Morrison Fleischmann debate

This is a study of the debate between Douglas Morrison and Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann. This debate first took place on the internet, but was then published. It was also covered with copies of drafts from both sides, shown on lenr-canr.org.

Phase 1 of the study
Subpages
Participation is strongly invited.
Britz summaries of the papers

Phase 1 of the study

In this phase, the goal is to thoroughly understand, as far as possible, the expression and intentions of the authors. In the first phase, whether an author is “right” or “wrong” is irrelevant, and if something appears incorrect, a default operating assumption is that the expression was defective or incomplete or has not been understood. In later analysis, this restriction may be removed, and possible error considered.

The original paper being critiqued was M. Fleischmann, S. Pons, “Calorimetry of the Pd-D2O system: from simplicity via complications to simplicity,” Physics Letters A, 176 (1993) 118-129. I have a scan of the original published paper (and Steve Krivit hosts a copy), but I have used here use the more-available version, first presented as a conference paper at ICCF-3 in 1992. There is a later version, presented at ICCF-4 in 1993.

Morrison, D. R. O. (1994). “Comments on claims of excess enthalpy by Fleischmann and Pons using simple cells made to boil.” Phys. Lett. A, 185:498–502. I have a scan, but, again, will use the lenr-canr.org copy.

The original authors then replied with Fleischmann, M.; Pons, S. (1994). “Reply to the critique by Morrison entitled ‘Comments on claims of excess enthalpy by FLeischmann and Pons using simple cells made to boil'”. Phys. Lett. A, 187:276–280. Again, I have a scan of the as-published reply, but will use what is included in the lenr-canr.org copy for convenience.

If there are any significant differences in the versions, I assume they will be found and noted. Meanwhile, this is an opportunity to see what critiques were levelled by Morrison in 1994, and how Pons and Flesichmann replied. Many of the same issues continue to be raised.

Subpages here.

Original paper.

Morrison critique.

Original authors respond.

Review Committee (new members welcome. This is consensus process and, even after the Committee issues reports, additional good-faith review will remain open here, hopefully, or elsewhere.)

Participation

To participate in this study, comment on the Review Committee page, using a real email address (which will remain confidential) and then begin reviewing the Original paper. (The email address will be used in negotiating consensus, later. Participants will be consulted about process.) Again, the goal at his point is to become familiar with the original paper, what is actually in it (and what is not in it).

Comment here constitutes permission for CFC administration to email you directly (your email address remains private information, not used except for administrative purposes.)

Fleischmann papers are famous for being difficult to understand. Having now edited the complete paper, I’m not ready to claim I understand it all, but it is not as difficult as I’d have expected. The math takes becoming familiar with the symbols, but it is not particularly complex.

Subpages are being created for each section in the article.

If anyone has difficulty understanding something, comment on the relevant subpage and we can look at it. Specify the page number. (I have placed page anchors as well as section anchors in the Original, and equation and figure anchors as well, so you can link directly. There are surely errors in this editing, so corrections are highly welcome.)

Take notes, and you may share them as a comment on that subpage. Please keep a focus in each comment, if possible, on a single section in the paper. I may then reorganize these in subpages that study each section. Comments on the paper itself, at this point, are not for debate or argument, but only for seeking understanding.

(If a subpage has not yet been created for a section, show the subsection title in questions or comment, and these will be moved to the relevant subpage. At this point, please do not “debate.” The goal is understanding, and understanding arises from the comprehension of multiple points of view.)

Overall comment on this process is appropriate on this page.

As Phase 1 completes on the Original, we will move to the Morrison critique, and then, in turn, to the Pons and Fleischmann reply, again with the goal being understanding of the positions and ideas expressed.

In Phase 2 we will begin to evaluate all this, to see if we can find consensus on significance, for example.

Source for Morrison, and related discussions in sci.physics.fusion

Comments on Fleischmann and Pons paper.

— (should be the same as the copy on lenr-canr.org), or maybe the later copy (see below) is what we have.

Response to comments on my cold fusion status report.

— Morrison comment in 2000 on another Morrison paper, status of cold fusion, correcting errors and replying. This contains many historical references. Much discussion ensued. Morrison appears to be convinced that excess heat measurements are all error, from unexpected recombination, and he also clearly considers failure to find neutrons to be negative against fusion, i.e., he is assuming that if there is fusion, it is standard d-d fusion (which few are claiming any more, and which was effectively ruled out by Fleischmann from the beginning — far too few neutrons, and the neutron report they made was error. Basically, no neutrons is a characteristic of FP cold fusion. This was long after Miles and after Miles was recognized by Huizenga as such a remarkable finding. The discussion shows the general toxicity and hostility. (Not so Morrison himself, who is polite.)

You asked where is the “Overwhelming evidence” against cold fusion? For 
this see the paper “Review of Cold Fusion” which I presented at the ICCF-3 
conference in Nagoya – strangely enough it seems not to have been published 
in the proceedings despite being an invited paper – will send a copy if   
desired.

“Strangely enough,” indeed.

The 2000 paper is on New Energy Times. 

Krivit has collected many issues of the Morrison newsletters on cold fusion.

This is a Morrison review of the Nagoya conference (ICCF-3). Back to sci.physics.fusion:

Fleischmann’s original response to Morrison’s lies

— Post in 2000 by Jed Rothwell and discussion.

Morrison’s Comments Criticized

— Post by Swartz in 1993 (cosigned by Mallove) with Fleischmann reply to Morrison’s critique. Attacks the intentions of Morrison, but this was the original posting of the Fleischmann reply.

I am sure there is more there of interest. We can see how toxic, largely ad-hominem, polarized debate led to little useful conclusions, merely the hardened positions that continue to be expressed.

Hagelstein on the inclusion of skeptics at ICCF 10.

9. Absence of skeptics

Researchers in cold fusion have not had very good luck interacting with skeptics over the years. This has been true of the ICCF conference series. Douglas Morrison attended many of the ICCF conferences before he passed away. While he did provide some input as a skeptic, many found his questions and comments to be uninteresting (the answers usually had been discussed previously, or else concerned points that seemed more political than scientific). It is not clear how many in the field saw the reviews of the conferences that he distributed widely. For example, at ICCF3 the SRI team discussed observations of excess heat from electrochemical cells in a flow calorimeter, where the associated experimental errors were quite small and well-studied. The results were very impressive, and answered basic questions about the magnitude of the effect, signal to noise, dynamics, reproducibility, and dependence on loading and current density. Morrison’s discussion in his review left out nearly all technical details of the presentation, but did broadcast his nearly universal view that the results were not convincing. What the physics community learned of research in the cold fusion field in general came through Morrison’s filter.

Skeptics have often said that negative papers are not allowed at the conference. At ICCF10, some effort was made to encourage skeptics to attend. Gene Mallove posted more than 100 conference posters around MIT several months prior to the conference (some of which remain posted two years later), in the hope that people from MIT would come to the conference and see what was happening. No MIT students or faculty attended, outside of those presenting at the conference. The cold fusion demonstrations presented at MIT were likewise ignored by the MIT community.

To encourage skeptics to attend, invitations were issued to Robert Park, Peter Zimmermann, Frank Close, Steve Koonin, John Holzrichter, and others. All declined, or else did not respond. In the case of Peter Zimmermann, financial issues initially prevented his acceptance, following which full support (travel, lodging, and registration) was offered. Unfortunately his schedule then did not permit his participation. Henceforth, let it be known that it was the policy at ICCF10 to actively encourage the participation of skeptics, and that many such skeptics chose not to participate.

My analysis: the damage had been done. The efforts to include skeptics were too little, too late. The comment that Hagelstein makes about Morrison’s participation is diagnostic: instead of harnessing Morrison’s critique, it is essentially dismissed. Whatever issues Morrison kept bringing up, ordinary skeptics would have the same issues. Peter’s comment is “in-universe,” not seeing the overall context. Skeptics with strongly-developed rejection views would, in general, not consider attending the conference a worthwhile investment of time. That could be remedied, easily. My super-sekrit plan: if conditions are ripe, to invite Gary Taubes to ICCF-21. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!

(The time is not quite yet ripe, but might be before ICCF-21.)

Short of that, how about an ICCF panel to address skeptical issues and to suggest possible experimental testing of anything not already adequately tested? (And who decides what is adequate? Skeptics, of course! Who else? And for this we need some skeptics! This kind of process takes facilitation, it doesn’t happen by itself, when polarization has set in.)

(This is not a suggestion that experimentalists must anticipate or address every possible criticism. When they can do so, it’s valuable, and the scientific method suggests seeking to prove one’s own conclusions wrong, but that is about interpretation, and  science is also exploration, and in exploration, one reports what one sees and does not necessarily nail down every possible detail.)

Britz on the papers:

@article{Flei1993,
author = {M. Fleischmann and S. Pons},
title = {Calorimetry of the Pd-D2O system: from simplicity via complications to simplicity},
journal = {Phys. Lett. A},
volume = {176},
year = {1993},
pages = {118–129},
keywords = {Experimental, electrolysis, Pd, calorimetry, res+},
submitted = {12/1992},
published = {05/1993},
annote = {Without providing much experimental detail, this paper focusses on a series of cells that were brought to the boil and in fact boiled to dryness at the end, in a short time (600 s). The analysis of the calorimetric data is once again described briefly, and the determination of radiative heat transfer coefficient demonstrated to be reliable by its evolution with time. This complicated model yields a fairly steady excess heat, at a Pd cathode of 0.4 cm diameter and 1.25 cm length, of about 20 W/cm$^3$ or around 60\% input power (not stated), in an electrolyte of 0.6 M LiSO4 at pH 10. When the cells boil, the boiling off rate yields a simply calculated excess heat of up to 3.7 kW/cm$^3$. The current flow was allowed to continue after the cell boiled dry, and the electrode continued to give off heat for hours afterwards.}
}

@article{Morr1994,
author = {D.~R.~O. Morrison},
title = {Comments on claims of excess enthalpy by Fleischmann and Pons
using simple cells made to boil},
journal = {Phys. Lett. A},
volume = {185},
year = {1994},
pages = {498–502},
keywords = {Polemic},
submitted = {06/1993},
published = {02/1994},
annote = {This polemic, communicated by Vigier (an editor of the journal), as was the original paper under discussion (Fleischmann et al, ibid 176 (1993) 118), takes that paper experimental stage for stage and points out its weaknesses. Some of the salient points are that above 60C, the heat transfer
calibration is uncertain, that at boiling some electrolyte salt as well as unvapourised liquid must escape the cell and (upon D2O topping up) cell conductivity will decrease; current fluctuations are neglected and so is the Leydenfrost effect; recombination; and the cigarette lighter effect, i.e. rapid recombination of Pd-absorbed deuterium with oxygen.}
}

@article{Flei1994b,
author = {M. Fleischmann and S. Pons},
title = {Reply to the critique by Morrison entitled
‘Comments on claims of excess enthalpy by FLeischmann
and Pons using simple cells made to boil’},
journal = {Phys. Lett. A},
volume = {187},
year = {1994},
pages = {276–280},
keywords = {Polemic},
submitted = {06/1993},
published = {04/1994},
annote = {Point-by-point rebuttal. F\&P did not use the complicated differential equation method as claimed by Morrison; the critique by Wilson et al does not apply to F\&P’s work; very little electrolyte leaves the cell in liquid form; current- and cell voltage fluctuations are absent or unimportant; the problem of the transition from nucleate to film boiling was addressed; recombination (cigarette lighter effect) is negligible.}
}