As part of that, one user gave a series of arguments, ignoring what I’d written, that cold fusion was rejected by mainstream science (both true and stupid in context), and one user, after I pointed out that nobody understands cold fusion, claimed that, no, cold fusion was simply a fraud, representing that as an understanding. I’m not going to continue that conversation unless specifically invited. Because these arguments are old, and I haven’t written about them in quite a while, I’m posting this here.
Beyond that, I’m not concerned if some fanatics have weird opinions on a blog that is rapidly becoming obsolete, designed from the beginning to be useless except for transient bloviating that generates no enduring value.
Fusionefredda and its owner
First of all, the blog, fusionefredda. The tagline is “E-Cat & cold fusion.” It’s a WordPress-hosted blog (generally free), started March 29,2011. That first post was the WP “Hello world” post, and the text invites the owner to edit or delete it. This was not done, the title was “fusionefredda,” and there were 694 comments posted. The About page is also, as of today, unchanged from the installation default, giving no information.
The first visible comment was by Camillo, who very soon after posts as Camillo Franchini. At this point, my default hypothesis is that Franchini owns the blog. I saw below the post that a “related post” was titled “Jed Rothwell.” It, posted Sept 22, 2016, reveals that the unstated author (very likely Franchini) “learned about Jed Rothwell in Alan Smith blog.” That includes some genuine information about Rothwell, mixed with fantasy garbage, the kind of thing that an ignorant pseudoskeptic would think, likely based on shallow and quick observation with a background belief that cold fusion was not merely “ff,” which I’m guessing means “la fisica delle frange,” or in English, “fringe physics,” but not merely fringe, but over the edge, pseudoscience or fraud.
Added: Simon Derricut points out in a comment that ff probably stands for fusione fredda. This would be like some who refer to CF for Cold Fusion. I have no idea why that did not occur to me, other than “brain fault.” Thanks, Simon.
Franchini wrote, about Rothwell and lenr-canr.org:
certainly an unusual character; degree in Japanese language and literature, and interestingly for years dealing with cold fusion, picking up with the Benedictine pique entire ff material it can find on the net. He set up a personal library, a kind of ff database. It has a dramatic temperament.
If I have it correctly, lenr-canr.org was created out of a database compiled by Ed Storms for use in writing papers. An example of Ed Storms’ work in a peer-reviewed journal, an invited article: Naturwissenschaften, Status of Cold Fusion (2010). (Free preprint.) There was a database of papers compiled by Dieter Britz (very useful, and now hosted here.
The Britz database, however, deliberately only covered publications in “mainstream peer-reviewed journals,” as assessed by Britz. A full research bibliography would include much more: most notably, conference papers and other papers not necessarily peer-reviewed; these would be primary sources and may often be cited in writing papers, including papers being published under peer review (which may even reference “private communications”.
There was a need for a cold fusion “library.” Jed Rothwell created it. Contrary to the expectation of Franchini, he does not scrape the internet for material. There are others who do that. Lenr-canr.org attempts to have a complete bibliography on the topic, with many papers being hosted for quick access where authors have given permission and have provided a legal copy. The bibliography attempts to be neutral, and does not review the papers. Occasionally, in minor material on the site, Jed does comment, or he sometimes writes articles.
Alan Smith does not have a blog. He was appointed as a moderator on lenr-forum.com, sometime after he registered there Nov 10, 2015 and started commenting Mar 1, 2016.
In Franchini’s second post, the first under that name, he reveals his “belief:” (Google translation, caveat lector; these can be misleading. Correction invited, as with anything I write.)
I believe that laws regulating nuclear reactions are sufficiently known to rule out that in the present case we are faced with such reactions.
This is the statement of a believer, not of a skeptic. Thus “pseudoskeptic,” and one firmly nailed to the belief. He is still firmly holding to it, as can be verified in review of his recent comment below. He is living in error, does not know the necessary physics, nor the actual history and relevant scientific arguments, but just relies on the most superficial of evidence. It is difficult for me to believe that nobody has ever, before, corrected him. He is free to respond.. He is also free to revise his opinions at any time. He is responsible, however, for what holds to as belief.
Genuine skepticism is an agnostic position, not a “believing” position. Genuine skeptics postpone conclusions (or state them as provisional, not as if firm fact.) They are well aware of their own limitations.
It is well known that the “impossibility” of unspecified generalities cannot be proven. Existing theory cannot be applied to something unknown, by definition. We may decide, from the kind of evidence Franchini alleges, to personally deprecate cold fusion or any other fringe or unexpected idea, until and unless better evidence is presented to us, but that freedom of choice does not apply to criticizing others, who may have different experience and reactions, again, unless we are specific and clear.
Something is missing, though, from a person who believes something is bogus or fraud, who then creates a blog on it and devotes 15 years of his life to repeating the same arguments. Sometimes this happens because a person becomes an expert, familiar with a topic, and who then feels an obligation to share what he or she has found. But Franchini has shown that he is not actually familiar. Just highly opinionated.
If we are not careful, we become like drunks in a bar, arguing endlessly and uselessly, only to strut and parade our narcissistic egotism.
So, to the recent comments:
@Abd ulRahman Lomax
Cold fusion is a mystery, my view is that nobody understands it yet.
Nobody understands it why it does not exist.
His English is not good, though it is probably a lot better than my Italian! He likely means “because it does not exist.” Using “why” for “because” is a common error non-English speakers.
Exfor is the IAEA/BNL (Brookhaven National Laboratory) data base of all nuclear reactions. To date (2017-09-04) they have registered 21813 experiments on nuclear reactions. None of them deals with cold fusion. Big names like Martin Fleischmann are absent.
Of course. Does Franchini think this is news? Fleischmann was not a nuclear physicist and did not provide evidence for some specific reaction that could be included in such a database. It is also likely true that none of the reactions covered in that database “deal with cold fusion.” Those reactions do not actually consider the creating conditions, however, and would not be categorized as “cold fusion,” even if they are the actual fusion or consequential reactions. That will not be possible until the mechanism is elucidated, and we are far from that, at this point.
However, there is a form of cold fusion, long recognized as valid and real. Muon-catalyzed fusion. The database does not consider catalysis, as far as I know. MCF has the same branching ratio as ordinary hot fusion, with the exception of a branch that ejects the muon with the energy, instead of a photon (and it is much more common, about 15% of reactions, as I recall, than photon emission, which branches at about 10^-7. Rare.
It is possible that there is an article covered in the database that looks at catalytic reactions. I know of two kinds: MCF and chemically-induced electron capture in certain isotopes (such as 7Be), stable when ionized and unstable when the electrons are present. I’m not looking today.
Franchini does not link to the database. I will come back to this below.
Cold fusion is not MCF, though newcomers who become aware of the physical evidence for a nuclear anomaly often start by looking at MCF. What we get from MCF is that catalysis is possible, but the known basic cold fusion reaction, where the product is known, and which has been heavily confirmed — in my opinion conclusively — is probably not “d-d fusion,” even though the product is helium and the heat ratio demonstrates that the “fuel” is likely deuterium. Something else is happening, and we don’t know what it is, though there are theories proposed. None are, as yet, clearly verfied.
It is common sense admitting that main stream science rejects cold fusion.
As is not uncommon, “common sense” can be shallow and misleading. How do we know if “mainstream science” accepts or rejects cold fusion? Who defines “mainstream science.” It is not a person. We may know if some specific person accepts or rejects, possibly. And what does “reject” mean? Not accept? There are a host of problems with this “common sense” claim.
There is no “Journal of Mainstream Science” that passes judgment on this topic. There are several journals that, before decent evidence was available (that did not really happen until 1991), pronounced editorial judgment. Does the editorial opinion of a journal in, say, 1990, tell us the present position of “mainstream science”? Mainstream science does not have a mind to change. If as a journalist I want to know, to whom do I talk?
“Cold fusion” at this point is a collection of experimental results, not a theory, beyond a vague theory that the reported anomalous heat is nuclear in origin. The reality is that, until 1991, the only evidence for “nuclear” that was not shown to be artifact was heat that certain chemists assessed was not from chemistry, was much more than they, expert in chemistry, considered too much to be possible from known chemistry, so they guessed “nuclear in origin.” Who would one ask? An expert in chemistry or in nuclear physics? And what I know is that the answer depends on specifically whom one asks.
There is another way: publication in “mainstream peer-reviewed journals,” as distinct from specialty or fringe or vanity journals. By that standard, cold fusion (or “Low Energy Nuclear Reactions”) is routinely accepted. In order to negate this, a pseudoskeptic may claim that the “important” journals have not budged. Maybe, but science is not run or controlled by one or two journals. Good thing! Mainstream, reputable journals, published by the largest scientific publishers in the world, are publishing articles. On what Franchini dismisses as impossible.
That would be news in itself.
I live in Pisa, nobody at the University has ever worked on cold fusion.
This may be true for many universities, and is meaningless. The first time a graduate student’s PhD thesis was rejected simply because it related to cold fusion, not because of shoddy work, the supply of graduate student labor, normally how replications are done, dried up. There was definitely a time where to work on cold fusion issues was a career-killer, so most work that continued in the field, in academica, was done by tenured professors, who could not be fired.
This is all politics and history, not science.
Perhaps at the very beginning, but without leaving written tracks, as far as I know.
There is a good book on the sociology of cold fusion, Simon’s “Undead Science.” He describes assisting a professor he knew in some cold fusion research (and he saw what appeared to be excess heat). That professor did not want anyone to know he was working with cold fusion, and never published. There was a tremendous body of research, with both “positive” and “negative” results, that was never published because of the extremely negative views held by some. At one point, this may have been a majority position. Most of the leaders of that reaction are now dead.
If you survey scientists about something where they are not familiar with ongoing research results, what opinions will you find? With some, you will hear what was believed many years ago. Others will be more careful. The honest ones may say, “I don’t know, I have not been following the field.”
Peer-reviewed journals sometimes do much better. They actually read papers and critique them, and publish what passes that critique. Sometimes a reviewer has a knee-jerk opinion and literally refuses to waste time reading the paper. This is all well-known and is a sign of what the sociologists of science call an “information cascade,” where collective opinion, apparent consensus, forms just because of how people communicate and decide what to accept. It is not “scientific” at all, unless we think of science as a social phenomenon, which it is.
There is the strange case of the University of Bologna, but in almost 30 years they have not built a sound cold fusion reactor yet.
The existence of a physical phenomenon is independent of whether or not we know how to create a practical application. Many phenomena have been known for a century before practical applications were developed. There is no successful “theory of cold fusion” yet. The conditions for the reaction were, at first, misunderstood and largely unknown. It is still not known how to create reactions at reliable levels, but there are now techniques — largely developed in Italy, by the way, at ENEA — for making materials that work to generate significant anomalous heat more than half the time.
UniBo got caught in the nickel hydride approach of Focardi and others. This is not widely confirmed, and there is no clear evidence as to the “nuclear product” in nickel hydride anomalies, unlike the situation with palladium hydride. What actually happened in 2011, with the Rossi announcement, was that condensed matter nuclear scientists knew, from their own experience, that nickel hydride reactions were not “impossible,” but I cautioned the field about jumping on the Rossi bandwagon, because even if the reactions were real, practical application could still fail in many ways, and, further, Rossi looked like a fraud in many ways. (Mats Lewan points out that it seems as if Rossi deliberately creates that impression, and that is plausible.)
Moreover, it is not only a matter of lacking a suitable comprehensive theory for cold fusion: cold fusion is outside any accepted theory about nuclear reactions. Let me draw your attention to the most recent work on the reactions we are interested in.
You are considering those reactions, I am not, for the most part. You have invented or bought the idea that if cold fusion is real, it must be the “reaction you are interested in.” You — with others — invented that, then you reject your own invention.
are Ni (p, γ) reactions possible? The sensible question would be “under what conditions?” My basic stand is that cold fusion is a mystery, which includes the necessary conditions. If one knows how to catalyze such reactions, in a practical sense, one has knowledge that could be worth a trillion dollars. My opinion at this point is that nobody knows how to do it, beyond almost accidentally under unusual conditions and as a possibility, not yet clearly confirmed. That’s not worth a trillion dollars, not yet.
A.Simon, A.Spyrou, T.Rauscher, C.Frohlich, S.J.Quinn, A.Battaglia, A.Best, B.Bucher, M.Couder, P.A.DeYoung, X.Fang, J.Gorres, A.Kontos, Q.Li, L.-Y.Lin, A.Long, S.Lyons, A.Roberts, D.Robertson, K.Smith, M.K.Smith, E.Stech, B.Stefanek, W.P.Tan, X.D.Tang, M.Wiescher, Systematic study of (p,γ) reactions on Ni isotopes, Physical Review, Part C, Nuclear Physics; Vol.87, p.055802 (2013)
Here is an actual article link. From the abstract:
A systematic study of the radiative proton capture reaction for all stable nickel isotopes is presented. The results were obtained using 2.0–6.0 MeV protons from the 11-MV tandem Van de Graaff accelerator at the University of Notre Dame.
This is utterly irrelevant to cold fusion, just as the known hot fusion reactions for deuterium fusion are irrelevant. That is almost certainly not what is happening. As well, ordinary catalyzed cold fusion with deuterium is not what is happening, because the branching ratio remains roughly the same, and those known reaction products are not observed, other than helium. If it were, should be enough neutron radiation from the reported heat that it would be fatal to observers, the so-called “dead graduate student effect.”
The pseudoskeptical position is a certainty that some “unknown nuclear reaction” — which is what Pons and Fleischmann actually claimed — could not be possible because if it were possible, it would already be known. This is well and commonly recognized as a dumb argument that has afflicted science for centuries. If conditions were common and effects were obvious, yes, it is not actually a proof, but a heuristic for where to invest time and attention. But the conditions studied by Pons and Fleischmann were very rare, something that was not widely known at first. Palladium deuteride was well-known and in common usage for certain experimental work.
However, McKubre, at SRI at the time, had been working with palladium hydride and deuteride, and also knew Fleischmann well. He recognized that if they were seeing a significant heat effect, it was not at “ordinary loading,” which was widely considered to be about 70% maximum (i.e., palladium soaks up hydrogen isotopes, which is exothermic until maybe 60% or 70% loading, and higher loading becomes endothermic and difficult). They must be working in the relatively unexplored territory above 70%. He also knew that they had not disclosed everything, which is a different problem. Remember that “trillion dollar” figure? That can affect how people, including university administrators and lawyers, make decisions!
McKubre was retained by the Electric Power Research Institute to investigate cold fusion, and this became the second half of his career. His work is foundational — and much of it was openly published. His clients were organizations that had a need to know. He was working in an organization, SRI International, that needed to maintain reputation for sober judgment and careful research (but it was the clients that decided what to research).
So who is Camillo Franchini? From the Passerini blog, some photos of him from a post of May 15, 2012. Never mind Passerini’s overheated excitement, he is correct about communication being better in person. The internet can bring out the worst in us.
Passerini has Franchini as a “nuclear chemist,” (which is Storms’ field). As noted immediately by a comment there, Franchini is, ah, “not young.” Some of us get cranky and rigid as we age. I’m 73, and need to be continually vigilant. Fortunately, I have a 16-year-old daughter living with me who keeps me on my toes. And I have other training as well, it was intense. I have learned to love to discover my errors! My friends point them out for me, which includes some people who don’t think they are my friends!
“Cold fusion is a mystery”
No, it is a fraud.
What, specifically, is a “fraud”? To relegate cold fusion to fraud is not — at all — a scientific position. Rossi can readily considered a fraud, it is clear from evidence we have that he, at least, fraudulently misrepresented certain facts. But he was using an existing, known mystery, one that has been engaging scientists since discovery in 1984 and announcement in 1989, and claims of fraud in that are confined to certain individuals. The basic findings are not under any cloud of suspicion as to fraud. Controversy remains as to the significance of some work.
“Fraud” massively confuses the issues. From the beginning in 2011 the blog fusionefredda conflated Rossi (“E-cat”) and “cold fusion.” The major skeptical writers in the field did not claim that the reported findings were fraud, they did claim incompetence or error. That is very different.
CimPy dismisses an entire body of experimental evidence (the reality behind the idea of “cold fusion), but simply states his conclusion as if it were fact. That is not skepticism, it is belief and reliance on personal authority, the personal authority of an anonymous person, i.e., no authority at all, who seems to have appeared on the scene by 2013. In early posts I saw there Franchini seems to have some relationship with CimPy, but I not done thorough research by any means, just a few looks. On LENR Forum, CimPy was claimed to be something not-nice:
As far as I know, Cimpy is a shared nick with a troll-team behind it. As he has repeadltely attacked and slandered me [and also many others obviously] in every possible way, often on a personal level, I constantly ban or ignore him. Have a look here: La dura vita dei troll incatenati alla tastiera!
Claims like this are common. I am not concerned about libelling anonymous users. It is a privilege to be able to post anonymously, but that is not a license to defame. The headline translates to : “The tired life of trolls chained to the keyboard!”
That’s kind, actually, it implies that trolls are not choosing to live in a sewer, they are “chained.” Compelled. Another word is “obsessed.”
To complete this:
(As originally posted, there was a section here covering a fusionefredda post by Ascoli65. At his request, it has been moved to Lowdown on Lie-bull/#Ascoli65.)
@Abd ulRahman Lomax
Cold fusion is a mystery, my view is that nobody understands it yet.
There are many important nuclear data banks beside IAEA and BNL. Querying them about a particular nuclear reaction is fairly easy, if you have some knowledge of nuclear science.
One must rely on them, otherwise we can only use bare words, express personal views which are useless in dealing with scientific issues.
Let me suggest you some useful sites:
For frosting on this cake, I’d ask him to find the catalyzed nuclear reactions that are known, in that database. One of them is clearly a form of “cold fusion,” experimentally, it is observed at close to absolute zero.
Above, in the first post I covered, Franchini had:
Exfor is the IAEA/BNL (Brookhaven National Laboratory) data base of all nuclear reactions.
“All” nuclear reactions? Including unknown ones? Is this a database of all *possible* reactions? I don’t think that’s possible to compile.
It does not claim about itself what Franchini claims about it. No surprise.
The EXFOR library contains an extensive compilation of experimental nuclear reaction data. Neutron reactions have been compiled systematically since the discovery of the neutron, while charged particle and photon reactions have been covered less extensively.
With cold fusion, there is no specific nuclear reaction data, generally. The known reaction has unknown mechanism, it converts deuterium to helium, without charged particle emission above 20 KeV (the so-called Hagelstein limit, after Peter’s article establishing it from experimental evidence, or, more accurately, what is not observed. If charged particle products were being produced above 20 KeV, there would have been observations.)
Deuterium-deuterium fusion normally generates, in half the reactions, a fast neutron. Neutron radiation is only observed, if at all, at very low levels. Half the reactions would produce a fast triton. Tritium is indeed observed, but at roughly a million times down from helium. (And neutrons are on the order of a million times down from the tritium). There is a rare branch that can produce helium, but always with a high-energy photon (about 23.8 MeV), also called a “gamma ray.” Ordinary deuterium fusion is not what is happening, that’s obvious. But that is not the only possible pathway between deuterium and helium, merely the most obvious.
If muon-catalyzed fusion is in the database, I have no clue where to look. it has a branch that is outside of normal consideration, muon ejection with a few MeV of energy. That’s with a reaction taking place at close to absolute zero, certainly “cold.”
Widom-Larsen theory, which I often have on the wall to throw darts at, predicts unexpected neutron formation, followed by a series of neutron reactions. Don’t expect me to defend W-L theory. Most cold fusion theories appear to depend on some kind of electron screening that can only take place in condensed matter, and it is not the simple screening of muon catalysis, it may be some kind of multibody reaction, which becomes plausible in condensed matter (not in a plasma).
I return to this again and again. At this point, cold fusion is a mystery, unsolved. It is certainly not solved by armchair proclamations of impossibility, which generate no knowledge at all. We already knew all this, but experimental evidence…..
fusionefredda and Camillo Franchini — and then CimPy — began with a confusion of Rossi’s claims with the science of LENR. Rossi was not a scientist. Focardi and Levi, and others apparently impressed by Rossi, were, and we can think they should have known better. But the “knowing better” was not some sort of knowledge of the impossibility of “cold fusion,” but rather that a con artist or lunatic might take advantage of the possibility, given that major funding sources had seriously neglected cold fusion research, in spite of many official recommendations that it was worthy of pursuit, with basic research. Not overheated hyped-up enthusiasm over an inventor who never allowed clear and truly independent confirmation.
Where from here?
From the lawsuit documents, we know quite well what happened when serious investors, aware of the possibility of LENR, — Industrial Heat — decided they need to find out if the Rossi Effect was real, and put $20 million into it. They found out. Now they have put maybe $50 million into other LENR research. What do they get from that?
Results. We don’t know of any practical devices yet, they have some leads, but it could take billions of dollars before practical cold fusion applications are ready. What they can do is to develop expertise in vetting research projects for productive value (which includes finding out what doesn’t work). They can develop relationships with scientists such that if anything is discovered to move the field forward, commercially, they will know, perhaps first. They know how to raise far more funding if needed, they demonstrated that.