Conversations: Simon Derricutt

This comment by Simon Derricutt is worth review in detail. So, below, my comments are in indented italics.


In reply to Abd ulRahman Lomax.

Abd – I suspect the Journal of Scientific Consensus exists as Wikipedia. Generally, Wikipedia is pretty good at stating what is generally-agreed, and where there’s disagreement there will be a lot of editing going on as the factions try to get their view to be the one that’s visible.

Ah, favorite topic! We then cover many issues.

Wikipedia is not and cannot be the Journal of Scientific Consensus. Rather, it does, sometimes, reflect consensus. More accurately, it sometimes reflects the majority point of view among editors. More accurately, the majority point of view among administrators, and even more accurately, among administrators who are paying attention to an article, which can be heavily biased. If Wikipedia actually followed policy, it would be quite good, but it still could not be that Journal, because whatever is in Wikipedia, in theory, must be verifiable from Reliable Source, yet what can be seen in “battleground articles,” is cherry-picking of sources, where sources differ, and, with Cold fusion — definitely a battleground long before I became involved — weak sources claiming scientific consensus 25 years ago are asserted, and stronger sources, Reliable Source by the standards, including what should be golden, by policy, peer-reviewed reviews of the field in mainstream journals, and even more, recent reviews, are rejected because the author is allegedly “fringe” or on a host of other excuses. But policy does not consider author, it considers publisher and publisher standards. On the pseudoskeptical side, the most blatant violations of policy are given a pass, whereas on the so-called “believer” side, jaywalking is sanctioned. Long ago, editors who actually were following policy (not “belief”) were attacked and banned, and it’s all obvious for anyone who studies the history. It ‘s all there. But who does that? Very few.

Wikipedia structure was defective from the beginning, but it worked extremely well in certain ways, and the defects transformed into factions that were able to dominate and then prevent reform. It’s all well-known to mature Wikipedians, many or most of whom burn out and walk away. Who is left?

When in doubt, follow the consensus, but if the evidence for *something else* seems solid-enough then take the heretical viewpoint instead.

That’s a heuristic that can be useful, but my training is to notice “point of view” and to both use it (routinely) and set it aside (as to an belief that a point of view — any point of view — is the reality, except in a narrow way). From a point of view, we can see a room. However, from another point of view, we can see that it is Trompe-l’œil . The seeing is real, but what we imagine is underneath the seeing is an imagination. It might be a quite useful one, ordinarily. I’ve been writing about and studying entoptic phenomena of late. What is really fascinating is directly seeing how our routine “seeing” hides the direct sensory information from us. This also happens in the realm of the interpretation of reality. What is unexpected may be invisible! It can be completely obvious, if we look, but … we don’t look.

I know people who reject Miles’ experimental results and others who accept Rossi’s claims.

I’ve studied Miles in depth, as well as the rejections. I even walked up to Jones at ICCF-18 and shook his hand, congratulating him for being the only one to critique Miles in a serious reply in a peer-reviewed journal. But Jones failed to impeach Miles, and it’s obvious. He went after the possibility of error in calorimetry and the possibility of error in the measurement of helium, but ignored what was ground-breaking about Miles: the correlation. Correlation is how low-level effects are studied, when noise might be a problem. Most people in the field went after what you seem to want to see, in your comment, More Heat. Miles accepted experimental reality and studied what was already achievable. Scientifically, if confirmed, his results were spectacular, and even Huizenga noticed that in the second edition of his book. Was Miles confirmed? Nobody actually did what Miles did; what exist are general confirmations, and some detailed studies: McKubre measured the ratio with higher precision, in a single experiment, SRI M4, coming within an estimated 10% of the theoretical Q, and Violante studied three experiments, with two of them showing Miles-class results (helium about 60% of the theoretical Q), and one showing the same as M4, within about 20%. Those two experiments were unique, as far as I know, in that they both used anodic reversal, which would be expected to dissolved some surface palladium, releasing any helium trapped close to the surface. There are, then, many other studies roughly confirming Miles with many approaches.

And now there is work under way to confirm heat/helium with increased precision, and it is being done by experts, and it is very adequately funded. So I expect us to know even better, and soon.

Easily, one can find “people” who accept this or reject that, but what is the consensus? And what is “consensus”? Consensus of whom? Long before I was involved with cold fusion, consensus and its process was a major focus of mine. Consensus can be a fuzzy word. In the twentieth century, processes were developed for generating very high consensus, i.e., strong agreement among all involved. Those, however, commonly take much time, they are famous for it. Wikipedia theorists knew that strong consensus was the most reliable guide we have as to what might approach reality. But “wiki” also means “quick,” and they settled for what they called “rough consensus.” It really means “majority” or sometimes mere plurality. Processes were set up to improve consensus beyond that. Factions ignore them, especially administrative factions. And the system, which, for project success, does require maximized consensus, does nothing to ensure that, and editors who seek strong consensus on Wikipedia are often sanctioned and banned, because they will be considered “disruptive” from the MPOV, majority point of view, and such dissent is not protected, too often.

I have questioned some who reject Miles, about the correlation. Shanahan demonstrated utter insanity on this, his Letter to JEM contained a blatant, face-palm error, it was so bad that the scientists who responded to him flat-out did not understand what he’d written and simply said he was wrong. He wasn’t merely wrong. What he had done actually showed the opposite of what he claimed it showed. He showed significance when he thought he was showing lack of it, by misinterpreting the data he studied.

While any of these people could participate in genuine consensus process, they don’t. (Genuine consensus process, if it excludes people with a point of view, cannot find genuine consensus. However, those who facilitate genuine consensus, while they may regulate discussion — they must! — will not exclude, and in organizations that seek consensus, minority reports are actively solicited and read.) Rather they tend to argue vociferously that they are right. There are some genuine skeptics writing on LENR Forum — and in other fora. It is possible to discuss the issues with them, and they seem to allow possibilities that are rejected out of hand by pseudoskeptics.

I hope Brian Ahern succeeds in his Thermacore meltdown replication, which will maybe give a similar solid peg to hang Ni/H on as Miles gave to Pd/D.

Well, you have missed what is important about Miles, then. Miles creates a “solid peg” by correlating apparent reaction heat with an ash. Merely showing high heat doesn’t do that. Miles answered one of the most penetrating of the reasons for skeptical rejection, and that is why Huizenga gave it such importance. There is no doubt that high heat is of interest. However, if the ash is not identified and correlated with the heat — which takes more than one experiment, one measurement — it won’t accomplish that important result. My brief “explanation” is, maybe it is caused by gremlins. Or hydrinos. Or zero point energy. Or intense delusion or even fraud. This is why “independent confirmation” is so important. The “they must be doing something wrong” argument (i.e, Garwin) loses its legs, becoming implausible .

Obviously, a strong heat showing with any NiH experiment will give it a stronger basis, but not to the extent that Miles legitimately gave PdD. Ideally, Brian’s work will be a confirmation of an earlier, largely unpublished result. That gives it a leg up, but wider confirmation will be necessary.

It seems Brillouin use Pd in their Nickel, so it’s hard to be sure of what’s happening there except that it’s likely that the heat produced is real.

I have written a critique of the recent report, which has, shall we say, problems. (Because of major political implications, I am waiting for a review process to complete before publishing it.) In general, though, proprietary work, where it is, by definition, not independently confirmed — and SRI cannot be said to be entirely independent, being retained by Brillouin, the owner of the technology — is inadequate to break through the still-standing (in some areas) rejection cascade. (Rossi is much worse. With Rossi, the only independent study done, where Rossi’s hands were not all over the study, was that of IH’s work, and IH has explicitly claimed they found nothing reliable, often stated as “nothing.”)

I’ve been commenting in the Free Energy field for around 5 years or so, and have had the opportunity to see a fair number of attempts to get money from customers/investors based on false claims. It’s interesting to see how the wish to believe in the miracle blinds some people to simple physical tests. On the other hand there are also the committed sceptics who selectively ignore positive evidence.

Indeed. You noticed.

One thing shines from all this, though, and that is that unless you trust the experimenter, you won’t accept data he/she produces if it goes against your preconceived ideas.

Yes. This is actually ordinary human behavior. All of us do it. However, some recognize a middle path: we accept data as data, generated by a witness, but not necessarily the conclusions of the witness, if we think we might know better. Strong preconceptions more or less reflect an idea that we know better, and we might. But we also might not. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” properly understood, is not an absolute, not a “truth” about reality, but a heuristic. It provides guidance for us, as individuals, as to what we will spend our time investigating. “Extraordinary” is a judgment, an impression, and is based on expectations. The heuristic is useful, and it is enough that a few investigate such “extraordinary claims.” But if we refuse to allow confirmation of the claims, based on the original argument, we start to enter the territory of pseudoskepticism. This is skepticism that forgets to be skeptical of self, reserving it for others. A confident belief in one’s own rightness is characteristic of pseudoskeptics. (Which are, then, a class of “believers.” Ironic as it is.)

I’ve been fooled by measurement kit before, and I’m sure anyone with experience has also been likewise fooled by some bit of kit, which is why people use multiple methods of measurement on important stuff so that there is no single point of failure.

Yes. As well, calibrations across the entire experimental range are quite important. Calibrations provide assurance of measurement accuracy, and multiple methods provide wider confirmation. And this is all for one report or one investigator. Independent confirmation, ideally exact replication, again, creates solidity. “Exact replication,” as naively understood, was a major obstacle, because of the chaotic variability of the material, but Miles cut through that noise, by not looking for exact heat replication — his results were all over the map, though mostly not large as to COP — but for correlation between heat and helium. Thus, in Miles’ work, “negative results,” i.e,. no anomalous heat, still contribute to the correlation. I.e, no heat, no helium, demonstrates and is a kind of control on both the calorimetry and the helium measurements.

Belt-and-braces or sanity-check, and there are probably other terms to describe this caution about believing one measurement or one experiment. An undeniable test, however, is where the machine produces enough power to run itself and a load without connection to an outside power-source – a self-loop.

This is a narrow conception of what might be convincing. In fact, it’s been done, though not with high power. Arata gas-loaded PdD and ran a stirling engine. No power input at all. However, what about energy storage or potential energy in the chemistry? He showed, apparently many times, released energy well beyond chemistry.

Rossi used heat to control heat. That was often ridiculed, but it was not unreasonable. However, he had claims of high power. He could have created demonstration devices that were self-powered. We don’t know his “secret,” and it may involve some kind of catalytic stimulation or even power input. However, most input power in a Rossi demo goes to heating the reactor. It is that which could be eliminated. The basic method is to arrange to insulate the reactor so that cooling can be controlled. Heat would be used to take the material up to the necessary temperature, and it would be allowed to move to ordinary runaway. I.e., without cooling, it would continue to increase its own temperature until burnout. But it would be cooled, and the heating of the coolant is output power. If electrical energy is needed for stimulation, this would be input power, not heating power. If there is substantial heat (as claimed) and the necessary input power is only a small fraction of this (as also claimed), that power could be generated, using any of many methods. Thermoelectric might be an easy one.

In any case, input power is also converted to heat. Rossi claimed he was avoiding runaway by keeping power down. The possible reality is that he saw no need to prove anything to anyone, and this was obvious by 2011. Industrial Heat called his bluff, so to speak, by not requiring independent testing before paying him. My interpretation is that he then came to expect that this generosity would continue! Even to $89 million.

For an LENR system to be able to self-loop, it needs a COP maybe greater than about 3, because of the inefficiency in converting heat to electricity to run the system. Mills should have no problem doing that based on the claimed results, and neither should Rossi. Still, they both remain plugged into the grid or a big generator and show us meter readings that, as experimentalists, we know can be in error or fudged or simply lied about.

This is probably overstated. Most of the “electricity to run the system” is heating power, and it should be possible to mostly eliminate that, except for start-up, by system design aimed for that. Input power can be measured with high precision, but this requires trustworthy experts, not what amount to amateurs (i.e., the Lugano team, with no experience in the kinds of measurements necessary, naive about the possibility of fraud, etc.) What is really funny is the Rossi first “1MW demo,” purporting to show almost 500 KW, with an almost 500 KW genset on site. I think Mats Lewan had it right: Rossi wanted to appear as a fraud, though there is an alternate explanation (actually a supplemental explanation): he is literally insane, delusional, and obviously paranoid.

What is needed is independent confirmation, which does not mean an expert who watches a demonstration. There are levels of independent confirmation, but, once one is moving in a area where there are high financial and other incentives operating, where fraud becomes possible and even reasonable, minimal would be an available “product”, ideally available as something standard, which can be obtained by multiple independent groups and tested with their methods. Such a product could be a sealed black box. Rossi never did this. IH did create a series of Lugano-class reactors. They forced the availability of something, for testing under NDA, that could have been enough for them to use for fundraising to move into genuine commercial development.

As another example of failure to create these conditions, consider the Nanor (TM), Mitchell Swartz. The publications imply the existence of a product, actually going back some time with the Phusor (TM), but Swartz has never made these products available, so all reports depend on him. There have been “demonstrations,” which are nice, which might be exciting, but which do not generate what would be needed to be considered breakthrough results. It’s obvious.

It’s possible that in the past there might have been attempts to suppress a cheaper method of generating power, though I can’t find any such attempt.

I’ve seen no evidence for this as a goal. Some efforts by, say, Robert Park and the APS office in Washington, D.C., might qualify, but the intention would be to avoid money needed for hot fusion research being wasted on cold fusion nonsense. This is not the strongest reason why cold fusion funding was inadequate. My declaration is that we failed to establish the wisdom of such investment and did not make specific proposals with a likelihood of generating value. The possibility of that existed since Miles in 1991. Miles himself did not know how to penetrate the fog, and he did not gain the necessary community support, and that story is repeated all over the field. No strong lobby was created, whereas those who actually opposed LENR research did have a strong lobby, backed by a general rejection cascade. Pure politics, predictable.

These days, though, we see solar power being actively pushed by governments in general (though some utility companies are fighting back on grid charges because their earnings models are outdated) and Musk building a giant battery factory for electric cars. The oil and fossil fuel energy sector is definitely under threat in the next couple of decades, yet the big oil companies are looking to get their future incomes from renewables instead, and not trying to squash the technology.

Right. Most people with big money are not stupid. To work with them requires understanding what motivates them, what inspires them. Instead, too many involved with LENR hold stories of evil and greed. You cannot inspire someone if you are thinking they are evil and greedy!

If the new method is cheaper, people will buy it. Enough will buy it when it’s at parity or a bit above if there are other benefits such as lack of pollution or energy-independence.

However, this is all speculative. There is no product for people to buy. Ordinary people, for sure. My naive concept, in 2009, was to create a kit to replicate the SPAWAR neutron results. Fun, eh? Make some neutrons at home. Starting at $100 if you had a power supply. To do it with controls, etc., maybe a few times that. However, there are … difficulties. Only one of my cells was actually made and tested, and the SSNTDs (there were four attached to the cell) suffered some kind of accident that mostly wiped them. Further, I realized that while “nuclear” and “neutrons” were sexy, they proved almost nothing about the main reaction, i.e., the one that produces heat and helium. I began to focus my work on supporting study of heat/helium, because it is the only direct evidence that the FP Heat Effect is nuclear in nature. All the other effects are found at very low levels, and what they mean is obscure. “Something nuclear” is horribly unspecific. Something nuclear might be happening all around us, and, in fact, it is.

A kit could still have a major impact, but nobody has a confirmed kit design, so far. There were kits in the past, I’m sure you know about them. It is completely unclear to me what happened with that. My guess is that they were whacked by material variability, the major problem. If not fraud.

The rejection cascade is certainly there, but a self-looped demonstration where the fact of it is above suspicion (for example in an open field away from a power-supply, and doing real work such as pumping water, lifting dirt etc.) should negate that pretty quickly.

No demonstration is above suspicion, that became clear to me in 2011. You are looking for something that doesn’t make engineering sense. It could cost billions to move an application that works to do what you want to see, but something far less would allow that investment, which would not be focused on proving anything to a skeptical world, but creating a truly useful product. Consider: IH made devices and tested them. Suppose their tests had shown significant XP. They do not need a public demonstration to then obtain far more funding. What they needed for that, they had. Fund managers trusted by investors (and banks or the like for loans). We already know, now, that Woodford Funds did not merely invest $50 million for LENR research, they also committed another $150 million if needed. All this means is that they trusted Darden and company.

This is a variation on what I used to call Plan A. Plan A for breaking up the rejection logjam is that a commercial product appears (which Rossi was promising from 2011 on, to appear by 2012). Then, because LENR could be so important, I suggested Plan B. Science. And there is plenty to be done with the science, and it doesn’t take billions of dollars. Right now, $100 million might be more than the field could sanely use in the short term. The heat/helium project received $12 million we know about (or a lesser amount, but with committed funds beyond that). That was plenty for that work. Before I knew about that work, I was preparing to solicit bids, and I was thinking that they might start at about $1 million. I would have then taken these bids to funding sources, showing that this was practically guaranteed to produce valuable results (and with this kind of work, as I planned, “negative” results are valuable, as long as the experimental series is long enough and managed properly). Events overtook that, but my work may have been a part of the activity that led to those results. I don’t yet know enough details, I do know that I’ve been told I will get credit for one fact I uncovered that nobody had noticed before me, not as to its significance. So I’m happy, I can die knowing I made a difference, which is what matters to me, whether it is with one person or with many or with everyone.

My bet is that Rossi will never manage that, based on what we currently know. I suspect Mills won’t, either, since according to the data he has produced that was easily possible a year ago. Still, it’s not me he has to convince.

I’ve been watching Mills since 2009. He has definitely learned one thing: how to create spectacular demonstrations. Honestly, “OMG! Turn it off!” when the screen has gone white, couldn’t be more powerful. However, it proves nothing if one does not trust the conclusions and those drawing them. Mills has a long history of promises unfulfilled. That doesn’t prove he is wrong, but … it also fails to inspire confidence. 

Should someone produce such a demo, I’m sure that industry will be flocking to get a licence to make them. Popular opinion and “consensus” will then shift so quickly that if you blink you’ll miss it, and we’ll find a lot of supporters of LENR we never knew about before.

Not “someone.” This is probably more realistic. If there is someone who has wide trust and support, that person would not create that demo. They would simple create a few devices that could be independently and easily tested. Rossi created 1 MW plants, very difficult to test, and wanted $1.5 million for them. Obviously, these plants were a pile of 10 KW devices, he could have sold some of those, say for $15,000. Sealed with NDA. Easily done, he already was making those devices. He’d have started making money immediately, if the devices worked. He could have offered a money-back guarantee. If the devices worked, following simple instructions. Those buying them could then have studied their operation over time, they could have “crushed the tests,” all but tests involving opening the thing up. And then there would have been those eager for licenses, which involve full disclosure of IP. Rossi, however, did not trust the patent system and the entire corporate world. That’s obvious… 

Far easier to make an “energy multiplier” than a self-powered device. In what I described, those who bought the devices would be measuring input power, and they would verify all those measurements. This is “independent testing,” and would be “the market judging” as Rossi claimed to want. But IH has already done more than this with Rossi, they skipped the first part, because they knew that Rossi would never agree to it. Most observers, seeing Rossi v. Darden, think that IH was crazy to go ahead and invest without that independent testing. Crazy like foxes. Look at the results! They leveraged their own $20 million investment into $50 million from Woodford, with a commitment of $150 million more, and they did this without deceiving anyone (especially not Woodford! — which may have insisted on IHHI being formed in the U.K.). They demolished the hazard to LENR research, the problem that nobody wanted to put money into watts when Rossi was claiming kilowatts, and with Rossi being able to show that there was a possibility that his results were real. They needed to know, and what they bought was, besides being a possible trillion dollar value, a hedge against Rossi’s hitting the market with a real product. If he does, they win that trillion dollars! Look at this with probabilities, it was completely brilliant, and very much outside the box of normal expectations for investors.

In the meantime, there’s no evidence that there’s anything commercially viable yet, or that can definitely be scaled up to be so. Given the the P+F or Thermacore meltdowns, there may be some critical size required to get a lot of output and then it may not be controllable. We just don’t know, except that there does seem to be something odd and nuclear happening and we don’t yet know why.

My “cold fusion theory” is that cold fusion is a mystery. We know what it does in one case (convert deuterium to helium, at least this is very likely from the evidence) but we do not know how it does it. My stand is that “mystery” is inviting, far more than declaring that the laws of physics or what people believe are the laws of physics are wrong. Because cold fusion is a mystery, because the mechanism is unknown, it cannot be said to violate the laws of physics, it only violated some expectations. I recently looked a physics forum from 2011, and the argument was advanced that if cold fusion worked, we would already have noticed it. Surely stars would be using it. But the conditions in stars are far from the conditions in the FP experiment. And, in fact, effects were noticed, rarely, before the FP announcement, and written off as just one of those unexplainable mysteries. Stuff happens, commonly, that we don’t understand. If Pons and Fleischmann had presented their work as a heat mystery — which is what they actually had — the rejection cascade would not have had the legs it had to spread. “Unexplained mystery” can inspire, where some premature explanation can suppress. Storms is barking up the wrong tree, I attempted to explain this to him. Of late, he’s become hostile. It’s sad, because his experimental work and his coverage of the field has been very important, and his personal support was important to me. Maybe he will shift.

Also, given that Piantelli saw cloud-chamber tracks from his Nickel block for a short time after then end of his experiment, it does seem likely that Ni/H may be a different miracle than Pd/D where little such activity was seen, with the triple-track SPAWAR results (and the co-deposition kits you sold/sell) being dependent on the support-wire chosen. Looking for the same answer to both may be the wrong path. At times I think we could do with a number of colour-coded post-it notes with what we know, what we think may be true, what we think is untrue and what we know is false, to make a physical jigsaw puzzle we can juggle to see what congruences we can find.

“Same” and “different” are interpretive stories. It is a naive assumption that there is only one source process. It might be true in some way, but there are obvious differences that the “conservation of miracles” assumption will tend to suppress. In reality, there is no same and there is no difference.

My sense is that if we can test and demonstrate mechanism for one reaction, it may well apply to others occurring under other conditions, so we don’t need to start with the assumption. Storms uses “one process” to guide him toward a single theory, and that’s not unreasonable, except that it places severe constraints that might warp results.

Yes. The SPAWAR results that I found so interesting showed a massive difference with results, as to apparent neutron-caused tracks (mostly proton knock-on but a few triple-tracks), based on the codep wire substrate. Now, was this shown across many iterations? As far as I know, only a few. However, this must be noticed. There are not very many neutrons being generated. There is no correlation with heat in those experiments, because the cells were not designed to measure heat. In work where heat has been measured, neutron levels were very low, but the SPAWAR measurement approach is extremely sensitive.

If there is a reaction, say converting deuterium to helium, for which we have substantial evidence, it would only take some very minor effect, a side-reaction or rare branch or secondary reaction, to make a few neutrons. Neutrons are given great significance because they are “nuclear,” but how common are natural neutrons? This is work that anyone could do: look for neutron tracks, characterize them, study the sources (i.e., cosmic rays or a few other possibilities). What is generally missing in cold fusion work is many repetitions of experiments; instead there are single results that seem to be amazing. Are they? How about the file drawer effect? To rule out the file drawer effect takes many experiments with all of them being reported. Miles did that with heat/helium, but it is not common. There is work in the field that did this. SRI did it, and that is why the SRI work is so fundamental. Correlation of heat with current density. Correlation of heat with loading ratio.

All of those results could be misleading. Current density correlates with flux of deuterons through the surface. It may also correlate with a systematic calorimetry artifact. Loading ratio, as Storms points out, correlates with stress on the material. But this is where research starts: with control of the parameter space and the effect of single variables. As funding ramps up, as I expect to happen over the next few years, more and more data will become available about basic issues, and the desirablity of that is an expressed scientific consensus (DoE, 2004), which here means “the full agreement of those who have studied the issue.” The alleged consensus of the rejection cascade is a consensus — mostly — of the ignorant, based on old ideas and rumors and premature conclusions. The rejection cascade disagrees with the actual scientific consensus, in that it assumes cold fusion was “rejected long ago,” was “pathological science,” and maybe even fraud.


Simon replied: […]

However, I do try to bring people back to considering some of the odd things within the LENR story that seem to be ignored, such as Piantelli’s cloud-chamber tests of his Nickel. A cloud-chamber is a gloriously dumb device, and if it detects charged particles they are definitely there and not some device error.

This points up the tendency to take a single result as authoritative. Piantelli’s work: what did actually do and see?

I first read Krivit on this. We can see at the top that Krivit started going on his “fusion conspiracy” kick by 2008. Setting that aside, there is an interview with Piantelli. Piantelli is reported as saying many things that a more knowledgeable reporter would have asked about. But what happened happened. What I need to do is to look at Piantelli’s publications. Seeing a photo of a single track is not in the least impressive. If I built a cloud chamber, I could see a whole lot more than that with the materials in my apartment. Piantelli hopes to do a video. Great. That might show a great deal more. However, a single person’s report is, quite simply, never enough to overcome a rejection cascade, no matter how impressive. What it can properly do is lead to independent confirmation. And Piantelli is keeping secrets. Oops! With secrets, no truly independent confirmation, unless there are special measures taken, and even then, because broad independent confirmation is not possible at will, it won’t move the boulder sitting in the road.

There are no Piantelli papers available on lenr-canr.org. There is a 1995 patent. I see no cited Piantelli papers there. Krivit has a reference to a 2004 conference paper: Campari, E., Focardi, S., Gabbani, V., Montalbano, V., Piantelli, F., Veronesi, S., “Overview of H-Ni Systems: Old Experiments and New Setup,” 5th Asti Workshop on Anomalies in Hydrogen- / Deuterium-Loaded Metals, Asti, Italy, (2004). Looking under Campari, lenr-canr.org has it. We can see a single track in Figure 8. A single track is generally meaningless in this context. They have:

The cylindrical specimen which produced energy in cell A, at the end of experiment, was placed in a cloud chamber. As shown in Figure 8, we observed tracks of charged particles coming from the specimen[8]. We checked that no tracks were present when a reference nickel sample (not treated in a cell) was placed inside the cloud chamber.

Reference 8 is E. G. Campari, S. Focardi, V. Gabbani, V. Montalbano, F. Piantelli, S. Veronesi, ICCF8, Conference Proceedings 70, F. Scaramuzzi editor, (2000) 69E. From the lenr-canr.org bibliography, the title was “Ni-H systems.” I found the paper here, and Krivit has it.

This has two photographs, so two tracks are shown. There is no indication of rate, and no detailed study. They state: “Unfortunately, this simple kind of chamber cannot be used to make a quantitative and precise measurement.” That is a garbage excuse. People may not have time, conditions might be limited in various ways, but quantitative measurements could certainly be made, it is not impossible as claimed. How many tracks observed per minute? Any other tracks seen? How about control materials, i.e, the same material as the sample, but not having undergone the experimental procedure claimed to have produced heat? The only control here is an empty chamber, quite unsatisfactory.

This is all hindsight and perhaps quite unfair, but the impression I get reading some reports is of the researchers wandering about in a fog. There was a disconfirmation of this NiH heat, Cerron-Ceballos et al: Krivit has it. This is what I’ve seen called the CERN experiment. Campari et al published in Il Nuovo Cimento in 1994, this disconfirmation was published in that journal in 1998. It appears that Campari et al stonewalled this.

I would not stand on the Campari et al results. Show this to a knowledgeable physicist, they will laugh at you. That does not mean that Camapari, Piantelli, Focardi etc. had nothing, but that this never advanced to clear confirmation, and was probably complicated by attempts to keep trade secrets.

For Miles, I have tried to explain to others the importance of the correlation of heat and Helium, and how the “failures” acted as controls and thus pinned it down as both nuclear and generating heat. Since I was talking to you, though, I didn’t see the need to labour that point.

Preaching to the choir.

At the moment we don’t know what ash the Thermacore replication experiment may produce, or whether the right kit will be there to measure any radiation. However, the power required for a meltdown, and thus an estimation of the energy produced, may be sufficient in itself to show that there is a reaction beyond known chemical levels, and of course the residue can be examined for transmutation or other effects. Since this is a one-off go/no-go experiment, it won’t produce the comprehensive evidence that Miles did, but it can be repeated with different amounts of material and conditions later.

These meltdowns may be very difficult to replicate. And each experiment as described, takes time. Lots of time. I think it’s great that Ahern is trying, but … this is not where I would want to see major funding go.

Pons and Fleischmann scaled down, and for good reason. If control over the reaction has not been established, if the reaction mechanism is not understood, just how much energy could be released? Pons and Fleischmann experienced some relatively harmless lab damage. What if that was at the low end of what is possible? After all, this might be fusion.

Scaling down so that the reported results are generally in the modestly measurable range is what makes sense for the science. The spectacular heat claims — they exist! — have done nothing. For high heat to be truly impressive, it must be reliable, not anecdotal. And how do we get there? Meltdowns don’t help! Until there is control, exploring the parameter space is what is needed, and that may take years of work.

Placing cell materials in a cloud chamber after an experiment is easy. The actual study I mention above could be turned over to someone else. There is an incredible amount of work to be done, that should have been done decades ago, by rights. How much time and money was wasted pursuing neutrons? Yes, it’s all interesting, but was this a sane priority?

Somehow, it seems a dramatic meltdown would make people sit up more than a few watts for a long time. How often do you see people arguing about Arata or Cravens? Still, even with a kg or so of melted Nickel the analysis needs to be a bit thoughtful. It may be some small section that actually produced the heat, with the majority being inert.

How many people have to die before this gets major attention? Simon, you are seeking “impressive” results. Impressive can be very misleading. There is one death from a LENR experiment explosion, so far. It was chemical, apparently. Chemical energy release is low, compared to nuclear, but unless there is some kind of chain reaction or massively triggered effect, chemistry can release more energy in a short time. A few watts that can be turned on and off would be scientifically impressive, and, in fact, my heat/helium paper mentioned Letts as having done exactly that. Maybe it is no surpise that Letts has been working with Industrial Heat! Not a lot of heat, he was generally measuring on the order of 100 mW. But great work, with theoretical implications if confirmed.

Of course massive heat would be impressive, if under control. That does not indicate, however, that it is wise to pursue it just yet.

Still, as regards consensus, a snark comment would be that it’s what is taught in the schools and what the government wants people to accept. Sometimes it’s just plain wrong.

Most people have no idea of what genuine consensus means. What I found really remarkable was that Wikipedia depends on consensus (and wiki theory seeks genuine consensus, not just majority), but there were Wikipedia administrators, in the Arbitration Committee cases, openly denying the possibility of consensus, arguing against it … and the Arbitration Committee sat there, unmoved and uncaring. They were all administrators….

I didn’t do an in-depth critical reading of the SRI report on Brillouin, but it did seem that the results were *reliable enough* to confirm what I already thought, which was that Brillouin’s data was honest in the first place though maybe their projections were a tad optimistic. So as you say, I’m accepting the data because of a degree of trust, though I don’t accept their theory as being reasonable.

I have produced a fairly-narrow definition of what would be needed to convince scientists in general, and on reflection I think that still stands. A less-convincing demo may be enough to get funding, though.

What “demonstration” led to $12 million for Texas Tech? I suspect, Simon, that you are looking to “convince” scientists that LENR is real, when what can be done — and it is not difficult — is to inspire them to consider that there is something worth investigation, desirable for two political reasons. A few of them might decide to investigate it themselves, but more will be tolerant of others who so investigation. Consider: the reviewer from my Current Science paper was very negative at first. I did not argue with him, not directly. Instead I rewrote the paper to directly address  his concerns, and he ended up helping write the conclusions.

It is not difficult to establish mystery, and then mystery is a door to future knowledge. Look at the 2004 U.S. DoE review: it was unanimous that further research was to be encouraged, even though only half of the reviewers were convinced that the evidence for anomalous heat was conclusive. Half conclusive? What? Why did we think of this as a negative result? And we did. There were obvious errors in the review and we railed at them, missing the opportunity to stand on the result as highly encouraging.

If Rossi’s reaction was related to the temperature, then controlling it by heating almost to the self-sustain point is a valid way of controlling it.

Yes. However, this is a quick-and-dirty way and dangerous. There are much better ways.

Adding temperature measurement and a microcontroller is however very easy to do and so to automate it so it can deliver heat to some heat-exchange fluid. Manual control is not recommended. However, IH called his bluff.

Yes. Key is to have major cooling capacity, far beyond expected heat. Key would be to approach the new limits slowly and very carefully. (I.e., there could be a temperature where heat is generated more rapidly than the material itself can conduct it away, but this would be well above self-sustain. In such a case other means of reaction rate control would be introduced, such as controlling gas pressure in addition to cooling. Rossi’s approach, though, gave him a ready excuse to have available electrical power, and that, combined with a variety of controls, allowed him to maintain appearances.

Mitch Swartz did for a while have Nanors for sale for $30K, guaranteed to work. I don’t know anyone that managed to buy one though. There was a minimum-specified power that was guaranteed, and the implication was that not many of the devices he made actually worked and that the one he’d sell you had been personally tested by him. If you could get it, that is.

Simply not trustworthy. Proprietary. And that’s a lot of money for something that might generate a few milliwatts, for how long? What does one end up with? Something irreproducible? 

For Mills’ early ICHC cells (not the later plasma versions) there were third-party test sheets published that showed output power in the few tens of mW IIRC. The cell serial numbers were obviously not sequential, though, which also implies a lot that didn’t work.

Mills is not claiming LENR, but something else. And he has been claiming it for a long time, with commercial application always “next year.” I’m not paying serious attention.

I think Parks believed LENR was unreal, and that hot fusion was the only valid way. Stopping research on LENR seemed to thus be a holy quest. A while back I talked to a newly-minted physics graduate about LENR, and he also thought it was non-science. That consensus again….

It takes skill to present LENR to a “newly-minted physics graduate.” Basically, he would have almost no serious information, would only have the reputation, confirmed by people he trusted. That’s an “information cascade.” Any such conversation, to be successful, should start with agreement, not disagreement. I’d ask him what he knows and how he knows it. I would then confirm whatever I could from the history. There were major mistakes made (on all sides). I might lead him into Huizenga, who recognized the importance of Miles, but who expected that Miles would not be confirmed. “No gammas.” I would ask him why the absence of high-energy gammas was a reason to expect no confirmation. The answer is obvious: d-d fusion, if it produced helium, must produce that 23.8 MeV gamma. But then I’d ask how one could make a prediction like that with an unknown mechanism?

Very common: “fusion at low temperatures is impossible.” Introduce muon-catalyzed fusion and watch the rationalizations and non-science appear. The point is to get the guy to think. Humans hate being made wrong, they don’t like having their noses rubbed in shit, and, in fact, neither do dogs and cats. It’s not a good method for training anyone. Rather, open doors and widows, let them see, don’t force them to see.

Once they realize that a catalyst — like a muon — might be effective, they are on their way to opening the doors. What about “electron catalyzed fusion” through multibody effects. The one thing I remember about physics directly from Feynman is that we do not have the math to analyze the solid state. Takahashi has shown 3D hot fusion at vastly elevated rates over naive expectation (10^26) , in deuteron bombardment of loaded palladium experiments.

The point is not at all to convince the person that cold fusion is actually happening, only perhaps that (1) it is not impossible, (2) there is evidence for it, (3) the idea is testable, and (4) tests are under way, fully funded.

Also may have something to do with Rossi having all the publicity, and his evidence was never convincing except to people who wanted to believe.

He got relatively little traction within the CMNS community. Some of his claims matched Storms’ expectations, so Storms more or less accepted the reality of the Rossi Effect, but also has believed that Rossi was exaggerating.

The trouble with that was that the other Ni/H experiments showed minute heat signatures that could have been experimental error if you squint at the data, but were most likely *good enough* to say that the effect was there, so we couldn’t totally discount Rossi who started by using the same techniques.

Right. The CMNS community did not have the handy “impossible” argument. They knew that NiH was not necessarily impossible. So they were more vulnerable to a fraud.

Rossi wasn’t believable, but also wasn’t impossible. It’s difficult to give a good account of the good and harm there. He did cause a lot of people to take interest in LENR (me included) but it seems that mostly people trying to replicate his experiments were wasting their time.

Apparently. However, I don’t consider actual testing to be a waste of time, unless the results are not recorded and made available. That’s a waste.

I looked at your co-deposition kits, but couldn’t spare the money for the gain of maybe showing some neutron tracks if I managed to develop the CR39 correctly.

I was not providing CR-39. I don’t like CR-39, it creates very ambiguous tracks. I provided LR-115, which is normally very well behaved. The form I used was 6 microns of red cellulose nitrate on a 100 micron polyester base. I have no idea why the detectors were so damaged in the run done by Eric Golab. But they obviously were. I developed LR-115 with alpha tracks from Am-241, they were beautiful. You see tracks, not just pits. I thought I would place some LR-115 sandwiches edge-on to the cathode wire. Wouldn’t that be interesting? I still might do some of this. (A sandwich is two pieces of LR-115, emulsion-to-emulsion, so that a particle leaving the surface of one enters the other. The idea was to put the sandwich together at the start of the experiment, hopefully to distinguish between experimental tracks that cross that interface from background from exposure during storage.

There are other techniques for creating thin layers of CR-39, fresh, that might be of interest. But in the end, what does it accomplish? The basic reason to do this is for fun.

The website wasn’t inviting, by the way….

And then I moved service providers and the software failed to migrate. Yes, it was just a primitive effort. I sold one kit and some LR-115, which is a really great material. I still have most — almost all — of what I bought, and lab equipment.

Still, I wouldn’t have been able to measure any heat produced, and keeping the D2O pure would have been difficult. The odd thunderstorm may have produced the neutrons, since the flux does vary in any location. Still, yours was the only kit available that I could find.

AFAIK, yes. It was a Galileo-class replication. Key to neutron results would be tracks in close physical association with the cathode, lightning would not do that. Yes, D2O is hygroscopic and if exposed to air, will increase in H concentration. It’s a problem that could explain some failures. The basic kit was $100, for materials costing under $50 — but if you only bought enough materials for a single experiment, you’d pay quite a bit more than $100. 

When IH took on Rossi I thought they were mad. Later on I realised that it was both brave and brilliant, and the only way to cut the Gordian knot that Rossi had tied. However, Rossi could have self-looped one of his 10kW modules if it had worked as stated. Portable, and a lot cheaper than building 100 of them.

Well, not quite that easy. Setting aside fraud, the idea of his early modules was a reaction chamber at high temperature (as I recall maybe 600 C.), with controlled heat transfer to water, boiling the water. That cannot be self-looped, because the steam or hot water cannot heat the reaction chamberto the necessary temperature. Rather, what would be needed would be controlled cooling, capable of rapid cooling, not the slower cooling of his devices. One would heat it up with electrical power, but it should have then been possible to back down on the power. Yes. Sensible. And it is not what he did. IH made a decision not to require independent testing first, they knew full well that the Validation Test could be punk. They made their request for independent experts to be present. Rossi declined. (See the IH claim, which is fairly straightforward, and I’d assume they have the emails. With Rossi’s Answer, see Paragraph 55). If they did not know what they were dealing with, they were idiots, and I don’t think they were idiots. They simply were looking at broad possibilities, not narrow ones.

It is of course great that you’ve got a replication of Miles in progress. One can be discounted, but a replication is hard to debunk. I’d however thought that Miles put enough effort into it that his work stood alone as confirmation, but then there’s that rejection cascade you’ve talked about.

A single report alone is not independent confirmation. That’s basic. The present plan is described at this ICCF-19 poster. The plan starts with two groups, and they are looking for more. (The initial two are at Texas Tech — actually at a company started by Duncan, under contract to Texas Tech, and with McKubre as active consultant — and at ENEA in Italy, with Violante. These are people who know how to set up the Anomalous Heat Effect, with extensive experience. I am told that the work is going well, but cannot reveal more about it.)

This should have been done — and could have been done — any time after Miles reported. Why didn’t it happen? One problem was that Pons and Fleischmann wanted to stay away from helium. History, personalities, and politics….

Yes, IH bought the IP and tested it. That took deep pockets, but as you say they then knew that Rossi couldn’t come out with some new supercat and negate their other investments. Tom Darden and company did us all a great service, and maybe they’ll also make a great profit from it as well. No problems, since if they are making a lot of money then everyone is getting cheap power too, and everyone is better off.

Yes. As matters stood, before filing Rossi v. Darden, Rossi was completely free to develop his technology, only with the requirement that it be shared, and the License stands. By filing RvD, Rossi very likely trashed his prospects. Certainly no corporation will touch him, he’s a live wire, ready to sue and he will attempt to pierce the corporate veil. That makes him radioactive. I suppose he could run a kickstarter campaign. Again, if he has a real technology, ready for commercialization — as he has been claiming since 2011 — IH could not stop him if they wanted to. This is not a hedge that blocks Rossi, but that protects IH and any cooperating investors. (i.e., Woodford is putting major funding into LENR research. If Rossi hits the market, because of the License, Woodford will do just fine, even if all that other research was “wasted.”) That is a classic hedge.

Larsen has from time to time brought up some interesting historical evidence of something weird happening that is attributed to LENR. He might even be right. There are occasionally odd and unexplained things that happen, and maybe they just aren’t noticed most of the time. If the propeller of your boat erodes through cavitation, you try to stop it happening and don’t suspect that it may be nuclear.

Larsen is full of “LENR” anecdotes, “explanations” that have never been tested, and W-L theory has never been tested; it would predict results that would be clearly visible, that are not seen, but then even more unlikely “phenomena” are claimed that are then explained as untestable, even if they would be easily testable. Krivit bought all this hook, line, and sinker. Frankly, I think he was paid.

A wall-full of post-it notes and a daily meditation might allow regrouping of certain bits of knowledge in different ways. Changing the arrangement can be useful, since it breaks you out of the “I know that bit” mentality.

At the moment, there are no US or European graduate students doing anything in LENR, though maybe there are some in China and Russia that we haven’t heard of.

No, there are graduate students. I think Nagel has several. There were grad students working at SKINR when I visited in 2013. There are grad students working with the Texas Tech initiative, I think, and Miley has students working. There are not nearly enough for what the field could use, which is why breakthrough validation is needed. My opinion is that the Texas Tech/ENEA work will be very publishable in a major journal, and if not, assuming the work is well done — and I have every reason to expect that it will be well done — it will be politically very useful. I have various direct actions to take as soon as that paper is available, it should be a big lever and I know where some fulcra are. Obviously, I’m assuming that they tighten up the correlation, because there are strong reasons to expect that, it’s known how to overcome the limitations of earlier work, such as Miles.

It’s a reputation-killer still. Until there is some dramatic demonstration (maybe Brian’s meltdown, or your Miles replication in more sedate circles) that LENR is absolutely real, and needs explaining, I think that state of affairs will continue. The rejection cascade is deeply-entrenched.

Actually, it’s shallow, it merely seems deep. It is massively vulnerable. Dramatic demonstration won’t make any difference at all, until and unless confirmed independently. What is being done is not a Miles replication as such, though we expect it will confirm Miles’ findings; it is with increased precision and deeper investigation; it should capture and measure all the helium, for example, not just outgas helium. It’s important to realize that Miles has already been confirmed, though generally not with extensive experimental series. I proposed this research because it is only confirming with increase precision what is already a reasonably well-confirmed result. What is unknown, experimentally, is the exact value (and stability) of the ratio between heat and helium in PdD experiments.  McKubre’s estimate was +/- 10%, and Apicella et al (2004) was about 20%, both bracketing the theoretical value, but this is only two measurements, unique, apparently because of the usage of anodic erosion to release all the helium. At some point I might cover how Krivit looked at all this.

Then maybe we’ll start to get the parameter-space explored by post-graduates as part of their theses and the legwork will get done. The other way, where the basic legwork is funded and gradually ramps up as more data is found that confirms the reality, will take quite a while to get to the critical mass of data.

Yes. It’s going to take time. I called this Plan B when it seemed possible that Rossi — or someone else — would hit the market with a commercial product. That was Plan A. Plan B, I suggested, because LENR was too important to depend on unknown factors, such as secret commercial efforts.

I’ve tried to cover your answer, but I write slowly.

There is no rush.

About the only point where I can see I disagree with you is in the amount of evidence required to turn around the rejection cascade for the majority. There, I think Rossi was right and it will need a device you can buy in the local hardware store before it is accepted. Obviously IH are betting that they will be making such a device. I hope they do.

IH is not betting on that. They are hedging all their bets, as far as I can see. I see no commercial effort that I assess as being close to market, so Plan B will likely see the light of day first. At that point, I expect funding in all areas of the field to explode. IH wants to be ready, and they will be ready, I expect. As will Woodford. Other sources of major funding will appear,and because not all interested parties will be well-informed, I expect to see some major waste of money.

Consider the Japanese, who insisted on working with very pure palladium, and who — at least by Miles account — failed because they were barking up the wrong tree, believing it to be “superior.” That was a huge waste. Study must begin with what is known. Standard, from McKubre: start with exact replications before “improving” them. McKubre stages the replication process, starting with high collaboration with an original claimant, until they are seeing the same results in their own lab, then backing away, confirming that all aspects of the claim are understood. What one things of an “improvement” with an unknown mechanism could be a spoiler or reaction poison or be missing some essential unidentified ingredient.

In designing my SPAWAR replication, I did make some changes, and was completely aware that if I then experienced replication failure, one or more of them might be responsible. (The main change was reducing the experimental size, cutting it in half, maintaining the same current density, which then reduced the D2O needed, it being the most expensive ingredient. The Golab cell ran with 12.5 ml of electrolyte, and did not run out, running the full current protocol (at half the original currents). I also used acrylic for the electrode supports, instead of HDPE. Better control of location, and if acrylic is a problem, the cell itself would be a problem.

Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax

See http://coldfusioncommunity.net/biography-abd-ul-rahman-lomax/

6 thoughts on “Conversations: Simon Derricutt”

  1. Abd – my memory runs a bit different than most, I think. When I was designing digital circuits I found I needed to know far more than my brain could actually hold, and of course the half-life of knowledge in electronics design was somewhere around 18 months then. I needed to have a lot of books (and later on CDs) open at the same time to be able to check on precise details of any particular component. I thus learnt to hold only the important points and an index in my head, and I really only needed to be able to find the information quickly. These days I tend to only note the important points and rely on a search to find the source data.

    As such, I noted the fact of the cloud-chamber experiment, and that it was stated at the time that the Nickel was the obvious source (tracks have one end on the Nickel) and that it decayed over a couple of hours. I will need to search for that source again. Krivit mentions it in your link, but not in the detail I remember. As you say, though, Piantelli did keep secrets – maybe in the hope of achieving a working system first. Since cloud-chambers were used initially as a quantitative test, some of the disclaimers seem a bit odd.

    Maybe I’ve spent too much time reading comments on the blogs, but the general impression I get there at least is that something dramatic is needed to reverse the rejection. Pointing out how accurately P+F could measure heat flows, or the correlation in Miles, just leaves the sceptics still sceptical. The reason that Thermacore didn’t repeat their test was that they were not certain whether there was a chance of a fission-type explosion, and I presume Brian Ahern will run his test at a sufficient distance, just in case it isn’t a benign meltdown. You are right in some ways that it won’t help, but if it works it will change the atmosphere from a refusal to believe to an acceptance that there is a real effect. It may make possible the years of work then needed to explore the parameter space. This, I think, is the value of an “impressive” demonstration at this moment. I think “dramatic” may be a better description. I thus think Brian’s experiment is actually useful at this time, though earlier on it may have backfired by giving Rossi a peg to hang his story on.

    You are right that I’m hoping for something to convince scientists that there is something real to be investigated, and that thus there will be more tolerance of those that do investigate and less rejection of results that are against current theory. Back in 2011, when I was not convinced by Rossi, I spent around 3 months reading lenr-canr.org (thanks, Jed!) and ended up considering that the effect itself was real and worth investigation.

    Rossi’s control-system was crazy.

    Mitch Swartz did run LENR 101 courses at MIT, and demonstrated the system running. Yes, it was proprietary and he wanted to make money from solving it, but in the course of that he’s also produced students who believe LENR is real because they’ve seen it, and thus there’s a better chance of one of them getting a good theory that is crazy enough to be true. That’s the advantage of the newly-minted physicists where they haven’t been told something is impossible.

    Mills is not claiming LENR because his theory says it isn’t, and if LENR is shown to happen then his patents are only worth the paper they are written on. I think that some of his measurements (maybe a lot of them) are probably good but that the explanation is not right. I suspect he’s got part of the puzzle.

    I’m maybe not the best person in persuasion, since I just present what I think is true and why. As such, when I’m explaining something against what they believe, it requires them to think about things. Maybe that’s why my Free Work idea has languished for a while….

    Open doors and widows? A nice mind-picture.

    AFAIK we still don’t have an exact solution for a 3-body gravitational problem except in cases of 3-way symmetry. There are now so many quasi-particles around that a solution for solid-state has to be a numerical approximation, and maybe even then we don’t have enough variables tagged.

    “The point is not at all to convince the person that cold fusion is actually happening, only perhaps that (1) it is not impossible, (2) there is evidence for it, (3) the idea is testable, and (4) tests are under way, fully funded.”
    That’s a good plan.

    At the time, I noted the LR115 but I think you also had CR39 available if required. Long time ago, so I said CR39 now as the better-known sensor material that I could remember. Still, I couldn’t see the point of replicating the experiment myself just to be able to say I’d done it.

    For Rossi’s systems to self-loop, there would need to be a heat-to-electricity conversion in order to supply the high-grade heat needed. A Sterling engine would do this better than a steam engine. The claimed COP was big-enough to do this. Controlled (and rapid) cooling would be needed as well, but nothing too difficult to design.

    For IH, once I understood that they didn’t necessarily believe Rossi but were instead forcing him to reveal what he had, their strategy made sense.

    IIRC, Miles’ experiment took around a year to do. As such, I didn’t really expect it to be replicated even with the prospect of better accuracy since there has been a lot of thinking since.

    For Larsen, W-L theory predicts things that aren’t seen in the experiments, with neutron-activation being the big problem.

    It’s nice to know there are some grad-students on the job. It has seemed that for the most part the experiments are by old people who thus can’t be sacked for having heretical ideas. Plan B looks pretty good. We may not see the flowering of it in our lifetime, but there’s always the chance of a lucky breakthrough from one of those grad-students who has an inspired guess and is allowed to test it out, since the field is real science.

    Discussions like this are good at exposing what I don’t know. Useful but a bit public. As far as possible, though, I don’t base my opinions on belief but on data, so if I find out new data my opinions may change. Alternatively, finding out that what I thought was good data may not be (as in Piantelli’s cloud-chamber) can also change opinion. That’s maybe the benefit of that post-it wall, in that such variations in how sure we are about some data can be graded and moved around as needed.

  2. Another day, and I looked up the “file drawer effect” since I wasn’t familiar with the term. This is where the results of an experiment are not published, with the implication being that they either show support of the Null Hypothesis or that the results are against the current zeitgeist.

    Jed has collected a fair number of papers where a null result was found, and IIRC around 70% of the papers are inconclusive. There are probably a lot more experiments where such a null result was found and the experimenter didn’t publish. It is however useful to know what didn’t work so we don’t try that technique again without changing something important. I doubt if we’ll hear much about the various garage-type experiments that produced a null result, though, since that exposes the experimenter to critiques of their experimental techniques, and people hiding behind an anonymous net-name can be pretty scathing. Skin like a rhinoceros is often needed, or maybe training as a systems programmer….

    A further thought on the Thermacore replication is that the sheer quantity of material is roughly equivalent to running thousands of experiments in parallel, given that most experiments deal with less than a gram of active material. It may thus not be a “critical mass” effect, but instead a simple probability of the necessary conditions occurring in any small sample. A successful meltdown will tell us that Ni/H is definitely workable, but may not tell us how to get a system that continually works without melting down.

    I’m collecting information and thinking about it, and your analyses are always interesting even when it’s about the RvD court case where IMHO the science is no longer at issue. As I’ve said, though, my main focus of effort is in a different direction that is off-topic for here so for LENR I’m just an interested observer until my main project is completed.

    1. A large experiment is not essentially running many small ones. One gains far more information from the many small ones, as long as results are cleanly measureable (or most results). I do understand the point. Physics handles the fact that some results are chaotically variable by effective averaging over many interations, i.e., each uncertain result is unpredictable, but the average is predictable over many interactions. What the single large experiment doesn’t show is variation. With the Rossi 1 MW plant, one might think that this would show reliability, but, in fact, it doesn’t, and Rossi was constantly repairing the thing. What was the MTBF? And maybe he’d be lucky. I would far prefer seeing the individual reactor results for a hundred reactors than combined results for one that is a hundred times larger. Rossi not only doesn’t think like a scientist, he also does not think like a real engineer, one who has been responsible to adult supervision.

      1. Abd – many individual “identical” experiments and a statistical treatment of the results is the legwork I mentioned earlier. It is unlikely to get that sort of thing from an individual, who will more likely “fix” things on each subsequent test. Still, before the legwork gets done there really needs to be some assurance that at least some of the series will actually work.

        For Rossi, there was a lot that didn’t make sense….

  3. Abd – I’m honoured with such a complex reply.

    I had in fact regarded Wikipedia as the consensus view, and generally right on non-contentious subjects, but maybe I’ll need to treat it with a bit more care in future and cross-check anything important.

    For some things, it has taken multiple reviews of what I think I know to see where there’s something I missed before. The longest such review process has been around 4 decades before I finally saw what had been missed, but that isn’t in LENR, obviously. However, I do try to bring people back to considering some of the odd things within the LENR story that seem to be ignored, such as Piantelli’s cloud-chamber tests of his Nickel. A cloud-chamber is a gloriously dumb device, and if it detects charged particles they are definitely there and not some device error.

    For Miles, I have tried to explain to others the importance of the correlation of heat and Helium, and how the “failures” acted as controls and thus pinned it down as both nuclear and generating heat. Since I was talking to you, though, I didn’t see the need to labour that point. At the moment we don’t know what ash the Thermacore replication experiment may produce, or whether the right kit will be there to measure any radiation. However, the power required for a meltdown, and thus an estimation of the energy produced, may be sufficient in itself to show that there is a reaction beyond known chemical levels, and of course the residue can be examined for transmutation or other effects. Since this is a one-off go/no-go experiment, it won’t produce the comprehensive evidence that Miles did, but it can be repeated with different amounts of material and conditions later. Somehow, it seems a dramatic meltdown would make people sit up more than a few watts for a long time. How often do you see people arguing about Arata or Cravens? Still, even with a kg or so of melted Nickel the analysis needs to be a bit thoughtful. It may be some small section that actually produced the heat, with the majority being inert.

    Still, as regards consensus, a snark comment would be that it’s what is taught in the schools and what the government wants people to accept. Sometimes it’s just plain wrong.

    I didn’t do an in-depth critical reading of the SRI report on Brillouin, but it did seem that the results were *reliable enough* to confirm what I already thought, which was that Brillouin’s data was honest in the first place though maybe their projections were a tad optimistic. So as you say, I’m accepting the data because of a degree of trust, though I don’t accept their theory as being reasonable.

    I have produced a fairly-narrow definition of what would be needed to convince scientists in general, and on reflection I think that still stands. A less-convincing demo may be enough to get funding, though.

    If Rossi’s reaction was related to the temperature, then controlling it by heating almost to the self-sustain point is a valid way of controlling it. Adding temperature measurement and a microcontroller is however very easy to do and so to automate it so it can deliver heat to some heat-exchange fluid. Manual control is not recommended. However, IH called his bluff.

    Mitch Swartz did for a while have Nanors for sale for $30K, guaranteed to work. I don’t know anyone that managed to buy one though. There was a minimum-specified power that was guaranteed, and the implication was that not many of the devices he made actually worked and that the one he’d sell you had been personally tested by him. If you could get it, that is.

    For Mills’ early ICHC cells (not the later plasma versions) there were third-party test sheets published that showed output power in the few tens of mW IIRC. The cell serial numbers were obviously not sequential, though, which also implies a lot that didn’t work.

    I think Parks believed LENR was unreal, and that hot fusion was the only valid way. Stopping research on LENR seemed to thus be a holy quest. A while back I talked to a newly-minted physics graduate about LENR, and he also thought it was non-science. That consensus again…. Also may have something to do with Rossi having all the publicity, and his evidence was never convincing except to people who wanted to believe. The trouble with that was that the other Ni/H experiments showed minute heat signatures that could have been experimental error if you squint at the data, but were most likely *good enough* to say that the effect was there, so we couldn’t totally discount Rossi who started by using the same techniques. Rossi wasn’t believable, but also wasn’t impossible. It’s difficult to give a good account of the good and harm there. He did cause a lot of people to take interest in LENR (me included) but it seems that mostly people trying to replicate his experiments were wasting their time.

    I looked at your co-deposition kits, but couldn’t spare the money for the gain of maybe showing some neutron tracks if I managed to develop the CR39 correctly. The website wasn’t inviting, by the way…. Still, I wouldn’t have been able to measure any heat produced, and keeping the D2O pure would have been difficult. The odd thunderstorm may have produced the neutrons, since the flux does vary in any location. Still, yours was the only kit available that I could find.

    When IH took on Rossi I thought they were mad. Later on I realised that it was both brave and brilliant, and the only way to cut the Gordian knot that Rossi had tied. However, Rossi could have self-looped one of his 10kW modules if it had worked as stated. Portable, and a lot cheaper than building 100 of them.

    It is of course great that you’ve got a replication of Miles in progress. One can be discounted, but a replication is hard to debunk. I’d however thought that Miles put enough effort into it that his work stood alone as confirmation, but then there’s that rejection cascade you’ve talked about.

    Yes, IH bought the IP and tested it. That took deep pockets, but as you say they then knew that Rossi couldn’t come out with some new supercat and negate their other investments. Tom Darden and company did us all a great service, and maybe they’ll also make a great profit from it as well. No problems, since if they are making a lot of money then everyone is getting cheap power too, and everyone is better off.

    Larsen has from time to time brought up some interesting historical evidence of something weird happening that is attributed to LENR. He might even be right. There are occasionally odd and unexplained things that happen, and maybe they just aren’t noticed most of the time. If the propeller of your boat erodes through cavitation, you try to stop it happening and don’t suspect that it may be nuclear.

    A wall-full of post-it notes and a daily meditation might allow regrouping of certain bits of knowledge in different ways. Changing the arrangement can be useful, since it breaks you out of the “I know that bit” mentality.

    At the moment, there are no US or European graduate students doing anything in LENR, though maybe there are some in China and Russia that we haven’t heard of. It’s a reputation-killer still. Until there is some dramatic demonstration (maybe Brian’s meltdown, or your Miles replication in more sedate circles) that LENR is absolutely real, and needs explaining, I think that state of affairs will continue. The rejection cascade is deeply-entrenched. Then maybe we’ll start to get the parameter-space explored by post-graduates as part of their theses and the legwork will get done. The other way, where the basic legwork is funded and gradually ramps up as more data is found that confirms the reality, will take quite a while to get to the critical mass of data.

    I’ve tried to cover your answer, but I write slowly. About the only point where I can see I disagree with you is in the amount of evidence required to turn around the rejection cascade for the majority. There, I think Rossi was right and it will need a device you can buy in the local hardware store before it is accepted. Obviously IH are betting that they will be making such a device. I hope they do.

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