Ethan Siegel on Why he Thinks Lugano test is Suspect

Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel has published an article on the web site titled “The E-cat: cold fusion or scientific fraud?” in which he give his own critique of the Lugano test report, and comes to his own conclusions about the validity of the test, and the E-Cat itself.

Siegel is upfront about the fact that he is suspicious of the results of this test, and is clearly trying to caution his readers regarding taking the E-Cat report at face value. He warns them not to be the “mark” — i.e. the ones to fall for the trickery of a charlatan. In his conclusion he writes:

I don’t want any of you to be the “mark”, fleeced out of your money by a charlatan, and so in the absence of anyone else exposing Rossi, I will stand up as “the one to knock ‘em”, meaning I will hold up the torch of what scrupulous science would look like, and challenge the participants to live up to it.

He sums up his suspicions about the test with five major objections

1. The E-Cat was plugged into an external power source throughout the test. That would be necessary to verify that the E-Cat was producing its own energy.
2. The test used an ‘open’ rather than a ‘closed’ calorimetry measurement system, leaving heat measurements questionable.
3. No gamma radiation was measured coming from the E-Cat, which would be expected if a nuclear reaction was taking place.
4. If nuclear fusion of nickel is occurring, there is no copper reported in the ash, which should be expected according to known reactions.
5. The test was not independent. Rossi participated, and the team was known to him, and friendly.

Ethan Siegel posted an article on the science blog following the first independent test, and his response was widely circulated. Siegel is seen as quite an expert when it comes to physics, especially astrophysics, and his thoughts here I think will carry some weight with his readers.

Siegel is not willing to take the report at face value, and he is urging that we should not either. In order to reject the paper, we have to believe that it was a deliberate attempt at smoke and mirrors — and that Rossi was somehow involved in some kind of sleight of hand in tampering with the powder.

As we know, this is not an untypical response when it comes to things connected with the E–Cat. The fraud label, I think, will be around for a while. It’s a comfortable belief for those who are not able to accept that something like the E-Cat could be possible. And some people do have genuine concerns and questions regarding this and other tests. For now the mystery of the E-Cat is still unresolved for many and more information will need to be forthcoming for widespread acceptance to take place.

  • psi2u2

    Your clarification is appreciated.

  • LCD

    6) is only weird when you don’t value the work it takes to run a company and develop IP.

    And that says a lot about you.

  • LCD

    okay this one didn’t show up until I refrenshed so according to you 4) is basically fraud. No it is not equally likely because you don’t have the full probabilities for all the choices i.e. we don’t know what we don’t know.

    For instance when we get more clarification from the testers on the powder handling we may reduce the probability for a) or b). And I’m sorry but when we get more clarification on c) we may also change our probability.

    And your last statement I find completely hilarious to the point of ridiculous (with all due respect)

    “It is also valid to point out that while mechanisms for 99% fuel depletion on this test without loss of any power can be constructed they are all highly improbable. So you add another improbability to the inherent difficulty of nuclear transformation with none of the expected alternate pathways.”

    So now you can be referred to as a believer because by faith you have already decided that 99% of the fuel was depleted on the test. What are the expected pathways? Please elaborate?

  • LCD

    Okay so there are several problems with your statements. And I’ll try to pretend your not Popeye or somebody else from IECN.

    1) There were two signal analyzers downstream from an independent mains outlet. We can argue until we’re blue in the face but even if a team of totally independent nobel prize winning physicists and engineers were there, it wouldn’t make a difference as far as skeptics go. That is a fact that Rossi and everybody else understands. The problem here is that the first assumption by the OP is that there is deliberate fraud rather than a systematic error, and a real observation is a side note. So in summary “we don’t believe you”

    2) Thermal camera based calorimetry is done with good enough accuracy, specially for something like this which has a cop greater than 1.2. But don’t believe me, ask Dr. McKubre. I did not read your comments below because I could not find them. Again here the clear implication is nothing less than fraud or incompetence.

    3) It’s a lack of a measurement and we’ve discussed the possibility of fraud so unless we want to continue to drive that point as our thesis why bring it up again. Nothing here suggests that we should expect anything since we don’t know why anything is happening. Need more info.

    4) It’s the same as three because there is not enough information to exclude any possibility as far as physics goes and whatsmore nobody is claiming classical proton/neutron capture as something that MUST be happening only as something that MIGHT be happening. “If you want to understand a new phenomenon you must first unlearn everything you need to unlearn” – Leonard Susskind

    5) Most tests in physics are rarely perfectly independent and we ALL know that. Yet here it is used as some exacting weapon that is suppose to shred all this into tiny pieces. Everybody knows that we need to do more public tests but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse to bash this test. It’s silly.

    Look bottom line is that people have seen these types of phenomena for years
    Yet when this happens it’s like, wow, we’ve never seen or heard of this before it must be fraud. And no reference by any other skeptic is made to any other experiment. Doesn’t that seem silly?

  • oarmas

    Appalling response from the ‘scientific community’. The ‘science’ of fusion to date is as follows, over 10 Trillion dollars spent on research with no results AT ALL, to defend a theory that is 100 years old and NOT complete. Cold fusion has been around ALL that time, as well. It has required at LEAST 1 MILLION times LESS FUNDING and PRODUCED RESULTS THAT have beaten the ESTABLISHED SCIENCE by over 1000 times. Maybe Rossi is a charlatan and fraud, BUT WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT Siegel and his community who have defrauded the taxpayers for much more and produced EVEN LESS than Mr Rossi?

    • Zeddicus Zul Zorander

      Hot fusion is something that is nice for planet based power generation, but the problems are so big it’s nearly useless other than to gain knowledge. The containment problems for neutrons for example are so huge, that I have a hard time they will ever get it right. Basically, neutrons can’t be contained with known physics. In any case, hot fusion is taking way to much money for the few breakthroughs it generates.

      Now cold fusion on the other hand could be used to power your car, house, swimming pool, garden house, streetlights construction yards, fabrication plants, satellites, IIS, moonbases, etc. It’s small and safe enough to be nearly universally useable. And it costs a fraction to develop and research plus it’s inherently safe.

      It’s a crazy world where we have this wonderful discovery but the science community has this “group angst” for fear it might not be true even though all the evidence points to it being true.

      • oarmas

        Again, the scientific community ‘collects’ 100 billion dollars a year world wide for fusion research. Do they use this money to run M. Rossi’s test? No, they don’t. What would it cost them to ‘do it right’? Under $5M, with all the bells and whistles. Where are you Mr Siegel? Why don’t you run the test. Get the correct radiation output, verify the isotopes prove points 1-5 above. I bet you can’t, I bet the results when run by the ‘establishment’, which to date has produced NOTHING, will be BETTER than M Rossi’s team. Will it be run? Why no, of course not, that would jeopardize a gravy train of billions of dollars of funding for fusion that WON’T work.

  • Axil Axil

    Black-body radiation has a characteristic, continuous frequency spectrum that depends only on the body’s temperature, called the Planck spectrum or Planck’s law. The spectrum is peaked at a characteristic frequency that shifts to higher frequencies with increasing temperature, and at room temperature most of the emission is in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. As the temperature increases past about 500 degrees Celsius, black bodies start to emit significant amounts of visible light. Viewed in the dark, the first faint glow appears as a “ghostly” grey. With rising temperature, the glow becomes visible even when there is some background surrounding light: first as a dull red, then yellow, and eventually a “dazzling bluish-white” as the temperature rises.

    This appearance is caused by a distribution of all wavelengths of light more or less based on temperature in blackbody radiation.

    In laser radiation, only a single frequency appears. Light from a infrared laser cannot be seen.

    The Rossi reactor may be acting like an infrared laser since few visible wavelengths are seen at 1400C,

    There is a boatload of assumptions that the 6 professors would naturally make about
    the nature of the E-Cat in a black box type test. One of them is that the heat
    produced by the reactor would come in the form of blackbody radiation. This critical
    assumption should have been verified by spectral analysis of the nature of this
    light to insure that the light was the type of light that one would naturally
    expect in a black box test.

    When one is testing a technology that is completely undefined, if the light emitted from the reactor was some undetermined mixture of light produced from both a coherent and incoherent source, such a situation would add an undetermined error factor into both the calibration of the remote temperature sensors against a true blackbody light source and the remote
    temperature sensor How the nature of this uncharacterized light source would vary
    from what was programed into the remote sensor is undetermined as the
    temperature of the reactor is increased up beyond 1400C.. Since the remote temperature
    sensor is the primary data collection instrument used in this test, and it has not
    been cross checked through the use of any other temperature sensing mechanism,
    then all the data collected by that sensor is placed under suspicion as

    • Obvious

      This is why I suggested looking for unusual peaks in the IR spectra emitted from the reactor previously. If there are unusual IR peaks, they may help identify reaction processes or byproducts. Also, alumina can be doped to become a very potent, efficient IR emitter.