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328) Recent observations and comments

Ludwik Kowalski; 5/14/2007
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

1) My second replication experiment, described in the unit #327, is in progress. It will run for many weeks. It is remarkable how reproducible everything is, as far the experiment is concerned. The current remains stable, as it should, but the cell potential decreases slowly as more and more water is lost by the electrolyte. Relicability of that kind is expect from all experiments in physical sciences -- one does the same things and results are the same. Some fluctuations are unavoidable because of the limited precision of our instruments. But will I see at least as many clusters in my second experiment as I saw in the first? That remains to be seen.

2) Here is what Scott Little wrote, about ten days ago, about excess heat on a private list for CMNS researchers. “[Someone asked how confident are we that the high rates of excess heat are real and nuclear?] In our case, not confident at all. We have never seen a real excess heat signal in our lab. But we have seen plenty of calorimeter artifacts that could easily be mistaken for excess heat signals. In a depressingly small number of cases, we have had the opportunity to perform our measurements side-by-side with the original investigator. In these cases alone we were usually able to pinpoint the error that led to the original excess heat claim. In a few instances, "the effect" would not appear while we were waiting to measure it. In the rest of the cases, all we can really say is that the experiment didn't work when we tried it. Our website contains a number of reports of these null results. Some people have accused us of trying to disprove cold fusion. That's ridiculous. Cold fusion does not need any help from us to continue being largely ignored by mainstream science.

What cold fusion really needs is a reliable demonstration experiment. That's what Ludwik Kowalski has been trying to find for several years now. We worked closely with him to see if Mizuno's incandescent W experiment (a la Clauzon et al) would do the trick. It didn't. That's what the Galileo Project was trying to establish. It didn't...or hasn't yet. That's what we are still pursuing right now in cooperation with Richard Oriani who continues to see relatively low level positive results from his PACA CR-39 experiments. That's why we continue to maintain our high performance calorimeter, MOAC, in good working condition so that cold fusion researchers can take advantage of our standing offer to test promising cold fusion cells free of charge.

Why go to all this trouble if we've never seen any real signs of cold fusion? Simple. If cold fusion is real, it will be of enormous importance to mankind. Lots of discoveries in science have come only after years of searching. Despite all our null results we still have some hope. But I also think that there is a finite chance that all of the apparently positive results that have been observed in cold fusion experiments are erroneous....i.e. the result of various artifacts. I know, it's hard to imagine how so many intelligent researchers could all be making such measurement errors. But it would at least explain the notorious difficulty of replication that cold fusion suffers.. . .”

3) In message, posted a little earlier, another CMNS researcher, Jacques Dufour, observed: “. . . . It is very difficult to make a table containing ALL the result, because researchers have a natural tendency not to take into account unexpected results, just because they think that their experiment has to be improved. This is apparently perfectly honest, but we cannot exclude that the unexpected results are in fact true. . . . “ I find this observation very interesting. Not reporting results which cannot be trusted due to mistakes is natural and desirable. But this should be true for all results, not only for results conflicting with expectations. Otherwise the “perfectly honest” is indeed only apparent. It is very difficult to be perfectly objective. That is why all important claims should be checked in different laboratories.

4) At the end of his message John Fisher wrote “ I certainly believe that Oriani's O-rings contained radioactivity. It is this radioactivity, occasionally releasing polyneutrons, that ignites a reaction in a new setup.” Hmm, I have two comments about this. Here what I posted on the private discussion list for CMNS researchers:

(a) The term radioactivity is well defined. In the context of our task, it stands for the emission of alpha particles from substances such as radium, radon, uranium, etc. John is using the same term for something different. I have seen a lot of unnecessary debates due to the fact that people assign different meanings to the same word. Perhaps John’s process (releasing of polyneutrons) deserves a different term, at least for the time being. My suggestion is to use the noncommittal term NAE (Nuclear Active Environment), invented by Ed Storms.

(b) What is the best strategy to convince mainstream scientists that CANR are real? I think that the issue is worth discussing. My advice would be to ask all theoreticians -- including John, whose theory inspired the protocol based on starters -- not to inject theoretical interpretations until facts are recognized as real. Remember what happened in 1989. Instead of focusing on real experimental facts (generation of excess heat) discussion quickly shifted to theoretical considerations, such as coulomb barrier, expectations based on wrong models, etc. It would be much better if the F&P phenomenon was called UEH (unexplained excess heat) rather than CF (cold fusion), until the reality of UEH were recognized by all scientists.

If it were up to me I would recommend focusing on our new experimental facts. Let us agree that clusters of tracks are not due to artifacts, such as radioactivity or cosmic rays. Let us agree that clusters are likely to be due to unexplained nuclear projectiles (UNP). Then let us try to convince others that UNP are real. Trying to mix experimental facts with theories might backfire again. We want people to look at our experimental data; we want them to perform experiments; we do not want the debate to shift toward the as-yet-unaccepted ideas, such as polyneutrons, etc. I know it is a touchy issue. Theoreticians do not want to be told what to do, what to publish and how long to wait. And we all believe that pure empiricism is not science. Theoretical debates are essential. But, like other powerful tools, theories can have both positive and negative effects. I am afraid that premature theoretical considerations can produce more harm than good at this delicate stage. What do other people think?

5) In another message I wrote: I am not suggesting another acronym but in the future CANR might be replaced by CEMANA (chemically, electrically and mechanically assisted nuclear activities). In my mind forced diffusion of deuterium, like in Iwamura's experiments, is a mechanical process. And the term "activity" is less restrictive than the term "reaction." Alpha radioactivity of uranium, for example, is not a reaction. I suspect that clusters are produced in bursts of activity. A silicon detector, connected to a scalar (or to a MCA) would be an ideal tool for checking this hypothesis.
I my opinion elementary events should be clusters of tracks, not individual tracks. What kind of artifact can possibly be responsible for a cluster? Natural alpha radioactivity from point-like sources. Control experiments, to test for absence radioactivity, are not difficult and we make them routinely. As suggested by someone else, cosmic rays do not produce clusters at the rate of several per week. Such clusters would have been discovered by CR-39 dosimetrists long time ago. If it was not for the widespread prejudice, and for significance of our claim, our data would be sufficient to convince all honest skeptics.

6) Here is how John Fisher responded to my suggestion about short-term strategy: “ The idea that neutral particles of a novel type play a role in CANR reactions has proved fruitful. It encouraged Oriani to look for and find charged particles generated in the vapor over the electrolyte in an electrolysis cell (ICCF11). It encouraged Oriani to look for and find charged particles generated in the air beyond the cell wall (ICCF11). It prompted the suggestion that a bit of material exposed to the reaction in one laboratory might serve as a starter for igniting a reaction in another laboratory. Whether or not polyneutron theory is correct, it has proven to be useful by suggesting these procedures. Progress is faster when theory and experiment go hand in hand. They learn from each other and they teach each other. It would be a mistake for theoreticians to remain silent.”

7) Replying to the above, X wrote: “Well said John. Scientific method although surprisingly rarely employed in any field has pretty good parentage and has scored some notable successes.  As I understand it one should operate with a tight and closed loop connecting experiment and theory; it is a symbiotic process.  The only reason to perform an experiment is to test a(n) hypothesis*.  I suppose that means that the only reason to formulate a(n) hypothesis is to define conditions of an experiment.”

8) And here is what I wrote about the above comment: In the final analysis, X is correct. The long-term goal is to know what happens, and to understand it in terms of what is already known and accepted. My suggestion had to do with strategy. It is better to first offer what is easier to defend. Experimental data are easier to defend than polyneutrons. But I am only an observer. Let us hope that the 1989 situation does not repeat itself. I am afraid that people will start discussing polyneutrons instead of performing and discussing experiments. I will be easier to defend polyneutrons after existence of clusters, predicted by John Fisher, is accepted by mainstream scientists.

9) Responding to my comment William Collis posted this message: “Yes it will indeed be easier to defend poly-neutrons. As someone who has defended that point of view since I first heard John Fisher's presentation on the subject at ICCF4 in 1993, that will be a relief! In those days, there were very few explanations other than variations on d-d fusion. I'll confess I was subject a certain amount of ridicule when I made a presentation on it in 1994 (at Siena, Italy)! Having said that, it may well be that the poly-neutron theory is wrong, almost certainly in detail, quite possibly in the basics. The theoretical question we need to ask is, "What are the minimum characteristics necessary for these neutral particles in order to explain clusters, hot-spots, seeding, transmutations, helium, tritium, neutrons and few penetrating Xrays / gammas? That's quite a tall order!

I've taken you up on your challenge to write a tutorial on another class of Exotic Neutral Particles (ENP) - Bazhutov's Erzions and I shall include in my ICCF13 paper. I dare say that come the Catania Workshop in October I shall make some drastic changes to the Bazhutov's parameters which will satisfactorily explain the lack of detectable beta decay (no Bremstrahlung, no gammas) which is currently a problem. No model is perfect. It may be that a fusion of multiple ideas will be closer to the truth. Or it may be that magnetic monopoles are the elusive ENPs we are searching for. What we need, is theoretical guidance on how to distinguish these models experimentally. Both Erzion and poly-neutron theory suggest that beryllium should be an excellent fuel and generate energetic alphas. (Why not place a Be foil on the CR39?). You can distinguish the 2 models by examining the Be with a geiger counter afterwards (I won't tell you what to expect!)”

10) Replying to a suggestion, made by another CMNS researcher, to modify our experiment, I wrote: “I think that this is a good idea, as far as trying to understand what is going on is concerned. But that is not what our primary goal should be at this time, in my opinion. The short-term goal should be to convince ourselves, and then to convince others, that what has already been discovered is a new kind of nuclear activity induced by a chemical process, rather than an artifact of some kind. In that context, attempts to replicate identical experiments by eight TGP teams, and by other CMNS researchers, seem to be more important. My suggestion is to focus on potential artifacts in existing setups. Knowing what is going on seems to be more important, in the present situation, than trying to understand it. The coordinated assault should continue. Do you agree?

11) Responding to the above, Andrew Muelenberg wrtote: “Yes and no! While confirming an effect is high priority in the present context, understanding what is going on may make a major impact of establishing the critical conditions for reproducibility. It may make a difference as to how the work is received. It is easy for us back seat drivers to make suggestions on how the experimenters should use their time. If we can usefully contribute time / money / moral support / theories, then we can make suggestions. The extra chips are cheap, easy to place, and would not change the present operations.  However, they do require documentation and "reading." Both of those items cost the experimenter dearly. Are there areas in which the experimenters would like or could use assistance? “

12) Yesterday I suggested: let us produce a list of potential artifacts, as far as clusters are concerned. Then we can discussed experiments that will help us to demonstrate that what is observed is not an artifact. Clusters are "easier to sell" than uniform distributions (that are not much more intense than the background). . . .

13) I already commented on what William Collis wrote. Let me add to this. It is always more desirable to explain facts in terms of what has already been accepted. Explaining facts in terms of unexplained ideas seems to be counterproductive. But this is not something unheard of. I am thinking about the famous paradox of missing energy in beta decay. Calorimetric measurements of mean energies per beta particle, conducted in 1930s, were not consistent with the law of conservation of energy. To explain these experimental results, Pauli invented neutrino, a particle of negligible mass that carries the missing energy. I suppose that many people had reservations about this, just like many of us resist explanations based on polyneutrons, erzions and magnetic monopoles. But Pauli’s hypothesis was eventually shown to be correct by Cowan and Reins (1950’s).

In my opinion, people who are not fluent in advanced physics, like myself, are not in good position to validate exotic theoretical speculations. But most of us are interested in what high caliber experts think about explanations based on ad hoc assumptions. Explanations will be validated not only on the basis of their logical correctness but also, and mostly, on the basis of experimental facts. But first reality and reproducibility of facts should be recognized by mainstream scientists.

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