Ignorance is bliss

There is at least one physicist arguing that LENR research is is unethical because (1) LENR does not exist, and (2) if it is possible, it would be far too dangerous to allow.

This came to my attention because of an article in IEEE Spectrum, Scientists in the U.S. and Japan Get Serious About Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions

I wrote a critique of that article, here.

Energy is important to humanity, to our survival. We are already using dangerous technologies, and the deadly endeavor is science itself, because knowledge is power, and if power is unrestrained, it is used to deadly effect. That problem is a human social problem, not specifically a scientific one, but one principle is clear to me, ignorance is not the solution. Trusting and maintaining the status quo is not the solution (nor is blowing it up, smashing it). Behind these critiques is ignorance. The idea that LENR is dangerous (more than the possibility of an experiment melting down, or a chemical explosion which already killed Andrew Riley, or researchers being poisoned by nickel nanopowder, which is dangerous stuff) is rooted in ignorance of what LENR is. Because it is “nuclear,” it is immediately associated with the fast reactions of fission, which can maintain high power density even when the material becomes a plasma.

LENR is more generally a part of the field of CMNS, Condensed Matter Nuclear Science. This is about nuclear phenomena in condensed matter, i.e., matter below plasma temperature, matter with bound electrons, not the raw nuclei of a hot plasma. I have seen no evidence of LENR under plasma conditions, not depending on the patterned structures of the solid state. That sets up an intrinsic limit to LENR power generation.

We do not have a solid understanding of the mechanisms of LENR. It was called “cold fusion,” popularly, but that immediately brings up an association with the known fusion reaction possible with the material used in the original work, d-d fusion. Until we know what is actually happening in the Fleischmann-Pons experiment (contrary to fundamentally ignorant claims, the anomalous heat reported by them  has been widely confirmed, this is not actually controversial any more among those familiar with the research), we cannot rule anything out entirely, but it is very, very unlikely that the FP Heat Effect is caused by d-d fusion, and this was obvious from the beginning, including to F&P.

It is d-d fusion which is so ridiculously impossible. So, then, are all “low energy nuclear reactions” impossible? Any sophisticated physicist would not fall for that sucker-bait question, but, in fact, many have and many still do. Here is a nice paradox: it is impossible to prove that an unknown reaction is impossible. So what does the impossibility claim boil down to?

“I have seen no evidence ….” and then, if the pseudoskeptic rants on, all asserted evidence is dismissed as wrong, deceptive, irrelevant, or worse (i.e, the data reported in peer-reviewed papers was fraudulent, deliberately faked, etc.)

There is a great deal of evidence, and when it is reviewed with any care, the possibility of LENR has always remained on the table. I could (and often do) make stronger claims than that. For example, I assert that the FP Heat Effect is caused by the conversion of deuterium to helium, and the evidence for that is strong enough to secure a conviction in a criminal trial, far beyond that necessary for a civil decision, though my lawyer friends always point out that we can never be sure until it happens. The common, run-of-the-mill pseudoskeptics never bother to actually look at all the evidence, merely whatever they select as confirming what they believe.

“Pseudoskepticism’ is belief disguised as skepticism, hence “pseudo.” Genuine skeptics will not forget to be skeptical of their own ideas. They will be precise in distinguishing between fact (which is fundamental to science) and interpretation (which is not reality, but an attempt at a map of reality).

This immediate affair has created many examples to look at. I will continue below, and comment on posts here is always welcome, and I keep it open indefinitely. A genuine study may take years to mature, consensus may take years to form. “Pages” do not yet have automatic open comment, editors here must explicitly enable it, and sometimes forget. Ask for opening of comment through a comment on any page that has it enabled. An editor will clean it up and, I assume, enable the comments. (That is, provide a link to the original page, and we can also move comments).

This conversation is important, the future of humanity is at stake. Continue reading “Ignorance is bliss”

Abd in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, for two weeks

I’m visiting my children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving, flying to San Francisco, November 14, scheduled to return to Massachusetts November 28. I will be meeting with researchers, as well. There’s a lot going on, a major shift in understanding developed around ICCF-21. It’s actually old stuff, but somehow remained obscure.

A new lab is starting up, run by a familiar face, but I’m not giving details until I have permission.

If you will be in the Bay Area, and would like to meet, contact me.

Meanwhile, I’ve prepared several transcripts from the ICCF-21 videos. Michael Staker’s presentation was a bombshell. It’s not the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect replication he did — though interesting, that has been done so, so many times — it is the metallurgy, the understanding of super-abundant vacancies, and, yes, that’s a thing: SAV.

This is not your grandfather’s metal hydride. We’ve gone beyond A and B and even C (gamma phase). This is getting interesting.

Staker’s video transcript, with abstract, slides, and time-links to the video.

Other video transcripts done:
Darden
McKubre
Tanzella
Storms

Lines to ICCF-21 videos, plus abstracts and slides, are linked from ICCF-21/videos.

Bridges into the unknown

I woke up this morning afire with ideas. Happens sometimes. Some of these I will be implementing, but the best ideas involve community, how to create and strengthen community, and, in particular, the LENR community, and especially the young, with life and career ahead of them. They are the future, I merely am a dreamer and observer. Well, I’ve done more than that.

Then I touched my computer and my screen lit up with the Windows “screensaver,” and it was the image above. That led me to the work of Zaha Hadid, who, somehow, had escaped being noticed by me before. What … an … amazing … woman! The world is larger than I imagine, and, in line with that:

The future does not exist yet. But it’s possible, and I declare that the future will be better than anything we can imagine.

Because we say so. Join me?

Continue reading “Bridges into the unknown”

ICCF-21 Slides and Video, Transcripts available

The organizers of ICCF-21 have released oral presentation slides and video. The page to access them is at https://www.iccf21.com/videos-oral-presentations

There are actually three pages, with a graphic display of links that vary with the page. The link above is to the video link graphic, there are two others:

The slide graphic, and the abstract graphic.

However, our video index page is searchable. and will be a single page with all links.  That is where links to transcripts and other related resources will be placed. It takes about an hour to create a presentation transcript in the format I am using, and about a day to clean it up and polish it.

I will be creating indexes to this material, to make it more accessible for search and study.  For the first time, Darden’s keynote is available. The video I’ve seen is high quality and far surpasses the poor audio we had for some presentations (which was still appreciated, people provided what they had.)

Because there is Close Caption working with the videos (at least what I saw), I will also be preparing transcripts.

UPDATE:Done. This is the video page here.

The first transcript I started with was of Tom Darden, but I happened to complete the Michael Staker transcript first.  I will now go back and present the Darden video in the same way. I will also integrate the slides and abstracts, so one will be able to read the transcripts and make sense out of the references to slides.

This process is highly enlightening. In the case of the Staker video, I had already worked extensively on SAV sources, so everything he was saying made sense (and I could more accurately decode the automated transcription text). I had already worked with a draft of Staker’s ICCF-21 paper and Mike McKubre’s presentation at Greccio, which was co-authored with Staker, collecting all the sources. So it’s now all quite clear to me, amazingly so, from being obscure and “hard to understand.”

How to capture a YouTube transcript (general and ICCF-21 specific).
  1. Go to the YouTube page. The ICCF-21 videos are all listed in a single YouTube channel.
  2. [Below the title is a menu button ( . . . ). Press it and select “Open Transcript.” A window will open with the closed caption transcript. Ctrl-A within that window to highlight it, and Ctrl-C to capture it in your clipboard.] The italicized description worked when I was writing this. I just tried it again, and instead of just selecting the text in the transcript window, it selected much else on the page. To capture just the transcript text I needed to put the cursor at the beginning, maybe select a little text at the beginning — left-mouse-hold at the beginning and then move a little — and then shift-left-click at the end after scrolling to the end. (ctrl-home places the cursor at the beginning of the transcript and ctrl-end places it at the end). Then ctrl-C will copy the selected text.
  3. [Paste this into a word processor or other editor. I found that if it is straight pasted (which includes formatting) into the WordPress visual editor, every line is a link to the video, with the brief transcript for the time shown as the next line.] Again, that’s what I was able to do earlier, and I was unable to reproduce this behavior. So the text doesn’t have the links, those will be introduced in Excel.
  4. At this point the text is useful. If I have this text for a video, I can then proceed to create the WordPress page. The further this is taken, the less work for me.
  5. I copy the youtunr transcript to Excel, to massage that copy into the format I want on the page. The URLs are translated to specific jumps to the specific times, by adding “&t=12m34s” to the URL. (that would be a timestamp for 12:34. My guess is that “h” is used for hours.) The time, from the next line, is moved to the text portion of the “a” tag, and the </a> tag closing is moved to just after the time, leaving the transcript text open, unformatted.
  6. This will give a transcript with the timestamps as links followed by a space and the text.. I then add in the HTML code to display the time in 6 point type, to make it less obtrusive but still readable. Replace {<a}  with {<span style=”font-size: 6pt;”><a} (don’t copy the curly braces!) and {</a>} with {</a></span>}. 4 point can be used for this, it is sort-of readable. However, it’s useful to have it be more readable when editing the transcript.
  7. To speed up editing of this into continuous text, paragraphed, I replace all the LF/CR codes (represented in Word search and replace as “^p”) with spaces, so it becomes one huge “paragraph.” Then, editing the transcript, I paragraph it, simply by adding punctuation and a return (“Enter↵”).
  8. The HTML code is then copied back to my WordPress editor.
  9. I clean up the transcript in WordPress. At any time, I can follow a timestamp link to find the exact point in the video. If I press the link just before some text, there it is, quickly. However, because it takes some time for my computer to load the video, when editing, I have WordPress open in one window, and the YouTube video in another, so I can immediately press the stop/run button in the video, and so if I want to adjust the time, usually to go back, I use the YouTube slider and I know what time to go to, approximately, by the displayed link in WordPress.
  10. Once the text is paragraphed, I can add (in word) spacer code, to reduce the space. I’m using ten pixels instead of the default space (which I think is 20 pixels.) I’m using a WordPress shortcode from the Spacer plug-in for that. It’s a little tricky.
  11. The ICCF-21 has the slides available, and the presentations can make much more sense with the slides! I downloaded the slide PDF, renamed it with a simpler but still unique name, and used ILovePDF to convert this to individual JPEG images, Powershell to change the filenames to simple followed by the page number, and then I uploaded the files to the blog domain in a slides directory, uploads/slides, then I used MediatoFTP to register these as images. I used to manually upload all the images within WordPress, which puts them into dated media directories with much longer names. This gives me immediate access from the editor to the slides, searchable by slide number, and the Media facility remembers the last search, so I can just bump the number of to insert the next slide.
  12. So I watch the video again, inserting the slides. The normal place is in the time sequence when the speaker clicks to the next slide. For clarity, I vary this. Some speakers use many slides where another will use one, the many slides each adding something to the display.
  13. I add the slide numbers in Excel when I’m done. It’s too much work to add them when placing the image, and I found that if the slide number is put as a caption, it’s weirdly place. It was much easier to place the slide number as small text just before the image.
  14. You can see the results on two pages at this point: Staker and Storms.
  15. Comments are invited.
  16. Participation is invited.

I cannot imagine a better way to develop deep understanding of CMNS than work like this. To do this work well requires deep attention to detail. If you are unfamiliar with terms, you will become familiar, or you will make mistakes in editing the transcript.

I have the brain of a 74-year old.  They must have made some mistake!

It takes more repetition to learn than when I was younger, but I can still learn and the results are little short of amazing, certainly for me!

As to those mistakes, we hope, someone will find and correct them, and we will learn if we pay attention. Making mistakes is generally the fastest way to learn, and any error in these transcripts can be quickly fixed. I am considering putting them on the wiki, which would stand as a working draft.

I see that the following is somewhat redundant to what is above, but, hey, it’s only a paragraph. . . . The Staker and Storms videos are particularly significant now, considering discussions in the community about Super Abundant Vacancies. From working with sources, a presentation in Greccio this year and those two videos, I have enough familiarity with the findings that, to my great surprise, at least one major expert has deferred to my opinion. But I’m certainly not a full expert, just an opinionated reporter who loves to inform my readers as to what exists in sources, so that they can come to their own conclusions. I will report my opinions, sometimes, but they matter much less. Increasingly, they are informed.

The related fields are complex and can take advanced study and training, but, by continual exposure to the material, I become familiar with it.

I learned years ago to notice and drop the “this is too complicated” reaction that creates an obstacle to familiarity.

Our strong tendency is to remember what generates feelings, particularly feelings of dislike, rather than what is actually happening.

I actually don’t “try” to understand, I just keep looking, more or less like a child. Maybe I look something up if it seems interesting.

If I write, I check sources, over and over, I don’t just rely on memory, usually.

Since I have the sources, I cite them. All this can make my writing long. I write polemic in a different way.

I learned electronics and made it into a successful profession, when I was about 30, by having a basic background (but from many years before, obsolete, hey vacuum tube radios!), and then just looking at electronics magazines, and having a work opportunity allowing me to focus and learn some specifics. I did not “study” it.

I learned Arabic by reading the Qur’an in Arabic. (That simply requires learning the symbols, Qur’anic orthography is phonetic. Understanding Arabic came much later, after familiarity was developed. That’s a theme: familiarity.) Again, I did not learn by studying it. The fastest increase in comprehension actually came when I memorized a large chunk of the Qur’an. Before then, when I tried to study Arabic with grammars, etc.., it went in one eye and out the other. (Hah!) Arabic is famously difficult for non-Semitic language natives. But children learn it just as easily as other languages. Familiarity. Once I was familiar with the patterns of the language, the grammars then made far more sense. Otherwise they seemed like a pile of arbitrary rules to memorize.

Alternate channel

Some internet fora pretend to represent a community, and, sometimes, to some extent, they do. But it is common that the collection of users that would consider itself the community has no real power except to make a fuss (and maybe get banned) or walk away.

The Wikipedia community is a great example. There is a real community, but there is also a corporation which, for years, hid behind the trope that the community was in charge. Several years ago, they appear to have abandoned that, and the problems show up in quite a few ways.

Bottom line, the WikiMedia Foundation can and does, on its own, globally ban users, with no explanation and using a crude tool that disables account access and incoming email, cutting the user off. They announce to the world that the person is banned (without explanation but generally implying that the Terms of Service have been violated, which is sometimes false). In fact, the community is banned from communicating with the user! At least using the open email access that is normal through the MediaWiki interface. (Some time back it was discovered that a globally locked user could receive mail if they had email enabled, and so the Foundation quietly fixed that.)

And they do this arbitrarily, with no notice to the user, no warning, and they claim, no appeal possible. They ignore requests for review or to correct errors. It’s a lifetime ban of the person, not the account, and one person was banned with no account, banned by his real name.

Lenr-forum also bans users. For most bans, there is a fairly obvious reason, but occasionally, it’s personal and arbitrary and lenr-forum administration is opaque. But they cannot stop people from reading the site and commenting, and I’m not talking about creating sock puppets. Some time ago, I started occasionally commenting on lenr-forum, using hypothes.is. This tool was designed for academic use, largely. Comment on any web site, and share the comments with a group or with the world. I highly recommend it for the possibilities. I have the tool installed in my browser, so I can add a comment anywhere, with no fuss or special log-in, and I can make it private or publish it.

So, some links:

All comments on lenr-forum.com (by anyone using hypothes.is)

All my comments on lenr-forum

(at this point, both links return the same 116 comments. They are returned in reverse date order, so, as you can see, I made 7 comments recently.)

All my comments anywhere.

I just added new comments on a Shanahan post.

My ideal is better than your reality

Much criticism is based on this comparison between real-world expression and the critic’s ideas, which, of course, may be revised, ad hoc.

This extends far outside science. Our ideas of perfect morality may be, for example, compared with the real behavior of (some) formal members of a religion, as if this demonstrates the superiority of our religion (or our ideals) over the other.

Because there was only one major and relatively deep critique of the Fleischmann-Pons calorimetry, published in a mainstream journal, one debate where there was original publication, critique (by D.R.O. Morrison), and author response, last year I began a page hierarchy to study the debate. The original as-published documents are behind a pay-wall, so I used copies from lenr-canr.org, that were based on a copy of the Morrison critique from sci.physics.fusion, an internet newsgroup, an obsolete form similar to a mailing list.

I first observed the issue of paper integrity in that the FP paper was not identical to the lenr-canr.org copy, which is likely a copy supplied to that library by an author. That is routine for lenr-canr copies of journal-published papers, for copyright reasons. The changes seemed quite minor (I will check this again more thoroughly). But for no decent reason, I did not check the Morrison critique against the later as-published version, and because that as-published version is not widely available, I preferred to use a version that anyone could check against my copy.

And that was an error. I was then distracted by other business, and as continued participation in the review did not appear, I did not return to my study of the debate until yesterday. I started by completing the adding of URLs for references, and then began going over the Morrison paper. It was full of errors or non sequiturs, immature argument, etc. And I started to wonder how this had gotten past peer review. Journals do not necessarily review critiques as strongly as original papers, and I have seen blatant errors in such critiques. Ordinarily, it is left to the authors to correct such errors. In one case where a blatant error was left standing (the Shanahan review in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring), the error was so ridiculously bad that the authors and others responding completely missed it, instead focusing on Shanahan’s conclusion from his seriously defective analysis. Argument from conclusion, naughty, naughty!)

The Morrison document from the newsgroup had this at the top:
5th DRAFT – Scientific Comments Welcomed.

There were no serious responses to that post, threaded with it. (There were other responses that can be found with some searching, made more complicated by some very poor Google archiving practices, what they did when they took over the newsgroups. I will cover other responses (some of it is interesting) elsewhere.

What Morrison was doing was, in part, to be commended, he was putting his work out there for critique before final submission. However, by this time, the scientific community had become highly polarized, and serious discussion, what might be called collaborative critique, good scientific process, was often missing. It still is, too often. Morrison’s critique would be useful, even if “wrong” in this way or that, because what Morrison wrote would be what many would think, but not necessarily write.

I came back to this issue because I noticed a mention of my study on lenr-forum.com. The remainder of this post is a detailed response to that. Continue reading “My ideal is better than your reality”

Right and wrong at the same time

may be subject to copyright

The cold fusion horizon

Is cold fusion truly impossible, or is it just that no respectable scientist can risk their reputation working on it? — Huw Price

I’ve been reading about Synthestech, blogged about it, and now Deneum, more of the SOS, but a step up in professional hype.

Steve Krivit was right about Rossi, he was — and remains — , ah, how shall I express it? The technical phrase is “liar, liar, pants on fire.” But Krivit’s evidence was weak on the subject, mostly raising obvious suspicions, and Tom Darden and  his friends knew that they needed much better evidence, which they proceeded to obtain.

They found quite enough to conclude that if Rossi had anything, it was so certainly useless and so buried in piles of deceptions and misleading information that they simply walked away, it wasn’t worth the cost of completing the trial in Rossi v. Darden in order to keep the rights, which they could rather easily have done.

Krivit was “right,” certainly in a way, but his claims were obvious, in fact. He was right to report what he found, but it was misleading, and useless, to label everything with approbation and contempt, the habits of yellow journalism.

It is not clear that Industrial Heat could have avoided the cost of their expedition. What I find remarkable is how few have learned anything from the affair, and some of those who clearly have learned, have learned how to better extract money from a shallow, knee-jerk public.

The post today is inspired by a photo I found on the Deneum twitter feed. I will be writing about Deneum, there is a real scientist behind Deneum, but is there real science as well? That’s unclear, but what is very clear is the level of hype, that Deneum is representing itself in ways that will lead a casual reader to imagine they already have a product and merely need to start manufacturing it. So $100 million, please. Here is where to send it.

It’s a rich topic for commentary, but today, I’m following some breadcrumbs found, a blogger who was right and wrong, in a different way, more or less from the other side. The photo above, and the headline is from a post by Huw Price, 21 December, 2015

That date is important. At that point, Thomas Darden had been interviewed at ICCF-19, and had made some positive noises. By that time, Darden knew that something was very off about Rossi, and some — or all — of his positivity may have been about technology other than Rossi’s. At the time, I noticed how vague it was. In early 2016, Rossi claimed to have completed the “Guaranteed Performance Test” and was billing Industrial Heat for $89 million. And it was all a scam, a tissue of lies and deceptions. So, now, because of the lawsuit Rossi filed,  we know, to a reasonable degree of certainty, how the Rossi affair worked and did not work. How does Dr. Price’s essay look in hindsight, and has he ever commented?

I’m using hypothesis.is to comment on that essay, because I don’t want to pay $500 to syndicate it, though it is an excellent essay, in the general principles brought out. I may also, later, copy some excerpts here.

The annotations

. (To see them, one must install a tool from hypothes.is, which I highly recommend. Hypothes.is is not intrusive. To start.)

Having written that, I now find that Huw Price also blogged this himself, as

My Dinner with Andrea. Cute title.

A few months later, Huw Price wrote another essay for Aeon:

Is the cold fusion egg about to hatch?

His speculations were off. Has he followed up?

I’ve been unable to find anything, so far. Will the real Huw Price please stand up?

 

 

 

 

Impressive, eh? How could that be a scam?

But it was. So how was

Synthestech scam?

It’s come to my attention that there is a company, Synthestech, which has, for about a year, been running an Initial Coin Offering, as an investment in “Cold Transmutation of Chemical Elements.”

Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, which Sythestech is promoting, are real, or at least there are reports by competent and reputable scientists that there are such reactions. However, the state of the art is far, far from any commercial potential, and there have been many scammers in the history of LENR. Reading the Synthestech material, I see no sign that they have a clue how to make this work, reproducibly and practically. There have been many, many researchers working on the problems for many years, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested, with little practical result. If this does show up, it is unlikely to be through an activity using very shaky fundraising techniques.

If one wants to invest in LENR, which must be considered extremely high risk at this time, –expect to lose your money  I would suggest Industrial Heat, which does not accept most private investment at this time. At least, though, they are supporting genuine research and it is possible they will get lucky. For the general public, Woodford Patient Capital Trust is invested in Industrial Heat, so it’s possible to buy in, I know a few people who have modest stakes — and a few with much larger stakes. This is, however, more of a way to spend one’s money than to get rich. There was a revaluation lately that looked good. It may or may not mean anything.

Again, I’ll emphasize, this is truly high risk, I am aware of no technology close to commercialization. Andrea Rossi was (and remains) a fraud.

Speaking of Rossi, Sythestech uses his name. In their “White Paper,” they have:

Andrea Rossi was one of
the first entrepreneurs who adopted the LENR technology. In collaboration with Sergio Focardi, he created a device based on the principles of LENR-reactions, which generated electricity. In recent years, many installations that generate electricity have been built secretly.

That’s total BS. Rossi has not claimed the generation of elecricity. He did claim to be operating a megawatt reactor in Florida, and it was secret for a time, but all this blew up in 2016, becoming highly public in the lawsuit, Rossi v. Darden. There was a plant, but it was not generating a megawatt, if it was generating anything, and the odds are high that it was generating nothing, it was just a big electric water heater, maybe 30 KW.

Rossi comes up again in the interview in Entrepreneur

Your whitepaper ICO mentions modern nuclear technology. Do you also develop advanced nuclear technologies? Could you tell us more about this?

In fact, the field has become more popular than ever. Latest advancements in portable power generation devices developed by Andrea Rossi and progress in obtaining platinum from tungsten by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, indicate that Cold Transmutation has gained real-world traction.

There are no “portable power generation devices developed by Andrea Rossi.” There has been work on certain transmutations by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (the work of Iwamura), but it was not “platinum from tungsten” and was not even close to commercial possibility. Synthestech is doing a lot of name-dropping, making it seem like there is support for their plans. There is not, not from the scientists in the field, not as far as has been shown.

There are so many signs of scam, frenzied hype, that I’m not researching this further, there are many more interesting things to work on, with the real science of LENR. I’m putting this up to warn investors that, while LENR is real, that is, there are real nuclear effects at apparently low initiation energies, the evidence has become overwhelming, the effects remain very difficult to control, they are “unreliable,” generally, in spite of many years of effort to develop control. The best minds in the field are searching for a “lab rat,” a simple experiment that could be widely confirmed. It does not yet exist.

(The evidence for the reality of LENR does not depend on reliability of generating the effect. Rather, the circumstantial evidence is the many reports of anomalous heat, the many reports of anomalous tritium, and then the direct evidence that measured helium is correlated with the heat, at a ratio consistent within experimental error of that expected from fusion. (This does not require that the reaction be “d-d fusion.” Any process that starts with deuterium and ends with helium will show that ratio, it must, if there are no leakages.)

David Gerard, not exactly a friend, has a post on Synthestech. He has his head wedged in a dark place on LENR, but he’s right that Synthestech is a scam. It has many, many marks of deception. However:

Karabanov announced his breakthrough in a press release and press conference in August 2016 — because science by press conference, rather than a published paper detailing an experiment and how to reproduce it, is standard in cold fusion:

It is not “standard in cold fusion.” There were press conferences in 1989, on both sides of the cold fusion controversy, but the real science is not conducted by press conference. There are over 1500 papers on cold fusion published in mainstream journals and if we add in conference proceedings, which sometimes include papers of equal or better quality than what is in journals, it’s roughly 5000 papers. David Gerard is repeating a series of tired old arguments against cold fusion. He has no clue what really happened in 1989-1990 and later, just a pile of vague ideas, second-hand knowledge, not actually researched, repeating the common opinions of the ignorant as if fact.

The problem is not that “cold nuclear transmutation” is impossible, it’s not, but that it is, so far, at best, a laboratory curiosity, not a commercial possibility, except in the most remote sense.Maybe. Some day. If.

Dismissals like that of David Gerard are obviously pseudoskeptical and will have no effect or influence on those who might be interested in investing. Steve Krivit was correct that Rossi was a scammer, but because his evidence was circumstantial and vague, dependent on ad-hominem arguments and inferences, it did not prevent investment in Rossi.

There are many Russian researchers working with LENR, they have long been prominent in the field. I see no sign, so far, that Synthestech is working with the real scientists in the field, though they drop their names, such as Vysotskii and Kornilova. I found that apparently Yuri Bazhutov, the late well-known Russian LENR researcher, has been called an “advisor” to Synthestech. See this obituary.

That points to a Sythestech interview of Bazhutov. I had noticed that Sythestech has claimed to have been an observer at RCCNT&BL in 2017, and the interview was allegedly conducted there. There is only one very brief mention of Synthestech in the interview:

What can you say about “Synthestech” and your visit to the Sochi laboratory?

We were pleased to know that there is a new group in Russia that is studying the same phenomena. It’s very pleasant that there is such a team as “Synthestech”, because the winner is the one who moves.

That is simply a casual comment, non-committal, and not surprising. This is far from an endorsement of the actual company, or its accomplishments. Many entrepreneurs have induced scientists to be called “advisors.” It’s basically meaningless, particularly when the company is unknown and the scientist has little reason to suspect a scam. I have seen scientists, later, distance themselves from such companies, when the way they were operating became clear.

Again, if one wants to support LENR research, I recommend becoming knowledgeable as a first step. There are many ways to support increased awareness of the real work that has been done. Tossing money at overheated investment scams is not one of them. Contact me if interested in supportive activity.

On more point: the original research that Karabanov of Synthestech appropriate was biological transmutation. To those that believe cold fusion or cold nuclear transmutation is impossible, biological transmutation will seem preposterous.

However, there are nuclear effects in condensed matter, that appear to involve unusual structures that allow a collective effect, rather than the brute-force collision effect of hot fusion. This is all poorly understood, but the evidence of nuclear anomalies is overwhelming, and if it can happen in the lab, at low energies, it is easily conceivable that life would find a way to use it, and there is substantial work on biological transmutation, by serious and highly experienced scientists (such as Vysotskii, whose name gets dropped by Karabanov). Most of this is not yet confirmed.

Karabanov is attempting to sell something that might be possible, almost certainly before its time. Here is a page covering some of that research by those identified as Karabanov’s partners. It looks like Karabanov abandoned the biological approach, and he claims to have industrial processes. No evidence has appeared of this. When challenged with, “If you can transmute elements, why do you need the bitcoin investments?” (he could just make precious metals), his answer is that the experiments only produce milligrams of material. I think he is exaggerating even there, if not outright lying, but what is a few orders of magnitude among friends?

Looking for “boring,” finding gold

I’ve been spending most of my days, lately, compiling bibliographic material, and setting up archives of LENR conference papers, as well as a full LENR Library. Where I can find an on-line copy of the Proceedings, it’s easy, merely a bit time-consuming. In other cases proceedings may only exist in a few libraries, and it may take time to find those copies. Sometimes scans are made of books, but the cheap way of doing this, at $0.01 – $0.02 per page, involves destroying the book. These volumes, where they exist, may sell for on the order of $300. It is not necessary to destroy the book to read it, and if it can be read, it can be photographed, and that is now easy with smart phones. My 64 GB iPhone could hold high-resolution photos of every page of a 1000-page book, without breaking a sweat. I might get a little tired, I figure I could, with a simple setup, maybe 2 pages per minute. So 500 minutes for a 1000 page book, 8 hours. To avoid RSI, not less than two days. Doable. I will only do this if necessary, and will attempt to share the work.

All needed, perhaps, because nobody bothered to keep and make available original copies of computer files. Material is still being lost. As an example, abstracts and proceedings have recently disappeared from iscmns.org. Documents once hosted by newenergytimes.com have vanished. Sometimes these can be found on the internet archive, sometimes not.

Below, I report benefits of working with this material. Continue reading “Looking for “boring,” finding gold”

Being right is not enough

or How “fusion” created confusion.

We now have strong evidence that the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect, sometimes known as the Anomalous Heat Effect, is nuclear in nature and accomplishes the transmutation of deuterium into helium, as the main reaction generating heat, but this evidence was not available in the early days of the field. Skeptics and “believers” conspired (albeit not realizing what they were doing) to call what was actually observed — or claimed, and the two were heavily confused — by Pons and Fleischmann, “cold fusion.” Even when a little careful thought would have exposed the distinction.\

What Pons and Fleischmann observed, in experiments with extreme loading of palladium with deuterium, was anomalous heat, with an apparent energy density or net energy production higher than they could explain with chemistry. They also saw weak signals associated with fusion, specifically, they believed they had seen evidence of neutrons, they detected tritium, and also helium. They did not have quantitative correlations, and  the quantities found of tritum and neutrons and the ratio of heat to tritium and neutrons, and tritium to neutrons, was far different from that expected if they had succeeded in creating normal fusion.

So what they had found, if it was nuclear in nature, was not “d-d fusion,” almost certainly, which is very well known, and which is believed to necessarily produce those products.

I just came across some remarkable language from 1990 that shows the issue. This is in a report to ICCF-1, by Iyangar and Srinivasan, from BARC, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, India. These were nuclear experts, and there was, for a time, a massive effort to investigate cold fusion.

Wait, to investigate “cold fusion”? What’s that? Getting little details like exactly what one is investigating and why can be, ah, let’s call it useful.

From the abstract, and, remember, I have the benefit of an intervening three decades of history, a huge dollop of hindsight. What I’m seeing here as a misunderstanding that fostered confusion and conflict was something that many, many thought, it was language in common use. From the abstract:

A wide variety of experiments have been carried out by twelve independent teams employing both electrolytic and gas phase loading of deuterium in Pd and Ti metals to investigate the phenomenon of cold fusion first reported by Fleischmann and Pons in March 1989. The experiments were primarily devoted to the study of the emission of nuclear particles such as neutrons and tritium with a view to verify the“nuclear origin”of cold fusion.

Did Fleischmann and Pons report “cold fusion”? It was quite unfortunate that they mentioned the classical fusion reactions in their first paper, because it was totally obvious that what they were seeing, whatever it was, was not those reactions. The evidence that a nuclear reaction was happening was circumstantial, not enough to overcome strong expectation that such reactions would be impossible in the conditions of their experiments

That is, there was heat that they could not explain. If the heat were regular and predictable and reproducible, that could have been enough. But it wasn’t. The heat effect was elusive. “I can’t explain these results with chemistry” is not evidence with which one could convince a physicist. One would first need to convince the physicist that the evidence is clear and not artifact, because if one has telegraphed that you think this is something the physicist will think is impossible, they will examine all the evidence with a jaundiced eye. It’s just human nature.

So “cold fusion” started off with a handicap. It really didn’t help that the neutron evidence that Pons and Fleischmann adduced was artifact. What we know now is that very few neutrons, if any, are generated with their experiment.

(We need to realize that many difference kinds of experiments get lumped together as “cold fusion,” but different experiments may actually show different results, different reactions might be happening under conditions that are sometimes not adequately controlled. By conceptualizing the object of study as “cold fusion,” an assumption is created of a single phenomenon, and then when results differ, the reality of the alleged phenomenon comes into question.l)

What was reasonably being investigated was the possibility of nuclear phenomena in certain metals loaded with deuterium. The first issue to investigate was, for most groups, heat. But groups with a particular interest in nuclear physics often investigated neutrons, and when it was found that many replication attempts produced very few neutrons, this strengthened skepticism. There was also a common assumption that if nuclear reactions were happening, there must be neutrons. That is simply false, but the absence of neutrons from what was being assumed to be deuterium-deuterium fusion, that’s actually a very dificult puzzle.

The first order of business was to detect, measure, and correlate phenomena, not to interpret the results, but this was all pre-interpreted. They were investigating “cold fusion.” Not, say, “the Fleischman and Pons reports of anomalous heat.”

Ask a physicist, could there be deuterium fusion in palladium deuteride at room temperature, and he or she is likely to tell you, straight out, “No.” But ask this scientist if there could be a heat effect of unknown origin, and if they are worth their salt, they would tell you, well, we don’t know everything and sometimes it can take time to figure out what is happening.

Tbe report desperately needing confirmation was what Pons and Fleischmann had actually observed, once the confusion over their neutron reports was cleared up. “Cold fusion” was an interpretation, not an experimental fact, or certainly not yet.

Tritium was widely observed, it wasn’t just BARC. But was the tritium connected with the prime Fleischmann=Pons effect, the heat? And then things really got crazy when reports started to show up of a heat effect with light hydrogen. Again, the concept of a single phenomenon caused confusion. It is not that we know there is more than one reaction, we don’t know that yet. But it is quite possible, the “law of conservation of miracles” is not a law, and cold fusion is not a miracle. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, and while I use the tern “cold fusion,” often, I would not use it academically without clear definition. At least I hope not!

By “cold fusion” i mean the FP Heat Effect and other possible affects commonly associated with it or believed or claimed to be related. I justify the use of the term because the known product from the FP Heat Effect is helium, which is, Ockham’s Razor with the evidence we have, coming from the conversion oi deuterium to helium. That is fusion in effect, which must be distinguished from “deuterium fusion,” i.e., two deuterium nuclei fusing. Why? That reaction is very well known and the products are well known, and there are reasons to consider that even if this happens somehow at low energy, the products will be the same.

(When a physicist claims that “cold fusion” is impossible, because of the Coulomb barrier making the fusion rate be so low as to be indetectable, they are being sloppy, because muon-catalyzed fusion takes place at extremely low temperatures. Muons act as catalysts, so the immediate question arises, could something else catalyze fusion. An inability to imagine it is, again, not evidence. The universe is vast and possibilities endless, we cannot know all of them, only what is common.)

In 22 different electrolytic experiments whose cathode surface areas ranged from 0.1 to 300 cm2 , large bursts of neutrons and/or tritium were measured. Some of these gave clear evidence that these two nuclear particles were being generated simultaneously. The neutron-to-tritium yield ratios in the majority of these experiments was in the range of 10-6 to 10-9.

“Large bursts” is suspicious. Large compared to what? I have not read the report in detail yet. (I will). But tritium is a minor effect associated with the FP Heat Effect. It may be the case that tritium is enhanced if there is substantial light hydrogen in the heavy water, but even a little light water tends to suppress the FP Heat Effect. Even if there is some single mechanism, it behaves differently when presented with different fuels. The norm with cold fusion experiments, though, is that high-energy radiation and radioactive products are found only at very low levels. The rule of thumb, I state as tritium being a million times down from helium, and neutrons a million times down from helium. Helium production, with deuterium fuel (helium is not reported with light hydrogen as fuel, and we don’t know the product of light hydrogen “cold fusion.”

Those ratios are strong evidence that “cold fusion” is not d-d fusion, because the operation of d-d fusion, how and why the nucleus normally fragments, is well understood. I.e, the fused nucleus, the product of that fusion, is highly energized, it’s hot. That is true even if the reaction is not hot fusion (and the kinetic energy involved with fusion from the velocity of impact is dwarfed by the energy of collapse, as the nucleons collapse under the influence of the strong force. (Very strong force!)  There is so much energy that normally the nucleus breaks into two pieces and there are only two ways it can do that. It can eject a proton or it can eject a neutron, to carry away that energy and leave the nucleus in the ground state, cool. That’s the two branches, and it is mostly equal which nucleon ends up being odd man out. Hence the two common branches,

1H2 (deuterium)+ 1H2 -> 1H3 (Helium-3)+ 1H(light hydrogen, a proton) + energy

1H2 + 1H2 -> 2He3 (Helium-4) + 0N 1 (a neutron) + energy

And then the third branch is very rare. If the nucleus happens to be exactly balanced (I think, maybe balance is not an issue, just the odds), and manages to live intact long enough to generate a photon, the nucleons can stay together and almost all the energy is dumped into the photon, which is very high energy, 23.8 MeV. (The rest of the energy is in the recoil of the helium nucleus.) I think the branching ratio for that is one in 10^-7 reactions. One in ten million.

So that becomes another miracle that exercised Huizenga. If somehow the fusion happens (spectacularly unlikely!), and somehow it manages to produce helium (very unlikely), there must be a gamma ray, a very energetic one. This would be, at the heat levels reported, very dangerous. It’s not observed. That’s strong evidence that d+d fusion is no happening.

Something else is happening. In that context and with that understanding, and given the mishegas about “cold fusion” it was important to be investigating phenomena, not explanations. Tritium was actually contradictory to the FP Heat Effect, in general. It was lumped together with it because if tritium was being produced, “something nuclear” was happening. But what is the evidence that the heat was nuclear. Maybe if we look carefully, we will see nuclear reactions happening at low levels in unexpected places.

A unique feature of the BARC electrolysis results is that the first bursts of neutrons and tritium occurred (in 8 out of 11 cells) on the very first day of commencement of electrolysis, when hardly a few amp-hrs of charge had been passed.

This is evidence that the effects they are seeing are not the FP Heat Effect! It doesn’t happen that early, in FP type electrolysis experiments. There are rapid effects reported with codeposition, a different approach.

But the occasion for this post was the linguistic anomaly here. I’ll repeat it:

The experiments were primarily devoted to the study of the emission of nuclear particles such as neutrons and tritium with a view to verify the“nuclear origin”of cold fusion.

“Fusion” is a nuclear reaction. So they are looking to verify the nuclear origin of a nuclear reaction. It’s a tautology. As to looking for nuclear particles associated with what was called “cold fusion,” the FP Heat Effect, they are missing, mostly. What BARC found was at very low levels. Helium was suspected early on, but (because of no gammas) was not given a great deal of credence, and there was an additional reason to doubt helium evidence: helium is present in the atmosphere at levels normally greater than those expected if the FP Heat Effect were producing helium. So in many experiments (not all), leakage can be a possible artifact. It took careful work (beginning with Miles as to what I know so far) to actually show that helium is the main product of the FP Heat Effect.

That has been done, and confirmed many times. Tritium, however, is interesting, scientifically, and there is much work still to be done with tritium, and in particular, investigating tritium correlations with other products and conditions.

 

Consensus is what we say it is

But who are “we”?

HM CollinsA BartlettLI Reyes-Galindo,  The Ecology of Fringe Science and its Bearing on Policy, arXiv:1606.05786v1 [physics.soc-ph],  Sat, 18 Jun 2016.

 In this paper we illustrate the tension between mainstream ‘normal’, ‘unorthodox’ and ‘fringe’ science that is the focus of two ongoing projects that are analysing the full ecology of physics knowledge. The first project concentrates on empirically understanding the notion of consensus in physics by investigating the policing of boundaries that is carried out at the arXiv preprint server, a fundamental element of the contemporary physics publishing landscape. The second project looks at physics outside the mainstream and focuses on the set of organisations and publishing outlets that have mushroomed outside of mainstream physics to cover the needs of ‘alternative’, ‘independent’ and ‘unorthodox’ scientists. Consolidating both projects into the different images of science that characterise the mainstream (based on consensus) and the fringe (based on dissent), we draw out an explanation of why today’s social scientists ought to make the case that, for policy-making purposes, the mainstream’s consensus should be our main source of technical knowledge.

I immediately notice a series of assumptions: that the authors  know what “consensus in physics” is, or “the mainstream (based on consensus)”, and that this, whatever it is, should be our main source of “technical knowledge.” Who is it that is asking the question, to whom does “our” refer in the last sentence?

Legally, the proposed argument is bullshit. Courts, very interested in knowledge, fact and clear interpretation, do not determine what the “mainstream consensus” is on a topic, nor do review bodies, such as, with our special interest, the U.S. Department of Energy in its 1989 and 2004 reviews. Rather, they seek expert opinion, and, at best, in a process where testimony and evidence are gathered.

Expert opinion would mean the opinions of those with the training, experience, and knowledge adequate to understand a subject, and who have actually investigated the subject themselves, or who are familiar with the primary reports of those who have investigated. Those who rely on secondary and tertiary reports, even from academic sources, would not be “expert” in this meaning. Those who rely on news media  would simply be bystanders, with varying levels of understanding, and quite vulnerable to information cascades, the same as everyone with anything where personal familiarity is absent. The general opinions of people are not admissible as evidence in court, nor are they of much relevance in science.

But sociologists study human society. Where these students of the sociology of science wander astray is in creating a policy recommendation — vague though it is — without thoroughly exploring the foundations of the topic.

Are those terms defined in the paper?

Consensus is often used very loosely and sloppily. Most useful, I think, is the meaning of “the widespread agreement of experts,” and the general opinion of a general body is better described by “common opinion.” The paper is talking about “knowledge,” and especially “scientific knowledge,” which is a body of interpretation created through the “scientific method,” and which is distinct from the opinions of scientists, and in particular the opinions of those who have not studied the subject.

1ageneral agreement UNANIMITY

the consensus of their opinion, based on reports … from the border—John Hersey

bthe judgment arrived at by most of those concerned

the consensus was to go ahead

2group solidarity in sentiment and belief

Certainly, the paper is not talking about unanimity, indeed, the whole thrust of it is to define fringe as “minority,” So the second definition applies, but is it of “those concerned”? By the conditions of the usage, “most scientists” are not “concerned” with the fringe, they generally ignore it. But “consensus” is improperly used, when the meaning is mere majority.

And when we are talking about a “scientific consensus,” to make any sense, we must be talking about the consensus of experts, not the relatively ignorant. Yet the majority of humans like to be right and to think that their opinions are the gold standard of truth. And scientists are human.

The paper is attempting to create a policy definition of science, without considering the process of science, how “knowledge” is obtained. It is, more or less, assuming the infallibility of the majority, at some level of agreement, outside the processes of science. 

We know from many examples the danger of this. The example of Semmelweiss is often adduced. Semmelweiss’s research and his conclusions contradicted the common opinion of physicians who delivered babies. He studied the problem of “childbed fever” with epidemological techniques, and came to the conclusion that the primary cause of the greatly increased mortality among those attended by physicians over those attended by midwives, was the practice of doctors who performed autopsies (a common “scientific” practice of those days) and who left the autopsy and examined women invasively, without thorough antisepsis. Semmelweiss studied hospital records, and then introduced antiseptic practices, and saw a great decrease in mortality.

But Semmelweiss was, one of his biographers thinks, becoming demented, showing signs of “Alzheimer’s presenile dementia,” and Semmelweiss became erratic and oppositional (one of the characteristics of some fringe advocates, as the authors of our paper point out). He was ineffective in communicating his findings, but it is also true that he met with very strong opposition that was not based in science, but in the assumption of physicians that what Semmelweiss was proposing was impossible.

This was before germ theory was developed and tested by Pasteur. The error of the “mainstream” was in not paying attention to the evidence Semmelweiss found. If they had done so, it’s likely that many thousands of unnecessary deaths would have been avoided.

I ran into something a little bit analogous in my personal history. I delivered my own children, after our experience with the first, relying on an old obstetrics textbook (DeLee, 1933) and the encouragement of an obstetrician. Later, because my wife and I had experience, we created a midwifery organization, trained midwives, and got them licensed by the state, a long story. The point here is that some obstetricians were horrified, believing that what we were doing was unsafe, and that home birth was necessarily riskier than hospital birth. That belief was based on wishful thinking.

“We do everything to make this as safe as possible” is not evidence of success.

An actual study was done, back then. It was found that home birth in the hands of skilled midwives, and with proper screening, i.e., not attempting to deliver difficult cases at home, was slightly safer than hospital birth, though the difference was not statistically significant. Why? Does it matter why?

However, there is a theory, and I think the statistics supported it. A woman delivering at home is accustomed to and largely immune to microbes present in the home. Not so with the hospital. There are other risks where being at home could increase negative outcomes, but they are relatively rare, and it appears that the risks at least roughly balance. But a great deal would depend on the midwives and how they practice.

(There is a trend toward birthing centers, located adjacent to hospitals, to avoid the mixing of the patient population. This could ameliorate the problem, but not eliminate it. Public policy, though, if we are going to talk about “shoulds,” should not depend on wishful thinking, and too often it does.)

(The best obstetricians, though, professors of obstetrics, wanted to learn from the midwives: How do you avoid doing an episiotomy? And we could answer that from experience. Good scientists are curious, not reactive and protective of “being right,” where anything different from what they think must be “wrong.” And that is, in fact, how the expertise of a real scientist grows.)

Does the paper actually address the definitional and procedural issues? From my first reading, I didn’t see it.

From the Introduction:

 Fringe science has been an important topic since the start of the revolution in the social studies of science that occurred in the early 1970s.2 As a softer-edged model of the sciences developed, fringe science was a ‘hard case’ on which to hammer out the idea that scientific truth was whatever came to count as scientific truth: scientific truth emerged from social closure. The job of those studying fringe science was to recapture the rationality of its proponents, showing how, in terms of the procedures of science, they could be right and the mainstream could be wrong and therefore the consensus position is formed by social agreement.

First of all, consensus in every context is formed by social agreement, outside of very specific contexts (which generally control the “agreement group” and the process). The conclusion stated does not follow from the premise that the fringe “could be right.” The entire discussion assumes that there is a clear meaning to “right” and “wrong,” it is ontologically unsophisticated. Both “right” and “wrong” are opinions, not fact, though there are cases where we would probably all agree that something was right or wrong, but when we look at this closely, they are situations where evidence is very strong, or the rightness and wrongness are based on fundamental human qualities. They are still a social agreement, even if written in our genes.

I do get a clue what they are about, though, in the next paragraph:

One outcome of this way of thinking is that sociologists of science informed by the perspective outlined above find themselves short of argumentative resources for demarcating science from non-science.

These are sociologists, yet they appear to classify an obvious sociological observation as “a way of thinking,” based on the effect, this being argument from consequences, having no bearing on the reality. So, for what purpose would we want to distinguish between science and non-science? The goal, apparently, is to be able to argue the distinction, but this is an issue which has been long studied. In a definitional question like this, my first inquiry is, “Who wants to know, and why?” because a sane answer will consider context.

There are classical ways of identifying the boundaries. Unfortunately, those ways require judgment. Whose judgment? Rather than judgment, the authors appear to be proposing the use of a vague concept of “scientific consensus,” that ignores the roots of that. “Scientific consensus” is not, properly, the general agreement of those called “scientists,” but of those with expertise, as I outline above. It is a consensus obtained through collective study of evidence. It can still be flawed, but my long-term position on genuine consensus is that it is the most reliable guide we have, and as long as we keep in mind the possibility that any idea can be defective, any interpretation may become obsolete, in the language of Islam, if we do not “close the gates of ijtihaad,” as some imagine happened over a thousand years ago, relying on social agreement, and especially the agreement of the informed, is our safest course.

They went on:

The distinction with traditional philosophy of science, which readily
demarcates fringe subjects such as parapsychology by referring to their ‘irrationality’ or some such, is marked.3
For the sociologist of scientific knowledge, that kind of demarcation comprises a retrospective drawing on what is found within the scientific community. In contrast, the sociological perspective explains why a multiplicity of conflicting views on the same topic, each with its own scientific justification, can coexist. A position that can emerge from this perspective is to argue for less authoritarian control of new scientific initiatives – for a loosening of the controls on the restrictive side of what Kuhn (1959, 1977) called ‘the essential tension’. The essential tension is between those who believe that science can only progress within consensual
‘ways of going on’ which restrict the range of questions that can be asked, the ways of asking and answering them and the kinds of criticism that it is legitimate to offer – this is sometime known as working within ‘paradigms’ – and those who believe that this kind of control is unacceptably  authoritarian and that good science is always maximally creative and has no bounds in these respects. This tension is central to what we argue here. We note only that a complete loosening of control would lead to the dissolution of science.

They note that, but adduce no evidence. Control over what? There are thousands upon thousands of institutions, making decisions which can affect the viability of scientific investigation. The alleged argument, stated as contrary “beliefs,” misses that there could be a consensus, rooted in reality. What is reality? And there we need more than the kind of shallow sociology that I see here. Socially, we get the closest to the investigation of reality in the legal system, where there are processes and procedures for finding “consensus,” as represented by the consensus of a jury, or the assessment of a judge, with procedures in place to assure neutrality, even though we know that those procedures sometimes fail, hence there are appeal procedures, etc.

In science, in theory, “closure” is obtained through the acceptance of authoritative reviews, published in refereed journals. Yet such process is not uncommonly bypassed in the formation of what is loosely called “scientific consensus.” In those areas, such reviews may be published, but are ignored, dismissed. It is the right of each individual to decide what information to follow, and what not, except when the individual, or the supervising organization, has a responsibility to consider it. Here, it appears, there is an attempt to advise organizations, as to what they should consider “science.”

Why do they need to decide that? What I see is that if one can dismiss claims coming under consideration, based on an alleged “consensus,” which means, in practice, I call up my friend, who is a physicist, say, and he says, “Oh, that’s bullshit, proven wrong long ago. Everybody knows.”

If someone has a responsibility, it is not discharged by receiving and acting on rumors.

The first question, about authoritarian control, is, “Does it exist?” Yes, it does. And the paper rather thoroughly documents it, as regards the arXiv community and library. However, if a “pseudoskeptic” is arguing with a “fringe believer,” — those are both stereotypical terms —  and the believer mentions the suppression, the skeptic will assert, “Aha! Conspiracy theory!” And, in fact, when suppression takes place, conspiracy theories do abound. This is particularly true if the suppression is systemic, rather than anecdotal. And with fringe science, once a field is so tagged, it is systemic.

Anyone who researches the history of cold fusion will find examples, where authoritarian control is exerted with means that not openly acknowledged, and with cooperation and collaboration in this. Is that a “conspiracy”? Those engaged in it won’t think so. This is just, to them, “sensible people cooperating with each other.”

I would distinguish between this activity as a “natural conspiracy,” from “corrupt conspiracy,” as if, for example, the oil industry were conspiring to suppress cold fusion because of possible damage to their interests. In fact, I find corrupt conspiracy extremely unlikely in the case of cold fusion, and in many other cases where it is sometimes asserted.

The straw man argument, they set up, is between extreme and entrenched positions, depending on knee-jerk reactions. That is “authoritarian control” is Bad. Is it? Doesn’t that depend on context and purpose?

But primitive thinkers are looking for easy classifications, particularly into Good and Bad. The argument described is rooted in such primitive thinking, and certainly not actual sociology (which must include linguistics and philosophy).

So I imagine a policy-maker, charged with setting research budgets, presented with a proposal for research that may be considered fringe. Should he or she approve the proposal? Now there are procedures, but this stands out: if the decider decides according to majority opinion among “scientists,” it’s safer. But it also shuts down the possibility of extending the boundaries of science, and that can sometimes cause enormous damage.

Those women giving birth in hospitals in Europe in the 19th century. They died because of a defective medical practice, and because reality was too horrible to consider, for the experts. It meant that they were, by their hands, killing women. (One of Semmelweiss’s colleagues, who accepted his work, realized that he had caused the death of his niece, and committed suicide.)

What would be a more responsible approach? I’m not entirely sure I would ask sociologists, particularly those ontologically unsophisticated. But they would, by their profession, be able to document what actually exists, and these sociologists do that, in part. But as to policy recommendations, they put their pants on one leg at a time. They may have no clue.

What drives this paper is a different question that arises out of the sociological perspective: What is the outside world to do with the new view?

Sociologists may have their own political opinions, and these clearly do. Science does not provide advice, rather it can, under the best circumstances, inform decisions, but decision-making is a matter of choices, and science does not determine choices. It may, sometimes, predict the consequences of choices. But these sociologists take it as their task to advise, it seems.

So who wants to know and for what purpose? They have this note:

1 This paper is joint work by researchers supported by two grants: ESRC to Harry Collins, (RES/K006401/1) £277,184, What is scientific consensus for policy? Heartlands and hinterlands of physics (2014-2016); British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship to Luis Reyes-Galindo, (PF130024) £223,732, The social boundaries of scientific knowledge: a case study of ‘green’ Open Access (2013-2016).

Searching for that, I first find a paper by these authors:

Collins, Harry & Bartlett, Andrew & Reyes-Galindo, Luis. (2017). “Demarcating Fringe Science for Policy.” Perspectives on Science. 25. 411-438. 10.1162/POSC_a_00248. Copy on ResearchGate.

This appears to be a published version of the arXiv preprint. The abstract:

Here we try to characterize the fringe of science as opposed to the mainstream. We want to do this in order to provide some theory of the difference that can be used by policy-makers and other decision-makers but without violating the principles of what has been called ‘Wave Two of Science Studies’. Therefore our demarcation criteria rest on differences in the forms of life of the two activities rather than questions of rationality or rightness; we try to show the ways in which the fringe differs from the mainstream in terms of the way they think about and practice the institution of science. Along the way we provide descriptions of fringe institutions and sciences and their outlets. We concentrate mostly on physics.

How would decision-makers use this “theory”? It seems fairly clear to me: find a collection of “scientists” and ask them to vote. If a majority of these people think that the topic is fringe, it’s fringe, and the decision-maker can reject a project to investigate it, and be safe. Yet people who are decision-makers are hopefully more sophisticated than CYA bureaucrats.

Collins has long written about similar issues. I might obtain and read his books.

As an advisor on science policy, though, what he’s advising isn’t science, it’s politics. The science involved would be management science, not the sociology of science. He’s outside his field. If there is a business proposal, it may entail risk. In fact, almost any potentially valuable course of action would entail risk. “Risky” and “fringe” are related.

However, with cold fusion, we know this: both U.S. Department of Energy reviews, which were an attempt to discover informed consensus, came up with a recommendation for more research. Yet if decision-makers reject research proposals, if journals reject papers without review — Collins talks about that process, is if reasonable, as it is under some conditions and not others — if a student’s dissertation is rejected because it was about “cold fusion,” — though not really, it was about finding tritium in electrolytic cells, which is only a piece of evidence, not a conclusion — then the research will be suppressed, which is not what the reviews purported to want. Actual consensus of experts was ignored in favor of a shallow interpretation of it. (Point this out to a pseudoskeptic, the counter-argument is that “Oh, they always recommend more research, it was boilerplate, polite. They really knew that cold fusion was bullshit.” This is how entrenched belief looks. It rationalizes away all contrary evidence. it attempts to shut down interest in anything fringe. I wonder, if they could legally use the tools, would they torture “fringe believers,” like a modern Inquisition? Sometimes I think so.

“Fringe,” it appears, is to be decided based on opinion believed to be widespread, without any regard for specific expertise and knowledge.

“Cold fusion” is commonly thought of as a physics topic, because if the cause of the observed effects is what it was first thought to be, deuterium-deuterium fusion, it would be of interest to nuclear physicists. But few nuclear physicists are expert in the fields involved in those reports. Yet physicists were not shy about giving opinions, too often. Replication failure — which was common with this work — is not proof that the original reports were false, it is properly called a “failure,” because that is what it usually is.

Too few pay attention to what actually happened with N-rays and polywater, which are commonly cited as precedent. Controlled experiment replicated the results! And then showed prosaic causes as being likely. With cold fusion, failure to replicate (i.e., absence of confirming evidence from some investigators, not others) was taken as evidence of absence, which it never is, unless the situation is so obvious and clear that results could not overlook notice. Fleischmann-Pons was a very difficult experiment. It seemed simple to physicists, with no experience with electrochemistry.

I’ve been preparing a complete bibliography on cold fusion, listing and providing access information for over 1500 papers published in mainstream journals, with an additional 3000 papers published in other ways. I’d say that anyone who actually studies the history of cold fusion will recognize how much Bad Science there was, and it was on all sides, not just the so-called “believer” side, nor just on the other.

So much information was generated by this research, which went all over the map, that approaching the field is forbidding, there is too much. There have been reviews, which is how the mainstream seeks closure, normally, not by some vague social phenomenon, an information cascade.

The reviews conclude that there is a real effect. Most consider the mechanism as unknown, still. But it’s nuclear, that is heavily shown by the preponderance of evidence. The contrary view, that this is all artifact, has become untenable, actually unreasonable for those who know the literature. Most don’t know it. The latest major review was “Status of cold fusion, 2010,: Edmund Storms, Naturwissenschaften, preprint.

Decision-makers need to know if a topic is fringe, because they may need to be able to justify their decisions, and with a fringe topic, flak can be predicted.  The criteria that Collins et al seem to be proposing — my study isn’t thorough yet — use behavioral criteria, that may not, at all, apply to individuals making, say, a grant request, but rather to a community. Yet if the topic is such as to trigger the knee-jerk responses of pseudoskeptics, opposition can be expected.

A decision-maker should look for peer-reviewed reviews in the literature, in mainstream journals. Those can provide the cover a manager may need.

The general opinion of “scientists” may vary greatly from the responsible decisions of editors and reviewers who actually take a paper seriously, and who therefore study it and verify and check it.

A manager who depends on widespread but uninformed opinion is likely to make poor decisions, faced with an opportunity for something that could create a breakthrough. Such decisions, though, should not be naive, should not fail to recognize the risks.

 

On levels of reality and bears in the neighborhood

In my training, they talk about three realities: personal reality, social reality, and the ultimate test of reality. Very simple:

In personal reality, I draw conclusions from my own experience. I saw a bear in our back yard, so I say, “there are bears — at least one — in our neighborhood.” That’s personal reality. (And yes, I did see one, years ago.)

In social reality, people agree. Others may have seen bears. Someone still might say, “they could all be mistaken,” but this becomes less and less likely, the more people who agree. (There is a general consensus in our neighborhood, in fact, that bears sometimes show up.)

In the ultimate test, the bear tears your head off.

Now, for the kicker. There is a bear in my back yard right now! Proof: Meet Percy, named by my children.

I didn’t say what kind of bear! Percy is life-size, and from the road, could look for a moment like the animal. (The paint is fading a bit, Percy was slightly more realistic years ago, when I moved in. I used to live down the street, and that’s where I saw the actual animal.)

Continue reading “On levels of reality and bears in the neighborhood”

Fantasy rejects itself

I came across this review when linking to Undead Science on Amazon. It’s old, but there is no other review. I did buy that book, in 2009, from Amazon, used, but never reviewed it and now Amazon wants me to spend at least $50 in the last year to be able to review books….

But I can comment on the review, and I will. I first comment here.


JohnVidale

August 7, 2011

Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a fellow scientist with good taste in work on the history of science. I’ll update this, should I get further through the book, but halfway through this book is greatly irritating.

The book is a pretty straightforward story by a sociologist of science, something Dr. Vidale is not (he is a professor of seismology). There are many myths, common tropes, about cold fusion, and, since Dr. Vidale likes Gary Taubes (as do I, by the way), perhaps he should learn about information cascades; Taubes has written much about them. He can google “Gary Taubes information cascade.”

An information cascade is a social phenomenon where something comes to be commonly believed without ever having been clearly proven. It happens with scientists as well as with anyone.

The beginning is largely an explanation of how science works theoretically.

It is not. Sociologists of science study how science actually works, not the theory.

The thesis seems to be that science traditionally is thought of as either alive or dead, depending on whether the issues investigated are uncertain or already decided.

Is that a “thesis” or an observation? It becomes very clear in this review that the author thinks “cold fusion” is dead. As with many such opinions, it’s quote likely he has no idea what he is talking about. What is “cold fusion”?

It was a popular name given to an anomalous heat effect, based on ideas of the source, but the scientists who discovered the effect, because they could not explain the heat with chemistry — and they were experts chemists, leaders in their field — called it an “unknown nuclear reaction.” They had not been looking for a source of energy. They were actually testing the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, and though that the approximation was probably good enough that they would find nothing. And then their experiment melted down.

A third category of “undead” is proposed, in which some scientists think the topic is alive and others think it is dead, and this category has a life of its own. Later, this theme evolves to argue the undead topic of cold fusion still alive, or was long after declared dead.

That is, more or less the basis for the book. The field is now known by the more neutral term of “Condensed Matter Nuclear Science,” sometimes “Low Energy Nuclear Reactions,” the heat effect is simply called the Anomalous Heat Effect by some. I still use “cold fusion” because the evidence has become overwhelming that the nuclear reaction, whatever it is, is producing helium from deuterium, which is fusion in effect if not in mechanism. The mechanism is still unknown. It is obviously not what was thought of as “fusion” when the AHE was discovered.

The beginning and the last chapter may be of interest to those who seek to categorize varieties in the study of the history of science, but such pigeonholing is of much less value to me than revealing case studies of work well done and poorly done.

That’s Gary Taubes’ professional theme. However, it also can be superficial. There is a fine study by Henry H. Bauer (2002). ‘Pathological Science’ is not Scientific Misconduct (nor is it pathological).

One argument I’m not buying so far is the claim that what killed cold fusion is the consensus among most scientists that it was nonsense, rather than the fact that cold fusion is nonsense.

If not “consensus among most scientists,” how then would it be determined that a field is outside the maintream? And is “nonsense” a “fact”? Can you weigh it?

There is a large body of experimental evidence, and then there are conclusions drawn from the evidence, and ideas about the evidence and the conclusions. Where does observed fact become “nonsense.”

“Nonsense” is something we say when what is being stated makes no sense to us. It’s highly subjective.

Notice that the author appears to believe that “cold fusion” is “nonsense,” but shows no sign of knowing what this thing it is, what exactly is reported and claimed.

No, the author seems to be believe “cold fusion is nonsense,” as a fact of nature, as a reality, not merely a personal reaction. 

More to the point, where and when was the decision made that “cold fusion is dead”? The U.S. Department of Energy held two reviews of the field. The first was in 1989, rushed, and concluded before replications began appearing. Another review was held in 2004. Did these reviews declare that cold fusion was dead?

No. In fact, both recommended further research. One does not recommend further research for a dead field. In 2004, that recommendation was unanimous for an 18-member panel of experts.

This is to me a case study in which many open-minded people looked at a claim and shredded it.

According to Dr. Vidale. Yes, there was very strong criticism, even “vituperation,” in the words of one skeptic. However, the field is very much alive, and publication in mainstream journals has continued (increasing after a nadir in about 2005). Research is being funded. Governmental interest never disappeared, but it is a very difficult field.

There is little difference here between the truth and the scientists consensus about the truth.

What consensus, I must ask? The closest we have to a formal consensus would be the 2004 review, and what it concluded is far from the position Mr. Vidale is asserting. He imagines his view is “mainstream,” but that is simply the effect of an information cascade. Yes, many scientists think as he thinks, still. In other words, scientists can be ignorant of what is happening outside their own fields. But it is not a “consensus,” and never was. It was merely a widespread and very strong opinion, but that opinion was rejecting an idea about the Heat Effect, not the effect itself.

To the extent, though, that they were rejecting experimental evidence, they were engaged in cargo cult science, or scientism, a belief system. Not the scientific method.

The sociological understructure in the book seems to impede rather than aid understanding.

It seems that way to Dr. Vidale because he’s clueless about the reality of cold fusion research.

Specifically, there seems an underlying assumption that claims of excess heat without by-products of fusion reactions are a plausible interpretation, whose investigations deserved funding, but were denied by the closed club of established scientists.

There was a claim of anomalous heat, yes. It was an error for Pons and Fleischmann to claim that it was a nuclear reaction, and to mention “fusion,” based on the evidence they had, which was only circumstantial.

The reaction is definitely not what comes to mind when that word is used.

But . . . a fusion product, helium, was eventually identified (Miles, 1991), correlated with heat, and that has been confirmed by over a dozen research groups, and confirmation and measurement of the ratio with increased precision is under way at Texas Tech, very well funded, as that deserves. Extant measurements of the heat/helium ratio are within experimental error of the deuterium fusion to helium theoretical value.

(That does not show that the reaction is “d-d fusion,” because any reaction that starts with deuterium and ends with helium, no matter how this is catalyzed, must show that ratio.)

That Dr. Vidale believes that no nuclear product was identified simply shows that he’s reacting to what amounts to gossip or rumor or information cascade. (Other products have been found, there is strong evidence for tritium, but the levels are very low and it is the helium that accounts for the heat).

The author repeatedly cites international experts calling such scenarios impossible or highly implausible to suggest that the experts are libeling cold fusion claims with the label pathological science. I side with the experts rather than the author.

It is obvious that there were experts who did that; this is undeniable. Simon does not suggest “libel.” And Vidale merely joins in the labelling, without being specific such that one could test his claims. He’s outside of science. He’s taking sides, which sociologists generally don’t do, nor, in fact, do careful scientists do it within their field. To claim that a scientist is practicing “pathological science” is a deep insult. That is not a scientific category. Langmuir coined the term, and gave characteristics, which only superficially match cold fusion, which long ago moved outside of that box.

Also, the claim is made that this case demonstrates that sociologists are better equipped to mediate disputes involving claims of pathological science than scientists, which is ludicrous.

It would be, if the book claimed that, but it doesn’t. More to the point, who mediates such disputes? What happens in the real world?

Clearly, in the cold fusion case, another decade after the publication of this book has not contradicted any of the condemnations from scientists of cold fusion.

The 2004 U.S. DoE review was after the publication of the book, and it contradicts the position Dr. Vidale is taking, very clearly. While that review erred in many ways (the review was far too superficial, hurried, and the process allowed misunderstandings to arise, some reviewers clearly misread the presented documents), they did not call cold fusion “nonsense.” Several reviewers probably thought that, but they all agreed with “more research.”

Essentially, if one wishes to critically assess the stages through which cold fusion ideas were discarded, it is helpful to understand the nuclear processes involved.

Actually, no. “Cold fusion” appears to be a nuclear physics topic, because of “fusion.” However, it is actually a set of results in chemistry. What an expert in normal nuclear processes knows will not help with cold fusion. It is, at this point, an “unknown nuclear reaction” (which was claimed in the original paper). (Or it is a set of such reactions.) Yes, if someone wants to propose a theory of mechanism, a knowledge of nuclear physics is necessary, and there are physicists, with such understanding, experts, doing just that. So far, no theory has been successful to the point of being widely accepted.

One should not argue, as the author indirectly does, for large federal investments in blue sky reinvention of physics unless one has an imposing reputation of knowing the limitations of existing physics.

Simon does not argue for that. I don’t argue for that. I suggest exactly what both U.S. DoE reviews suggested: modest funding for basic research under existing programs. That is a genuine scientific consensus! However, it is not necessary a “consensus of scientists,” that is, some majority showing in a poll, as distinct from genuine scientific process as functions with peer review and the like.

It appears that Dr. Vidale has an active imagination, and thinks that Simon is a “believer” and thinks that “believers” want massive federal funding, so he reads that into the book. No, the book is about a sociological phenomenon, it was Simon’s doctoral thesis originally, and sociologists of science will continue to study the cold fusion affair, for a very long time. Huizenga called it the “scientific fiasco of the twentieth century.” He was right. It was a perfect storm, in many ways, and there is much that can be learned from it.

Cold fusion is not a “reinvention of physics.” It tells us very little about nuclear physics. “Cold fusion,” as a name for an anomalous heat effect, does not contradict existing physics. It is possible that when the mechanism is elucidated, it will show some contradiction, but what is most likely is that all that has been contradicted was assumption about what’s possible in condensed matter, not actual physics.

There are theories being worked on that use standard quantum field theory, merely in certain unanticipated circumstances. Quick example: what will happen if two deuterium molecules are trapped in relationship at low relative momentum, such that the nuclei form the vertices of a tetrahedron? The analysis has been done by Akito Takahashi: they will collapse into a Bose -Einstein condensate within a femtosecond or so, and that will fuse by tunneling within another femotosecond or so, creating 8Be, which can fission into two 4He nuclei, without gamma radiation (as would be expected if two deuterons could somehow fuse to helium without immediately fissioning into the normal d-d fusion products).

That theory is incomplete, I won’t go into details, but it merely shows how there may be surprises lurking in places we never looked before.

I will amend my review if my attention span is long enough, but the collection of objectionable claims has risen too high to warrant spending another few hours finishing this book. Gary Taubes’ book on the same subject, Bad Science, was much more factual and enlightening.

Taubes’ Bad Science is an excellent book on the history of cold fusion, the very early days only. The story of the book is well known, he was in a hurry to finish it so he could be paid. As is common with his work, he spent far more time than made sense economically for him. He believed he understood the physics, and sometimes wrote from that perspective, but, in fact, nobody understands what Pons and Fleischmann found. They certainly didn’t.

Gradually, fact is being established, and how to create reliable experiments is being developed. It’s still difficult, but measuring the heat/helium ratio is a reliable and replicable experiment. It’s still not easy, but what is cool about it is that, per existing results, if one doesn’t see heat, one doesn’t see helium, period, and if one does see heat (which with a good protocol might be half the time), one sees proportionate helium.

So Dr. Vidale gave the book a poor review, two stars out of five, based on his rejection of what he imagined the book was saying.


There were some comments, that can be seen by following the Unreal arguments link.

postoak6 years ago
“Clearly, in the cold fusion case, another decade after the publication of this book has not contradicted any of the condemnations from scientists of cold fusion.” I think this statement is false. Although fusion may not be occurring, there is much, much evidence that some sort of nuclear event is taking place in these experiments. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VymhJCcNBBc
The video was presented by Frank Gordon, of SPAWAR. It is about nuclear effects, including heat.
JohnVidale  6 years ago In reply to an earlier post
More telling than the personal opinion of either of us is the fact that 3 MORE years have passed since the video you linked, and no public demonstration of energy from cold fusion has YET been presented.
How does Dr. Vidale know that? The video covers many demonstrations of LENR. What Dr. Vidale may be talking about is practical levels of energy, and he assumes that if such a demonstration existed, he’d have heard about it. There have been many demonstrations. Dr.  Vidale’s comments were from August 2011. Earlier that year, there was a major claim of commercial levels of power, kilowatts, with public “demonstrations.” Unfortunately, it was fraud, but my point here is that this was widely known, widely considered, and Dr. Vidale doesn’t seem to know about it at all.
(The state of the art is quite low-power, but visible levels of power have been demonstrated and confirmed.)
Dr. Vidale is all personal opinion and no facts. He simply ignored the video, which is quite good, being a presentation by the SPAWAR group (U.S. Navy Research Laboratory, San Diego) to a conference organized by Dr. Robert Duncan, who was Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Missouri, and then countered the comment with simple ignorance (that there has been no public demonstration). 
Taser_This 2 years ago (Edited)
The commenters note is an excellent example of the sociological phenomenon related to the field of Cold Fusion, that shall be studied along with the physical phenomenon, once a change of perception of the field occurs. We shall eventually, and possibly soon, see a resolution of the clash of claims of pathological science vs. pathological disbelief. If history is any indicator related to denial in the face of incontrovertible evidence (in this case the observation of excess heat, regardless of the process of origin since we know it is beyond chemical energies) we shall be hearing a lot more about this topic.

Agreed, Dr. Vidale has demonstrated what an information cascade looks like. He’s totally confident that he is standing for the mainstream opinion. Yet “mainstream opinion” is not a judgment of experts, except, of course, in part.

Dr. Vidale is not an expert in this field, and he is not actually aware of expert reviews of “cold fusion.” Perhaps he might consider reading this peer-reviewed review of the field, published the year before he wrote, in Naturwissenschaften, which was, at the time, a venerable multidiscoplinary journal,  and it had tough peer review. Edmund Storms, Status of cold fusion (2010). (preprint).

There are many, many reviews of cold fusion in mainstream journals, published in the last  15 years. The extreme skepticism, which Vidale thinks is mainstream, has disappeared in the journals. What is undead here is extreme skepticism on this topic, which hasn’t noticed it died.

So, is cold fusion Undead, or is it simply Alive and never died?


After writing this, I found that Dr. John Vidale was a double major as an undergraduate, in physics and geology, has a PhD from Cal Tech (1986), and his major focus appears to be seismology.

He might be amused by this story from the late Nate Hoffman, who wrote a book for the American Nuclear Society, supported by the Electric Power Research Institute, A Dialogue on Chemically Induced Nuclear Effects: A Guide for the Perplexed About Cold Fusion (1995). Among other things, it accurately reviews Taubes and Huizenga. The book is written as a dialogue between a Young Scientist (YS), who represents common thinking, particularly among physicists, and Old Metallurgist (OM), which would be Hoffman himself, who is commonly considered a skeptic by promoters of cold fusion. Actually, to me, he looks normally skeptical, skepticism being essential to science.

YS: I guess the real question has to be this: Is the heat real?

OM: The simple facts are as follows. Scientists experienced in the area of calorimetric measurements are performing these experiments. Long periods occur with no heat production, then, occasionally, periods suddenly occur with apparent heat production. These scientists become irate when so-called experts call them charlatans. The occasions when apparent heat occurs seem to be highly sensitive to the surface conditions of the palladium and are not reproducible at will.

YS: Any phenomenon that is not reproducible at will is most likely not real.

OM: People in the San Fernando Valley, Japanese, Columbians, et al, will be glad to hear that earthquakes are not real.

YS: Ouch. I deserved that. My comment was stupid.

OM: A large number of of people who should know better have parroted that inane statement. There are, however, many artifacts that can indicate a false period of heat production. The question of whether heat is being produced is still open, though any such heat is not from deuterium atoms fusing with deuterium atoms to produce equal amounts of 3He + neutron and triton + proton. If the heat is real, it must be from a different nuclear reaction or some toally unknown non-nuclear source of reactions with energies far above the electron-volt levels of chemical reactions.

As with Taubes, Hoffman may have been under some pressure to complete the book. Miles, in 1991, was the first to report, in a conference paper, that helium was being produced, correlated with helium, and this was noticed by Huizenga in the second edition of his book (1993). Hoffman covers some of Miles’ work, and some helium measurements, but does not report the crucial correlation, though this was published in Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry in 1993.

I cover heat/helium, as a quantitatively reproducible and widely-confirmed experiment, in my 2015 paper, published in a special section on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions in Current Science..

Of special note in that section would be McKubre, Cold fusion: comments on the state of scientific proof.

McKubre is an electrochemist who, when he saw the Pons and Fleischmann announcement, already was familiar with the palladium-deuterium system, working at SRI International, and immediately recognized that the effect reported must be in relatively unexplored territory, with very high loading ratio. This was not widely understood, and replication efforts that failed to reach a loading threshold, somewhere around 90% atom (D/Pd), reported no results (neither anomalous heat, nor any other nuclear effects). At that time, it was commonly considered that 70% loading was a maximum.

SRI and McKubre were retained by the Electric Power Research Institute, for obvious reasons, to investigate cold fusion, and until retiring recently, he spent his entire career after that, mostly on LENR research.

One of the characteristics of the rejection cascade was cross-disciplinary disrespect. In his review, Dr. Vidale shows no respect or understanding of sociology and “science studies,” and mistakes  his own opinions and those of his friends as “scientific consensus.”

What is scientific consensus? This is a question that sociologists and philosphers of science study. As well, most physicists knew little to nothing about electrochemistry, and there are many stories of Stupid Mistakes, such as reversing the cathode and anode (because of a differing convention) and failing to maintain very high cleanliness of experiments. One electrochemist, visiting such a lab, asked, “And then did you pee in the cell?” The most basic mistake was failing to run the experiment long enough to develop the conditions that create the effect. McKubre covers that in the paper cited.

(An electrolytic cathode will collect cations from the electrolyte, and cathodes may become loaded with fuzzy junk. I fully sympathize with physicists with a distaste for the horrible mess of an electrolytic cathode. For very good reasons, they prefer the simple environment of a plasma, which they can analyze using two-body quantum mechanics.

I sat in Feynman’s lectures at Cal Tech, 1961-63, and, besides his anecdotes that I heard directly from him when he visited Page House, I remember one statement about physics: “We don’t have the math to calculate the solid state, it is far too complex.” Yet too many physicists believed that the approximations they used were reality. No, they were useful approximations, that usually worked. So did Ptolemaic astronomy.)

Dr. Vidale is welcome to comment here and to correct errors, as may anyone.

Let’s Move the Needle with our Core Competencies

This post was inspired by Cole Schafer, a professional copy writer, and it shows.

We don’t need everyone to buy in , but if we open the kimono, we can attract a few good men. Ahem, scientists, people.

Empower the community with this bleeding edge technology, instead of drinking the Kool-Aid, that Rossi or Widom-Larsen will save us.

Put out some feelers and develop our human capital!

LENR has lots of moving parts, so, double-checking, get our ducks in a row, stop working in silos, and accept that it’s just business!

If we each give 110%, we will . . .

Take a nap, that’s my idea. Whew!

110%, 24/7! Let me sit down. I just cleaned up much of my office.

Continue reading “Let’s Move the Needle with our Core Competencies”

Russ George and the D2Fusion team

Laura Chao, 24. Nuclear researcher at D2Fusion, a Foster City company working on generating clean, renewable energy from solid-state fusion.

This page (October 1, 2006) was linked from the defunct D2Fusion web site.

Russ George has been popping up in LENR circles again, so I decided to check out the history (which I knew mostly as rumor from people he had formerly worked with, in circles where he had apparently become persona non grata), and I found the image above, which I put here as eye candy. Nice, eh? I hope her experience with cold fusion was not a total bust and that her life has been productive and worthwhile. I don’t see that she has been mentioned anywhere else on this topic. Great photo, though!

Some comments from the article on Chao:

75912  Posted 10.25.06

“Too bad Chao didn’t read the expose on D2Fusion in the May, 2006 New Energy Times. “

75913 Posted 12.19.06

“Too bad ‘75912’ was taken in by the New Energy Times attack on d2fusion.”

Laura later blogged about cold fusion (March, 2007) and about the fun she was having at work. And more.

And even more, an embarrassment of riches. “My professional life is not progressing as planned.”

She is a fantastic blogger. Her response to an actual question about cold fusion is priceless. And then:

Lies Lies Lies (September 1, 2007) (my emphasis added)

“Your CEO says that your lab is melting,” JB whispered into my ear.

For the purpose of the 7×7 Hot 20 Under 40 party, my company had printed me brand new business cards that read “Nuclear Physicist,” despite the fact that my official title was actually ‘science technician.’

In light of my situation, I decided to enlist support. Showing up with my friend JB, the CTO of Tesla Motors (who used to be a fusion researcher himself), would help me obtain the outrageous amount of publicity my company was expecting me to generate, and also satisfy the magazine, which had advertised me as the up and coming genius of the year. (Geez, no pressure.) My CEO, unfortunately, failed to inquire into JB’s past before lecturing him about our runaway success in cold fusion.

“Apparently, the fusion is so out of control,” JB said, barely able to hold back his laughter as he repeated my CEO’s claims, “that your laboratory instruments keep vaporizing. HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

I should have known right then that eventually (read: very soon) the company would no longer be a company.

The job has evaporated by December, 2007. (Laura Chao had a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.) I assume the CEO was George.

January 10, 2008, the link to her as a “D2F scientist” was still up. The D2Fusion.com site went “down for maintenance” February 10, and stayed that way, until it vanished after July 8, 2008. In 2012, Godaddy put the domain up for sale.  It’s now a strange spam-y site.

Laura Chao’s last blog post was in March, 2013. Brilliant, actually.

So … the New Energy Times “expose.”  Steve Krivit is a yellow journalist, it’s his shtick.  He’s also done a lot of work, and what he has written about Russ George appears to be well-supported.

So Russ George on LENR Forum. His own thread. 

Here is the very RAW geiger data one can see some excursions well above the long duration ‘background’ counts. Given the relative insensitivity of Geigers to gamma (or x-ray) photons the Androcles deuterated fuel mixture is doing something quite extraordinary as there is only a fraction of a gram of fuel mix, about the volume of 5-10 grains of rice. https://www.lenr-forum.com/attachment/5106-andro-may7-pdf/

What is immediately noticeable is that the “excursions” are occurring at 24-hour intervals. No evidence is presented connecting the counts with the fuel mix. The LF user who questions what had been done is banned on LF, by Alan Smith, who is sponsoring George’s current research. George reveals his thinking about Andrea Rossi:

seven_of_twenty wrote:

RussGeorge

Is the above cryptic statement intended to mean that you still think Rossi has demonstrated LENR? If so, why on Earth would you think it, given all the evidence to the contrary over the past 7+ years?

No number of blowhard armchair trolls is worth one iota of real data, so what is your point. Rossi has shown plenty of interesting data that speaks to those skilled in the art.

The art of the con, indeed. It takes one to know one.

Russ George took research possibilities and turned them into personal promotion, he was more blatant in this than Rossi. Both managed, for a time, to impress, in some way or other, real scientists.

There are real investors looking for opportunities to support cold fusion, and they tested Rossi’s claims, and his devices, to the hilt, and found nothing but lies, damn lies, and no statistics.

One  LF user (Dewey Weaver) actually represents them (though not officially on that forum). These people have invested on the order of $70 million in LENR over the last few years, they literally put their money where their mouth is. They don’t talk much, in fact.

Russ George is a big talker, talking big, always sure of himself. And then there is Alan Smith.

McKubre!

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, I’m a fan of Michael McKubre. He invited me to visit SRI in 2012, and encouraged me to take on a relatively skeptical role within the community.

So I was pleased today that he sent me the slide deck for his ICCF-21 presentation, and, with the good quality audio supplied by Ruby Carat of Cold Fusion Now, his full presentation is now accessible. I have created a review page at iccf-21/abstracts/review/mckubre

There is, here, an embarrassment of riches, in terms of defining a way forward.

Yes, Virgina, there is a cabal

A link to this was posted here, and I didn’t see it until recently. By itself, this is only a rant of a disturbed fanatic skeptic, who is known to lie, but there are breadcrumbs, pieces that fit together over time, and this comment caused the picture to pop into view. I wrote in 2009, there is a cabal, presented evidence of de-facto coordinated editing on Wikipedia, by a faction. I did not claim that this violated policy, in itself, but the effect was a warping of Wikipedia process, and I wanted ArbComm to look at that. Unfortunately, ArbComm was infected by the cabal or the cabal point of view.

The cabal uses attack dogs to create a cloud of confusion that allows others to intervene to “prevent disruption,” blaming the target and the dogs, and the dogs don’t care, because there is an endless supply of dogs, a dog can be created from any non-blocked IP.


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From later research and evidence, this was Darryl L. Smith. The story matches information from his twin brother, Oliver D. Smith.

The care and feeding of the Troll

Trolls, by definition, provoke, they “troll” for outrage. Their goal is to provoke their targets into sticking their feet in their mouths. Some people are complete suckers for this, because when “someone is wrong on the internet,” they must reply. There is a point to that, if what is being said is misleading on a matter of importance, but a skilled troll will work our “defender of truth” into such a froth that their responses become gibberish.

Kirk Shanahan — and certain other writers on LENR Forum — is a troll, among other roles. He also happens to be the last published significant skeptic on LENR, and some of his arguments are at least plausible. Yet when he joined LF, his second post was hyperskeptical trolling.

In reply to Jed R.:

No, F&P drew down the ire of the scientific world because they claimed to have found a way to “infinite energy”, but no one could reproduce it except by random chance.  […]

For the record, I believ they found a real effect, it just has nothing to do with nuclear reactions.

This was poking Rothwell. Shanahan would know, very well, how Jed would respond. Fleischmann and Pons did not claim to have found a way to “infinite energy.” The comment that no one could reproduce it (the experiment) except by random chance contradicts the “belief” he claimed. He’s not a scientist at heart, he forms beliefs without experimental confirmation — he wants everyone else to do the experiments and takes no responsibility for making them happen.

He is referring to an anomaly, unexpected “ATER,” At the electrode recombination. He ascribes an almost magical ability for ATER to fool electrochemists, without ATER ever having been demonstrated — other than by Shanahan’s legerdemain with calorimetric results, ignoring contrary evidence, etc. He is making an extraordinary claim but not providing extraordinary evidence, exactly what he accuses LENR researchers of doing. Yet there is extraordinary evidence for LENR, but it is still common that scientists are unaware of it.

And at the same time, many assume that if such evidence were discovered, surely it would be all over the news.

In any case, the occasion for my comment today is a flame war that arose on LENR Forum between Shanahan and others, most notably the very same Jed Rothwell that he poked in 2016. Some authors on LF have the bad habit of claiming that others said something really dumb, and don’t link to it. Then, when they person claims not to have said that, they claim the person is lying. Pushed, they go back and find quotes, and again, sometimes, still don’t link. The quotes don’t match what they had earlier claimed, but the quoter claims, then, that there were other comments they couldn’t find. And then the two call each other liars.

This is at least one person not knowing how to defuse stupid arguments . . . or someone really is lying or, on the other side, gaslighting, and possibly some combination. The moderators have been AWOL or have given up on these trolls or, on the other side, “dedicated believers.”

A thread was started by Rothwell on the Beiting report, which is certainly of interest. Shanahan looked at it, giving some initial concerns about the precision of the calorimetry. I intend to eventually cover the Beiting report, and at that time will study Shanahan’s objections. Rothwell attacks it with a superficial comment.

If there were an 8% shift, as Shanahan claims, much of the test shown on p. 20, the calibration runs, and the control runs would be endothermic. They would be swallowing up megajoules of heat. It would be a fantastic coincidence that the calibrations fell exactly on the zero line. This is impossible. Shanahan has a rare talent for inventing impossible physics.

For starters. Shanahan did not claim an “8% shift.” Jed does not read carefully. (The 8% figure seems to have come from Zeus46, who is also piling on Shanahan. Shanahan is doing his classic analysis, looking for possible calibration error. He did not assert that there was one. Shanahan is talking math, Rothwell is talking ad hominem. He writes:

Beiting has made a second, flow calorimeter that confirms the first one. Shanahan cannot explain this, either, except with his impossible hand-waving.

As far as is apparent, Shanahan has not begun “hand-waving.” He does that sometimes, but Rothwell is not responding to the real, present Shanahan actually writing in the thread.

I must say, Shanahan is learning to use forums. He skewers Rothwell, who had made an argument to authority. (I’m not claiming that Jed was wrong, but the claim he made was one easily set aside as unsupported. It is along the lines of believers in this or that making claims of support from “reputable professors.” It’s not necessarily wrong, but this is imitating the behavior of fanatic believers — or frauds. Pulling out and playing these cards in discussions with experienced skeptics is asking to be eviscerated.)

and the people at The Aerospace Corp. are world class. (See: http://www.aerospace.org/)

Out of curiosity, how do you measure that?

Rothwell misses the opportunity to respond with humor. The argument continues, ignoring the substance, misrepresenting what Shanahan has written in this thread. Jed is responding to older comments and ideas from Shanahan, not to the specifics here.

Shanahan’s hypothesis is even more unlikely because it is a magic problem that cannot be detected by calibration or any other test, and thus cannot be falsified.

I haven’t seen a hypothesis yet in this thread from Shanahan. He simply started to discuss the report and to consider calibrations. He has not actually asserted error, beyond this, about Beiting, but his focus by this time is Rothwell’s claim that the work must be good because Aerospace.

Shanahan had written:

He failed to compute the error of his calibration curve properly and he failed to take into account the proper chemistry in his sample prep and subsequent experimentation. There might be more if I study the paper more, but what I’ve seen so far is enough to class his efforts as ‘typical so-so CF community work’. And that isn’t ‘world-class’. With regards to other Aerospace people, no idea, don’t care.

I don’t know yet if this is valid, and the discussion is continually diverted from fact and attempted analysis, to ad hominem arguments and accusations.

There was a comment from stefan which addressed the error problem. His conclusion: Beiting may have done it right but doesn’t show this.

Back to Rothwell, and my emphasis on claims about what Shanahan allegedly claimed in the past (my emphasis below)

It only happens when there is a particular choice of metal, which cannot affect the calorimetry. There can be no physical explanation for such a thing. It resembles his claims that people cannot feel an object is hot by sense of touch, or a 1-liter object will remain hot for three days with no input power, or that a bucket of water left in a room will magically evaporate overnight. In other words, once again he makes claims that anyone should instantly recognize are preposterous. I doubt he believes these claims. I suppose he is trolling us, or hoping to fool people such as seven_of_twenty who apparently cannot tell that Shanahan is spouting impossible nonsense.

Yes, anyone could recognize that. If Shanahan actually wrote those things. Did he? I’ve been following Shanahan for almost a decade and he just isn’t quite that stupid. He does speculate on Rube Goldberg explanations that are highly implausible. Sometimes. But I’ve never seen him make such claims, so, knowing Rothwell as well, I suspect that he has done some interpretation, shifting what Shanahan actually said, converting it to classic straw-man argument.

Shanahan wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

It seems unlikely that such people overlooked a problem that Shanahan found in an hour or so.

That is the nature of systematic errors. Or lack of training.

Rothwell’s response:

Invisible systematic errors that cannot be detected with a calibration, or by any other physical test. Unfalsifiable errors. Metaphysical errors that you alone, in all the world, believe. Perhaps you are delusional. Surely you are an egomaniac who thinks he knows better than a team of experts who spent years on this experiment.

Either that or you are trolling us.

Rothwell is being grossly uncivil, and not addressing the actual points raised by Shanahan. If Shanahan is trolling, it’s working, Rothwell is looking obsessed. He’s reacting to a ghost, the ghost of Shanahan past, I suspect. More:

You are saying the experts at The Aerospace Corporation are incapable of understanding the issues.

This went on and one. Shanahan made one comment worth reading for itself, about “working in the noise.” He’s correct, in substance. However, he overstates his case and uses his own historical ideas far too strongly. His conclusion:

Accurately determining error levels is the only way to avoid working in the noise.

This is, in fact, often missing from even some of the best work.

THHuxley wrote a cogent analysis of the discussion.

Rothwell again brought up the alleged Shanahan idiocies:

No test will refute Shanahan and other extremists because their objections are irrational nonsense. Shanahan says that sense of touch cannot distinguish between an object at 100 deg C and room temperature. He says that a 1-liter hot object will remain hot for 3 days, and that a bucket of water will evaporate overnight when left in an ordinary room. People who believe such things have no common sense and no knowledge of science. No demonstration, no matter how convincing, will change their minds. (It is possible Shanahan does not actually believe these things and he is trolling us, but in that case we can say he will never admit he is wrong or engage in a scientific discussion.)

Again, I doubt that Shanahan ever said those things. He said something that Rothwell remembers as that, because of his own extreme response. Shanahan does not believe what Rothwell claims. And he keeps repeating it, though this is actually irrelevant to the subject discussion (the Beiting report).

Let me remind you again that Shanahan is on record repeatedly claiming that an object heated on Monday and left in a room at 20 deg C will still be hot on Wednesday. Anyone who says things like that has zero credibility, to 5 significant digits. If you believe anything he says about physics, you are a naive fool who will believe any fanatic who claims the world is flat or Einstein’s theories are wrong.

What I’m seeing here is that Rothwell doesn’t understand what is in front of his face, or that which is easily verified, so what about his understanding of more complex issues?

The fact is that when we become attached, each and every one of us becomes relatively stupid. Rothwell is attached to his opinions, strongly, and he has long formed highly judgmental opinions of others. About an author, a scientist, whose book convinced me that there was something worth looking at in cold fusion, Rothwell has proclaimed that he was the “stupidest person on earth.” I’m not mentioning the name because he normally goes ballistic if I whisper it, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Shanahan finally replies:

What Rothwell thinks I say is totally in his imagination.

I’d disagree. It is not “totally in his imagination,” but what Shanahan actually said was very likely quite different from what Jed claims. What Jed does is to infer a cockamamie belief and then assert the belief as being what the person said. Thus, for example, a speculation, a looking at possibilities or brainstorming them, becomes a belief. It’s a classic error when people are arguing from fixed positions, not seeking to find any agreement. Shanahan continues replying to earlier Rothwell comments:

Let me remind you again that Shanahan is on record repeatedly claiming that an object heated on Monday and left in a room at 20 deg C will still be hot on Wednesday.

To all— This is one of Jed’s perennial lies. He can’t document that if he tried. What it shows is a) his inability to follow a technical argument, and b) the extent he will go to to try to discredit a skeptic.

My emphasis. That was a direct challenge. Jed tries and fails, but doesn’t accept the failure, though it is totally obvious, thus missing the opportunity to clear this up. No, Shanahan did not say that. In attempting to maintain the discrediting of Shanahan, he makes many errors in describing both the original Mizuno report — what this is about — and Shanahan’s comments about it. The Beiting thread was thoroughly hijacked, the substance ignored.

seven of twenty, apparently a pseudoskeptical troll, finally confronted Rothwell over that same comment:

Where exactly did he write that? You on the other hand, clearly wrote some time ago that Rossi had to be right on “prime principles” or some such, remember? Shall I dig up the quote?

seven of twenty is very unlikely to be new. This is very old, and a favorite theme of a certain well-known pseudoskeptic. Rothwell replied:

He wrote it many times, such as here:

And Rothwell linked to his own posts, quoting from them as they quoted Shanahan. The quotes do not support the silly claim attributed to Shanahan. (Links would be much better than earlier quotations without a link to the original context, because context matters. Rothwell has been and is still being quite sloppy.

Quoting Shanahan: 

I granted this given that you are referring to when they disconnected it from the heaters that had heated it up to the point it was too hot to touch.

It is unclear why Rothwell quotes this. It certainly is not what was asked about.

again

[Rothwell:] The thermocouple installed in the cell registered over 100°C for the first fewdays.

[Shanahan:] Malfunction.

Notice that this does not confirm the claim about a cell heated on Monday still being hot on Wednesday. And there was more like this. Not what he claimed. What I’m seeing is that Rothwell is taking old speculations by Shanahan and turning them into affirmative statements that Rothwell thinks are implied. He’s losing on this one. But he’s sure he’s right and is not about to listen to anyone on this, as far as I’ve seen.

He then claims that Shanahan is gaslighting. But Shanahan has, on this point about what he said, simply been truthful, and if he set Rothwell up to make him look like an idiot, he’s succeeding. This isn’t gaslighting, though, as far as anything I’ve seen.

(Shanahan, for his part, also becomes obsessed, having been successfully trolled by Zeus46. Zeus46’s response actually looks like gaslighting. Ah, I’m reminded of why I was happy to be banned from LENR-Forum.)

Jed uses his stretched claim in argument with seven of twenty. First, about his own cited error:

Ah, but I retracted that, admitted I was wrong, and explained why. Do you see the difference? When I make a mistake, I admit it frankly, correct it, and move on. Shanahan has never admitted he made a mistake about anything.

Rothwell does admit errors on occasion. Shanahan has, as well. In this case, though, Shanahan is at least technically correct, and Rothwell obviously erred. As far as anything I’ve been able to find. The truth behind Rothwell’s claims is obscured by his insistence that he’d correctly quoted Shanahan, when he clearly did not.

The truth is that Shanahan engaged in a series of speculations as to how what he calls the Mizuno anomaly. As an example, “Malfunction” (of the thermocouple) is a speculation, obviously. If he’d been careful, he’d have put a question mark after it, because speculating on possible artifacts is Shanahan’s long-term interest. He does not claim it as a fact, and this is generally true of his position. Behind that, though, appears to be a conviction that he’s right and the cold fusion researchers are wrong. Or at least that they have not “proven” their claims.  Rothwell is reacting to Shanahan’s overall concept, and is erring in asserting that Shanahan said X, when, in fact, he said Y, which Rothwell interpreted as X. So Shanahan is correct, as to fact, and Rothwell refuses to admit the possibility and claims Shanahan is gaslighting. Rothwell went on:

Now then, do you agree with Shanahan that an object of this size once heated will remain hot the next day? And three days later? Are you with him on that? Because that is what he said. He said it again and again. He denies he said it it, then he says it again, then again denies he said it. He is gaslighting you. Do you agree with him that two adult chemists might not be able to feel the difference between an object at 100 deg C and one at room temperature?

What he asserts as an assumed fact is not Shananan’s position at all! Shanahan never said that such an object will stay hot. He speculates that (1) the thermocouple may have malfunctioned, and (2) seeing the thermocouple reading, Mizuno may have imagined heat, and, therefore, (3) the object may not have been hot.

He did not speculate that “two adult chemists might not be able to feel the difference.” Rather, what he wrote is actually possible, and it is not about inability, but about transient error. It can happen, especially if one is afraid, and Mizuno was afraid, that’s part of that story. Is it likely? No. In the full context, very, very unlikely. But Shanahan does not require that some proposed artifact be likely, and will stand on possibility until the cows come home. That’s to be rejected by any assessment that cares about the preponderance of the evidence. In the real world, decisions are made by preponderance, not by absolute proof that everything else is impossible.  Here is what Rothwell had quoted:

[Rothwell] “[snip] A thermocouple malfunction cannot cause a cell to be too hot to touch, “

[Shanahan:] But it can precondition a human to believe that the cell is hot and even dangerous, which would result in misinterpreting sensory data. This impact of expectations on judgment (which is what was being done by ‘touching’) is a well-established fact. That makes any data of this nature highly suspect, and certainly not solid enough to conclude physics textbooks must be rewritten.

This argument obviously drives Rothwell up the wall. However, it’s true, that is, such a thing is possible. But is it likely, looking at all the evidence, that this is what happened? No. It is highly unlikely. Now if we had conflicting evidence, we might need to look for an explanation like the effect of expectation on how we interpret our senses. But there is no conflicting evidence, and Shanahan’s final reason is diagnostic of cold fusion pseudoskepticism, the idea that the finding destroys our understanding of physics, that “physics textbooks must be rewritten.”

That’s a blatant error, only resulting from vague and unclear speculations. This error leads some to demand insane levels of proof for a finding of anomalous heat. Ordinary science would have moved on long ago. The 2004 U.S. DoE review, 50% of the panel found the evidence for anomalous heat to be “conclusive.” It would have been more, I suspect, except for that “physics textbook” belief, which is an obvious bonehead error in basic scientific process. By definition, an anomalous result proves very little, until it is reduced by controlled experiment to solid predictive theory. An anomalous result is an indication that there is something to be discovered and understood. Maybe. Some anomalies may never be explained.

Some are so offended by anomalies that they will believe in ridiculous Rube Goldberg explanations in order to avoid allowing the possibility that something of unknown cause actually happened. Others infer a contradiction to basic physics and loudly proclaim that the laws of physics have been overthrown. All this creates is a confused mess. The cold fusion fiasco was a perfect storm in many ways, and the damage caused has still not been cleaned up.

If Mizuno had allowed someone other than his coworker to see the cell, and it were considered proven beyond a shadow of doubt that the cell stayed hot, there would not be one sentence revised in a single physics textbook.

Anomalies do not, in themselves, lead to major revisions in understanding. The idea that LENR was impossible was not derived from basic principles of physics, but from an approximation, and the idea of utter impossibility already had a known exception, muon-catalyzed fusion.

So it’s possible, certainly, to deconstruct and dismantle Shanahan’s arguments, but misquoting him is a losing strategy, unless your first name is Donald. And we will see how well that works, long-term. Or pushing for a second term, as the case may be.

Rothwell continues to repeat his blatantly false claim, including the gaslighting charge.

Rothwell responds again, this time acknowledging fact, while avoiding any responsibility for his interpretations, and continues to claim gaslighting. He wrote:

seven_of_twenty wrote:

Where exactly did he write that?

Thanks for asking. Seriously, you spurred me to look for some of the quotes. It is a pain in the butt navigating this website, but I found some of ’em.

He still did not actually link to the original Shanahan comments. Yes, LF navigation can be a pain. But it can be done. Best practice, when quoting, link to the original. It can avoid a lot of stupid argument, and it makes what is being claimed verifiable. Mistakes do get made, stating what others have said.

Skeptics are suggesting scientific rigor is required in CF work. That is an excellent suggestion, and is actually necessary. I’m suggesting academic rigor in discussions of cold fusion. That’s probably not possible on LENR Forum, because moderation is hostile and at least one moderator routinely tosses gasoline on smouldering fires. There are good moderators, but that’s not enough. There must be an overall structure that supports clarity and clear discussions, and the structure there generally is not adequate for that. Discussions become insanely long, with good content buried in the noise.

I should have documented Shanahan’s statements in my intro. to the Fleischmann-Miles correspondence. If I update it, I will add links to this website, and actual quotes.

That would be a good idea, if this were actually relevant to the presentation of the correspondence. This is taking a personal spat with Shanahan and inserting it into something that should be about Fleischmann and Miles, not Rothwell and Shanahan. Because skeptics are mentioned by Fleischmann, apparently, some explanation would be in order, but as related to the mentions in the correspondence. This is far outside it, and is an attempt to denigrate and defame Shanahan by making him look ridiculous. Bad Idea. Pseudoskeptics do stuff like that.

As you see, Shanahan does not actually come right out and say “it remained hot for 3 days.” He says:

I granted this given that you are referring to when they disconnected it from the heaters that had heated it up to the point it was too hot to touch.

Which has nothing to do with the “remained hot” claim. Nothing.

But it wasn’t “given that.” In the chronology Mizuno said this event occurred 3 days after disconnecting it from electrolysis. I and other pointed this out to Shanahan. He refuses to address that fact.

Shanahan has addressed it, though only primitively and with high speculation.  Yes, electrolysis was turned off, but the heater (yes, there was a heater!) had not been turned off. Rothwell doesn’t understand the distinction between report and fact, that theme runs through many of his comments.

To make it very clear, there is this evidence that the reactor remained hot, when it was expected to cool.

(1) At “three days after electrolysis ended,” Mizuno assessed the temperature, not by touching, but by placing his hand close and feeling. This was a deliberate attempt to directly estimate temperature, and his report has him telling Akimoto, “That’s pretty hot, That can’t be 70 degrees. It has to be over 100 C. You can’t touch it with your hand.”

(The temperature was expected to decline to 75 degrees with electrolysis off, and only the 60 watt heater. This is an important aspect of the story: at this point, Mizuno was highly skeptical of excess heat claims, and was pursuing possible neutron generation. He had difficulty believing that the cell was actually over 100 C., so he checked with his hand. Carefully, as an expert. However, in any case, the cell would have been too hot to actually touch. This gets completely missed in Rothwell’s frenzy.)

(2) The thermocouple was, at this point, being recorded. Mizuno, afraid of a possible explosion (even though the cell was rated for 250 atmospheres), decided to turn off the heater, and moved the reactor). The temperature in the record, as reported by Mizuno from Akimoto, was “30 degrees over the calibration point,” i.e., that would be about 105 C.

(3) When he moved the reactor, and checked a day later, it continued to stay hot, and he again checked the thermocouple (manually, with a voltmeter). It was 4.0 mv —  or 100 C.

(4) Still concerned about explosion, he submerged the cell in a bucket of water. The temperature fell to 60 C. (This is an indication that the thermocouple was working.) He expected the temperature to continue to fall and went home.

(5) But “next morning,” the temperature had risen to 80 C., and the water had nearly all evaporated. (about 9 liters). He got a larger bucket and added  15 liters of water to it

(6) Over the next days, he found it necessary to add more water. Total water evaporated: “about” 41.5 liters. Obviously, to use this for calorimetry would need correction from natural evaporation.

(7) April 30, the temperature had fallen to 50 C. Evaporation apparently continued at about 5 liters per day. When he came back from a 5-day holiday, May 7, the temperature had fallen to 35 C (still warm!)

Because of multiple evidences, I conclude the report shows that the reactor stayed hot after all power was turned off and, at one point, the temperature rose . There was an internal source of power. However, all this is depending on the report coming from one person: Mizuno. We only have anything from Akimoto through Mizuno. Mizuno was never again able to replicate this, and, weirdly, it does not look like he actually tried. Instead, he pursued other approaches.

From the Mizuno account, Akimoto did not personally verify the temperature by touch. Again, Jed’s enthusiasm to refute and ridicule drove him into inaccuracy. Nevertheless, Shanahan’s critiques are, when all the evidence is considered, incompatible with the Mizuno report.

Jed continued with his diatribe:

He does this again, and again, and again. He dances around, he ducks, he evades, he waxes indignant with high dudgeon, he sorta, kinda says what he says in a way that could not mean anything else, and then at the last minute he pulls away. Then, when anyone points out that is the chronology, and what he said can only mean that a hot object stays hot for 3 days, he accuses that person of lying. This is classic “gaslighting” behavior.

The indignance I have seen has been only to being misquoted, and he was misquoted. Rothwell is applying his own logic to speculations by Shanahan, and then claiming Shanahan asserted what he speculates it must mean.

Shanahan claimed that the alleged quotations were Rothwell “fantasy.” That’s reasonably accurate. It  is not gaslighting to claim misquotation when there was misquotation. And “gaslighting” is highly reprehensible, it’s worse than lying, it is lying with an intention not only to deceive but to attempt to convince the person (the one telling the truth) that they are insane.

Rothwell was not telling the truth, he erred, because of his general confusion between fact and interpretation. It’s a common ontological error, to be sure.

To recover from this is simple. He almost got there with “Shanahan does not actually come right out and say, “it remained hot for three days.”

All he has to do is admit he was interpreting instead of quoting. And stop claiming that Shanahan lies when he objected to the misquotation. Rothwell’s logic:

Either he thinks it stays hot for three days, or he thinks is a valid argument to arbitrarily replace “3 days” with “immediately after disconnecting” and no one should quibble with that substitution.

Shanahan does not think it remained hot for three days, period. That is not his idea at all. Everything he’s written is aimed at looking for flaws in that claim. As to the alternative Rothwell presents, I don’t find it intelligible. Attempting to force debate opponents into positions they do not hold and have not expressed is highly offensive.

In practice, reality is never confined to two invented options.  The “he thinks is a valid argument” is, again, mind-reading, and the difference between the two proposed wordings is obvious. No wonder Rothwell gets nowhere with Shanahan.

That outcome might not depend on Rothwell behavior, but my concern is with how people who support LENR appear in public discussions, and the full audience appears over the years. How will this flame war appear to that full audience?

This was all a distraction from the thread subject, the Beiting report. Take it out back, guys!

Either argument is nuts, in my opinion. What do you think? Is “immediate” the same as “3 days”? Or do you think it stayed hot? Do you buy either interpretation? Tell us what you think.

So, here, Rothwell is attempting to push seven of twenty into the same false choice. However, this is fascinating: my interpretation of the evidence is that the cell stayed hot, clearly. Somehow Rothwell has confused Shanahan’s position with what is very likely reality, that the cell did stay hot. Shanahan absolutely does not believe that. Rothwell has allowed himself to get so upset that he has become incoherent.

(Shanahan has not, with the Mizuno anecdote, attempted to show calorimetry error. He has really pointed to (remotely) possible error sources, and has not clearly shown belief in any of them. Yes, they are preposterous, given the full evidence, but he’s not lying. The ultimate argument about the Mizuno anecdote is simply that it’s an anecdote and an anomaly if the report is accepted. There has been no attempt to confirm the result. This is, then, a footnote, a detail of historical interest, and not useful except as the reported experience of one scientist. I’d love to see Akimoto’s account. Has anyone attempted to obtain it?

(Shanahan also objects somewhere to the reported temperature over 100 C, i.e., above the boiling point of water, he assumed. But this was a closed cell, run at substantial pressure. The assumed boiling point limit of 100 C. was an error.)

I told him that if he really thinks it was “immediately” and not 3 days later, he is saying Mizuno lied. He responded with fake high dudgeon, saying “I don’t accuse professional scientists of lying” when that is exactly what he just did. More gaslighting!

Again, he did not claim — anywhere that I have seen — that Mizuno lied, and his comment about his general practice matches my experience with Shanahan. He doesn’t accuse professional scientists of lying. He is, himself, a professional scientist. Rothwell is not. He is an opinionated amateur (though one with a lot of knowledge, from his long involvement with the field, his work as a translator, and as librarian for lenr-canr.org). Jed presented Mizuno’s talk at ICCF-21, something else I will be looking at carefully.

That Rothwell calls this “gaslighting” is, then, massively delusional. I also don’t think for a moment that Rothwell lies, but he can be in error, and in this case, it’s completely obvious and clear. He also claims that when he is wrong, he admits it, but he hasn’t done that here, other than in a way that continues to claim that Shanahan lies. So was Rothwell lying when he wrote that about himself?

No. He was mistaken. Some people do lie, which means intentionally misleading. In some common speech, “Lie” means “reprehensibly wrong,” and there is a territory that overlaps. To say something where reputation is disparaged, without taking caution about accuracy and truth and the distinctions I have pointed out, is a carelessness that can create what amounts to lies. Call it willful disregard of truth. It is still not, quite, lying.

But it can get us into trouble the same as lying. Again, the remedy is obvious: when people claim we are in error (or lying), look carefully at how they might be right. Where it is possible that they may be right, at least in some way (not necessarily overall) acknowledge it!

The people who are most to be trusted are those who are not afraid of being wrong and looking bad from some mistake, who do not attempt to deny the possibility. We have it backwards, often. To really look bad, in a deep way, let it be seen that one is attached to looking good and doesn’t care about reality.

Shanahan responds with re-asserting that not only did he not say what Rothwell had claimed — which is obviously true — but that the quotes Rothwell supplies don’t show Shanahan as saying those things — which is also correct. Shanahan then uses the occasion to tar with the same brush the entire LENR field:

But you, in your preferred MO, misconstrued that in the worst way anyone could, and then said that was what I said. All that proves it that you learned the ‘strawman argument’ technique from your heroes quite well.

And this is what Rothwell opens for himself — and the field — by his carelessness and contempt. How much damage is done by this? I don’t know. I know that LENR Forum, by allowing flame wars like this, turns discussions into massive train wrecks, nearly useless for education. But LENR Forum, like many on-line fora, is like a bar, like Moletrap, say.

Shanahan has long been invited to participate in coverage and discussion of his ideas. I invited him to explore his criticisms on Wikiversity, almost a decade ago. Instead, he supported my Wikipedia ban, and seemed to believe that his ideas being excluded from Wikipedia was my doing, when, in fact, I acted to preserve content he had created. He is still invited. I’d give him author privileges here, if he’d accept them and he could write pages on his ideas. Which would, of course, be critiqued. But he could fully express himself and could ignore the potshots and incivilities that would surely appear. The same with the copy of the Wikiversity cold fusion resource that is hosted on the cold fusion community wiki. See Skeptical arguments/Shanahan. (that page is still mangled with templates placed during the process where all “fringe science” was banned on Wikiversity, which happened early this year. Long story. Bottom line: the community did not defend the right to study alleged fringe science on Wikiversity. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. So I rescued all those deleted resources. And if nobody cares about them, there they will sit until the cows come home or I go home myself.

On LENR Forum, it gets worse: Jed wrote:

kirkshanahan wrote:

Yes, that’s sort of the point of me making that comment. Preconceptions can be very powerful. And by the way, I never referred to when the cell was wrapped in towels, we are talking about when it was in a bucket of water. The ‘towel’ thing is another of your misconceptions,

Regarding the towels, Mizuno and Akimoto held their hands over the cell, and felt the cell wrapped in towels (as with a potholder), prior to moving it from the underground lab. That is what Mizuno wrote. That is the “two people” I refer to here. Perhaps you have not read the account, so you did not know that.

The Mizuno report (his book, p. 66-70) does not have any mention of Akimoto touching the cell. Akimoto only looks at the log of temperature. Mizuno moved the cell wrapped in “rags and towels.” The cell at that point was at, from the thermocouple reading immediately after, 100 C. This is not very hot. It might feel warm through towels. Mizuno turned off the cell heater before moving it. Basically he disconnected everything. So without XP, the cell would have been at about 75 C at that point. This could also feel warm through towels.

Sure, Shanahan has probably not read the account. I only have it because I have the book. Rothwell’s introduction is available, it describes the event, but is not complete.

After the cell was placed in the bucket, only Mizuno checked it, not Akimoto. He checked it every day by sense of touch and by reading the thermocouple.

There is no mention of “sense of touch” in the accounts of the cell in the bucket of water. The temperature fell to 60 C. from the reactor being placed in the bucket, but later rose, and those are all thermocouple readings. The temperature did, by the next day, rise to 80 C. On May 7, the temperature was still 35 C., which is still anomalously high for a cell sitting in a bucket of water in a normal room, his lab. The report ends there.

It is frustrating to read this report. Mizuno could have left the reactor connected to the logger and heated, as Akimoto suggested. Akimoto realized this was an opportunity, but Mizuno was afraid, and I don’t think the full dimensions of that fear have been recognized. Mizuno did not take steps to create better confirmation of his data. He did not publish this report, though there was apparently a newspaper account. (I hope Jed will translate that, if he has it.) Most amazing, given that this is the best-observed Heat After Death incident at high power, Mizuno did not attempt to replicate.

The temperature anomaly was noticed first on April 22, 1991. That cell was tightly sealed. From what we now know, the cell atmosphere should have had helium levels far above ambient. But Mizuno didn’t talk about it. The opportunity was missed, and not from fear of explosion. His book, p. 60-70.

I have learned a valuable lesson from this experience. I am appalled at my own inability to completely shrug off the bounds of conventional knowledge. Weak as they were, I verified neutron production. I even detected tritium, although the figures  did not add up to tritium “commensurate” with the neutrons. But, in my heart, I still harbored he view that the excess heat phenomenon surely could not occur, and, for that reason, I had not made adequate preparations to measure it. When the heat did appear, I was totally ill-equipped to deal with it appropriately. You never know when this heat will appear; later I experienced it many times.

And then:

I did not report on the May 1991 excess heat burst I experienced after terminating electrolysis, because I did not have precise data. I described results from a subsequent experiment in a poster session display. Other reports were made of heat after electrolysis was turned off (so-called “heat-after-death’), an important point which I think indicates the effect is reproducible.

If he had been thinking clearly, he would not have removed the cell from the logger and would have left the heater on. HAD with external supplemental heat is better confirmed, but in this case the heat production was enough to overwhelm the normal cooling. He could have returned the cell to the original setup and continued logging. He could have had an independent report written by Akimoto. He could have gathered additional information for a report — analysis of cell contents being something obvious to us with hindsight. (He describes another event where he scrapes the “crud” off of a cathode that was active, not realizing that this could be a treasure trove of information.)

I see his behavior as rooted in fear, mostly fear of looking bad. His actual data, probably recorded in a notebook, would have been clearer and better data on excess heat than about any other report in the field. Still could be, though it’s pretty late. His precision would be as it was. He had calibrated the cell, apparently. He knew the input power record, I assume.

His reaction to the unexpected excess heat, I imagine him thinking: “I don’t understand this. Therefore it’s dangerous!” Indeed. But he’s also aware that this was not much of a real danger, that cell had been experiencing recombiner failure repeatedly, with “explosions.” It was designed to withstand them.

The unknown is dangerous. But not usually, in a context like this, and the risk was small of any actual harm. His most legitimate fear was of leaving the reactor running while nobody was around. So perhaps turning it off was a reasonable response, though, in hindsight, that may have amplified the XE, as the Flesichman and Pons explosion was preceded by turning the reactor off and leaving it. This was years later, and surely Mizuno knew about that event. Maybe he hadn’t believed it happened, or that it had been exaggerated or misinterpreted.

That event also boggles my mind. Pons and Fleischmann did not photograph the damage. They did not appear to have kept the detritus left for analysis. Why not?

Fear, quite similar to Mizuno. They were afraid that the university would shut them down. To continue with Jed’s continued mind-reading:

I do not think preconceptions could fool the sense of touch in two professional chemists. Apparently you think it can.

First of all, one professional. Second, it could. And third, given that there were three confirmations of elevated temperature, this is very, very unlikely. So Shanahan is right, it could. Rothwell is right, it didn’t.

Shanahan has not read the original, I suspect, and doesn’t put the pieces together, and, in addition, he doesn’t trust Rothwell’s report is accurate, because, after all, Rothwell errs in reporting what Shanahan has written, why not the same with Mizuno’s report? Of course, Rothwell knows Mizuno, but … I don’t trust Rothwell’s account as completely accurate, either, but it is possible that Rothwell knows more that Mizuno has told him, that is not in the book.

I will repeat this: as far as I’ve seen, Rothwell doesn’t lie. Nor does Shanahan. In court, testimony is to be accepted unless controverted, and sound court process will attempt to avoid contradiction in testimony, i.e., it will look for harmonizing interpretations. Impeaching sworn testimony is generally avoided, except that process will distinguish between eyewitness testimony and interpretation by the witness. (But a jury, based on observing the witness, may consider possible deception.) Rothwell continued to argue:

kirkshanahan wrote:
For the record, *you* are the one claiming I was talking about being fooled by a 100C object. I made no such assumption. I actually assumed it was a ‘hot object’ (remember that?) for *part* of my analysis and that when they were ‘touching’ it (in the bucket), they were in fact touching a warm object immersed in water with an attached, malfunctioning TC that said the object was much hotter than it was.

Shanahan becomes careless, though he does state his alternate hypothesis as an “assumption,” which is not the same as “believing” it.

He’s confused on the factual history from the Mizuno report, possibly because he doesn’t have a copy. Is there one somewhere? I’ve quoted from the published book. There is no account of Akimoto being involved with the cell after Mizuno took it back to his office and immersed it in water. “Much hotter” would be incorrect. There remains the water evaporation data. But the point for me, here, is that Shanahan has not assumed what Rothwell claimed.

The “part of the analysis” he refers to would be the “three days after electrolysis was turned off,” where the temperature was a bit above 100 C per the thermocouple. At that point, it was still being heated by the internal heater, and temperature was expected to be, from prior calibrations, about 75 C. The difference was stated as 30 C.

There is no report of them actually touching the cell directly. There was an attempt by Mizuno, rather, to confirm the thermocouple reading by holding his hand over the cell, as I would do with any object I suspect to be hot. And Rothwell is correct that a deliberate attempt by a professional who must make these judgments often is very unlikely to be drastically off, as with some quick deceptive “perception.”

So Shanahan is confused. From where is he getting his information about the anecdote? From Rothwell, of course. Now, my training is that if I attempt to explain a situation to someone, and they remain unclear about it, I did not explain well, something was missing in my work. Shanahan is not necessarily a good listener, but still, taking responsibility for outcome is empowering, blaming others for failure is the opposite. Given all the noise about “you said” what was not actually said, I don’t wonder that Shanahan is factually confused. [Rothwell:]

As I said, “they” (Mizuno and Akimoto) did not touch it in the bucket. That is a minor misunderstanding. Only Mizuno touched it in the bucket.

Maybe Rothwell knows this directly from Mizuno, but that’s not in the report in the book. Nobody is reported as actually touching the bucket. Mizuno obviously was close to the reactor, but it was not hot enough that his direct perception of temperature would be reliable as to distinguishing between 75 C and 100 – 105 C.  I would not assume there was direct perception (touch), and that actually seems unlikely (Mizuno actually reports saying “You can’t touch it with your bare hand,” but there still remain two major evidences: the thermocouple reading and the very unusual water evaporation, that slowly declined as the TC temperature declined. These pieces all fit together.

They touched it, and then Mizuno placed it in the bucket, 3 days after electrolysis stopped and it was disconnected.

This is clearly inaccurate. Sequence:

April 22, stopped electrolysis, internal heater remained on.

April 25, abnormal temperature noticed. Mizuno checks heater power supply, which is supplying 60 watts, same as for a “month.” From calibration, temperature should have been 75 C. Three days after electrolysis ended, the deuterium loading should have declined (he writes “nearly all should have come out of the metal. He checks the temperature manually, hand held over the surface of the cell. “That’s pretty hot. That can’t be 70 degrees. You can’t touch it with your bare hand.”

So he did not touch it. It appears that neither Akimoto nor Mizuno actually touched the cell. But, at this point, it was still being heated electrically.

It would be stone cold long before that. It could not be a warm object for any reason.

How does Rothwell manage to get this so wrong? It should have been at 75 C. Still too hot to touch! Rothwell makes this blunder because he is so focused on Shanahan’s alleged stupidity that he forgets to be careful, himself. That’s quite normal for untrained humans.  (Some people understand this more or less naturally, but many don’t.)

There is no chemical fuel in the cell except for the emerging hydrogen, and the power from that is so low it could not be detected, or felt. The total energy from it is about as much as 3 kitchen matches.

That depends on conditions. This is a closed cell and would have orphaned oxygen in it, but I don’t know how much energy would be available. Something very unusual happened with that cell. The water evaporation figures are the strongest evidence.

Right here, again, you are claiming that an object heated with electrolysis will remain hot (or warm) from April 22 to May 7, even though there is no source of heat in it. That is absolutely, positively, 100% certainly IMPOSSIBLE.

And, once again, Shanahan did not claim that “right here.” It’s simply not there, so Shanahan is correct, this is Rothwell’s “fantasy.”

kirkshanahan wrote:
But most importantly what I said is: Anecdotes aren’t science.

Tell that to an astronomer. But in any case, you are ignoring the fact that heat after death was demonstrated hundreds of times, reliably, by Fleischmann and Pons, often at power levels as high as Mizuno observed. No, you are not ignoring this. Wrong word. I and others have pointed this out to you time after time, but you pretend it did not happen.

Shanahan’s comment is slightly overstated. Science is a vast pile of anecdotes, but where possible, we look for independent confirmations, and, best of all, replication. In astronomy, that one person observes something is an anecdote. When many observe the same phenomenon,  that is a collection of anecdotes, but the observation has become confirmed. Science is a process, and it begins with the observation and reporting of anecdotes. From there, to confirmed and accepted knowledge, can be quite an involved process.

Fleischmann and Pons may have observed HAD many times, though “hundreds” is questionable. Maybe. What’s the report? I have not seen reliability data from them, and much of that research was never published, a tragedy.

I have studied the debate between Morrison and Fleischmann, though not yet completely. At this point, presenting it to skeptics as proof of something would be premature. Whether or not this confirms Mizuno is tricky and unclear. And this is all distraction from the major point, which is not actually Mizuno, Rothwell is claiming “gaslighting,” which is lying about the past to attempt to confuse. In fact, Shanahan didn’t say what Rothwell claimed, and that’s quite simple. What Rothwell does is to throw in arguments irrelevant to that, basically claiming that Shanahan is wrong about something.

But if we can’t agree about what is in front of us and accessible — the record of conversation — how could we hope to agree on something far more complex?

And that’s the bottom line here. Rothwell has asserted, many times, that he doesn’t care what skeptics think. He isn’t attempting to understand them, nor to communicate effectively with them. He is hostile and combative, and deliberately so. He does not speak for the CMNS research community, and certainly not for political outreach (i.e., Ruby Carat or, to some extent, me).

Shanahan is cleaning his clock, because of the obviousness of this.

Seven of twenty chimes in:

Just curious, JedRothwell if you believe that your arguments with Shanahan and anecdotes about water staying hot for days add substantial value to the probability that Mizuno can make 1, 10 and 100kW (or thereabouts) reactors based on LENR, as he has claimed.

Troll. Mizuno has not claimed that. Rather, it appears, some reactor designs were named with such figures. I’m not going to track it down, but assigning outrageous claims to cold fusion scientists is par for the course for pseudoskeptical trolls.  Seven of twenty is using Jed’s bad habit of getting into unwinnable arguments to attack the entire field. Obviously, that whole mess has little or nothing to do with Mizuno’s ability to do anything. IH did attempt to confirm some Mizuno findings, as I recall, and appears to have failed, but this happens in the field quite commonly. The most difficult aspect to LENR research is reliability, and an obsessive focus on More Heat, even though motivation for that is obvious, doesn’t help. So in the recent Takahashi report, we actually start to see what reliability study could look like. Too little, still, my view, but at least they are moving in a powerful direction.

The field is full of intriguing anecdotes, and is either afflicted with or looks like it could be afflicted with, confirmation bias.  Denying this is not going to convince anyone who understands the issues. There is work that carefully avoids this, but there is so much that does not, that an appearance is maintained of a systemic problem.

Basically, that there is poor research — or poorly reported research, the effect is similar — does not negate that there is solid research from which clear conclusions can be drawn. Bottom line, at the present time, analysis of research is not going to prove anything to people who are not listening, not following the research, except for a very few.

There are genuine skeptics who are listening, but some of us insult them, merely because they are skeptical. Skepticism is essential to the scientific method, and if one has developed a belief about something in science, the obligation the method prescribes is to become as skeptical as possible and attempt, vigorously, to prove the opposite of what we believe.

Shanahan is a pseudoskeptic, I’ll assert, but he is also a real skeptic on occasion, or can play one on TV, and does attempt to raise genuine issues. So Shanahan should be handled carefully. Attacking him can look like attacking skeptics in general, which is a “believer” behavior, to be avoided.

Yes, pseudoskeptics are not following the scientific method, but that does not mean that we should imitate them and fall down that rat-hole. In fact, we can use their ruminations and speculations.

Again and again, Rothwell repeats his error, and Shanahan rubs his face in it. He wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

That is not even remotely similar to saying that two chemists might think an object is too hot to touch when it is actually stone cold. The physical sense of touch is nothing like an academic dispute. It is much harder to fool.

…says the Head Acolyte for the Church of Cold Fusion…

Shanahan is returning the favor of pure ad hominem argument. However, Rothwell has repeated clear errors. The object, at the time in question, would be expected to be at 75 C, not “stone cold.” Rothwell has forgotten about the internal heater, so sure is he that he is right, and that he knows the conditions of this event. That’s what we do when we allow ourselves to believe in the stupidity of others. It infects us, sometimes even more deeply than the others. And the “two chemists” did not touch the cell. One put his hand near it. The other only saw the temperature log and was in conversation with Mizuno, the only one actually using, not touch, but our ability to sense radiated heat without getting burned.

Rothwell is right that, as the usage is described in the report, it is very unlikely to be seriously deluded. Mizuno concluded that it was not at “70 C.,” but it was hotter. He would not touch it, then. I might use a “rapid touch, ” where the motion of a finger would only allow a very rapid contact, and I might wet the finger.  A little dangerous, but not very, on a metal surface. Observing the wet spot on the cell would have been a confirmation of “above 100 C.” I do that with the sizzle, in my kitchen. But that was not done.

The problem is that Rothwell continues to repeat his story of what Shanahan supposedly said, refusing to accept that something was off about it. He had the opportunity to recognize an error, a simple one, and take a step toward resolving the issue. Instead, he succeeds in making himself look worse and worse. And all of this is off-topic in that thread, so he’s is taking up time and space better devoted to actual exploration of genuine controversies and reports. Of course, the moderators of LENR Forum must bear some responsibility for tolerating this mess.

On the other hand, maybe they like it. Some people enjoy watching flame wars, it makes them feel superior. Shanahan wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

Let me again advise you, however, that you must not admit the cell was even a little warm.

What do you not understand about the fact that I said *IF* what you wrote is true, we have an anomaly. The problem is that ONE EXPERIMENT NEVER PROVES ANYTHING. We don’t know why the TC read >100C for 3 days, but us conservative-types tend to opt for equipment malfunction. You fanatic believers opt for the opposite.

First of all, the cell at the point under discussion (“after three days”) would be at 75 C. with no excess power. So the premise is nuts. Shanahan is right about “proves,” but anecdotes create indications for further research, where possibilities like “equipment failure” would be ruled out — or supported. In this case, thermocouple failure is very unlikely, because of the consistent behavior of that thermocouple, particularly as cool-down proceeded. It’s too bad the logging was not continued or resumed, so we might have seen even more evidence on that.

Shanahan’s self-description as “conservative,” though, is self-serving. He isn’t conservative, scientifically, he is far, far too certain of himself and his own ideas. Here, he extrapolates from an example in a forum that attracts extremes, to all “fanatic believers.” Yet he himself is a fanatic believer, as to his behavior. That’s a long story, and the whole Mizuno affair, and “lies” and “gaslighting” were distractions from real issues. Shanahan took a look at the Beiting calorimetry, and the entire line of attack by Rothwell and others was intended, it appears, to disparage that without actually considering it in detail, through an ad hominem argument based on misrepresentation of what Shanahan had written. In a word, that sucks. Jed wrote:

kirkshanahan wrote:

Objects at about 54 to 55°C (130°F) will usually result in a sensation of warmth that is on the threshold of pain: it’s really hot!.”

Careful there! You must not admit that it might have been 54°C. If it were that temperature 3 days after disconnection, that means cold fusion is real. It would have to be 20°C, the ambient temperature in the underground lab. Stone cold. If it were even a little hot, enough to measure with the TC, that means cold fusion is real.

Again, Jed has allowed his internal incendiaries to confuse him. He thinks this is a gotcha! In fact, until the cell was removed from the underground lab, it was at over 100 C. by the thermocouple indication, and would have been expected to be at 75 C. from the 60 watt internal heater and the calibration. Mizuno is explicit about that. Jed should really study the report again. I read things like this many times. One reading can be quite inadequate to become familiar.

I also used to be interested in arguments that develop in meetings, where there was no record. So, one time, I taped a meeting where there were controversies and arguments. Later, I transcribed it. A lot of work. And I found that my memory was utterly unreliable. With training, some people can develop accurate memory, even to the point of being able to assert verbatim, what others actually said. It’s rare. Rather, we remember summaries, mostly colored heavily by emotional responses.

I have a friend and he complains to me about what his fiance said to him. What did she actually say? He often says, when I press him, that he can’t remember. But he’s upset about what he can’t remember? It’s obvious: At the time, he thought that she meant something or that her statement implied something that worried him or upset him. Under those conditions, the original statement, what she actually said, gets lost, and that, then, traps him into a fantasy (a made-up story, which may or may not have some basis in reality) that he repeats to himself, and it makes and keeps him unhappy. This is all boringly common!

You have to show that two people in an underground lab where it is 20°C year round felt a 20°C object and both mistakenly perceived that it was hot.

No, he doesn’t “have” to do that. First of all, the object with no XP would be at 75 C., above the threshold of pain. Second nobody actually touched it, and only one used “feeling” — our ability to sense the temperature of a hot object close to our hand — to sense temperature.

Then one of them put it in a bucket, and 17.5 L of water evaporated, but that can happen any time.

Again, this is taking a Shanahan speculation and turning it into a preposterous statement. Shanahan noticed what I also notice: There would be some normal evaporation. But how much? Rothwell has several times used the 17.5 liter figure. That is total evaporation since April 30, not total evaporation. Total evaporation after removing all input power and placing the cell in a bucket of water was over 40 liters. Suppose the temperature was incorrect, that the cell was actually at room temperature after initial cooling. (I find the possibility of error in temperature here to be very, very low. It simply doesn’t look like thermocouple failure.) The final “measurement period” was 5 days, and water loss for that period was about 7.5 liters. That’s 1.5 liter/day. Assuming all of that is normal evaporation, that gives us “normal evaporation” from April 25 to May 2, seven days, of 10.5 liters. That still leaves 33.5 liters.

The normal evaporation artifact speculation doesn’t work, and actual normal evaporation, I’d expect, would be lower than the figure used. Apparently, Shanahan also speculated that rats drank the water. I think he had the underground lab in mind, but the evaporation took place in Mizuno’s personal lab on the third floor of a different building. Shanahan was engaging in a “what if” brainstorming, it’s completely standard for him. “What if there was some artifact, some error? What could it be?” And then one can always come up with something. Much more likely than rats — which simply don’t drink that much water, I’ve lived with them — would be a practical joker.

That’s a generic possible artifact that cannot generally be disproven. But, one will notice me saying over and over, “conservative” analysis will look at such possible artifacts and will normally reject them immediately as unlikely, and cold fusion is not what Shanahan thinks.

If the Muzuno event was real, this would not — at all — require physics textbooks to be revised. That would only happen after the cause of such an event were determined, with strong evidence, not merely the fact of it happening, and if the cause, now demonstrated with clear evidence, then required revision basic concepts of physics.

That is very unlikely, though obviously not impossible. The problem is that the circumstances of LENR are extremely complex and not easy to analyze accurately. I consider it likely that no changes to basic understanding, truly fundamental physics, will be required. It’s simply a complex situation that allows something otherwise unexpected to happen.

From all the evidence we currently have, it is no longer anywhere near as anomalous as was originally thought. But the Mizuno event was still outside the envelope of what is common. Rothwell treats every cold fusion finding of excess heat as confirming the Mizuno event. That’s simply naive, involving a loss of specificity and assuming that all cold fusion reports cover the same phenomenon. They might, and they might not. Until we have reliability, it’s going to be very difficult to resolve this issue.

There are a few results that are quite reliable, and that’s where some discussions might be fruitful.

You are sure that can happen. Again, be careful! You must never put a bucket of water in a room to test your claim, because you will see that does not happen. You must stick to your story.

Shanahan has generally backed off from claiming that it “did not happen.” His position is, quite clearly, “anecdote, and therefore not probative.” Then, out of his usual habits, he speculates on possible artifact. That’s all. It is really not such a big deal.

(Elsewhere, Shanahan pointed to sources on evaporation, which will obviously vary with temperature, exposed surface, air flow, humidity, and other factors. Simply putting a bucket in a room would not establish the fact as to what happened in that particular room at that time. I’m not going through the math, but the evaporation reported is clearly outside normal. There is an upper bound to normal evaporation in the last five days, I covered that above. Because the cell was still warm at the end of the five days, that was likely still beyond normal evaporation at room temperature.)

Shanahan wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

Careful there!

I’m always careful. You aren’t. For example, you missed the fact that I have cited a couple of sources that says the pain limit for physical temperature measurement is around 45-60C, not 100C. So, if Mizuno and Akimoto actually touched a 100C object, they would have been badly burned, Since they weren’t (i assume absent medical evidence to the contrary) they must have only approached the cell physically. Given their preconceptions that a) CF is real and they are proving it, and b) that the cell temp is >100C, the claim that they ‘felt’ it was that hot has no factual basis. They were fooled by their preconceptions, just like Blondlot thought he saw spots.

Nobody here is terribly careful. While one might have touched a 100 C object without harm — if donet just right — we actually have no report of actual touch. Rather, only one of them “approached the cell physically,” the report is clear, so Shanahan is correct on that point. However, “they were fooled by their preconceptions” is highly unlikely given the description. Shanahan is, himself, sitting in his chair creating possibilities out of his own preconceptions.

The Blondlot illusion was based on vision at the limits of perception, dark-adapted, where it’s quite noisy.

In the Mizuno report, this was an ordinary test of heat, in a context where Mizuno was quite surprised and wondering if he could trust the thermocouple. I get why Rothwell gets worked into a froth! Shanahan is actually outrageous, on that matter. But this had nothing to do with the Beiting report! The senseless debate continues:

Remember: if the cell was palpably hot to any extent, even a few degrees, three days after it was cut off, that means cold fusion is real. You cannot admit that! You must insist it was stone cold, right at ambient.

Rothwell has forgotten what was actually reported. At the point where the cell was “palpably hot,” the temperature with no XP would have been 75 C. Not “ambient,” stone cold. He’s forgotten about the cell heater; only electrolysis had been cut off, not the heater.

(Why would they have a cell heater? Well, to increase possible reaction rates, that’s why!)

As to the later heat, there is no direct evidence in the report of feeling the heat after that single manual test on April 25. The later temperature record is from the thermocouple, and heat is inferred from evaporation, which was clearly higher than normal. But that’s a separate issue.

Shanahan is arguing — and quibbling — over trees, Rothwell is arguing about the forest, and forgetting details about the trees, inferring them from secondary records, i.e,. from talking about the talking and his ideas about the forest.

When Alan Smith made noises about trolling, Shanahan explained (more or less correctly), and added:

I thought the Beiting issue was quite simple. He miscalculated his error limits on his calibration. A better estimate leads to the conclusion that his apparent excess heat signal is potentially just noise.

Now, that’s a simple claim, and moderately simple to verify, but work to verify. It requires actual study.  This, by the way, is classic Shanahan. A key word is “potentially.” He does not actually claim that there is no excess heat, only that it is “potentially just noise.” Now, is that supportable? I don’t know yet, and I won’t have any real idea until I check Shanahan’s work, which isn’t necessarily simple, it’s reasonably sophisticated. Rothwell simply attacked it as arrogant, which is not acceptable. It’s a decent analysis or it is not. I’m going to look again. Did Rothwell or anyone actually show error in the Shanahan analysis?

Knowing Shanahan, there is a good chance there is some dead fish in his analysis. However, that is a very subjective and easily biased expectation.  Cold fusion deserves better than that. Just as the appearance of excess heat does not require that physics textbooks be changed, a defective error analysis in a cold fusion paper does not require a dismissal of the evidence found in it. The smell test at this point is from an appearance that Shanahan pulled possible error values out of a dark place. Did he?

I’m not seeing that Rothwell — or anyone — identified error or unwarranted assumption in Shanahan’s critique. Fundamentally, the discussion was extensively derailed by the ad hominem arguments.

THHuxleynew appears to agree with Shanahan on one point:

Kirk is claiming (correctly, AFAIK) that the reported results are 10X more sensitive to calibration error than you might think . . .

That is not the same as confirming that there is such error. Attention to objective measurements of error is crucial to LENR research. We need to clean up the field, to expect better work (with more extensive calibrations), and to expect clearer analysis and presentation of data, and more thorough study of possible artifacts. Part of this is respecting skeptical commentary, and, especially learning to distinguish and encourage genuine, constructive skepticism, from useless and provocative trolling.

People often behave as they are expected to behave. When a community fails to guide its members, it can fall apart. “Guidance” does not mean domination and control, it means taking responsibility for our own behavior, and expecting that of others. It means and requires deepening communication and the seeking of genuine consensus.

I end up being mentioned, by Zeus46. It’s pretty funny, Zeus46 puts up a non-functioning link.  This is all fluff, of the “who started it” variety.

The discussion continued to focus, so far, on more fluff and irrelevancies, and the real issue raised by Shanahan, originally, possible poor handling of calibrations and error statistics, is ignored. When I can get to it, I intend to look at the Shanahan critique as part of a study of the Beiting report, which is on the agenda for me, along with the rest of ICCF-21. There was a lot to digest there.

Update 2018-07-03

Zeus46 continued to troll Shanahan. However, Shanahan had declined to continue argument on the false quotations — which were indeed false, and continued deceptively as such, in the face of protest, by Zeus46.

As part of that intended refusal, Shanahan wrote:

Z is a troll and JR is a fanatic. They both seek to confuse what I say for their own personal reasons. In the process they resort to illegitimate argumentation tactics and finally to insults. I will seek from now on to avoid answering them. If they try to make some point that I feel misleads unduly I may comment, but I will try to minimize that.

As to Zeus46, Shanahan is probably correct, and LF moderation is woefully lax in that discussion (and often, elsewhere). Direct misquotation to defame is not only unfair argumentation, it is grossly uncivil and provocative. As to JR (Jed Rothwell), I don’t think he is seeking to confuse; rather, he’s confused himself.

Shanahan returned to focus on the issue of calibration and error propagation and real discussion ensued.

Update 2018-07-25

I put this up with a password and sent the password to Rothwell. He still insisted that he was right and that Shanahan was gaslighting him. He has, with dripping sarcasm, directly attacked me on a private mailing list for LENR researchers. Rothwell is a loose cannon, unfortunately, even though he has done much for the field (and supported me in various ways). I think that’s over. I have removed the password protection.

 

Takahashi and New Hydrogen Energy

Today I began and completed a review of Akito Takahashi’s presentation on behalf of a collaboration of groups, using the 55 slides made available. Eventually, I hope to see a full paper, which may resolve some ambiguities. Meanwhile, this work shows substantial promise.

This is the first substantial review of mine coming out of ICCF-21, which, I declared, the first day, would be a breakthrough conference.

I was half-way out-of-it for much of the conference, struggling with some health issues, exacerbated by the altitude. I survived. I’m stronger. Yay!

Comments and corrections are invited on the reviews, or on what will become a series of brief summaries.

The title of the presentation: Research Status of Nano-Metal Hydrogen Energy. There are 17 co-authors, affiliated with four universities (Kyushu, Tohoku, Kobe, and Nagoya), and two organizations (Technova and Nissan Motors). Funding was reportedly $1 million US, for October 2015 to October 2017.

This was a major investigation, finding substantial apparent anomalous heat in many experiments, but this work was, in my estimation, exploratory, not designed for clear confirmation of a “lab rat” protocol, which is needed. They came close, however, and, to accomplish that goal, they need do little more than what they have already done, with tighter focus. I don’t like presenting “best results,” from an extensive experimental series, it can create misleading impressions.

The best results were from experiments at elevated temperatures, which requires heating the reactor, which, with the design they used, requires substantial heating power. That is not actually a power input to the reactor, however, and if they can optimize these experiments, as seems quite possible, they appear to be generating sufficient heat to be able to maintain elevated temperature for a reactor designed to do that. (Basically, insulate the reactor and provide heating and cooling as needed, heating for startup and cooling once the reactor reaches break-even — i.e., generating enough heat to compensate for heat losses). The best result was about 25 watts, and they did not complete what I see as possible optimization.

They used differential scanning calorimetry to identify the performance of sample fuel mixtures. I’d been hoping to see this kind of study for quite some time. This work was the clearest and most interesting of the pages in the presentation; what I hope is that they will do much more of that, with many more samples. Then, I hope that they will identify a lab rat (material and protocol) and follow it identically with many trials (or sometimes with a single variation, but there should be many iterations with a single protocol.

They are looking forward to optimization for commercial usage, which I think is just slightly premature. But they are close, assuming that followup can confirm their findings and demonstrate adequate reliability.

It is not necessary that this work be fully reliable, as long as results become statistically predictable, as shown by actual variation in results with careful control of conditions.

Much of the presentation was devoted to Takahashi’s TSC theory, which is interesting in itself, but distracting, in my opinion, from what was most important about this report. The experimental work is consistent with Takahashi theory, but does not require it, and the work was not designed to deeply vet TSC predictions.

Time was wasted in letting us know that if cold fusion can be made practical, it will have a huge impact on society. As if we need to hear that for the n thousandth time. I’ve said that if I see another Rankin diagram, I’d get sick. Well, I didn’t, but be warned. I think there are two of them.

Nevertheless, this is better hot-hydrogen LENR work than I’ve seen anywhere before. I’m hoping they have helium results (I think they might,) which could validate the excess heat measures for deuterium devices.

I’m recommending against trying to scale up to higher power until reliability is nailed.

Update, July 1, 2018

There was reference to my Takahashi review on LENR Forum, placed there by Alain Coetmeur, which is appreciated. He misspelled my name. Ah, well!

Some comments from there:

Alan Smith wrote:

Abd wrote to Akito Takahashi elsewhere.

“I am especially encouraged by the appearance of a systematic approach, and want to encourage that.”

A presumptuous comment for for somebody who is not an experimenter to make to a distinguished scientist running a major project don’t you think? I think saying ‘the appearance’ really nails it. He could do so much better.

That comment was on a private mailing list, and Smith violated confidentiality by publishing it. However, no harm done — other than by his showing no respect for list rules.

I’ll point out that I was apparently banned on LENR Forum, in early December, 2016, by Alan Smith. The occasion was shown by my last post. For cause explained there, and pending resolution of the problem (massive and arbitrary deletions of posts — by Alan Smith — without notice or opportunity for recovery of content), I declared a boycott. I was immediately perma-banned, without notice to me or the readership.

There was also an attempt to reject all “referrals” to LENR Forum from this blog, which was easily defeated and was then abandoned. But it showed that the problem on LF was deeper than Alan Smith, since that took server access. Alan Coetmeur (an administrator there) expressed helplessness, which probably implicated the owner, and this may have all been wrapped in support for Andrea Rossi.

Be that as it may, I have excellent long-term communication with Dr. Takahashi. I was surprised to see, recently, that he credited me in a 2013 paper for “critical comments,” mistakenly as “Dr. Lomax”, which is a fairly common error (I notified him I have no degree at all, much less a PhD.) In that comment quoted by Smith, “appearance” was used to mean “an act of becoming visible or noticeable; an arrival,” not as Smith interpreted it. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

I did, in the review, criticize aspects of the report, but that’s my role in the community, one that I was encouraged to assume, not by myself alone, but by major researchers who realize that the field needs vigorous internal criticism and who have specifically and generously supported me to that end.

Shane D. wrote:

Abd does not have much good to say about the report, or the presentation delivery.

For those new to the discussion, this report…the result of a collaboration between Japanese universities, and business, has been discussed here under various threads since it went public. Here is a good summation: January 2018 Nikkei article about cold fusion

Overall, my fuller reaction was expressed here, on this blog post. I see that the format (blog post here, detailed review as the page linked from LF) made that less visible, so I’ll fix that. The Nikkei article is interesting, and for those interested in Wikipedia process, that would be Reliable Source for Wikipedia. Not that it matters much!

Update July 3, 2018

I did complain to a moderator of that private list, and Alan edited his comment, removing the quotation. However, what he replaced it with is worse.

I really like Akito. Wonderful man. And a great shame Abd treats his work with such disdain.

I have long promoted the work of Akito Takahashi, probably the strongest theoretician working on the physics of LENR. His experimental work has been of high importance, going back decades. It is precisely because of his position in the field that I was careful to critique his report. The overall evaluation was quite positive, so Smith’s comment is highly misleading.

Not that I’m surprised to see this from him. Smith has his own agenda, and has been a disaster as a LENR Forum moderator. While he may have stopped the arbitrary deletions, he still, obviously, edits posts without showing any notice.

This was my full comment on that private list (I can certainly quote myself!)

Thanks, Dr. Takahashi. Your report to ICCF-21 was of high interest, I have reviewed it here:

http://coldfusioncommunity.net/iccf-21/abstracts/review/takahashi/

I am especially encouraged by the appearance of a systematic approach, and want to encourage that.

When the full report appears, I hope to write a summary to help promote awareness of this work.

I would be honored by any corrections or comments.

Disdain? Is Smith daft?