How Big of a Story is Cold Fusion?

I usually like to look at what people are saying on the vortex-l mailing list, because I find there is a lot of interesting discussion of cold fusion-related topics there, and some smart and well informed posters contributing. I was particularly struck with a post there by Jed Rothwell, who was discussing what really was on- and off-topic when it comes to discussions about cold fusion. He said in part:

Cold fusion is a broad subject. If we overcome the opposition and cold fusion energy is used, historians, sociologists, economists and others will eventually write thousands of books on this subject, trying to explain what happened, why it happened . . .

Cold fusion is the most important discovery in the recorded history of technology. Only a few prehistoric discoveries such as fire and domesticated animals outweigh it. It will revolutionize many aspects of daily life, and many other technologies. It will force us to rethink our attitudes toward science and research, funding for research, and our ideas about where technology originates, who gets the credit, and who should get the profits. It will change history; it will change the face of the earth . . .

Needless to say, if we cannot overcome the political opposition, or if Rossi and the other researchers continue to act as their Own Worst Enemies, then cold fusion will be a forgotten footnote to history, and we will continue to blunder our way to ecological disaster and world-wide poverty with existing energy systems.

Rothwell is one of the most well known figures in the community that takes cold fusion seriously. He owns and operates the LENR/CANR.org web site which is a library of research literature in the cold fusion field that goes back to its beginnings in 1989 with Pons and Fleischmann. In his estimation, this story is one of the most important that can be told, and yet no one here needs to be reminded of the reality that relatively speaking, very few people are paying attention to it.

The topic of media coverage comes up a lot in CF discussions. Why, if this is such an important topic. are we not learning about it in the press, or hearing about it on TV, radio and the big media web sites? Jed Rothwell seems to see fault in the researchers themselves, particularly Andrea Rossi. Rothwell, while strongly convinced that Rossi has presented proof in his demos of the validity of his technology, has criticized Rossi for the quality of his experiments, and for the way he carries out his business.

Rossi, for his part, is unapologetic for his secretive approach, saying he much prefers to work in peace than to have interested parties swarming around his workplace and bothering those he is working with. When asked recently whether he thought there was a media blackout on LENR technology, Rossi responded, “I think that we have to work and to make plants which work properly. The media articles are a consequence of what happens in reality. When our plants will be working in public sites the media will report the facts.”

Rossi’s approach makes sense. So long as his work remains hidden, there will be little media attention, and he will be left alone. When he has working products that can be examined by the public, then the media can start reporting — and help him with his marketing.

What about all the others who are doing work in the LENR field? As far as I know, no one as yet has working LENR products in the marketplace, and competitive instincts seem to keep people from disclosing much about what they are doing. Without disclosures or working devices, it is hard for the media to report on much, except for what people are saying.

I think Jed Rothwell may well be correct in his estimation of the importance of cold fusion’s place in the history of science. I believe there is plenty of evidence out there that the phenomenon is real. But I also understand the media’s reluctance to focus on the topic when there is so much about it that is either hidden, or not too convincing. I think that Andrea Rossi is right when he says that properly working products in the public domain will be the drivers of media attention. When that happens, I fully expect that LENR will begin to be recognized for the highly important story that it is.

  • http://lenr-canr.org/ Jed Rothwell

    People here have posted a number of messages about cold fusion that are technically inaccurate, or factually wrong.

    For example, someone quoted Robert Park claiming that in cold fusion: “The claimed effect appears so weak that observers can hardly distinguish it from noise. No amount of further work increases the signal.” It is true that some cold fusion experiments the signal to noise ratio has been low. But in others it has been high. For example, heat has been measured at 20 to 100 W with no input power, and tritium has been measured at 10E8 times background. The signal to noise ratio overall has improved a great deal since 1989.

    Park is also quoted saying that “Discoverers make their claims directly to the popular media, rather than to fellow scientists.” Cold fusion was published in the peer-reviewed literature starting in 1927. Fleischmann and Pons published in the peer-reviewed literature before calling a press conference. I have a collection of roughly 1,200 peer-reviewed cold fusion papers copied from the libraries at Los Alamos and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and 2,000 others from conference proceedings, and publications from national laboratories and corporations. The mass media has not published this technical information as far as I know. Virtually everything published about cold fusion appears only in the technical literature.

    On rare occasions magazines such as Scientific American mention the subject, but their reports are invariably distorted and mistaken. This is because the editors and writers at the Scientific American have not read any papers on cold fusion. They themselves told me this; quote: “reading scientific papers is not our job.” See:

    http://lenr-canr.org/wordpress/?p=294

    Robert Park also told me that he has not read any papers on cold fusion. I am sure this is true, because his book and all of his assertions about the subject are grossly ignorant, and technically incorrect in every detail.

    Before you comment on a technical subject, you should read the literature and familiarize yourself with the facts. Otherwise you will confuse the issue. You run the risk of making yourself look like an ignorant fool.

    Cold fusion is a complicated subject. If you wish to understand it, I suggest you start with a review paper such as:

    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/McKubreMCHcoldfusionb.pdf

    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/StormsEastudentsg.pdf

    I do not recommend sources such as Wikipedia. The last I checked, the article on cold fusion there consists entirely of misunderstandings, distortions and nonsense. It is written by anonymous people who name themselves after comic book characters and the like. Most of them have no knowledge of the subject. They are parroting rumors dredged from the Internet and misinformation from Park and other ignorant people. When you wish to learn about a scientific subject, I strongly recommend you get information from textbooks and primary source material written by legitimate scientists at mainstream institutions, published in peer-reviewed sources. Not from people who name themselves after comic-book characters.

    Note also that Rossi is only one of thousands of researchers who have contributed to this field.

  • http://yahoo.com Albert Maslar

    Could Shakespeare have been right, “Much ado about nothing?”

    • georgehants

      Hopefully he was right about —–
      “All’s Well That Ends Well”

      • http://yahoo.com Albert Maslar

        Hopefully.

  • morse

    Of course it is the story of the century or the millenium!? It seems too good to be true. On the other hand, 99% or more of the people don’t care about CF or don’t know about it. We can’t go one forever with ancient energy burners and conservative scientist talk about 4th generation nuclear fission reactors. There is too much money concerned in the energy field. Even Shell will start drilling in Alaska this summer. There is simply too much to loose for those who have everything to loose.

    • bearlyme

      Of course 99% or more of the public don’t care about CF because morons who write entire articles like this on CF do so without ever explaining what he’s talking about; what CF is. We’re told how history changing it is; how significant it will be; how the media handles it, and how history will collapse without it; all this without a peep as to what cold fusion is or why i should give a crap. Of course, the response to this is that if you’re too stupid to know what CF is, then too bad. We’ll just talk among ourselves and congratulate each other on how smart we are while complaining how stupid you are. And then you wonder why no one cares. it’s almost as if you prefer it that way. i guess i’ll have to go Google it to find out what he’s talking about.

      • GreenWin

        bearl, you’ll find whining on this site rarely elicits helpful response. Might try a little humility and a spot of in-it-ia-tive looking up CF background. Start with Pons and Fleischmann 1989 – and don’t believe everything wikipedia says.

      • jacob

        wikipedia is the reflection you see of a surreal reality ,not reflecting the truth,so is overunity .com,and we are supposed to believe everything wikipedia says,that’s what the want you to know,including that you are a relative from an ape,and most of the the world will believe ,what they want us to know,bearl,you will have to learn a lot of new things ,since you just stumbled into this bloc,and I suggest to read a few things ,before you comment on things you know not much about,so it seems at least to me.

    • Leon Rogers

      We already have tested designs for 4th gen nukes, and we already know how to drill and produce oil.

      I agree that CF would be an amazing development, but until someone shows that it can actually work it’s just a dream.

      As Rossi said, “I think that we have to work and to make plants which work properly. The media articles are a consequence of what happens in reality. When our plants will be working in public sites the media will report the facts.”

      When that happens 100% of the public will be elated.

      • jacob

        drilling for oil is a bad dream,including clear cutting ,and fission that are poising our generation,the media articles are like my septic system ,it is full of it,LENR has media black out status,at least on the news,because LENR can replace fossil fuel as a source for clean energy ,and could possibly create panic and cause havoc in the economy of this world,and for good reason news is controlled by a few ,the owners mainly,that also have stakes in the energy sector,don’t be fooled by illusions or the false truth,as you have been led astray by the high priests of science.4 th generation nukes should not be used on our earth family for destruction and should all be eliminated as soon as possible, the US CAN UK GERMANY has technology that is much more pervasive than nukes,and can be used to prevent wars, but once energy supply is no longer in the hands of the rich and powerful ,and in the hands of the independent little people ,this world can make some progress towards peace.

  • georgehants

    Everything in the Quantum World is unknown and Wonderful.

    Stanford University Stanford News
    Stanford Report, June 5, 2012
    Stanford physicists make new form of matter
    The laser-cooled quantum gas opens exciting new realms of unconventional superconductivity.
    Last week’s announcement by a Stanford team in Physical Review Letters that it has created the world’s first dipolar quantum fermionic gas from the metal dysprosium – “an entirely new form of quantum matter,” as Stanford applied physics Professor and lead author Benjamin Lev put it – represents a major step toward understanding the behavior of these systems of particles. And this understanding makes for a leap toward the supernatural-seeming applications that condensed-matter physics conjures.
    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/june/lev-new-matter-060512.html

  • T.H.G.

    Researchers often float stories about cold fusion to get some publicity and some money for their ongoing research. The fusion in a teacup experiments of the Eighties did it with an extremely ultra pure form of platinum that the Soviets spent billions and billions of dollar refining. They ended up with twenty or thirty pounds of the stuff and had to end up selling it for mere millions.

    That’s how the Utah researchers got some it. Other researchers used less pure platinum and couldn’t replicate the results. Several years later another research group obtained some of the Russian platinum and did replicate it. Unfortunately, the mega expensive process of producing it makes it economically ridiculous to use as an energy source. These current guys aren’t any closer than anyone else and its just a publicity scam. Don’t provide them with free publicity unless they can prove they actually have something. Sham science shouldn’t be encouraged, but razzed.

    • Andrew Macleod

      Sham science. What a broad statement. I personally feel cold fusion is less of a sham than hot fusion! Cold fusion has been making headway on a shoestring budget for years. Many of the “scientists” have spent their OWN time and money. While hot fusion scientists have been spending my money (tax dollars) on nice salaries and very little to show for it. Humph. Rossi isn’t asking for my money, and if he does he will give me a product. What is the sham?

    • Jonathan Gartner

      Cold Fusion like many theories is yet to be perfected because obviously the tech is simply not there to truly validate it. We had hot Fusion theory back in the late forties early fifties and it was not until the early eighties that the reactor at Princeton was able to validate it. I know I was there

      • GreenWin

        Unfortunately father of hot fusion Dr. Bussard’s letter stating mag confinement / tokamak programs are a “fraud” against the global taxpayer – has pretty well sunk future funding.

    • Rockyspoon

      Did you know Pons and Fleischmann spent $90,000 of their own money before going “public” with their results? So I doubt it was a scam.

      Did you know nobody called Pons & Felischmann to ask them how they did the experiment? Everybody was reporting “no results” two weeks after they had begun, whereas it took 4 weeks to get the palladium cathode loaded so the reaction could begin.

      Too bad there are so many well-meaning but bad researchers out there.

  • Don Witcher

    If the book “Voodoo Science” is to be used to judge LENR activities then it is only fair to use it to judge Magnetic Confinement Fusion (MCF) which is the basis of the ITER project. With that in mind its instructive to listen to the ITER presentation by Douglas Bartlett at http://theatomunexplored.com/?page_id=133 .

    • Pete

      From my understanding hot fusion is more of an engineering problem. The physics are well understood, no?

      Just curious. What of the 7 warning signs from this Voodoo thingy do apply to MFC?

      • Don Witcher

        The Physics of Magnetic Confinement Fusion which is based on the fundamental idea that a super hot plasma can be totally confined and compressed within a realizable magnetic field were not at all understood at the inception of the program and still are not well understood now. If they were then the program would have produced commercial power stations or have been cancelled by now. The same sort of statements hold true for Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF)

        Hot Fusion advocates often cite the sun as an example of working Hot Fusion to gain public support for their programs. That can be very misleading since the sun uses gravitational compression and confinement and radiates its energy into open space. Thats nothing at all like MCF and ICF processes. Both programs at one time or another in their life have been guilty of showing all seven of the warning signs described in ” Voodoo Science.

        The real engineering problems haven’t really been encountered and addressed yet. I would give as an example the fact that Carbon will not work as a container material for sustained operation. The hope is that titanium can be used as a container material. However Plasma leakage may not allow that either due to LENR and we all know the state of knowledge of that

        • Don Witcher

          BTW I meant to preface the above statements by saying that I do not think that the book “Voodoo Science” is really applicable to either mainstream LENR or mainstream Hot Fusion. Its a clever little book designed to exploit the public and has been widely and deliberately misused which is why I initially posted what I did.

    • Mannstein

      Hot Fusion scientists are just following the money. Nothing more nothing less.

  • Bill Hill

    All we need do is be ready to wait a little longer. Mr Rossi will deliver or he wont. He clearly wants to be the first to bring his product to market, and by controlling the price will set the standard. Also, by submitting patents without the vital catalyst he is paving the way to submitting one with the missing information and getting it approved rapidly, thus insuring royalties from any copiers. At the moment we have a black box, which if proved viable can give six times the energy out as you must put in. If it works most people will not care what’s inside the box, they will just buy one.The plaudits and the scientific explanations can come later. Note, this is not free energy, we have the price of the box and the price of the fuel to consider.

  • Rui Ribeiro

    Hi all,

    I’m a LENR believer. As so, I’ve tried to contact with some “media” to make them aware of it. As a response I got a message saying that they have covered it already (true) but they have decided that it is a hoax. They base their position on a book called “Voodoo Science”. Whatever is the motivation of this book, I don’t car. What I do agree is with the 7 “Warning signs” of a hoax that it describes.

    1.Discoverers make their claims directly to the popular media, rather than to fellow scientists.
    2.Discoverers claim that a conspiracy has tried to suppress the discovery.
    3.The claimed effect appears so weak that observers can hardly distinguish it from noise. No amount of further work increases the signal.
    4.Anecdotal evidence is used to back up the claim.
    5.True believers cite ancient traditions in support of the new claim.
    6.The discoverer or discoverers work in isolation from the mainstream scientific community.
    7.The discovery, if true, would require a change in the understanding of the fundamental laws of nature.

    copied from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voodoo_Science

    I’m a believer on LENR, but I also identify all these 7 warning signs on this story.

    • Rui Ribeiro

      Hi Peter,

      So, in your opinion, a “believer” can’t continously validate and revalidate its beliefs. (please remember that although there are promising signs there isn’t any hard evidence yet, at least IMHO)

      I don’t care about the book or its author as much as you do. What I wanted to make visible in this forum is that there was some one that has studied this kind of contoversy in the past and found these “rules”. I also wanted to make visible that this is what media in general (as well as phisics) are using to maintain distance from LENR.

      Although I’m a believer, I do find this rules applicable on this situation which doesn’t mean that I accept them as the holy truth.

      This is a discussion forum to share ideas and points of view, not a place to make personal remarks about others.

      • http://www.health-answers.co.uk Peter Roe

        I’m not at all clear exactly what it is you claim to ‘believe’. ‘LENR’ is a catch all phrase to describe a range of reported phenomena that include Hagestein’s ‘Nanor’, Rossi’s ‘e-cat’, Defkalion’s ‘Hyperion’ and Brillouin’s electrolytic cell.

        Are you seriously trying to assert that *all* LENR inventors and researchers are conducting their own separate ‘hoaxes’? If so, on what basis – that *some* of a set of ‘rules’ dreamed up by an agenda driven political ‘scientist’ like Parks might apply to *some* of the players?

        You claim to agree with all 7 ‘rules’. Perhaps you could cite an example of “5.True believers cite ancient traditions in support of the new claim.” that is applicable here?

        Or maybe you would prefer to show how Hagelstein’s meticulous records equate to “Anecdotal evidence is used to back up the claim.”

        I could go on, but those will do for now. If you want to play the part of the skeptic then please do so honestly, without pretending to be a supporter of LENR when plainly you are not.

        • GreenWin

          Peter, Troll alert! Get away before he kicks you in the shins and calls you an “anarchist.”

    • Frank

      Another quote from that book which fits very well to many postings here:
      I came to realize that many people choose scientific beliefs the same way they choose to be Methodists, or Democrats, or Chicago Cubs fans. They judge science by how well it agrees with the way they want the world to be.

      • georgehants

        Frank, do you mean the religious Dogma of Cold Fusion deniers.
        I agree.

        • Frank

          No, I mean unsceptical Rossi-claims believer.

      • John Williams

        Park is so completely lacking in self-awareness that he does not realize or even attempt to contemplate the idea that his insight may be more applicable to himself than it is to those that he is “criticizing.” An example of psychological projection at its finest.

        • LocalYokel35

          Falling back on the pseudo science created in the warped mind of a wannabe interpreting his own cocaine laced dreams (Freud) deserves even less applause than that of the sexual pervert documenting outcome of his own warped practices (Kinsey).
          Try understanding what Nikola Tesla suffered from separate mogul financed opposition and desertion to learn the meaning of rampant greed or study the history of real cancer cure devised by another foreign trained true scientist yet under threat of government intervention and patent theft.in the heroic character of
          Stanislaw Burzynski.
          It seems that all that have threatened the energy monopoly have either been offered a proposition they couldn’t refuse or abandoned the continental US. Conspiracy??
          Call it what you like but never espouse the audacity of denying a 100 years of documented history.

          • John Williams

            If everyone accepted the possibility that your above claims may be true it would not matter what the “moguls” did. If Tesla and Burzynski were/are correct and it was common for people to accept that possibility then those discoveries would pop up everywhere and the “moguls” would end up playing a futile game of whack-a-mole.

          • jacob

            LY35,if I understand you correctly,you have a pretty good understanding of reality,it is a time we live in right now,where money and power rules,and the system is controlled by the super rich,but they are of poor character and I carry no envy for them ,I hold no judgment against them, I create my own reality,which includes utopia,humans are created to be creative beings,we visualize a concept and then built it with our hands,thats what I do for a living,i built new concepts

    • georgehants

      The book sounds like a very poor attempt by backward classical scientists to protect their religious Dogma against all comers.
      I think many scientists are beginning to say we will follow the Evidence and not crazy reductionist debunking.

    • John Williams

      1) If someone discovered what they believed was an extremely important phenomena only to be dismissed out of hand by mainstream scientists, who had already formed an opinion on the matter, where else could they go to increase awareness of that discovery than the popular media? That is the only way anyone would hear of the discovery and it begs the question of how many people just drop taboo but plausible ideas in order to save their reputations and careers. This is an unwarranted assumption which only serves to perpetuate itself.

      2)There is no conspiracy to suppress LENR or cold fusion in the sense that the word conspiracy is normally accepted to mean, as in a group of people who know it is true but are concertedly suppressing it. A decentralized self fulfilling prophecy due to self interest biasing individual beliefs is an entirely different matter though. If the government and most of mainstream science came to the conclusion that e=mc2 could never lead to a nuclear reactor because “free lunches” are impossible then we would not have nuclear reactors today.

      3)If an effect cannot be distinguished from noise then it is meaningless. This is his 1st solid scientific point but there is evidence for anomalous energy above noise, based on conventional understanding, and numerous peer reviewed articles to substantiate that fact.

      4)Anecdotal evidence is not empirical or experimental evidence but it has a place on the continuum of evidence and therefore should be approached skeptically but with an open mind. Even Park calls it “evidence” so dismissing it out of hand would be inconsistent based on his own terminology.

      5)If conventional physics is not a “tradition” ;ie: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior, I do not know what is. Here Parks has framed himself as a “true believer”, if there ever was one, with his own line of reasoning.

      6)Einstein developed most of his ideas in solitude and stated:

      “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

      If one of the most creative and ingenious originators of modern physics, who developed his ideas in solitude and then unleashed them onto the “scientific community”, contradicts Parks, whose agenda is aligned with the APS as a group, I think Parks view on that matter can safely be discarded as meaningless.

      7)Right, “the understanding of the fundamental laws of nature” have never changed before so we should expect they will never change again. That is sarcasm by the way. This assertion is the most ridiculous of all of Parks contentions because there is not one shred of evidence to back up this idea and to the contrary history shows the exact opposite in that “the understanding of the fundamental laws of nature” always changes. In just the last 100 years, an extremely short time-span, there has been massive changes in the understanding of the fundamental laws of nature. History also shows that Parks irrational view that it won’t is generally rooted in arrogance.

    • Brad Arnold

      This phenomenon (LENR) has been confirmed in hundreds of published scientific papers: http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJtallyofcol.pdf

      “Over 2 decades with over 100 experiments worldwide indicate LENR is real, much greater than chemical…” –Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center