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323) Defending the unit 319 conclusion

Ludwik Kowalski; 4/14/2007
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, 07043

The note shown below was sent, on April 6, 2007, to the Editor of New Energy Times, Steve Krivit. I wanted it to be published in the next issue of that online journal. The last sentence was: “Your help in improving style will be appreciated.” Unlike my previous short submission, described in unit #321, the second note was tentatively accepted by Krivit. But I decided to withdraw it, as explained below. Why do I elaborate on this episode? Because I believe that some readers might be interested.

Addressing our controversy

Ludwik Kowalski; 4/6/2007
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, 07043

In item 10 of the March 2007 issue, referring to my APS report, Steve Krivit wrote: “In Ludwik's case, we have a result that appears positive, yet he purports it to be negative. Neither case is beneficial to science, and neither case should be permitted to go unchecked.” The purpose of this note is to respond to this by describing the outcome of a new experiment. But first let me thank Steve for the last four photos in:

The photos were made by SPAWAR researchers. The two right-hand pictures clearly confirm my statement about relative sizes of pits. My post-electrolysis chips are again about 2.5 times larger than pits due to our alpha particles, under identical etching conditions. The two left-hand pictures show that for the SPAWAR chips the ratio was close to 1.7. That lower ratio also supports my claim, as shown in:

The main issue is not the experimental facts (relative sizes of pits); it is their interpretation. That interpretation, as explained at the above webpage, is based on the CR-39 calibration curve of Russian scientists. That curve does not cover the region of very low energies. Steve apparently believes that the CR-39 calibration curve, for alpha particles, continues to go up when E goes down at very low energies. If this were true then I would agree with him and admit that the conclusion was tentative.

But I am a nuclear physicist and I know how density of ionization changes with energies of alpha particles. On that basis the dashed line was drawn in Figure 8 of the above webpage. On April 5, 2007, I performed an additional experiment; it confirms, qualitatively, that Steve’s expectation does not agree with reality. The diameters of pits do not rapidly increase when energies of alpha particles become very small. In that experiment very thin mylar foils were used to reduce energies of alpha particles, in small steps. Chips irradiated with alpha particles of several energies were etched together and their diameters were compared. No rapid increase in diameters was observed at very low energies.

This constitutes an additional validation of my main conclusion -- prominent large pits on post-electrolysis chips cannot possibly be due to alpha particles, to directly emitted protons, or to protons “kicked” by neutrons. Please note that I am referring to prominent pits only. I have good reasons to believe that tracks due to nuclear particles are also present on post-electrolysis chips. But these tracks are not as numerous as pits whose diameters we measured. Will this expectation be confirmed by those who are now addressing the issue? That remains to be seen.

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The reply from the editor came on April, 11, 2007. It was a suggestion that I make some changes, as shown below. Krivit wrote:

“Please attend to all of these required changes if you wish us to publish your letter.

1. You must explicitly refer to text or data that I wrote in my report regarding calibration curves, not what you think I believe.
3. If you wish to critique what I wrote in my March 16 article, you must do so only with what was known at the time, not what you have learned afterwards, because that would become an extension of the discussion, not a direct rebuttal.
4. If you wish to refer to data or results of experiments in your rebuttal you must include only that which has been presented in a legitimate science conference or journal publication.
5. If you want to discuss pit size, you must provide a scaled image, as well as an image of that area which shows the relative size of such pits that support your distinction of "dominant" pits.
6. In your presentation, you stated your conclusion, "analysis of our single experiment does not support the idea that dominant pits, on our CR-39 chips, are tracks of alpha particles, or less massive nuclear projectiles." In your letter of 6 April you stated it differently, "prominent large pits on post-electrolysis chips cannot possibly be due to alpha particles, to directly emitted protons, or to protons “kicked” by neutrons." Please explain why, in your presentation, you did not state that the pits could be from more massive nuclear particles. Since your 6 April letter uses the absolute characterization, "cannot possibly be," please provide absolute proof that the tracks cannot be caused by protons kicked by neutrons.”

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Here is my reply to the editor, followed by comments on the above requirements.

1) You are asking too much for a little comment.
2) I do not think that it is worth our time to improve the draft. I will post it on my website.
3) To explain why I decided to withdraw the draft I would like to say something like this:

This piece was submitted as a note to be published in the New Energy Times. The letter was conditionally accepted but I decided to withdraw the submission. The alternative would be to spend more time on it in order to satisfy several preconditions, as explained to me by the editor. . . .

I asked for permission to quote the editor’s reply and it was given to me today. The first precondition would be easy to to satisfy. I do not know what the second precondition was. But it does not matter because it was already deleted by the author. Now about the third precondition. No, I do not wish to critique what Steve wrote, I wish to inform readers that new information supports my claim. I think that “an extension of the discussion” is much more important than pointing fingers at each other. What is wrong with leaning on factor 1.7 which was recently inserted into Steve’s March publication? By the way, insertions should be dated. I was not aware that I was addressing an insertion and not the original text. I am glad that SPAWAR people also reported that dominant pits are much larger than pits due to alpha particles.

The fourth precondition points to the policy of the journal. According to <>, NET “contains all the latest low energy nuclear reaction news and developments from around the world, as well as meaningful analysis and expert perspective.” That makes it an appropriate place to submit a very short note directly related to The Galileo Project. The author of the recent article, the editor himself, wrote about my contribution. That prompted me to collect more experimental data and show that they also support the conclusion criticized by the author. I would also be happy to report that emission of nuclear particles resulting from a chemical process has been identified. Yes, my new results were not published elsewhere because I expected the NET to be the most appropriate place for this. First I posted the result on a list for CMNS researchers, expecting some criticism. No potential errors were identified. That encouraged me to publish the results at my own website. But, after some hesitation, I decided to share them with readers of New Energy Times. After all, I was addressing Steve’s NET accusation that “Ludwik's conclusion at the APS conference does not appear to be supported by fact.”

As far as precondition five is concerned, I was referring to photos and pit sizes that were already shown in Steve’s publication. The last precondition can be split into two parts. What was initially called “less massive particles” is now qualified (by me) as protons that are emitted directly or are kicked by neutrons. Where is the conflict? The idea of “more massive nuclear particles,” such as recoils from collisions with neutrons, was introduced by Larry Forsley. Why should I be addressing it while defending a statement about alpha particles and lighter projectiles? The second part of the last precondition has to do with the “absolute proof.” I know what a proof in mathematics is. But what is an absolute proof in experimental science? Results of measurements can be more or less reliable but not absolute. The same is true about conclusions based on experimental data.

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Inserted on 4/20/07
The Galileo Project Team #2 posted their results at I know that other GPT reams, and the SPAWAR team, are still conducting their experiments. When will their results be known? Contrary to our results, the team #2 was not able to replicate the magnetic field effect. They did much more work than we did. But they used CR-39 that was purchased 4 years ago. That might be responsible for some differences. It would be better if all TGP teams were supplied with CR-39 from the same batch. Yes, it is easy to be smart in retrospect.

The space below is reserved for comments, if any, on my letter to the editor, and on what I wrote about his preconditions. Please send them to me at:

<> .

One does not need thin foils to verify that diameters of pits do not become very large at very small energies. The experiment can be conducted in air by changing the distance between the source and the CR-39 detector, up to about 60 mm. The well known range-energy relation for alpha particles can be used to calculate the average energy at each distance. The only disadvantage of this method, in comparison with the use of thin foils, is that exposure times for long distances must be much longer than for short distances, according to the 1/r2 law. This can be a very inexpensive student research project. Here are mean energies at different distances, at STP, for alpha particles of 5.5 MeV

Dist (mm) - - -Energy (MeV):
.0 - - - - - - - - - - -5.5
10 - - - - - - - - - - 4.5
20 - - - - - - - - - - 3.5
30 - - - - - - - - - - 2.3
40 - - - - - - - - - - 1.1
43 - - - - - - - - - - 0.0

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