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87) Targeting a “straw man”

Ludwik Kowalski (August 5, 2003)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07055

My first opinion about cold fusion was based on Huizenga’s famous ERAB report and on what was written about the phenomenon in 1989 or 1990. Only recently did I realize that the criticism of Fleischmann and Pons was, in part, an attack on a straw man. Who was the first to introduce the term “cold fusion?” The essence of the initial announcement was the existence of unexplained excess heat; and the idea that it can not possibly be caused by a chemical reaction. But the scientists were attacked as if their main claim was observation of a conventional thermonuclear reactions at ordinary temperatures. That claim became the proverbial straw man. How can such reactions happen despite the coulomb barrier? Where are neutrons and protons always accompanying thermonuclear reactions? Where is tritium? Absence of such byproduct was then used to discredit the real discovery.

I knew Huizenga personally and I respected him as a scientist. But by leading the attack on a straw man he was acting more as a politician than as a scientist. Is he aware that a large number of researchers have now confirmed accumulation of helium in heat-generating experiments? And that the rate at which helium is produced is roughly commensurable with what would be expected from any kind of D+D fusion. Would he reject such findings because we still do not have a theory? Unfortunately, I do not know how to answer such questions. I was tempted to contact him recently but decided against it; Huizenga is probably very old now. His “successor,” Robert Park, seems to ignore new findings; who appointed him to be a spokesman for APS? Park uses the same arguments against cold fusion as Huizenga used 13 years ago.

The term cold fusion was partially responsible for the staw man arguments. My own attempts to stop using this term failed; this is reflected in essays posted at my web site. Last night I learned that Edmund Storms also thinks that the term cold fusion will eventually prevail. Here is what I wrote to him and how my e-mail message was answered:

Dear Dr. Storms:
I agree that the term “cold fusion” was partially responsible for bad reception of the discovery of excess heat in 1989. The alternative, LENR-CANR, is gradually replacing the undesirable phrase. But it is difficult to use this acronym in a lecture or in a conversation. First it is hard to pronounce, second, it is awkward to use. if it was up to me I would use an alternative. Suppose that the LECAN acronym is used as a single adjective, as in LECAN field, LECAN reactions, LECAN phenomena, LECAN opponents, etc. This is less rigid and easier to pronounce. Formally LECAN would stand for a long adjective: “Low-Energy-Chemically-Activated-Nuclear.”

I am just sharing an idea; it is probably too late to make a change. Am I the only one who is not happy with LENR-CANR? (You probably know that about 40 years ago the term “low energy nuclear reactions” was used to describe transmutations induced by projectiles whose energies were up to about 20 MeV. Later it became 200 MeV, or something close to it.) I am looking forward to meeting you in person at the ICCF-10 conference. Best regards, Ludwik Kowalski

Dear Ludwik,
The long form, LENR-CANR, is not intended to be used in conversation, only as the name of the web site. I frequently just use LENR, which is adequate. However, everyone knows what "cold fusion" means and it will cease to have the bad
connotation as the idea is accepted. I suspect, "cold fusion" will be the name most people will use in the future. See you at ICCF-10. Ed

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