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76) Secrecy in cold fusion research

Ludwik Kowalski (July 6, 2003)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

Secrecy in science and technology is a big issue; I am not trying to address it in general. But that issue was brought to my attention several times while I was reading cold fusion materials, especially the writing of two scientists: George Miley (see item 36) and Benjamin Bush. In a section entitled “Scientific Integrity and Openness.” Miley wrote: “Integrity in science has been a ‘hot issue’ throughout the saga of CF. This issue has sometimes been confused with the problem of ‘openness’ of discussion. [Integrity] has been seriously hampered by the dominance of various companies and entrepreneurs in CF who hope to gain advantage through patents and proprietary information. Integrity and openness are, in fact, entirely different issues. Integrity must be maintained at all costs; openness is highly desirable, but is not always possible. In order to succeed, companies must often protect their base intellectual property. . .”

He also wrote: “ ‘Stopping wasteful funding on CF’ [became an official policy in the US]. Thus, small companies and individuals end up, by default being the main funding source for CF. As a result, they in turn, rightly feel that their investment is entitled to protection via patents and secrecy. Normally, in other fields, government funded research provides a balance of funding that leads to a flow of open publications covering the basic science underlying the field, while the practical technology funded by companies remains proprietary. In CF, ‘open’ science only comes from a very few academics or others who can undertake research without ‘strings’ attached. A majority of the work is more guarded.”

B. Bush, interviewed about his research (Infinite Energy Magazine, January-February, 1997, page 32) was not willing to provide a clear answer because , “at this juncture, [the answer] does involve proprietary aspects.” Then he elaborated by saying that “there is no question that ‘secrecy’ tends to hurt the general development and dissemination of science. On the other hand, funding is necessary for equipment, lab supplies, release time from teaching, etc. In an atmosphere where the government is providing no funding, as in the case of CF research, private funding becomes extremely important. Private investors want a return on their money, and patents containing proprietary materials are essential. Thus, in the present atmosphere of no government funding,’proprietary aspect’ becomes a ‘necessary evil’ relative to the development of the Science.” At one time I contacted a cold fusion researcher and asked him to write an item about cold fusion patents for this list. He declined on the basis of the “proprietary aspect” of the issue. His pending patents could possibly be threatened, he wrote, by a description of what is going on in the US Patent Bureau. I was surprised.

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