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395) A strange story worth recording

Ludwik Kowalski

Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA

July 23, 2010

(1) On July 21, 2010 I learned about a new SPAWAR paper. It was published in EPJ AP, on July 7, 2010. The title is “Comparison of Pd/D co-deposition and DT neutron generated triple tracks observed in CR-39 detectors;” the authors are: P. A. Mosier-Boss, J. Y. Dea, L. P.G. Forsley, M. S. Morey, J. R. Tinsley, J. P. Hurley and F. E. Gordon. I downloaded that interesting article and informed the CMNS list about its existence. After sharing the link I wrote: I will read their article more carefully later. The first quick reading convinced me that a big step froward has been made by SPAWAR team. I hope their article will be discussed on this forum.”

After reading the article I posted this message on the CMNS list (also on July 21): “I suspect that in order to estimate the neutron "flux"  (at the end of Section 2) the number 107 should be divided by 4*PI*r2, where r is the distance between center of the source and the irradiated CR-39. Is this correct? If so then how large was r? ”
(2) Another list subscriber, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax, responded (also on July 21):
“I think there is a misunderstanding or incomplete text here. The 'flux' has been stated, there, for the exposure from a "Thermo Fisher Model A290 neutron generator," as 107 sec-1. Either there is a missing unit, i.e., "cm-2," or the figure is total neutron emission from the source, which then would require a distance (and specified intermediate material) in order to be meaningful, quite as you note. My suspicion is that the "cm-2" was simply omitted, since we really only care, in understanding what's happening at the detector, about the actual flux passing through a particular area, not total neutron emission, and the flux would also be dependent upon beam pattern, etc. If I'm correct, then, the figure is 107 neutrons/cm2/sec, for 2.5 hours, which specifies the figure we need to know. Otherwise, without the other data, the figure is almost meaningless.
(3) Responding to the above (on July 22) I wrote: “Yes, indeed. The effect produced by neutrons in a given location is directly proportional to the flux [n/(s*cm2)] while the source is usually described in terms of its intensity [n/s]. The pending question is about 107. Is this the flux or is it source intensity?” Why did no one from SPAWAR answer our questions ?

(4) On July 22 I received a message from X. Actually, it was not sent to me; it was sent to edjap (typing error in this address), and to Pamela Boss. The author has a 1964 BS degree in history and physics and a 1967 MA degree in psychology). Prompted by a detail from that above message I responded (sending the CC to Pamela Boss, but not to epjap): “Suppose the electrodes (anode and cathode) are removed from a SPAWAR cell. Suppose the 6kV DC is applied to copper plates in contact with external parallel surfaces of the plastic cell. My expectation is that the field (due to 6 kV) inside the electrolyte would be very small but not zero.
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Let me elaborate. All materials, even plastics have finite resistance, often many giga-ohms. Suppose each wall of the SPAWAR cell has the resistance 30 giga-ohms. The resistance of the electrolyte is much smaller. Suppose it is only R2=100 ohms.

a) How large is the electric current flowing from one copper plate to another? V=6000 V, R=60 giga-ohms=6*1010 ohms

I=V/R=6000/6*1010=10-7 A or 0.1 micro-ampere.

b) What is the potential difference between the walls (inside the electrolyte)?

U=I*R2=10-7*100=10-5 volts=10 micro-volts

c) How large is the electric field inside the electrolyte (assume the distance between the walls is L=2 cm)?

E=U/L=10/2=5 micro-volts per centimeter. This is a very low fields, in comparison with 6000V / 2 cm = 3000 V/cm

For an ideal dielectric R would be infinity, I would be zero, and E would be zero. But ideal dielectrics do not exist.”

(5) The above was sent to X last night. Several hours later (on July 23) X responded. The reply was addressed to; with my name in the CC field. I was not aware that this was a formal submission of a comment to European Physics Journal Applied Physics (EPJ AP).

(6) Then I received the message from EPJ AP. They wrote: “We are pleased to tell you that we have received [your] manuscript and we would like to thank you for choosing EPJ AP. As you are aware, we can only consider articles that have not been published or are currently submitted for publication in any other journals or another EPJ section. We will inform you of the editorial decision as soon as possible.”

The EPJ Inquiry System at : is at your service to follow up the status of your article. Your author ID for access is: ..... and article reference number: ....

(7) Replying immediately, I wrote: “I did not submit any manuscript to epjap yesterday. Please ignore anything submitted last night under my name.  It was probably a joke.  Also, please send me that manuscript. Thank you in advance.

(8) They responded: “The message has been sent by Rich Murray. It seems to be a comment on an article which has been accepted for publication (please see the attached file).” That file was nothing else but what I wrote to X. I am the first author, he is the second author.

(9) Here is my second message sent to epjap: “Thank you for the quick reply. Rich Murray, who I do not know, did ask me a question yesterday. It was about the electric field. (The cell has flat plastic walls. The outside surfaces of these walls are coated with copper and 6000 V dc is applied to copper. How strong is the electric field inside the electrolyte?)

I answered Murray in a private message. Without asking for permission, he took my reply and submitted it as a comment. I stand for what I wrote, and I have nothing against his comment. But I do not want to be the co-author of it. Please remove my name. I did read the last SPAWAR paper (about triple tracks) with great interest and would like to comment on it. Please describe the rules governing your forum.”

(10) Their response was: “We have removed your name on the comment sent by Murray Rich. Unfortunately, we don't have any forum on our web site but if you want to make a comment on the article, you could send us the comment and we will send it to the authors in order to know whether they want to make a reply or not. (As you have already done for the article "The Use of CR-39 in Pd/D Co-Deposition Experiments")

(11) Why did no one from SPAWAR answer questions about the flux? They were posted on the CMNS list two days ago. Frustrated by this I quickly composed the same questions in the form of a short note, to be submitted to EPJ AP. Then I read the latest SPAWAR paper again and formulated several more questions. A two-sentence note became a one-page manuscript (with five references). I submitted it. The title is “Four questions and one comment.” Will they publish it? It depends on the referees. I would very much prefer to discuss the paper on our private CMNS list.

(12) I am glad that my name was removed; most experiments described in the last SPAWAR paper were performed without using the electric field. In the last paragraph of my submitted manuscript I wrote: “The world is waiting for a reproducible-on-demand, and convincing, demonstration of a chemically-induced nuclear reaction. What kind of codeposition experiment is more likely to lead us to that end?” In other words, should we be focusing on extremely rare triple tracks (at most 5 to 10 per 4 cm2 during two weeks of electrolysis) or on much more abundant tracks discovered in earlier codeposition experiments? My advice, to those who want to contribute, would be to return to the first SPAWAR protocol. I was one of several people who used it independently, and who reported the same results as Pamela et al. That was in 2007. I would prefer to study more abundant tracks, trying to show that at least some of them are due to nuclear reactions induced by electrolysis. Neutrons are not more convincing signature than charged particles. What is wrong with using the same protocol over and over till a convincing yes or no answer is obtained?

(13)Today (July 24) the question was finally answered, by one of the authors of the paper. As I suspected, the 107 is not the flux. Responding to the clarification I wrote: “ My recollection is that neutrons are generated in a metallic foil loaded with tritium. The foil is bombarded with a focused beam of D ions, accelerated to a chosen energy, for example, 1 MeV.  The foil is located in a vacuum chamber. Suppose the distance between the source and the CR-39 detector is 10 cm, as guessed by Akito. In that case 4*PI*r2=1256 and the flux is 107/1256, or nearly 104 n/(s*cm2). But the "neutron pipe" might be longer than 10 cm. The flux would be only ~ 100 n/(s*cm2) if r were 100 cm. I am assuming that the source is not pulsed. For a pulsed source the 107 n/s might stand for the source intensity during each pulse, and the mean intensity (over long time) could be several orders of magnitude smaller.

Why am I digging into this? Because I want to understand why the irradiation time had to be as long as 4.5 hours."

(14) Responding to the above Akito Takahashi wrote: “ On Jul 22, 2010, at 4:19 PM, Ludwik Kowalski wrote: Yes, indeed. The effect produced by neutrons in a given location is directly proportional to the flux [n/(s*cm2)] while the source is usually described in terms of its intensity [n/s]. The pending question is about 107. Is this the flux or is it the source intensity?

Dear Ludwik, Pam kindly replied that the operator of A290 NG told 107 n/s yield. Accordingly, I revised my previous speculation, as follows:

**) “ Basic data for 12C(n,n’)3 alphas for 14MeV neutron incidence : 0.206 b for reaction total. Branching ratio to the 12C excited state 9..64MeV: 33% (See K. Kondo, et al.: JNST, 45(2008)103-115). Sub-branching ratio to the four body direct break-up; the channel (4) of Pam; n’ + 3Alphas; not exactly known, but let’s assume 20%.

**) Cross section to the channel (4): 0.2x0.33x0.2=0.013b
**) Thermo Fisher Model A290 NG: I did not find A290. I however guess it would be like an old KAMAN type pulsed DT neutron generator (NG) in shielded tube (several microsec pulse) to produce 1010 n/s on the order. Actual time-averaged yield was 107 n/s due to the pulse repetition.

**) Pam set her CR39 at about 10cm from NG (on the surface of NG tube), 14MeV neutron flux is 104 n/s/cm2.

**) She irradiated CR39 for 4.5 hrs, so that 14MeV neutron fluence (flux times irradiation time) is: 4.5x60x60x104 = 1.6*108 n/cm2

**) Reaction (event) rate of the channel (4) for producing triple tracks is: Assuming 12C density in CR39 as 6*1022 C/cm3 and 0.1 cm thickness of CR39, Triple track events: (6*1022)*(0.013*10-24)*(1.6*108) = 1.2*105 [tracks/cc] Triple track-events by 1cm2 CR39: 1.2*104 tracks/cm2

**) From Fig.1 of Pam’s paper (EPJ AP 51 (2010) 20901), we assume one triple track in 0.025*0.025 cm2 = 6.25*10-4 cm2 area of an optical microscope observation for comparison with Phillips. Pam would find (1.2*104)*6.25x10-4= 7.5 by NG. This is a total number of stars (triple tracks) in a CR39 with one cm2*0.1cm size. We need to consider the actual etching condition of CR39 after irradiation.

**) In Pam’s co-deposition experiments, she found 5-10 tracks per a CR39 detector. This result would correspond to [(1.6*108)/(1.2*104)]*(5-10)= (1.3-0.65)*105 fluence of around 14MeV neutrons. It corresponds: 0.16*(1.3-0.65)= 0.1-0.05 n/s/cm2 flux of DT neutrons, if we assume two weeks run of her co-deposition experiment. CR39 was set very close to the cathode of co-deposition, so that its solid angle to see the source (cathode) is about 2*pi. Neutron (maybe DT) production rate in the co-deposition experiment is estimated to be 0.2-0.1 n/s.

**) If about 100mW excess heat observed were nuclear origin (suppose 1011 events per a joule), the observed level of “DT” neutrons was very low, on the order of 10-11 of the nuclear heat level.

BTW: Neutron energy Pam estimated by Eq.(5) would be En – En’. This might mean that the incident neutron energy were more than 13.46 MeV. As we do not know En’, inelastic scatted neutron energy, of the corresponding event of the star (triple track), we may merely say so.

My speculation may be too much at the moment. We shall wait for a quantitative study by the SPAWAR group

(15) Next morning I wrote: “Thank you Akito. Several years ago I exposed CR-39 chips to neutrons of several MeV (from a Pu-Be source). At least 99% tracks seen after etching were due to protons, that is to hydrogen nuclei on which neutrons are scattered inside the CR-39 plastic. Occasional larger pits were most likely due to single alpha particles. I do not recall seeing triple tracks. This is not surprising; less then 1% of neutrons, from a Pu-Be source, have energies higher than 10 MeV. But I am surprised that SPAWAR CR-39 surfaces were not totally covered with highly overlapping pits due to recoiling protons, after 4.5 hours of exposure. That is why I suspect the flux might have been much lower than 104 n/(s*cm2). We still do not know r, the distance between the neutron source (where deuterons are focused), and the irradiated CR-39. I suspect that your guess (r=10 cm) was an underestimation. But why should we be guessing? Even a very approximate answer would be sufficient.”

(16) How important is the issue of tracks produced by neutrons from a DT source? The central issue is emission of neutrons due to electrolysis, presumably from a sequence of two fusion events. First two deuterons fuse producing 3H. This is the CF reaction (7). Then the product of the reaction, 3H fuses with another deuteron. This is reaction (9). Another sequence of two fusion reactions (8) and (10), is responsible for production of high energy protons.

Thermonuclear reactions 7, 8, 9, and 10 are well known. According to most textbooks, however, they are practically impossible at low temperatures. That is the essence of the cold fusion controversy. But in the context of SPAWAR hypothesis an attempt to compare tracks produced during electrolysis with track due to ~14 MeV neutrons is highly justified. I was very excited when I read, in the abstract, that “In this communication, triple tracks in CR-39 detectors observed in Pd/D codeposiotion experiments are compared with those generated upon exposure to a DT neutron source. It was found that both sets of tracks were indistinguishable.” That is what prompted me to post the message quoted in (1) above. Yes, a step forward was made. But will it lead to a demonstration the world is waiting for? That remains to be seen.

(17) If I were to asked to verify the hypothesis advanced by SPAWAR--occurrence of reactions 7, 8, 9, and 10--I would focus on high energy protons, rather than on high energy neutrons. Ranges of high energy protons from reaction 10, in all materials, are much longer than ranges of alpha particles of several MeV. For protons with energies between 12 and 18 MeV the ranges in CR-39 are ~1.5 mm and ~3.0 mm. respectively. Some of these protons (incidence angles close to zero degrees) would travers the CR-39 deterctor (1 mm); others (larger angles of incidence) would be stopped in it. Many tracks, on both sides of the detector, would probably be strongly elliptical. This is only a guess; I have never exposed CR-39 to high energy protons. The local ionization density, due to protons with energies up to 30 MeV is still sufficiently high to produce etcheable tracks. (P.S. Googling the Internet I found a paper describing CR-39 tracks due to protons of 9.6 MeV and 30 MeV. I suspect that even 100 MeV protons might be detectable in CR-39.)

What energy would a 15 MeV proton have after traversing 1 mm (132 mg/cm2) of CR-39? The answer is 10.5 MeV. Protons of that energy are cerainly detectable in CR-39. In other words, a 15 MeV proton, traversing a CR-39 chip perpendicularly, would produce a circular pit at the exit side of the detector. The diameter of that pit would be about 1/3 of the diameter of a pit due to an alpha particle from Am-241. A similar (but slightly smaller) pit would be produced at the point incidence. Some protons entering the detector at non-zero angles will exit the chip (producing a pair of pits), while others will be stopped in the CR-39 material (producing only one elliptical pit).

Recognizing strongly elliptical pits would probably be easier than recognizing triple tracks produced by neutrons from reaction 9. Furthermore, protons are charged particles and their detection efficiency is close to 100%. In other words, nearly every high energy proton crossing a CR-39 surface would probably create a visible track. The efficiency of detection of Mhigh energy neutrons, by contrast, is usually smaller than 0.0001%.

It is interesting that presence of strongly elliptical tracks is not mentioned in the SPAWAR paper. That probably means that no such tracks are produced in codeposition experiments. How can this be interpreted? Does it mean that the probability (cross section) of the CF reaction 8 is many orders of magnitude lower than the probability of the CF reaction 7? Note that thermonuclear reactions 7 and 8 have practically identical cross sections, in a wide range of energies. . . .

(18) Trying to get people involved I just posted another short message (on July 26). I wrote: "SPAWAR paper is very interesting. It is certainly worth discussing on this list. Please visit my just updated unit 395."

(19) It is 7/28/2010. I am surprised. My observation about strongly elliptical tracks due to protons from the Reaction 10 was posted two days ago. But no one commented on it. Even SPAWAR people remain silent. Why is it so? Their paper was published in a refereed mainstream journal. In their place I would be pleased to address reader's concerns immediately. Something is not normal. Am I asking nonsensical questions? Is my form of asking them not appropriate?

Another comment about still unspecified neurton flux was posted today by Abd ul-Rahman Lomax. He reminded the list that the source strength (approximately 107 n/s) was given to the SPAWAR team by the operator. But we cannot use this number unless the value of r is also know. He wrote: “ I'd have assumed that the neutron source has a known intensity and known characteristics, such that the placement of the CR-39 in a particular position would produce a known flux per unit area per second. While this is not essential for seeing the characteristic triple tracks, for which it could be asked “Just give me a pile of neutrons,” it is not only triple tracks that are of interest, it is also the far more numerous apparent proton recoil tracks. It should be possible to determine from the CR-39, from comparison of the track characteristics and density, two estimates of neutron flux integrated over the experimental period; the estimates from triple tracks and from proton tracks should be roughly equal.

But to do this we would have to know the neutron flux from the DT source, the total neutron emission of 107 /sec is almost meaningless, except to establish an upper bound. Surely this would be a known value to the operatiors of the equipment. I'm a little bit troubled by the appearance in a peer-reviewed journal of a number, presented as a fact, that turns out to be simply something 'told by the operators'. But perhaps I'm naive as hell. ”

(20) Responding to the above, a member of the SPAWAR team provided information about circumstance under which the irradiation with fast neutrons took place. But nothing was said about the flux. This prompted me to post the following short message:

“What they [the SPAWAR team] did is reasonable. But what prevents them from calling the operators and asking about the distance between the irradiated CR-39 detector and the center of the source? The operators  know what the distance was, at least approximately. That would be enough for us to estimate the flux. This additional information is likely to enrich the already-very-impressive results published by the SPAWAR team.  Their work is admirable. Let us hope it will lead to what the world is waiting for. Best wishes to Pamela, and to her coworkers.”

From the reply posted by Pamela I lerned that several CR-39 detectors were placed around the tube. My question about the distance r was not answered again. My reply consisted of one sentence: “what was the diameter of the tube? ”

It is August 2. Responding to my question about the diameter, another member of the SPAWAR team posted a message which I prefer not to quote. It amounted to something like 'mind your own business and stop bothering us.' Once again, my question was not answered. I am disappointed. Why knowing the flux is so important? Because the reader of the paper must be able to compare what is reported with what is expected. The expected results cannot be calculated unless the flux, and the exposure time, are known. I have no idea why only the exposure time was specified (4.5 hours). How can this information be used when the flux is not given?

Yes, it is their experiment, not mine, as stated by the author of the last message. It is time to stop asking the same question. My disappointment is not with SPAWAR science, which is admirable. It is with human relations. Will my unit 396, announved the day before yesterday, bring some contributions? I hope so.

R. Murray sent another message to the editor of EPJ AP. The CC was again sent to me and to Pamela Boss. Murray's submision was refused and he was commenting on the rejection. It was mostly about the electric field inside the cell. I do not know why Murray speculates about the "possibility [that the] solar system dark matter" may be involved. But his concern about the possible of "microleaks" makes sense to me. SPAWAR people are experienced chemists and their plastic cells were probably very clean. My calculation was based on this assumption. But suppose the opposite walls are coated with a conducting layer of dry electrolyte. In that case the electtic field inside of the the would be much higher than I calculated.

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