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384) Loose Ends

Ludwik Kowalski

Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA
November 7, 2009

1) I did not participate in ICCF15 which took place in Rome last month. Next International Cold Fusion Conference, ICCF16, will be in India, in February, 2011.

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Even the Pope is up to date on our research (photographed by F.D.).

2) A journalist, specializing in history of CMNS, Marianne Macy, published an interesting article about ICCF15:

I was fascinated by the recovery of Martin Fleischmann, resulting from medical treatment by Irving Dardik. Dardik is an American physician who believes that CMNS phenomena can be induced by super waves (electric current of a complex frequency distribution). I heard him speaking about this at ICCF14. He has been using super waves to treat patients for many years. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Martin Fleischmann was in rather poor shape recently.

According to Macy, It took a year for Martin Fleischmann to make the decision to come to the U.S. to work with Irv Dardik. When arrangements were made for the trip, Fleischmann had classic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and could not fly. He and his wife Sheila boarded the Queen Mary in June 2009 to sail to New York. By the time he flew back to England, it was a less than a week until ICCF15 began. In the three months of his stay, he had worked with Irv Dardik and his team faithfully. “I never saw Martin say, ‘I can’t do it, I’m going back to bed,’” Dardik related.

Fleischmann’s daughter Vanessa, who had “not expected much,” was struck by the change when she saw her father this fall. “It’s as if we are going back in time some years,” she said. Fleischmann committed to having local trainers and supervisors continue his program from his home in England, working with the Dardik Institute via a computer setup. Martin Fleischmann, exposed to a flu before he left the U.S., was tired when he returned to England on September 29. He went to bed and rested for a few days. But at the end of the week, he got on a plane again, this time to Rome.

3) There was a brief exchange of messages about the so-called zero-point energy, at a private Internet discussion list. A.M. wrote: “I am dubious about getting useful energy from the ZPE (just as I'm not sure that you can get useful energy from the thermal motion that drives Brownian motion - and for the same reasons).” S.L. added: “We've spent a lot of time considering the possibility of extracting energy from the vacuum.  It is important to realize that the same physics (QM, QED) that predicts the existence of the zero-point field also forbids the extraction of energy from it. Specifically, the ZPF is the lowest allowable energy state of the vacuum.”

4) At the same time I received a private message from Ken Schoulders, the author of numerous articles about tiny clusters of zillions of electrons, named EVs. His most recent manuscript can be downloaded (it might take a minute or so) from

Ken believes that electric sparks consist of such clusters. This is another topic which does not belong to CMNS. I do not see benefits from explaining one controversy (a nuclear effect due to electrolysis) with another (existence of EVs). I think that each effect should be studied independently, at least at this stage of knowledge. In any case, I am not equipped to study EVs. What keeps zillions of electrons together?”

Responding to this, Ed. Storms wrote:
You advise not involving the unknown EVO in cold fusion because you can't understand how so many electrons can be held together. Cold fusion has a similar problem.  No one can understand how the Coulomb barrier is reduced enough to allow such a high reaction rate.  I think we should consider   that a relationship exists between these two phenomenon, not just that both are unaccepted.  Both require a process that offsets or   neutralizes an electronic charge.   In the case of an EVO, the neutralized charge is negative, while it is positive in the case of CF.  In both cases, the charged particles are able to get unnaturally close to each other.  In the case of CF, this close approach allows a   nuclear reaction to take place, which is not possible in the case of electrons.  In addition, It is easy to imagine that the presence of an  EVO might help neutralize the charge between nuclei and help cause a nuclear reaction. In fact, Ken's observations suggest such a process.

On another topic, I would like to know how people view such speculations as done above. Is this theory or just BS?  Where does BS end and theory begin? Does theory always have to involve math?  If so, what is the value of math that is applied to the wrong mechanism and conditions because such ideas as above were ignored?

Ludwik Kowalski responded:
Ed's speculation is interesting. In my opinion speculations, even dreams, etc. are worth sharing. They can be, and probably often are, powerful motivational factors. That is why I do not think the vulgar BS term is an appropriate descriptor. But loose speculations are not part of our acceptable scientific validation process.

Let me refer to a well known example. Calorimetric measurements, in 1930s, revealed that the amount of thermal energy released in beta decay is much lower that what was expected. That prompted Pauli to predict existence of neutrinos. Was his publication only a speculation (motivation for the 1940's experiments in which neutrinos coming from a nuclear reactor were discovered) or was it part of an acceptable validation process? I agree with Ed that this topic is worth discussing.

Andrew Meulenberg wrote:
Ludwik, I partially agree and partially disagree.
(1) Dreams and fantasies can be very powerful motivators; but, they can also be very dangerous to the dreamer who can't cut loose or distinguish them from reality. (2) Sharing dreams is more often negative because most listeners can't see the same picture and thus respond appropriately (3) Remember, BS is good fertilizer. However, it does no good just to sit on it. You have to spread it around (in the proper places).

Another CMNS researcher added:
Why vulgar? Ed was probably referring to Bold Speculations.

Ed clarified:
I was actually referring to Bad Speculations. :-)

Ludwik added:
Bold scientists make bold speculations while bad scientists make bad speculations. But what kind of speculations are made by bogus scientists. How to distinguish bogus speculations from those that are useful? This seems to be the essence of Ed's question.

Ed Storms wrote:
The issue is how to separate loose speculation from usefulspeculation, as your example below describes.  I submit that all theory starts with speculation.  The speculation shows where to look for the operation of a mechanism or what kind of mechanism is worth exploring with various mathematical tools.  I get the impression that speculation is called a theory only after math has been applied even though the math adds nothing but a restatement of the speculation. In fact, most of the math in  "theories" applied to CF are simply a restatement of the basic assumption. The fact that such a mathematical restatement is possible is used as "proof" that the initial assumption is correct. People then attempt to calculate reaction rates based on this approach. However, the results are impossible to apply to observation because in the real world,  conditions are not uniform or  under control.  Consequently, it is impossible to test such a theory.

I propose a different approach. Enough is now known about the phenomenon to make logical deductions.  These deductions reveal where the nuclear events are occurring, some of the conditions that must exist at these sites, and information about the mechanism.  When does   such an approach rise to the level of theory?

Akito Takahashi wrote:
Does theory always have to involve math? Who can make quantitative estimates without any mathematics? I have no other ideas than believing that mathematics is indispensable to make a theory "plausible". We have no other tools than mathematics (primitive or elegant does not matter) for quantitative estimates. However, it does not always mean that the usage of mathematics makes up theory so beautiful and complete. We need cross-checking its consistency from many angles. The quantification of a theory makes the cross-checking clear and definitive. . . .

Ed Storms responded:
I agree, Akito, math is necessary to make quantitative estimates. But is it necessary for an idea to be called theory? For example, is it necessary to apply math before plate tectonics or Darwin's Theory of Evolution are called theories? More to the point, must math be applied before a proposed mechanism about where and how cold fusion operates is called a theory?  For example, at ICCF-15 I proposed a mechanism for cold fusion but in many minds this does not rise to the level of theory. Why not?

You have raised another question - how does a person judge whether an idea is plausible or not? Math can take two roles: it can be the entire basis for a model or it can be used to compare a proposed mechanism to other measurements. In the first case, the ability to achieve internal mathematical consistency alone is used as a demonstration that the initial assumption is correct. String theory comes to mind as an extreme example. In the latter case, the theory is considered correct only when the math shows quantitative consistency with many independent measurements. The theories of thermodynamics are good examples of this approach.

The problem is that math alone does not make a theory plausible. For example, in the case of cold fusion, most math simply restates the initial assumption without adding anything new. Following the initial assumption, a series of ad hoc assumptions are made to move the math to the next level. I don't think this process adds plausibility even though it is necessary to explore a proposed mechanism.  To be clear, I do not object to this process. I'm only objecting to the process being used to add plausibility to a proposed idea. The initial idea is only plausible after it shows a quantitative relationship to many other kinds of measurements or makes exact predictions. In my  opinion, no theory in cold fusion has reached this level. I believe the basic reason we have this problem is because the mechanism and where this mechanism operates in a material have not been correctly identified.

You wrote” We have no other tools than mathematics (primitive or elegant does not matter) for quantitative estimates. However, it does not always mean that the usage of mathematics makes up theory so beautiful and complete. We need cross-checking its consistency from many angles. The quantification of a theory makes the cross-checking clear and definitive.” I agree. This process is necessary. The question is, at what point does a proposed model become plausible? When I ask this question, the answer has to apply to a person who has not proposed the initial idea. For a person to go to the considerable effort to develop a mathematical model, they must be certain in their own mind that the basic idea is correct.  Therefore, they have an important emotional stake in the idea being correct. This is natural and required for an idea to be fully defended, but it can result in conflict and differences of opinion that can never be resolved. As a result, discussion between advocates of particular models, theoreticians, is seldom productive.  . . .

Ludwik wrote:
1) It will probably be useful to separate arithmetic (use of numbers) from the rest of mathematics, such as calculus, etc.  Arithmetic is part of common language; it is widely used outside science. That is why a publication in which arithmetic is used is not necessarily scientific. 

2) To non-scientists the word "theory," often means "a questionable speculation."  It is only a theory, they often say. But we use this word differently. Scientists, for example, are often characterized as either experimentalists or theoreticians, depending on what tools they use to make discoveries, or to explain discoveries. Those whose primary tool is mathematics are called theoreticians; those who use other tools are called experimentalists. (This is not the only case in which a word means a different thing to a scientists and a non-scientist. ‘Force,’ ‘energy,’ and ‘power’ are commonly used interchangeably by non-scientists). 

3) In my definition, a law is a generalization of facts (for example, Kepler’s Laws).  Some laws, as emphasized by Ed, are qualitative while others are quantitative. A theory, in my definition, is an explanation of a law (for example, Newtons law of gravitation) or of a fact. It can also be either qualitative or quantitative.  A qualitative theory, as emphasized by Akito, is less useful than a quantitative one. 

4a) In the last paragraph Ed asked: "at what point does a proposed model become plausible?" I suppose that  the word "plausible" refers to a mathematical model "to be taken seriously."  Those who are not able to penetrate details of a model have no other choices than to rely on the authority of the author, or on the authority of those who say that no mathematical mistakes were found.  

4b) Note, however, that scientific theories, unlike mathematical models, are validated not only on the basis of their logical correctness but also on the basis of their ability to guide to discoveries of unknown facts. That how I understand Ed's statement that "math alone does not make a theory plausible." Experimentalists look for quantitative predictions of scientific theories and try to validate them with their own tools--laboratory instruments. I agree with what Ed often repeats--the value of a scientific theory depends on the number of verifiable predictions it makes. 

Ed responded:
1) I agree we can break math down, but I would not make the break where you place it. The models being applied to CF use a level of math much different from calculus, which I suggest is a form of   arithmetic. For example, I would put the Hamiltonians, Eigenfunctions, wavefunctions, and Schrodinger equation separate from calculus and arithmetic. These are based on concepts and assumptions about Nature and are not truly like calculus and arithmetic. In any case, these concepts seem to be an essential feature of anything that is called a theory in CF even though their use requires numerous ad hoc assumptions.

2) A theory only becomes useful and valuable when experimentalists verify it, yet theory seems to hold a higher role than experiment. We saw this approach operate when people rejected CF because they could not explain it.

3) Is being able to calculate a hypothetical reaction rate more valuable than being able to say that if you mix X with Y, the CF reaction will work better?

4a) Very few theories in CF have mathematical mistakes. The issue lies in the assumptions on which the math is based, which keep changing as objections are raised.

4b) That's right. A model is useful only when it guides work successfully. The model might even be incomplete, hence not plausible. My only goal in this discussion is to encourage people to show exactly how their model relates to the real world and to variables that can be modified   to have a beneficial effect. Short of that application, a model is only a  logical game.

Ludwik wrote (quoting (2) above:
a) History of CMNS would be very different if Fleischmann and Pons announced nothing more that the discovery of unexplained excess heat. In that case only qualified electrochemists would probably perform replication experiments. Confirmation of of the discovery would lead to theoretical speculations, most probably only by qualified theoreticians.  In other words,  influence of bogus experimentalists and bogus theoreticians, on the outcome of the validation process,  would probably be negligible. Premature speculations about nuclear origin of excess heat was a mistake with devastating consequences. 

b) Suppose I am clever or lucky to discover a new phenomenon. Suppose I suspect that it belongs to cold fusion field. I would keep the suspicion for myself. In a submitted paper I would describe the procedure and emphasize my inability to explain the results. (If the discovery were excess heat then I would have tried to convince readers that known chemical reactions are not responsible for it.)
c) If I were a theoretician I would not have tried to validate a theory with irreproducible experimental results. I would have only said that such and such assumptions lead to such and such consequences. That would be a mathematical model, not a scientific theory. Yes, I know that the word "theory" means different things to different people. Distinguishing a mathematical model from a scientific theory is probably useful. To turn a mathematical model into a scientific theory I would make verifiable predictions, hoping they will be confirmed by experimentalists. A model becomes a theory when it’s predictions are confirmed. This is not the same thing as “predicting” what is already known.

d) P.S. (on another thread):
I wish I were sufficiently knowledgeable to debate the topics mentioned by D.S. The only option I have is to trust high energy physicists. Reliance on authority of experts is much more common than most laymen believe. In fact, that is what makes today's science very different from what it was, for example, in the second half of 19th century.

e) P.P.S. (indirect measurements):
The repulsive force between two atomic nuclei (when their surfaces are separated by at least two fermi of empty space) is proportional to 1/r^2. How do we know this? By performing scattering experiments. Here is one example. Rutherford was observing alpha particles scattered by a thin gold foil. Assuming the Coulomb law is valid he derived a mathematical relation between the probability of scattering, P,  and the angle of scattering T. The theoretically calculated P turned out to be inversely proportional to [sin(T/2)]^4). This relation, and other theoretical relations, was confirmed by experimental data. 

Measuring one thing and theoretically inferring something else from it, can be called an indirect measurement of that “something else.” Another illustration is determination of the radius of an atom, also via the Rutherford scattering formula. What is actually measured is the angle at which the experimentally measured P becomes smaller than that predicted by the theoretical formula (derived under the assumption that the nuclear radius is zero). The “indirectly measured” atomic radius is calculated from that angle. Most measurements in atomic and subatomic physics are indirect. In other words, theoretical and experimental instruments are inter-linked in atomic and subatomic physics. Indirect measurements are also used in classical physics, for example, when radar is used to measure a distance.

John Fisher (who developed a CMNS theory described in units 227 and 364) wrote:
I have been asked several times to comment on LENR theories. Quantum mechanics has been developed and refined in hundreds of thousands of experiments and by tens of thousands of experimenters and theoreticians over a period of a hundred years. It is the most comprehensive and quantitatively accurate description of nature ever achieved. A truly remarkable accomplishment of humanity. I accept quantum mechanics as the basic and essential framework for understanding the physical world, including LENR. Experiments beginning with Fleischmann and Pons have persuaded me that the LENR phenomena are real, that they indicate nuclear reactions of a previously unappreciated nature, and that they offer promise of potential social benefits. I have been searching for an interpretation of these phenomena that can explain what has been observed, and that will predict what can be observed in future experiments. Quantum mechanics provides the basic methodology, and I do not consider any theory that is in conflict with it.

Ed Storms responded:
1) John, quantum mechanics is a very broad field with many variations and assumptions, some of which are not universally accepted. While I agree, the basic idea needs to be accepted and used, the problem comes in the details. Just how should QM be applied? What if a novel electron energy level or state is required to explain CF, but this has not been considered by QM, hence is rejected. Should this rejection be ignored?  

2)QM has been very successful in describing the hydrogen atom. However, it has less success in describing other atoms without using ad hoc assumptions.

3)Which assumptions should be accepted and which should be rejected? On what basis should the choice be made? These are the questions I'm trying to answer.

John Fisher responded (point by point):
1) A state that has previously been considered by QM and rejected should continue to be rejected even if "needed" for LENR. A state that has not previously been considered by QM should be considered. It can be tentatively accepted while its QM implications are explored. Depending on whether the QM implications agree or disagree with observation, its tentative acceptance may be strengthened, or it may be rejected as failing to agree with observation. This is how much of our understanding of nuclear physics has been accumulated.

2) The assumptions behind the theory of the periodic table of elements are not ad hoc. They are the same assumptions as for the hydrogen atom. However the determination of physical parameters has usually been done by experiment rather than by theory because experiment is so much easier. (As an example from nuclear physics one needs to know the masses of the various isotopes in order to calculate the energetics of nuclear reactions. We use measured masses because we do not have the computing power to calculate them.)

3) An assumption should be rejected if its QM implications disagree with observation. Otherwise it can be tentatively accepted until further observations with broader implications may lead to disagreement and rejection. If the proposer is skilled or lucky his assumption may never lead to disagreement with observation and may win enduring acceptance.

Andrew Meulenberg wrote (addressing John Fisher):
. . . Thus QM, is not wrong. It is just not self sufficient. As Ed has stated, it depends on what is put into the model. One extreme is GIGO - garbage in, garbage (or, as Dean would say, Quarks) out. The other extreme, just as bad, is to not allow new ideas in. [Dean is a CMNS researcher who wrote that the idea of quarks is nonsensical.]

Ed Storm wrote: (addressing Tom Barnard.)
I'm trying to think of some way to get through this impasse.  I have found trying to critique a theory with some one who has a committed view to be impossible.  The logic structure is complete in their mind.  Like a builder, each beam and brick has its place and a failure of any part threatens the whole structure. Consequently, no part can be recognized as being in error. The result is an  increasingly detailed argument about increasingly small details until the big picture is lost and patience runs out.   I have also discovered that QM can be molded to fit almost any notion about reality and to arrive at almost any conclusion.  If you examine the many ways other people have used this tool to explain CF, you will see what I mean. To add to the problem, different people have different ways of explaining the same ideas in QM.  As a result, a lot of time has to be invested to discover just what is being said. Furthermore, QM is not the only way, or perhaps the best way, to describe CF, at least not in its pure form. So, rather than beat a theory to death, my attention is directed mostly to discover just what is known so that we all have a common reality to which the theories can be compared. . . .

Attempts to turn a mathematical model into a scientific theory are usually made after at least one experimental result is recognized as reproducible on demand. That is why I would replace the term “a common reality,” in the last sentence above, by “a reproducible on demand experimental result.”

Tom Barnard wrote:
I very much feel your frustration Ed. I respect very much the work you have put in and continue to. I respect everyone's time. I would not persist here for trivial reasons. I have worked very hard to attain a certain intuition based on QM. Many years solving the Schrodinger equation for known phenomena in order to gain basic competence. My ideas are really quite simple QM. Basic phenomena in the QM world, but voodoo in the Newtonian world. I can't help that.

I know it is a matter of trust and frankly, I haven't earned any. That is why an adherence to the basics; to alleviate the trust factor a little. Everything I say can be fairly easily checked in the texts, of course, necessitating trust in the texts. . . .

Andrew Muelenberg wrote:
Ed, Please lighten up a bit. Your questions and challenges are pertinent; but, they are also premature and discussing them in detail at this point detracts from others obtaining the background information that they (and you) may require.

You are too anxious to get to the goal. Your goal is 20 feet up and you refuse to see the ladder as an option because it has a few broken rungs. Please don't block the ladder, because you think it is unsafe. Let others use it if they wish. Once they are there, then you might reconsider using it. . . .

When I first saw [Tom’s approach], everything fell into place. This concept is similar to KP's lochon model to overcome the nuclear Coulomb barrier and, when properly extended, is sufficient to explain all of the other CF data observed. Tom hasn't gotten to that latter point yet, but my ICCF-15 presentation (to be posted here after Tom finishes his model) describes the rest of this story. Please, note your objections (for future discussion); but, let Tom continue unless someone else finds it difficult to continue without more detail.

Andrew also commented on so-called “zero point energy” (ZPE), discussed in another thread. Recognizing reality of ZPE, someone compared proposals for using this energy to attempts to get work or electricity from Brownian motion. Referring to this Andrew wrote: “. . . Brownian motion again: the moving particles can do work; they move other particles. If micro-resonators were put into motion by the thermal activity, then they could generate fixed-freqency AC currents that could be rectified to give useful energy out. Even if all the waste heat were recycled to the thermal bath, the bath would cool unless compensating heat was added. While this can be done in theory, it is not cost effective. ZPE is similar to Brownian motion, but at an even smaller scale. . . . "

Ed responded:
Point noted Andrew.  My problem is Tom's inability to explain his idea in a way I can understand or agree with.  He knows only the language of QM, which is the only viewpoint he will accept.  Reality can be explained many different ways and each is equally valid within its limitations. I find the best description to be a mixture of methods, especially when QM moves too far from easy understanding.   As you noted, my patience is thinner than it should be because I have studied all of the various theories and find them filled with unsupported assumptions, therefore a waste of time. I'm especially impatient with claims that a viewpoint based on QM must be accepted just because QM is too complex to understand or because the description is textbook correct. I'm presently writing a paper in an attempt to bring together all of the relevant experimental understanding so that some of the theories can be properly tested against reality.  I'm of the belief all math must be related to what can be measured, hence it must be understandable in terms of the variables and conditions we can control and measure.  Anything short of that requirement is hand-waving, which is a very common practice in theory.

Meanwhile, I agree with Tom, a special kind of bonding is required to create a structure that can shield the Coulomb barrier.  QM might have a role in explaining this bond provided it is applied to the correct conditions and assumptions.  Mills proposed a similar bond that has been rejected using QM.  It would be great irony if QM could be used to justify such a bond.  Anyway, I will stop critiquing Tom's description as you suggest and wait patiently for him to complete his description.

I might add, I find this discussion very useful because it forces me to consider approaches and understanding I would normally ignore. So, I encourage Tom in his efforts and wish him success.

Andrew added:
Ed, I don't want to discourage your critical and careful analysis. Please continue to comment on areas that you have difficulty accepting. Just don't expect them to be resolved immediately. A brief comment won't slow progress and it will help Tom, and others, to note areas that may require more work.

My understanding is that Tom acquired QM recently - by a lot of hard work. He might appear to have the convert's enthusiasm, but I believe he spoke the classical language previously. (I may be wrong, but I don't believe that his critical revelation came from QM.) However, I think that he also recognizes that if a model, right or wrong, is not couched in QM terms, it will not be considered valid by the rest of the Physics community.  So he is doing a triple service:

1) he's teaching some of us, and bringing many of us up to speed on, the language of QM.
2) he's giving us the language that might make CF acceptable to modern physics.
3) he's proposing a model, which may not be completely correct or complete, with aspects of what I consider to be the best chance of breaking the CF-modeling dilemma.

I also look forward to seeing your paper. From some of your comments, I feel that there are areas on which I would like to see more data.

Ed added:
Tom, as Andrew suggests, please go on with your explanation and I will hold my comments until you have provided the entire picture. In the process, please be aware of the assumptions you are making.  I agree, a novel electron bond is required.  If you can prove, using QM, that such a bond exists, you will beat Mills at his own game.  However, as you discovered from my comments, this will not be easy.  Also, remember QM is not the only way this bond can be explained if it is real.   Anyway, I look forward to your description.

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