to entertain interested parties then. Another contributor wrote: . . . But CETI seems to have faded out, particularly after the premature death of Jim Pattersons grandson, who was then their President. . . . Jed Rothwell, wrote: . . . I recall Patterson told me that this [inability to reproduce] is not true. He said he could make more beads "any time." But he never did make any as far as I know. Who knows what to make of it. It was yet another lost opportunity.
This was long before I discovered, in the summer of 2002, that cold fusion research was going on in several countries. Was it the first warning that one should not jump to commercial applications prematurely? That topic generated a long discussion. Let me end this unit with quotes from Mike McKubre and Jed Rothwell:
Mike wrote: . . . The cf community has been aware of (in Jed's words) "exaggerations" for some time. We have overlooked them until now as we have been assailed from the outside and have naturally protected family first. Newer members do not have the perspective of seeing who did the work and how work groups were organized. Now that the era of commercial interest has arrived we can and should no longer turn a blind eye.
.. . As far as I know, nobody has ever been able to run GDPE cells with a steady output. Not 100 W or even 10 W. The excess power fluctuates wildly and uncontrollably. It seldom exceeds 30% of input. If you could generate 100 W steadily then of course it would be easy to asssemble several cells and generate higher power. However, with all of the cells I know about, if you assembled 10 of them you would end up with power varyingi from moment to moment, with input up to 700 W, and excess output ranging from 0 W to ~10,000 W (an explosion). This would be extremely dangerous. . . . I do not think anyone knows how to run GDPE cells for a long time. People here have speculated about various methods, but I do not think these methods would work. . . . Then Jed added: Jim Reding, the president of Patterson's company, was so upset by what I published about his experiments and business plans that he threatened to sue me. Krivit's expose of IESI was FAR more damning than what he has said about D2Fusion. In the last message Jed ,wrote
There is a claim at the D2Fusion website about kilowatt scale devices. It is here:
This hyperlink in his message may be difficult to use. Here is the text: SUMMARY - D2Fusion Inc., a US company, is now preparing a fast track product development program to build and test solid state fusion energy modules. The first modules will produce a few kilowatts of thermal energy in a compact device comparable to a common household electric space heater. We plan to build and exhaustively test these prototype thermal modules during our first year of operation.
That is audacious. If they can pull that off, I suppose they must have made a major breakthrough. Nobody I know could pull this off in a year This website is none of my business, and the people at D2Fusion have every right to ignore what I say, but I think they are asking for trouble with statements like this. Somebody asked about what to expect from a company that succeeded to make a big discovery but is still working on practical details. Once again, Jed was the first to reply and I am quoting him again.
I am not dismissing that [possibiity]! Nobody here is dismissing that. We have only said that if they have accomplished this (or something similar), the way they are presenting it on the web looks suspicious. They are putting themselves in a bad light. I also said the accomplishment would be astounding, but: . . . maybe I read the wrong papers. Since I have not read D2Fusion's papers, I cannot judge the situation." [I also wrote:] "That is audacious. If they can pull that off, I suppose they must have made a major breakthrough. [A also wrote] Of course there may be breakthroughs which I have not heard about. . . . I interpret the statement at D2Fusion to mean there has been such a breakthrough. I hope this is the case.
They [in the company] seem to be telling the world they stumbled on the clue. That's how I read the web page. It is a bad idea to tell the world that without offering any proof. It makes you look like a perpetual motion machine scam, even if you are actually legitimate. If they wanted to, and they felt it is advisable, they could easily publish loads of convincing proof without revealing any technical secrets. All they have to do is sign up independent experts to test the thing under NDAs, and then publish the technical outcome of the tests (calorimetry) without describing the hardware: "Prof. Smith tested the machine and found it produced 500 MJ with no input power . . . Here is a summary of his report . . ." Performance can easily be made public without revealing specifics about how that performance is achieved. . . . If D2Fusion wishes to keep everything about this strictly secret, including the calorimetry, I think it would be best to say nothing. But apparently they disagree with me. That's okay. It's their website.
Added on 6/6/06:
This is another message from Jed Rothwell. It posted on the list as a reply to a suggestion made by another subscriber. The suggestion was to form a cold fusion party and to change this list into a platform of that party. I do not like this idea; I would unsubscribe if political topics became more important on this list than scientific topics. Jed does not have formal scientific background but his knowledge is some areas is impressive for a self-educated person. Here is his reply to a suggestion to form a "Cold Fusion political party."
It sounds a lot absurd to me. Third parties have often been formed around single-issue groups. They usually give the public the impression they are fanatics. I cannot imagine why we need a conventional political party. We do not need millions of votes. We need only one vote of confidence from one influential person such as Bill Gates. As Margaret Mead put it: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
I think history shows how we may succeed -- if we can succeed at all. We must use conventional outreach strategies that have worked for scientists in the past, when they brought about unpopular reforms against entrenched opposition. Scientists pushed through sanitation, pasteurization, air pollution control, dietary reform in the U.S. Deep South to eliminate pellagra, child labor, automobile safety, and countless other science-based, science-led reforms. They fought ruthless opposition by vested interests. Sometimes it took decades. In New York City, the dairy industry prevented effective pasteurization of milk from the 1860s until 1917.
We have the tools to accomplish this task. We have much more to work with than the lonely public health warriors who fought pellagra did. We face a small number of angry physicists at the APS; they faced the Klu Klux Klan! We have many potential supporters; they had to overcome 300-year-old habits and economics that led to malnutrition and vitamin D deficiency then (and obesity today, alas). We have a body of impressive papers; distinguished researchers who could get a modicum of attention if they tried; a large latent group of supporters in the public; and we have been blessed by some of the stupidest opponents in history. Evolution's first great foe, "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce, was a genius compared to Park, Huizenga and Taubes. As Beaudette showed, Huizenga handed us victory on silver platter in his book. Why have we not made better use of this? We should work to appeal to students and young people, and at the other end of the scale, we must break through the wall of opposition to reach one or two influential people who can start the flow of funding.
There are simple rules and time-tested techniques for accomplishing this sort of thing, and cold fusion researchers have violated just about all of them. Instead of showing their results, they have hidden them. Instead of cooperating with one another they have fought over trivial matters. Instead of asking young people and others for support, they have alienated the public. Instead of appealing to hope and idealism, some have pandered to greed and the false promise of "cornering the market." As I said in the book:
"History has been a test of strength between the rapacious, foolish, greedy, shortsighted minority and the sensible majority. I expect the future will be the same. So far, in cold fusion, the fools have won every round, suppressing nearly all research. I have had a ringside seat at this fiasco. No one knows better than I how powerful the fools can be, and how badly the cold fusion researchers have muffed the few opportunities that have come their way. Without public support, researchers will never receive funding, yet they have often scorned opportunities to convince the public of the validity of their work. . . ." Cold fusion researchers could do far more to help themselves and their cause. They have enormous latent power to influence society and win friends. Yet I have struggled for years -- begging, pleading, cajoling -- just to get them to send me 500 papers!
Appended on 6/14/06
Technical and scientific topics are occasionally discussed on our CMNS lists but comments on sociological aspects of science represent much more than one half of what is being posted. Let me describe another thread that belongs to the same category.
Two days ago Scott Little posted this message: Group, I would appreciate some criticism on the following statement describing cold fusion and our work thereon that I have drafted for a paper I am giving at the upcoming AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference entitled, "Null Tests of Breakthrough Energy Claims". (no, I am not particularly proud of that title but that is how our cards have played out thus far). I will be discussing a wide variety of claims that we have tested at Earthtech and I feel that cold fusion should be included.
If possible I would like my statement to be acceptable to both camps; those that believe that cold fusion is real, and those that sneer scornfully at it. The statement comes after I have explained in general how energy claims are tested, including a brief discussion of calorimetry:
In March of 1989 Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons of the University of Utah announced that they had succeeded in making the D-D fusion reaction occur in an electrochemical cell near room temperature. Compared to the ordinary conditions required for this reaction, this claim was aptly named cold fusion. The announcement of cold fusion generated intense interest as it promised to solve most if not all of our energy problems here on Earth. The fuel is plentiful and the waste products are relatively benign. However, widespread failure to replicate the phenomenon soon resulted in rejection of cold fusion by the mainstream scientific community.
Despite this rejection a number of scientists continue to investigate cold fusion. Hundreds of papers reporting positive results have been published and international conferences are held every couple of years. However, to this day, there exists no cold fusion demonstration experiment. That is because either the cold fusion phenomenon is extremely difficult to reproduce or the phenomenon does not exist. Notwithstanding the significant positive evidence that has been amassed, the latter possibility must remain until cold fusion can be reproduced on demand.
The primary signature of the cold fusion phenomenon is excess heat, which means that the electrochemical cell produces more heat energy than the electrical energy used to stimulate it. Thus calorimetry is necessarily involved in testing cold fusion experiments. In our laboratory we have expended a great deal of effort on the development of calorimeters suitable for cold fusion experiments. Over the years we have had the opportunity to test a relatively small number of cold fusion experiments, some that we constructed ourselves and some that were brought to our laboratory by other investigators who had seen positive signs of excess heat in their own labs. None of these cold fusion experiments have shown any convincing evidence of excess heat in our calorimeters. We cannot say that we have never seen any signs of excess heat in our laboratory because all calorimeters drift somewhat and, inevitably, that drift sometimes goes in a positive direction and looks just like a low level of genuine excess heat. When that occurs we strive to check the calorimeters calibration as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Usually the drift in calibration is evident and its magnitude matches, and thus explains, the apparent excess heat signal. In a few cases the calibration check did not explain the apparent excess heat signal. But when we returned the cell to the calorimeter after the calibration check, the excess heat signal did not reappear. This tantalizing behavior either means that the cell did produce low levels of excess heat for a while or the calorimeter was simply drifting up and down in unfortunate synchrony with our observations.
To put this drift issue into perspective, the calorimeter in question was designed with an accuracy goal of +/- 0.1% relative. At the typical input power level of 10 watts, that is equivalent to +/- 0.01 watts. One a good day, when freshly calibrated, this accuracy is actually achieved. A month after calibration, the system typically drifts off calibration by about 0.03 watts. The largest apparent excess heat signal we have ever seen that was not subsequently explained by a calibration check was about 0.05 watts, or 0.5% of the 10 watt input power.
Despite our disappointing experiences with cold fusion we feel that the potential importance of this phenomenon warrants further effort. We are actively involved in efforts to observe the excess heat phenomenon. Thanks for your consideration, . . .
What follows shows how some people, reacted to Scotts statement on cold fusion. The immediate reply from Jed Rothwell was:
[You wrote:] Notwithstanding the significant positive evidence that has been amassed, the latter possibility must remain until cold fusion can be reproduced on demand.
That is complete and utter nonsense. First of all, cold fusion has been reproduced on demand hundreds of times, including 100% of all experiments at Mitsubishi for the last 5 or 10 years. Second, even if it were not reproducible, this has no bearing on whether it is real or not. Reproducibility on demand has never been held as relevant to
whether an effect is real or not. I can list dozens of discoveries and claims which are either extremely difficult or utterly impossible to reproduce. Examples include: Many of Martin Fleischmann's previous breakthroughs -- extremely difficult.
Cloning. The success rate is less than 1% -- far lower than CF ever was. Making a Pentium processor -- only two companies on earth have sufficient expertise and capital. Thermonuclear bombs -- very difficult and expensive to reproduce, fortunately. The top quark -- could only be done once, in one lab. Earthquakes, supernovas, the creation of life on earth -- can only be observed. Frankly, this assertion reflects appalling ignorance of the scientific method and the history of science. Many people have said this kind of thing, even in the pages of so-called science magazines and journals, but still, the people who say this are completely wrong and they do not understand the scientific method.
Yesterday, replying to Jed I wrote: Recent reading about the so-called scientific method made me aware that it is mostly about validations of hypotheses and theories. It does not explicitly deal with validation of experimental facts. Scott's message is about facts, not about explanations. Yes, some experimental facts are difficult to confirm, especially at the beginning. What we need is at least one simple reproducible on demand demo that can be studied in most science labs. . . . But nobody commented on this.
Replying to Scott, Edmund Storms wrote: Universal reproducibility has no relationship to proving an event to be real. If a sufficient number of people see the same event under the same circumstances, the event is real even though the event can not be produced every time. Too many examples exist to make this concept even a debatable issue. The issue is not proving reality, but having sufficient control over experimental conditions to allow the event to be studied. LENR has been observed so often that the reality of the phenomena has been demonstrated. However, insufficient understanding is available to make it work very often. This has nothing to do with proving the phenomenon is real.
As I wrote in another item, CMNS (a more recent name for what used to be known as LENR or Cold Fusion) is not yet science; it is still protoscience. A protoscience will be recognized as science when at least one of its simple experiments becomes reproducible on demand in the hands of experts. Ed. is correct that sufficient control over experimental conditions is a prerequisite for reproducibility on demand.
Steven Krivit wrote: Scott, you've asked a question which can't be truly answered. What you wrote is your view, and your experience. And that is the truth for you. Some of the people on this list have significantly different backgrounds, experience, skill and understanding than you relative to CMNS. Consequently, you asking for their opinions on your thoughts and views is a non sequitur.
I would only say this - and honestly I only read it once and I don't have it anymore so bear with me - I think you underrepresent the possible conditions that a) some researchers who have not submitted to your evaluative process may have more significant results and b) the cmns effects could just very well be extremely difficult to create and observe and if so, may only appear clearly in the primary researcher's lab as a result of these complexities.
I would say that you might be better off in the long run emphasizing that it is still to early to tell. If you are going to bother to publish a paper with negative results and you are not intending to appear hostile, you may want to express some of these possible conditions I just stated. . . . . I'd say that too many people have wasted their time trying prove that "cold fusion" is real and too many people have wasted other's time trying to demand proof, which they often vaguely refer to as extraordinary evidence. "Proof" for one person is not for another. Proof is a personal thing.
Replying to the above comments, Scott Little wrote: After consideration of the few responses to my statement, I have decided to revise the objectionable paragraph in an attempt to reduce the tendency of my words to appear as complete and utter nonsense to the reader. The new version says:
Despite this rejection a number of scientists continue to investigate cold fusion. Hundreds of papers reporting positive results have been published and international conferences are held every couple of years. However, to this day, there exists no cold fusion demonstration experiment. That is because the cold fusion phenomenon is extremely difficult to reproduce. There is no experimental recipe that will yield positive excess heat results even 50% of the time. This situation greatly hampers cold fusion research and, in the eyes of some, supports the possibility that the cold fusion phenomenon does not actually exist. Is this better?
Steven Krivit wrote: Alright Scott, Here you go. I'm gonna lay into you - nothing personal, okay, but you've asked for critique. You're not an expert in cold fusion, you're not a journalist and you're not a representative of this research community so you're on very thin ice with a few of your statements.
This sentence is a problem: However, to this day, there exists no cold fusion demonstration experiment. You know just as well as I that if there were a demonstration experiment that were publicly known, it would have been on the front page of the NYT -yesterday. You're asking for trouble with it and I know you better than to think you are someone who is being intentionally provocative. Why don't you drop the sentence? I don't see what it gains for you except to display unfavorable characteristics.
This sentence is correct and helpful: the cold fusion phenomenon is extremely difficult to reproduce.
This sentence is a problem: There is no experimental recipe that will yield positive excess heat results even 50% of the time. You cannot speak from a position of absolute authority - nor can I. It is erroneous and offensive if you would consider doing so. I presume you are just not aware of the sensitivities of text and editing. You could make this change to it and have a completely better effect: ETI is not aware of an experimental recipe that will yield positive excess heat results on a regular basis.
This sentence is a problem: This situation greatly hampers cold fusion research and, in the eyes of some, supports the possibility that the cold fusion phenomenon does not actually exist. This sentence is shallow and biased. First of all, the fact that it is difficult to repeat and replicate does not hamper the research, it hampers only the commercial viability of the work. The fact that it's a difficult science problem means, drum roll please, it's a difficult science problem. Period. . . .
What hampers cold fusion research is 1) the fact that the claims are so astounding, people have difficulty considering it and its proponents seriously 2) an institutionalized set of myths http://www.newenergytimes.com/PR/CFMythsFacts.htm 3) a lack of significant funding http://newenergytimes.com/PR/FusionAdvantages.htm 4) a stigma that not only affects non-CMNS researchers but also those in the field. (For example, a researcher with the Naval Research Laboratory, was not permitted by his commanding officer to use the words "cold fusion" in his forthcoming paper, accepted in the Journal of Surface & Coatings Technology.) This is the real cold fusion problem: http://newenergytimes.com/Reports/ColdFusionProblem.htm .
Responding to someone else Jed Rothwell wrote: This is true, but there are any number of indisputable experiments (not demonstrations). The Iwamura experiment is indisputable, 100% reproducible, and it has been independently replicated and independently confirmed by examining the isotopes. But it cannot be run by anyone in front of a crowd of people at a conference.
It should be noted that most scientific experiments and industrial processes cannot be demonstrated. You cannot demonstrate a Tokamak plasma fusion reactor, a steel mill or a new computer chip fabrication machine, but nobody claims these things do not exist. I think this demand for a demonstration to prove the effect is real is absurd, and a demonstration would not convince a single one of the pathological skeptics. Even though a demonstration would add nothing to believability or scientific validity, it would still be valuable, for other reasons:
As Storms pointed out, easy reproducibility would be a huge advantage because it would allow more research, and it would be a step toward commercialization. A demonstration would convince many people who are not pathological skeptics. These people are not scientists and they do not understand the ABCs of the scientific method. If they did, they would be convinced already. However, it would be great to win their support. A demonstration might also convince investors to fund research. Some of these investors are convinced that cold fusion is real, but they do not think it has near-term profit potential. (I agree with them.).
Responding to someone else Scott wrote: I appreciate your thoughts. Yes, the title could have been better, but it is not nonsensical. The paper is a report on my efforts in testing energy claims and all of those tests have turned out negative...i.e. null. Here's the abstract for the paper (remember the audience is a bunch of aerospace types):
Null tests of breakthrough energy claims
Mankind desperately needs a better source of energy both for space travel and for terrestrial uses. This need spawns invention and claims of new energy devices abound. A number of such devices have been evaluated, with a singular lack of success. Interesting case histories are presented with the goal of promoting a better
understanding of the problems encountered in the evaluation of energy devices.
Much of the report deals with our efforts to extract energy from the zero-point field. But I feel that our efforts in cold fusion also deserve mention, mainly because cold fusion has such enormous potential value to mankind. I'm not saying cold fusion is bogus but I want the audience to realize where it really is today and to appreciate some of the difficulties in the way of progress in the field.
Replying to another message from Scott, Jed wrote: . . . As you have often done in the past, you are putting your own personal experience and your own personal skills above the whole history of science and technology, and above the textbook basis of the scientific method, and about the expertise of thousands of professionals. You were saying that because you personally have often made experimental errors, or seen other people make them, you think it is plausible that 500 to 1000 professional scientists worldwide over a 17 years have made error after error in observing high sigma data. You think that the people at BARC, who are world-class experts in detecting tritium, may have been wrong, even though they used three different instruments types and made hundreds of autoradiographs. For some utterly inexplicable reason there was no tritium. Every major method of detecting tritium developed over the last 100 years was repeated by three different divisions within BARC. Tritium was detected at thousands of times over background. You can see that for yourself: the autoradiograph was black. Yet it was all a mistake! All of these methods failed utterly, and nobody noticed. The safety division experts failed, even thought their very lives depend upon detecting tritium at much lower concentrations, and even though they have devoted their careers to dealing with tritium. You give no reason -- but you think they are wrong. Plus you really, honestly, seriously think that Fritz Will, Bockris, and Storms and 100 others were also wrong about the tritium they detected.
And you base this assertion entirely on your own personal experience! That is not a defensible point of view. Frankly I do not know what to make of it. It appears to be blind self-assurance based on overweening chutzpah. It is not rational. It is not falsifiable. It is not a scientific point of view by any standard. No textbook or philosophy of science treatise gives you even the slightest grounds for advocating this bizarre notion that hundreds of replicated experiments might be wrong.. . .
In another message Scott wrote: My apologies to the list owners. Thanks for the constructive criticism. Please resume productive usage of this list. And here is the last message from Jed: Let us be clear about this. In this exchange Scott Little represents the voice of the self-willed, self-satisfied, and self-deluded -- people like Close and Huizenga who betrayed science, and those who never understood it in the first place. They are the outcasts. We are the mainstream. They trash tradition and ignore precedent. We uphold tradition. They offer no falsifiable argument and they make assertions without evidence, while we publish irrefutable autoradiographs and data from hundreds of experiments. They are the perpetual motion machine fanatics, not us.
Little has made important contributions to cold fusion, and he is smart and capable, but in this case he fails to understand the bedrock principle of the scientific method: that replicated experiments are the only standard of truth. No one can second guess autoradiographs and instrument readings. No one can dispute them or outvote them, or claim on the basis of his own experience and gut feelings that they may be wrong. If you allow subjective personal experience to overrule facts, you open to the door to chaos. No question will be settled conclusively.
By every standard and by all the traditions of science, we stand on the inside and they are outside. Because the times are out of joint, and because the barbarians at Nature have temporarily taken over mainstream science, people do not see it that way. But Schwinger, Fleischmann, Gerisher and the others are right, and Nature is wrong.
And my last comment on this thread was extracted from a message on global warming. That message appeared on Phys-L discussion list for physics teachers.
"As every lawyer knows, it is always possible to make an argument on any side of any proposition. As many physicists know, not all such arguments are credible."
Earlier in the thread I wrote that a simple Mizuno-type cell (Glow Discharge Plasma Electrolysis) seem to be the best candidate for a demo. Somebody also made this suggestion. To which I responded by showing this:
List of successful replications of Mizino-type excess heat:
1) J.L. Naudin see his website --> http://jlnlabs.imars.com/cfr/
2) V. D. Cirillo et al. see their ICCF11 report
3) J.F. Fauvarque et al. see their ICCF12 report
4) R. Slaughter et al. Colorado2 experiment (we are working on the report)
5) J.F. Fauvarque et al. -- Paris2 (preliminary results after Colorado2)
6) University Labs in Japan
Experiments in preparation or in progress:
7) R.Slaugther -- Colorado3 (preliminary observations of excess heat)
8) J.P. Biberian -- Marselles1
9) J.F. Fauvarque et al. + another lab at CNAM -- Paris3
10) S. Little -- Texas2
What about your lab? I am not going to list names; many researchers on this list are highly qualified to replicate Mizuno-type experiments. And some are likely to have what is needed. Working on nearly identical experiments, and sharing results from our non-patent-motivated work, we are likely to promote the CMNS field faster than working on separate experiments and keeping things secret. Naturally, one must be aware of possible dangers, as described earlier on this thread.
Click to see the list of links