Validity of LENR Science

I tend to write about what is in front of my face. On LENR Forum, digressions on the thread, Rossi v. Darden developments Part 2, were finally split to new threads. So the following appears as if it were a new post. I will get to the topic at #Validity, after looking at the administrative aspects. 

I wrote about this on Pseudoskepticism vs Skepticism: Case studies: — interested observer was writing entirely off-topic, it did not start with this post. Finally, a moderator did something about it, but … LENR Forum moderators, often, don’t show what they have done. Posts were moved to that thread that were responses to posts that are still in the RvD thread. No question, this is an improvement, but LF needs must faster and more reliable moderation. Off-topic continues to be the norm in the RvD thread, one reason why it has blossomed rapidly to 2455 posts. There is a problem with simply moving a post like this

It can be seen that the original post is 49841. It was originally positioned after 49840. 49845 is apparently a response to it, but now is orphaned, and makes much less sense. The pagination is now changed in the RvD thread. That is, any post after the moved posts might appear on a different page than when originally posted. For this reason, I now avoid linking to a page by page number.

This points up the importance of rapid identification of off-topic posts to be moved. My own preference would be that they would be visibly documented. That takes work!

Validity of LENR Science…[split] interested observer wrote:

All the talk about how to get and what to do with millions of dollars of research money for LENR puzzles me. The discussions of commercialization paths and scaling up power seem completely beside the point. This is table-top science, not billion-dollar installations. How about if any of the legitimate researchers builds a reactor of any size and power and delivers it to an independent laboratory with appropriate reputation and expertise so that they can unambiguously prove that the thing works? Don’t argue that this has already happened. Clearly it hasn’t. If it were to happen, funding will be no problem. However, if doing that is out of the question (and please skip the usual litany of lame excuses why this should be so), why does anybody continue to think this is a real phenomenon at all?

As is common with new pseudoskeptics, IO appears to have a concept of LENR and the LENR community as if it were monolithic. He is, of course, immedately tagged as ignorant, and that is obvious. His ignorance is not likely to be remedied by reading a few papers, the field is vast, and would he know what to read, i.e., what papers are important for his first and most specific interest: validity, i.e., some “real phenomenon.” I don’t know that there is a decent guide to this that would satisfy someone coming from IO’s position, which has layers of incorporated assumptions, and decades of information cascade backing those up. Yesterday, I pointed in a comment to an interview with Gary Taubes. As stated in the summary, “Gary gives long-winded, rambling answers, but there’s some good stuff in this episode if you’re interested in diet, sugar, and fat.”

There is also some very good stuff there if one wants to see how a science journalists ends up discovering and exposing “information cascades.” I will be returning to Taubes, but we must start with this: he worked his butt off to research and write Bad Science.  Some writers in the field have searched for and found mistakes, or alleged mistakes, in his book. Taubes makes mistakes! But … there is no skeptical writer on cold fusion who knows more of the early history of the field, because of what he went through, than Taubes. His “partial list” of people interviewed has 257 names.

Anyone who is seriously interested in cold fusion, more than casually, I recommend Taubes and Huizenga. Start with the skeptics! Just don’t believe them, as to conclusions. Understand those conclusions! One of the brilliant things that Taubes mentions was a conversation with someone opposing him, giving the standard understanding of the cause of obesity. He asks, do you know the origin of the idea you are stating? Let’s say that the experts he talks with generally don’t. They can’t tell you where the idea came from, and their position is that everyone knows this. This bears a remarkable similarity to Bill Nye, the Science Guy, in his recent debate with a global warming denier. Bill could not state, simply, where his basic idea was coming from. And he was probably right! But also he was a follower, not a leader, politically obsessed.

Taubes, of course, had researched the entire history of scientific investigation of obesity. He knows where the ideas came from, how older ideas were set aside in favor of newer ones and, unfortunately for our collective health, the newer ideas were Bad Science. But highly appealing, and Taubes can explain the appeal, why what was probably dead wrong became a “scientific consensus.”

In the interview, he talks about how he moved into the study of nutrition: people told him, if you think there is Bad Science in physics, take a look at nutrition!

Let’s deconstruct IO’s post.

All the talk about how to get and what to do with millions of dollars of research money for LENR puzzles me. The discussions of commercialization paths and scaling up power seem completely beside the point.

If he’s puzzled about what is obviously happening, that’s a crystal clear clue to his ignorance. He has a “point” in mind. To him, the big question is whether or not LENR is real. So, of course, what he wants to see is “proof.” Something easy to understand. Now, it exists — or at least there are confirmed experimental results that show the reality of LENR by a preponderance of the evidence –, but it is not at all what he’s expecting.

It is not clear that he is aware of it, so far, I’ve seen no sign.

If LENR is not established as real, then, talk of commercialization and scaling up would be a waste of time. But “established as real” is actually not a fact — ever. It is a judgment, an interpretation, and then there must be an interpreter. To IO, it is not established. So it is natural for him to be impatient. Get to the point, man!

Iit took me several years of reading to begin to develop an understanding of what happened in 1989-1990 and later. I have condensed the most important part of this in my published paper. It is not difficult to understand, though anyone firmly attached to “they must be making some mistake,” may still refuse to accept the obvious. We have a current example, I will probably go over: Kirk Shanahan. But understand that Shanahan’s views are fringe, they are not accepted by anyone, other than some skeptics use Shanahan where it serves them. Shanahan only looks for what might be wrong, but ignores correlation, his view appears to be that correlation with garbage data is useless, but correlation, in fact, is what distinguishes signal from noise.

I will agree with IO in this: until the effect is under reliable control, most discussion of commercialization and “scaling up” is useless. The only reason for “scaling up” is an attempt to prove reality, whereas a scientific approach would be almost the opposite: to attempt to prove artifact. This would be done, most effectively, with replication, not with “improvement” by scaling up — with some possible exceptions.

This is table-top science, not billion-dollar installations.

To him, apparently, “table-top” means “easy.” Yet those who did succeed in confirming the FP Heat Effect have said it was the most difficult experiment they ever did. This was far from easy. In fact, when I see new claims, and they seem easy, that sets off alarms that they might have found Yet Another Artifact. They abound, it is much easier to find an artifact than to find the real thing. That is not a “proof.” Someone might get lucky and hit the Magic Combination. I simply don’t expect it.

How about if any of the legitimate researchers builds a reactor of any size and power and delivers it to an independent laboratory with appropriate reputation and expertise so that they can unambiguously prove that the thing works?

Look at the assumptions: does any “legitimate researcher” know how to build a “reactor”? However, he does say “any size and power.” So, has what he is describing been done? It would appear that he imagines it wasn’t done, ever. But what is SRI? It is an independent laboratory. Numerous times, they were retained to test devices and protocols. They did this over and over. But IO imagines it never happened, and probably because he thinks that if it happened, he’d know about it. Wouldn’t it be big news?

One might think so. But then we need to test our idea of “big news” with reality. It was not big news. Outside of those interested in LENR, it was almost entirely ignored.

IO has an idea of the thing “working.” He has in mind, I imagine, Big Heat. He wants “unambiguous proof.” But in real science, on the edge, difficulties abound. I’d bet he has never read an SRI formal report. They are full of hedges. With the millions of dollars they had (I don’t know actual SRI budgets, but this was not billion-dollar research), they did what they could. You want more, pay for it! The conclusion of that particular expert (McKubre) is one of someone who spent the latter half of his career, and he was already involved with palladium hydride and deuteride, as a professional scientist studying cold fusion, and what were his conclusions? Is there any respect for what should seem obvious? If someone in his position says it is real, it’s probably real, and you can bet on it. But did he say that “This is the energy future of humanity”? No. Not yet! The fact is that we don’t know that, and his work gave clues as to how to control the reaction, but not proven answers.

IO is looking for “proof” where what we have is a preponderance of the evidence. And “cold fusion” is not understood, it is a given that it isn’t explained. So a genuine skeptic will either ignore the whole field — perfectly legitimate to a point — or will become very interested in what is happening, what is generating effects that are being interpreted by researchers as “cold fusion”?

Don’t argue that this has already happened. Clearly it hasn’t.

I’m not arguing. I’m saying it, what I know. However, “it” is not well defined. IO has created a fantasy, it looks a particular way, it was set up such and so. His fantasy has not happened. However, something quite similar has, in fact, happened (and more than once). Independent laboratory. Check. Anomalous heat from a specific protocol. Check. Correlated nuclear product. Check.

Therefore send a check for $1 billion? No. One step at a time. What has been confirmed is not understood. How to control the reaction, to create reliability, is not understood — or if it is, the understanding has not been widely accepted. Maybe Bob Greenyer understands, though I kind of doubt it, don’t you?

If it were to happen, funding will be no problem.

I’m not going to agree with “no problem,” but, in fact, it happened and the result was funding. SKINR at the University of Missouri, an example, related to Energetics Technologies work, as confirmed as decent research by Robert Duncan, with experimental replication by SRI and ENEA. The work of SRI and ENEA, McKubre and Violante, led to $12 million in funding at Texas Tech, under the supervision of Robert Duncan. ENEA is, by the way, an independent laboratory, funded by the Italian government.

At this point, Industrial Heat has millions of dollars available for worth research projects, with more available if needed. So the basic issue is identifying worthy projects. It’s up to them! However, my goal is to see that they have decent advice, which I hope to crowd-source and filter. It won’t hurt, because they still are responsible for the choices they make. This was the original Infusion Institute concept: to create advice, not to make decisions, I consider central control in a field like this to be very dangerous. Each organization or agency is independent, but with communication, collaboration, and cooperation, much more can be done. Even if there are intellectual property issues and unfortunate habits of secrecy. Again, I never considered that Rossi was “wrong” to keep his methods secret. It was his right. However, there rest of us also had a right to our own opinions!

However, if doing that is out of the question (and please skip the usual litany of lame excuses why this should be so), why does anybody continue to think this is a real phenomenon at all?

Because Science. Controlled experiment. The usual.

It is not “out of the question,” and, as I have claimed here, it’s been done. Anyone who knows the field can fill in the details, and IO would know if he does the work to learn. I “think” it is a real phenomenon, because of the preponderance of the evidence. If someone can show a plausible alternative explanation for the data we have, other than “unknown nuclear reaction,” I’m all ears. Further, this is testable. That the reaction is not reliable does not mean that it is not reproducible, and there are protocols that work enough of the time to be able to test “nuclear.” Much of the early research was based on an obvious error, an assumption that if the reaction was fusion, there would be copious tritium and neutrons. No. Tritium is found, but roughly about a million times down from naive expectation. Neutrons, also, but about a million times down from tritium. These are not good [conclusive] evidences, they are circumstantial only (even though someone like Jed Rothwell will argue that they are convincing. Maybe.) I prefer stronger evidence, direct, not merely circumstantial, and it exists. And that is why I think that LENR is real.

“Lame excuses” betrays IO’s thought process. He is convinced that he is dealing with deluded “believers.” To be sure, those exist. That’s also obvious. “Deluded” here doesn’t necessarily mean wrong, it means that the way in which they “know” what they believe may be defective in some way. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Now, where will we go with this? My goal is to create some introductory documents. I will be looking for questions to raise, and sometimes, to answer. Overall, though, what I’ve said about above “proof” is currently subject to well-funded research, by experts, attempting to measure the heat effect and the known nuclear product with increased precision.

Alan Smith wrote:

Two problems are immediately apparent. 1. Universities won’t touch it because they fear reputational damage (The Bologna EFFECT). 2. Independent testing labs like UL are very expensive places – and they don’t take on jobs for fun.

Otherwise it is a splendid idea.

It’s just not true. While the rejection cascade is still strong, there are universities that will support LENR research. Further, UL is irrelevant. Wrong lab. This was a quick, cheap answer. Instead of stating a real problem — where does the funding for this research come from — Alan just ignores the request to not make lame excuses. It was a naive, shallow idea, not a splendid one, though Alan is actually being sarcastic.

oldguy wrote:

[responding to Peter Gluck, whose post was not moved, ]

The list [for research funding] should be produced by those that are doing the funding.

That is not optimal. Rather, researchers and reviewers in the field should product lists. In some cases, the funding sources will support that process. The actual funding choices would be by those with power to fund, it would generally be their responsibility, but the idea is to collect advice for them to review. In the original III (Infusion Institute Inc) concept, III would identify possible research projects, developing protocols or approaches, and would then solicit bids to do the work from labs. These would then be communicated to funding sources, who would choose what to fund, and any contracts would be between the funding sources and the labs. III would merely be a matchmaker.

What was missing from, say, the 2004 DOE review? An actual, specific, proposal for specific research to be funded. There was nothing of an appropriate scale to say Yes to, only something very general. (And the actual recommendation was to encourage specific proposals. One was apparently made, but it wasn’t fundamental, it was a detail — of interest to the researcher and even of general interest, but not designed to accomplish the most important goals. It was not accepted. And that one rejection then became a story of “impossible, they won’t.” Maybe not. But maybe they would!)

Peter Gluck wrote:

The problem- and Question is- can Bog Money help to get solutions and How?
In other words, what is missing?

… One of Peter’s better posts. The question is the one I’m trained to ask. Peter mostly writes about “what’s wrong”? (And then communicates “exciting news” with very little foundation or real exploration.)

Bog money. Yes, fill the swamp with it. Make sure it’s absorbent. On the other hand, soaked with all that swamp water, it may stink.

What is missing, mostly, is focus, clarity, depth, and the detachment of the scientific method. So let’s supply them! (There are researchers in the field who are careful scientists. Let’s support them!) As well, it appears that there are those willing to fund basic research, as distinct from extravagant claims. Peter has, unfortunately, come down on the side of extravagant claims, but maybe he’ll wake up! At least he is asking a decent question here.

oldguy wrote:

That is why I said reserve 2M (i.e. 20%) for duplication, verification, and analysis and why I said 100W or 1kW levels. You can control that level on a lab bench with accurate controls and properly dump the heat. Much smaller than 100W and it is hard to convince people of scale ups.

What is appropriate depends on the specific nature and purpose of the research. For a commercial prototype, the levels given could be appropriate. For a scientific investigation, they are probably too high, by a good margin. Ideally, tests are designed by those who need to know answers. Rather, there tends to be an idea that researchers should design experiments to “prove” something. That takes them right straight out of science into something else, some kind of debate, and into polemic, cherry-picking of evidence, all that. Primary research will not allocate funding for “duplication.” The Texas Tech/ENEA collaboration, though, is secondary. it is funding two efforts, one at Texas Tech and one at ENEA, and they said they were looking for a third. In this case, because of the purpose, they are considering simultaneous confirmation, so their first paper will not be just one group.

Normally, though each investigation will be independent, and funded to do just what it does. If the results are interesting, then, it becomes possible to fund replication, but replication is different from primary investigation. With cold fusion, by the way, this has often not been understood, and general confirmations of some possible effect have often been called “replications” when they are not. Parkhomov did not “replicate” Rossi’s Lugano test. Rather, he did some work inspired by that test, exploring one possible aspect of it. All this has led to widespread confusion.

Jed Rothwell wrote:

interested observer wrote:

why does anybody continue to think this is a real phenomenon at all?

If by “this” you mean Rossi’s claims, there are no reasons.
If you mean cold fusion in general, because it has been replicated thousands of times at high signal to noise ratios in over 180 major laboratories. Replication at high s/n ratios is the only way we can ever know that a phenomenon is real. There is no other standard. When you deny that a replicated effect is real you are no longer doing science. You have rejected the scientific method. Anything might be true, and anything might be false.

This is Jed’s standard argument. Overall, and generally, he’s not wrong. However, this never convinces in these discussions — unless it perhaps convinces readers not participating. The situation, which is complex, is presented as black and white: “real” or “rejected.” What is a “real effect”? Shanahan thinks there is a systematic artifact afflicting many cold fusion experiments. If there is, would that be a “real effect”? Of course it would! That is, there would be an effect (measured excess heat) with a non-nuclear origin. (Shanahan’s expressed position is that there is a chemical anomaly, maybe more than one.)

There is something quite basic, there is the reality of our occurring world. If I’m not convinced of something, I am simply not convinced. I don’t actually have to have any reason, this lack of conviction is an observation. However, the matter shifts if I claim that others are wrong. In that case, my lack of conviction starts to resemble a belief, and may well leave “science.” But I can disclose, with honesty, that what others are claiming isn’t convincing me, and then it’s possible to explore the claims, and we may be able to find exactly where it’s breaking down.

Yes, with ordinary science, a single replication with adequate precision is normally considered adequate to accept a claim until there is more evidence. However, cold fusion is not “ordinary science,” get over it. There is a very complex history, complicated by errors on all sides. Teasing reality out of that takes work, work that very few will invest, on either side.

interested observer went on, and I’ve already covered this on Pseudoskepticism vs Skepticism: Case studies:

Does anything new, or that was missed, come up?

Pseudoskeptics have a host of standard arguments, fair-sounding, that don’t actually address the science. They will, for example, mention the “conspiracy” theory of why cold fusion was rejected. It’s a pattern, commonly seen, and it showed up here. He is talking to a community as if the whole community shares the views of the most extreme within it. It’s highly offensive, effectively trolling.

Hermes wrote:

If there’s one lesson we have learned over the last 28 years, it is that developing excess heat producing reactors without any attempt to understand the underlying processes producing that heat, is hugely unproductive and time wasting. Science proceeds by devising experiments to test hypotheses. Little progress has been made, or will be made by randomly changing parameters or scaling up a device. The top priority should be elucidating the basic science not blindly racing towards an improbable commercial reactor. Once we understand the basic science (e.g. the reactions responsible) it will be obvious how to engineer safe reliable working devices.

Straight-on, Hermes. Missing: “top priority” for whom? I will fill that in: for major funding. “Basic science” includes what it takes to bring along the mainstream. There are those who believe it’s impossible, until the “old guard” that rejected cold fusion dies off completely, but I suggest, instead, that this has never really been tested adequately. There are defects and deficiencies in the existing research, enough to allow toeholds of doubt here and there. How about fixing them? All that this requires is repeating, with improved controls, what was done before. The most obvious such investigation, I’ve written for years now, is measuring the heat/helium ratio. We now know how to do this with increased precision, both from the existence of better mass spectrometry, but also with knowing, apparently from the two experiments that did it, how to release all the helium. (Before, in most experiments, what was measured was helium in evolved outgas, apparently roughly 60%, and this created worrisome imprecision in the ratio. The helium was still highly correlated with heat, but I’ve seen skeptical objections from the imprecision (SRI claimed 10% on the ratio. That was obviously a seat-of-the-pants estimate, not a measured value — which could not be done from the single M4 measure.). So fix it, that is, supply what has been missing, and see what happens! I think Texas Tech is likely to publish in a major mainstream journal, I see no reason that they should go for less than that, that they should attempt to bypass careful peer review.

Alan Smith is clueless:

And what kind of armchair would you be sitting in while you did that? Right now, we have a territory but no maps worth a damn. If we had a map we could make faster progress for sure. But we are stuck with an unknown and unexplored continent, LENR Land. There are theories galore about what we might find there, and how we might find it – but few if any have proven to be reliable with (perhaps) some of the Pd/D work – which has a relatively long history of course. That helps.

So we need to explore and pencil in a few features on the map -ho? By exploring the territory – you see, exploration and map-making walk hand in hand.

Seems to me that Hermes is suggesting drawing a map, exploring the basics. Alan thinks we are “stuck.” No, he made that up. Alan is selling equipment for exploring NiH, for the most part. Nothing wrong with that, as long as people don’t confuse relative ease of some of this research with importance. However, LENR Forum is about LENR, and this was a specific discussion of research priorities, relating to funding. Alan’s common theme is that someone else is ridiculous. If some post is, in his view, off-topic, he might delete it. He never apologizes for mistakes. And here he was continuing an off-topic discussion, but he never liked the Rossi v. Darden discussions, because they might be bad for business. His business. Selling tools and materials for attempting Rossi replications.

His goal is not profit, to be sure. It’s to be right.

Nigel Appleton wrote:

Replicated thousands of times in over 180 laboratories? Maybe so. But I wonder what the average COP is. Most of all I wonder if any one particular method has been replicated in a laboratory independent of the original workers.

(1) COP is irrelevant in scientific experiments, generally. COP only becomes important in certain kinds of commercial demonstrations, and it is mostly misleading. Any practical approach is likely to be able to self-power, with appropriate engineering. The excuses that have been given (avoiding runaway) are bogus. Rather, if one is controlling heat with heat, yes, one must avoid self-sustain, because all control will be lost. (Rossi’s claim of self-sustain might be, rather, some level of heat storage, but no Rossi work is well enough known to be sure). What infinite COP (self-powered!) requires is a real reaction, and slow enough heat release that the reaction maintains its own heat, with the heat being controlled by cooling, if not by some other means (such as fuel supply or stimulation). “Slow enough heat release” means insulation, so that heat is retained, and then there must be a way to lower the temperature.

(2) The SRI replication of Energetics Technlogies Superwave protocol considered 5% excess power to be significant. I do not know this as a fact, but it appears that the report, published in the ACS Low Energy Nuclear Reactions Sourcebook (2008), pp 219-247, shows all cells run by SRI, there were 23. Of these, 9 had COP of less than 1.05. For the rest, COP varied between 1.05 and 4.00; however, this was based on excess peak power. What is a clearer statistic is total excess energy, higher excess energy was seen with lower peak excess power. The best run generated a calculated 536 kJ, with a peak excess power of 2.095 W. The ENEA section of that report does not appear to show all experimental runs, only listing six “successful” runs.

(The division of results into “successful” and “unsuccessful” could be creating the file-drawer effect, and I’ve been arguing for years that all results should be reported, at least in supplemental material. Otherwise, we can’t seen any reliability data. The lack of this data in 1989-1990 was a major factor, my opinion, in the rejection cascade. In any case, the “best” ENEA result shown was a 600 second period with output power of 7 W, with input power being 100 mW, for an energy density of 700 W/cm^3.)

What Nigel is pointing to is fuzziness in the definition of “replicated.” This really meant “confirmed,” in some way. This is all circumstantial evidence, and there are reasons why it has not been successful in overcoming the rejection cascade, except where a skeptic does an extraordinary amount of work to get through the Forest of Exceptions.

THHuxleynew wrote:

The Brillouin experiment has been replicated, but with the same experimental setup so any systematic calorimetry errors could lead to replicable false positives. Since there is an obvious possible cause for these not yet considered by SRI (at leat not mentioned in the preliminary report) that is a hole that will need to be closed before the work can be evidence of LENR.

This is the famous “moving target” — even though the argument is reasonable. The context was an effective denial that there had been replications, but … the recent SRI report is an obvious exception to that claim. Then there is a possibility of a systematic artifact. Which, of course, could apply to any replication. The replication could even be confirming the artifact, showing that it recurred, and then leading, possibly, to its discovery, if work continues. SRI Brillouin HHT report

I have written a review of this, and am waiting for some peer review before publishing it. It is actually on this site, with a password. I will consider sending the password to known persons who wish to support this by reading and commenting. Pending that, I’m interested in possible artifacts.

interested observer wrote:

[a long collection of evidences of a kind of vicious ignorance, to wit:]

@Eric, ad hom is the go-to tool on the internet. I don’t see the remaining Rossi supporters here actually offering arguments against the criticisms made against Rossi. All I see are attacks on people like Jed and Dewey and major animosity toward Industrial Heat, which is a shell company that is nothing more than a bank account and a bunch of (probably) well-intentioned capitalists who made one of most moronic investments in history. I have yet to hear a good reason to believe a single thing emanating from Camp Rossi.

In other words, on the matter of Rossi, IO agrees with the large majority of experienced LENR researchers and supporters, but has then tossed in his ignorant interpretation. The opinion that IH made a “moronic investment” is an easy opinion, offered without any regard for the actual considerations involved when they made that investment (beginning in 2012), nor for the actual results. (Rossi’s “Energy amplifier” was, for them, a money amplifier, even if it turned out it was bogus, which seems likely at this point. They invested an initial $11.5 million, and then may have tossed in up to $8.5 million attempting to confirm the Rossi technology, before they would have run out of money from their initial offering — if that was totally subscribed, I don’t know. Clearly appreciating their bold action — which has effectively resolved concern about Rossi possibly upsetting the research applecart — Woodford gave then $50 million and apparently made another $150 million available. Some moronic investment, eh? I’d love to be that moronic. Maybe being smart isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

He is massively confused. IH is an operating research company, supported by its parent company, which wholly owns it. IH have been supporting many LENR research projects, and may have given up on Rossi, except for cleanup, sometime around 2015. As I understand IH, their goal is to be ready for any actual investment opportunities, and, until that appears, to generally support basic research. To dismiss them as a “shell company” is to miss that venture capital often operates through simple entities, that invest in other entities that actually have substantial facilities.

Money is moving into LENR, the shift from when I started looking into the field more intensely, in 2009, is striking. I was told, at the end of 2012, by an Italian industrialist, associated with a major corporation, that there was plenty of money for worthy projects. The trick is finding those projects! At that point people like him were sniffing around, going to conferences. I met Dewey at ICCF-18 in 2013.

This is not the world that interested observer lives in. For him, it doesn’t exist.

@Jed: I have quite a few friends who have worked at NIST (in both Gaithersburg and Boulder) and do lots of experimental physics work including developing and testing new devices using microfabrication, thin film deposition, cryogenics, and many other technologies. I don’t know what you mean by “theoretical matters”, but the work at NIST in many areas is quite similar to that in other government labs, industrial labs, and private companies. Yes, they have their “standards” charter that is a big part of their work, but they most assuredly don’t have a narrow charter that precludes them from working on various topics.

He doesn’t understand the point. Why NIST? What special reason to use them? For what project, specifically? His “FedEx the reactor” idea shows that he has no clue about the state of the research, which is not about “building reactors.” When fission was discovered, they were not building reactors! Hot fusion is a real effect, but where are the damn reactors? Oh. They exist. Can you FedEx them to NIST? Yeah, he already addressed that. It was just a manner of speech. But behind that manner of speech is a manner of thinking, “it’s all easy, trivial, if it were real.” That argument was rejected by genuine skeptics by the mid-1990s. Reality does not equal practicality, until and unless it does, which may take many more steps and maybe more discovery.

And Jed, I understand perfectly well that a reasonably sophisticated laboratory is required to do meaningful experiments that could validate LENR.

Surely that depends on the experiments, and IO has a fantasy in his mind as what it would be, since he is clearly clueless about the actual state of the field, the actual body of evidence that exists.

My notion of a “volunteer” was not a Russian tinkerer with a teapot in his apartment, which apparently is seen as quite convincing in many circles.

Pseudoskeptics never miss a chance to poke people they think are “believers.” That Russian was an experienced physicist (not merely a “tinkerer,” which would create an incorrect impression, and his approach was quite interesting, but … unfortunately, his analysis was punk and he did not take the necessary steps to rule out artifacts, and failed to notice that his data appeared to be internally contradictory. He was in over his head, and was overwhelmed by the response. He wasn’t ready to publish, but he interacted with the Open Science crowd and the results were not pretty. I have not reviewed his most recent work, but the early work was … not ready for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, outside of the walled-garden JCMNS. Don’t get me wrong: JCMNS is filling an important role, but its acceptance standards are not rigorous, it doesn’t have the process and support for that, apparently. To move ahead, major work must be published in the “journal system,” preferably high-impact journals.

This is why I suggested major laboratories like NIST and NREL (among others) for the task. Such places and others are quite capable of doing the work needed. Or are these hundreds of replications you keep referencing all at places with unique and wildly-expensive apparatus that cannot be duplicated even at national laboratories?

Again, what work? Measuring some heat? That could be done about anywhere, and that is part of Jed’s point. This is well-known and understood science. Jed has claimed that for about $10,000, one could set up a replication. But what to replicate? Some of the protocols are unreliable. The material is crucial. What Jed was referring to was a collection of papers, and, no, not wildly expensive apparatus, necessarily, but also, some of it, quite sophisticated and some quite expensive. Mass spectrometers that can resolve 4He from D2 are not cheap. Doesn’t this guy know that work has been done at the various Naval Research Laboratories? Doesn’t he know that SRI is a major research laboratory, with high reputation, and that SIR was engaged by EPRI to investigate cold fusion — and later SRI continued with other contracts. Does he think that the result of those investigations was negative? Indeed, does IO know what the U.S. DOE reviews both concluded, what they actually recommended, other than cherry-picked quotes that he might find on Wikipedia?

Somehow the flow of logic in these debates is never very good. On the one hand, LENR is terribly arcane and requires very time-consuming and expensive efforts to pull off. Yet, hundreds of people everywhere manage to do it all the time.

Basically, he doesn’t understand the situation, and so he misreads what is being written. The established LENR is with PdD, mostly electrolytic, and PdD work is famously difficult. It is not that the experiments themselves are so terribly hard — though they require serious expertise in electrochemistry, and physicists have commonly done dumb things like getting the cathode and anode reversed (actually an easy mistake for a physicist to make!) — it is that it was not well known, and is still arcane, how to obtain cathode material that works. Someone who wants to experiment with PdD had better be prepared for an extensive process, it doesn’t necessarily work the first time. There are approaches being developed that may overcome this. Storms claims that active cathodes can be re-used and work immediately, but this has not yet been confirmed.

No, “hundreds of people” do not  manage to “do it all the time.” If IO actually thought about and checked out  Jed’s claims, he’d know that Jed is talking about an accumulated record of work done since 1989. That’s 27 years. In 2009, Rothwell wrote a review document. It gives an idea of the nature of the literature, as was apparent then, 8 years ago.

And still, none of them can show someone else how to do it.

Except they have. This ought to be obvious. If IO started to actually read what has been done, he would not make so many dumb statements like this.

Yet, people say it has been definitely proven to work at major institutions. And yet, none of those institutions will stand up and vouch for the existence of the phenomenon; only individual researchers claim the results and follow-on funding doesn’t happen.

Except they have. And follow-up funding does happen. Not always, and some funding has been looking for short-term practical applications and when those don’t appear to be forthcoming, funding has been shut off. IO, with the question that this thread was started with, does not seem to realize that there is funding. He imagines that a bunch of ‘cold fusion believers’ are sitting around complaining about lack of funding and blaming some conspiracy theory. Well, some are still complaining, because for years, funding was very difficult. It is not difficult now, apparently. If there is a worthy project, one likely to advance scientific knowledge — not just a stab in the dark — and if the researchers can convince sources that they will handle funding well — it can be funded. Projects to apply cold fusion for energy generation are a long time in the future, my opinion, but at any time, that could shift.

 And that part is supposed to make sense? Why should successful research on an entirely new physical phenomenon that could potentially change the world not attract more funding? And so we are back to silly conspiracy theories.

IO doesn’t know the history. That’s common with pseudoskeptics, exceptions are rare. There was politics involved in 1989. Really, he should read the history, it’s been covered by many, from journalists like Taubes to sociologists of science like Simon. Before he will learn, though, IO will probably have to realize just how ignorant he is. I do recommend the Taubes video interview. Taubes knows the difference between knowing fact and history and operating on information cascades and ignorance.

Short answer: it shouldn’t be the way it has been. Successful research, scientifically, was released by 1991, confirming the effect and identifying the ash. Before 1991, millions of dollars were spent in a rushed effort to confirm Pons and Fleischmann, and mostly it was wasted. After 1991, that work (Miles) was confirmed, but it was not given any substantial priority, and that is not only from outside the field, it is also from inside. Why? Isn’t that a great question? Maybe we will answer it, but, bottom line, it doesn’t matter why it didn’t happen, what matters now is what is possible now, and it is happening now.

I suppose being part of “a community” has its rewards, but sharing the illusion that LENR has been proven to exist and is only held back by nefarious (or stupid) forces is exceedingly counterproductive.

I’ll agree in that it would be. But who holds that opinion? What is being expressed here is a firm opinion that LENR has not been proven to exist. Based on what knowledge, what study, what survey?

I could agree, depending on the definition of “proven.” What does that mean? Proven beyond a shadow of doubt? No, that would not be a useful definition and, in fact, the standard I’d suggest is precisely the standard in civil court: the preponderance of the evidence. And who judges? Someone contemplating investment (or philanthropy). By that standard, LENR is proven, where it counts.

So what “holds LENR back”? Nothing. That’s my position. Nothing is holding us back but inertia.

And focusing on the path to commercialization of a phenomenon that had not even been convincingly shown to exist is silly at best and has led in the mess created by Andrea Rossi.

I could agree, to a degree, except that for many of those “focusing” it has been convincingly shown to exist, which claim is proven by them being convinced. Does IO propose his own mental state as the standard for all sane people? I hope not!

Some — the Rossi supporters, a dwindling bunch — think that a commercial device has been demonstrated “convincingly.” However, most of us involved with LENR don’t think that, and there is no technology clearly ready for commercialization. Some think maybe Brillouin is, and I will agree, i.e., “Maybe!” But I don’t know that, and most discussion of what LENR will do, if it becomes practical, is air. It is completely obvious that cold fusion might transform energy production, and the idea of what it might look like is attractive: apparently no significant radiation or radioactive products, small-scale reactors likely possible if any are possible, effectively limitless fuel supply, but …. we don’t actually know what it will take, and right now, I assign priority to establishing the science beyond doubt. Not by arguing endlessly, but by facilitating and encouraging the necessary research and publication activity.

I know some people here inexplicably still think there is something good to come out of his scam, but I think the absolute best outcome of the Rossi fiasco is for him to quietly fade into obscurity where he belongs. Anything else will only diminish the chances of truly talented scientists from taking up your “cause”.

IO doesn’t realize that this has already happened. As we educate the public, it will happen more. Meanwhile, there is much to learn from the Rossi affair. The double-edged nature of this is well-known and understood by some of us. My sense is that with some skill, the outcome will be quite good, even excellent. And, yes, as a scam.

I’m a dialectical thinker, so if I say that, I immediately think of the opposite. If Rossi actually has a real technology, that would also be quite good. This is my training: create unconditional excellence.

Sadly, I can imagine 10 years from now having the same round-and-round discussions with Jed Rothwell pointing out the now 358 “replications” that are only visible on his website because apparently all the scientists in the world are “against LENR” and don’t care that it could dramatically improve the world. What do people here imagine might change this state of affairs?

This is obvious: IO doesn’t know what is on lenr-canr.org. Some of the material there is only available from there, but it is mostly papers that have been published elsewhere. Jed has a habit of using “replication” for what are much more commonly confirmations of some LENR effect. Actual replication, for reasons that we could go into, are relatively rare. Much of what is there as to confirmations is published in peer-reviewed journals. Nobody who knows LENR would ever say that “all scientists in the world are against LENR,” only an idiot pseudoskeptic would say that.

I began investigating LENR in 2009 because I was a Wikipedia editor and saw an abusive administrative action. I had no opinion about LENR, other than having seen the news in 1989, and then believing that it had all been a mistake, i.e., the common opinion. However, I started to look at the evidence, in order to work on the article. It was interesting enough that I bought all the major books, something that I ordinarily didn’t do. I bought Taubes and Huizenga and Storms and Simon and Hoffman, and a few other books. I have Park, though he is very shallow. Hoffman came first. Great place to start. Written by a skeptical metallurgist for the American Nuclear Society. Jed thinks that Hoffman was the stupidest person in the world, but there must be more than one stupidest, because I think he also said that about Morrison. And I began communicating with Jed, and Steve Krivit. Krivit seemed the more balanced, Jed was fiery and opinionated. However, long-term, Jed has proven to be the more knowledgeable, by far, and he’s flexible and quite helpful. Engage with him, he doesn’t give up easily. I also started discussions with Storms, and encouraged him to write a heat/helium paper, which he did, but then Naturwissenschaften asked him to write a full review of the field, which I later came to see as a mistake, at least in one way. From another point of view, that was a major review, in 2010, matched only by the later Current Science special issue in 2015. Edmund Storms, Status of cold fusion (2010). There is a preprint copy on lenr-canr.org.

Really, if IO wants to be anything more than a troll, he’s got a path forward: become familiar with the literature, because he’s not.

This discussion on LENR Forum may spark a general review of the field, because there are inquirers who want to know, including serious skeptics. I’m going to stop here, and return tomorrow. The thread gets very interesting.


This post will continue with considering the discussion itself, rather than the explicit topic. As part of this, bits and piece relevant to the topic will come up. My intention is to turn from the discussion, meta-comment, to the topic, but this will be separately done, with far less discussion of persons and personalities and the like. The discussion eventually gets quite interesting. So, starting with what actually happened on LENR Forum, below, I will come back and add links to the next steps.

JedRothwell wrote: ( long answer pointing to references for learning about LENR, but including comments about IO:)

… you are being obtuse. Or block headed. Or a troll.

… scientific papers and books. I suggest you read them, or shut the hell up. You apparently know nothing about this subject. It never looks good when someone blathers on ignorantly about scientific research he knows nothing about.

Spend a few weeks reading and learning. Read some books. Then, perhaps, you will be in a position to judge this field.

Jed did answer every issue (or at least much), but added these personal comments. They are not actually ad hominem arguments. They are frank comments, observations, judgments, from someone who probably knows a thousand times as much about the field than IO. Yet there were certain users approving of IO’s comments. I find that fascinating.

interested observer wrote:

@JedRothwell
Thanks for the bunch of ad hominem comments. After all, I don’t see things the way you do, so I must either be an idiot or evil. I’ve been reading and learning for many years, Jed, and I’m in a perfectly good position to judge this field. And it is filled with people like you who are incapable of supporting their position without personal attacks, which is not helping it one bit.

In fact, Jed did respond to most of what IO had written, substantively. In return, IO argues purely ad hominem, with a distortion of what Jed had written. I agree with Jed: it is not “idiot” or “evil,” which are words or concepts Jed did not use, but “obtuse,” block headed,” or a “troll,” words he did use. So, here we have Jed Rothwell, who has been serving the field as a librarian (and philanthropist, if I’m correct) for way over two decades, who does respond substantively, and who is a real person using his real name, responsible for what he says (and he has made mistakes and has even admitted them), vs an anonymous … troll might be a simple summary, though the other possibilities exist.

Let me put it this way: the way he came in swinging at LENR and all who support it, and showing, through many, many errors, that he wasn’t familiar with the field — or didn’t care about accuracy — leads me to conclude that he was poking and provoking, and if he did not realize that it would have that effect, he was a blockhead. Now, the general issue of validation of LENR is of interest, and it will go that way, but I notice that the approval of this last post was only by Mary Yugo. A troll.

This continued. Jed added more and IO continued to harp on “ad hominem” as his main argument. I’m right because you are using Ad hominem, which is ad hominem ad hominem.

IO continued, with no depth, about his idea that LENR is based on “faith.”

Axil comes in with an obscure comment about Holmlid, CERN, and muons. Any substance here? I couldn’t find it. (and I did search).

Barty’s post about keeping to the topic, explicitly Rossi v. Darden developments, was apparently moved with the rest to the Validation topic. Brilliant. (This was slapdash moderation, not carefully done.)

A decent response from AlainCo.

can wrote:

@JedRothwell
Russ George has reported in a blog post that Martin Fleischmann once told him that the density of the hydrogen loaded into the 1cm palladium cube that famously made a hole in his laboratory exceeded that of metallic hydrogen.

[…] Martin noted that the measure of the density (fugacity) of the heavy hydrogen isotope deuterium electrochemically loaded into palladium surely exceeded that of metallic hydrogen. Indeed he mused to me the calculations based on his measurements put the density of that heavy hydrogen as being well beyond metallic and similar to the density of hydrogen inside the center of a star!

This was totally weird. Russ George is not a reliable witness, for starters. There is a whole issue of the difference between fugacity and density, and without addressing fugacity, the density of hydrogen in palladium (i.e., how close the atoms are to each other) is less than the density in ordinary liquid hydrogen. I’m not doing the math right now, but one could figure this out: highly loaded palladium is 1:1 palladium:hydrogen. For a first approximation, the number of atoms of deuterium in that cube would be equal to the number of atoms of palladium in it. Definitely not “well beyond the metallic,” but, in some ways, similar. Imagine a metal, an alloy of palladium and deuterium, that is highly loaded PdD. As to the “density of hydrogen in the center of a star,” that depends on the star. However, no, the density of hydrogen in PdD is not similar to the density of hydrogen under those conditions, though it is much more than ordinary hydrogen gas. The density of the solar core is about 40 g per cm^3. That is not enormous, merely being less than three times higher than the density of liquid hydrogen. The temperature however, is about 15 million C. Something that is often not realized is that the fusion rate in the sun is fairly low, but … it’s big!

Fleischmann made the mistake of associating cold fusion with hot fusion, and if he did say something like this to Russ George, he was simply repeating the error. PdD conditions are unusual, but …. not enough to create fusion by density and the like. The reaction Martin found was almost certainly not ordinary fusion, and the associations made with it confused nearly everyone.

I don’t know whether this exchange actually happened, but if so much hydrogen could be loaded inside a Pd sample, simply weighting it could at the very least be able to demonstrate that something very unusual is going on, without excess heat or nuclear products.

While I would not call highly loaded palladium deuteride an “ordinary material,” — it does not occur in nature — the weight of deuterium in such is not much. People are not doing the math, too many, and just repeating what they have read somewhere. Loading is measured in many experiments, but generally indirectly (so that loading can be measured without removing the cathode), by known changes in resistance from loading, and this has then been confirmed by weighing. Doing this in situ would involve many difficulties that apparently are not realized here.

There is no sign of “something unusual” in the weight of palladium deuteride. It is true that it was thought, before 1989, that 70% was the maximum loading, and the early replication failures seem to have only reached about 70%, and from what was later found, they would be expected to fail, the effect not showing up, at least not initially, until roughly 90% loading. Reaching the higher loading took special material and special procedures, in those early experiments, and the physicists who were generally those attempting replication were mostly clueless.

THHuxleynew wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

I think the more relevant question would be: what is the signal to noise ratio in the best experiments. The answer is: very high. [etc.]

I would say than anyone who questions the results at SRI, China Lake, Toyota or the other leading labs knows nothing about calorimetry. No one has written a serious scientific paper giving any reason to question these results. The closest thing we have is Morrison versus Fleischmann, which is a farce:

http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/Fleischmanreplytothe.pdf

Plus we have Shanahan and a few others, which is tin-foil-helmet class crackpot science. This is the Deus ex machina school of Just So Story science, where a magical factor fairy appears out of nowhere when you use deuterium instead of hydrogen. Clap to keep Tinkerbell alive!

Since skeptics have not shown a viable reason to doubt these results, and since the techniques are all mainstream and the calorimeters have been in use since 1780, 1840 and 1900 (for different types), I would say the skeptics do not have a leg to stand on.

Jed, as a skeptic, I have several legs to stand on. They have been rehearsed here before, so I will not repeat, but I’m always willing to justify comments in detail on another thread when it comes to documented specifics. It comes down, as I remember it, to you judging papers, or series of experiments, to be capable of only one interpretation and me pointing out alternates, which you dismiss. You seem to criticise skeptics for having imprecise non-LENR error mechanisms while the alternate LENR hypothesis, which is even vaguer, you accept.

Now, it could be that my uncertainty here is pseudo-skepticism. It could be that your dismissal of mundane alternates is too hasty and your confidence wrong. We’d need to drill down to the differences in judgement call.

While I understand the positions of both Jed and THH, this is all dancing around. Jed did point to a specific paper, but THH is (correctly) going to wait until there is a thread to deal with specifics. So common on LF threads: discussion goes all over the place and it is very difficult to find consensus with all the noise.

I am not willing to call uncertainty “pseudoskepticism.” Rather a characteristic of pseudoskepticism is certainty. In order to conclude “pseudoskepticism” from uncertainty, I’d need to see a discussion with adequate participation to be sure that the point would have been communicated and that “resistance” was indeed stubborn refusal to see the obvious. Otherwise, it is completely allowed, in my world, to be skeptical until convinced, and it’s fine to remain at least somewhat skeptical forever. At some point in discussions that are allowed to proceed, fixed attachment becomes obvious.

Jed Rothwell wrote:

 

No, it is ignorance. People like Fleischmann, Bockris, Oriani and Yeager were world-class experts in this sort of thing. McKubre is an expert who has devoted decades to this. You may think you know better than these people, but trust me — you don’t.

While this is an appeal to authority, Jed has a point. However, I’m interested in the possibilities, and there are some very interesting ones raised here.

If you think you do know better, I suggest you write a formal paper and have someone like McKubre review it. Be nice to him, and he may do you a favor and shoot it full of holes. You will begin to see how much you do not know. Unless you are a member of the tin-foil-hat brigades, which I do not think is the case. A tin-foil-hat guy such as Shanahan gets his arms and legs cut off like the Black Knight in Monty Python, but he still thinks he won! This paper cuts Shanahan to bits:

http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/MarwanJanewlookat.pdf

The story of Shanahan and that paper has been covered extensively. Shanahan points out a flaw in it, he is practically obsessed by it, but … this is somewhat like the Black Knight pointing out that the King who cut off his arm did not aim quite correctly. We may cover all that again, but right now, the basic challenge here is for THH to do some serious work. McKubre is not really the point, but it is entirely possible that McKubre would review a well-written paper if he has time, but if not, there are others. (Last contact I had with McKubre, he was busy with his family. But I do expect him to return to activity.)  There is also the possibility of joint authorship.

I’ve seen papers written of weight where the authors did not agree with each other, except to treat a topic with care. The results can be spectacular. What I know of THH, he might well be able to do this, for educational purpose. At least I hope so. THH has put in a lot of effort, and he is not  to be compared with a clear pseudoskeptic like IO, and he is at worst, ignorant, which is remediable. Shanahan is interesting as the last standing published cold fusion skeptic, but he is highly reactive and certain of his own fringe theories. He will show up here, and we will look at that. Hope springs eternal, to be sure.

More tomorrow.


THHuxleynew wrote:

JedRothwell wrote: […]

I agree that you are making an appeal to experts, and in principle I’m all in favour of this. But unfortunately you have a very selected group of experts. These are all guys who have gone out on a limb stating they hold a view contrary to the majority. No-one not holding this view will become such a deep expert in the area – it is just too much time. And the number of experts looking at the same evidence and from expertise rejecting it is unknown.

Notice the Catch-22. To understand LENR may require deep expertise. (I do claim otherwise, that a basic understanding does not require all that much, but that there is a lot of noise to wade through. The Catch-22 is that if someone has high experience in the area, they have already gone out on a limb even by investigating it — and are therefore suspect.

Then THH posits an unknown group of experts who have looked “at the same evidence and from expertise” rejected it. This could always be imagined! And how do we distinguish between rejection on evidence and rejection on prior belief?

There is a normal way to tell the difference: peer reviewed reviews of a field. They exist, aplenty. But what do they say? Wikipedia has, for years, rejected material sourced in such, which by policy, would be golden. Even if there is controversy over the issue remaining, a peer-reviewed review of a field, and its conclusions, would normally be “notable.” That is, to be covered, but the Wikipedia cold fusion article is dominated by an editorial faction that rejects such reviews based on the author allegedly being biased, quite the same issue as what THH raises here. Wikipedia policy, however, looks to publishers, not authors.

Personally, I like appeals to experts: but they must be made taking all circumstances into account, including the fact that over even issues that are settled science (e.g. global warming) you get some experts who have views that are outliers far from the rational judgement.

Of course. If I want to reject Anthropogenic Global Warning, I may find such experts and present them. But I just pointed to a study of expert opinion, looking at articles published by all experts, using an objective standard. 97% of the experts were on the AGW side, it is clear that there is a consensus of experts. In the 2004 DoE review, there were 18 experts in related fields. Half of them considered the evidence for an anomalous heat effect “conclusive.” That’s a shallow way of stating a result. The opposite of “conclusive” is not “rejected.” Then a third of them considered the evidence of a nuclear origin for the heat to be “convincing” or “somewhat convincing.”

Now, given the major significance of LENR, that it was very much unexpected, I would expect all those who did not consider the AHE evidence conclusive to then not find nuclear origin “convincing”!

The DoE review asked the questions or assembled the opinions in a way that was then misinterpreted. But the review process was flawed and it is completely clear that crucial evidence, somewhat buried in the mass of relatively vague nuclear claims, was not just missed, it was drastically misunderstood. Clear evidence of heat/helium correlation was interpreted, erroneously, to be anti-correlation, through misreading of the Case Appendix.

Had the evidence been understood, it’s not clear how the review would have shifted. It is obvious that some reviewers were not going to accept AHE if it burned them on the nose. And then … what happened? Research was recommended. Did it take place? Not much. One of the flaws in the 2004 Review is that there was no specific proposal to review. It was vague, looking for a general approval in a field where there is a mass of vague results and sometimes overblown implications. THH will come to some of this.

THH refers to “the rational judgment.” This must mean, to him, the judgment of the majority. Majority of what? In science, it is the majority of those who study and write papers, and the majority of published papers. THH, however, appears to have rejected this standard, considering, then, all those who have published and all those editors and peer reviewers to be biased, not “rational.” Comments like this have led me to suggest a pseudoskeptical edge. They might as well be trolling Jed.

As far as your weight of numbers argument there are some issues that partly (in my view could be totally) nullify it. These are:

Nullify is a conclusion. Is THH an expert witness?

(1) selective reporting. Null experiments are much less often reported than positive ones. Sure, if a group has funding for specific work they will publish it null or positive. But if looking for excess heat in Pd-D systems or whatever they are likely, given a null result, to try different things until they get a positive result. They will not necessarily report all of the null attempts – especially if they rationalise these as experimental error.

This is the file drawer effect and it is a serious problem. It is a problem with many reports, which only report “successful” results. Real science reports results, period. However, some significant studies report all results, including the “failures.” The file drawer effect could explain an imbalance in reporting. There are sociological factors operating as well. (In a field suffering from reputation problems, nobody wants to contribute to “bad reputation.”)

However, increasingly, negative results are being reported, which is progress. From my sense of the field, the file drawer effect is inadequate to explain the plethora of “positive results.” With a chaotic or difficult-to-control effect, it is expected that there will be many negative results, and those who report all experiments generally report a certain level of “failure.” The balance of reports when they are divided into “positive” and “negative,” then, is not of major significance. I think Jed overstates the matter, though it’s his right.

Negative reports, generally, will not make it past editorial and peer review. The real function they serve, however, is to show the variability in the effect. Coolessence has had a series of negative results, in spite of extended effort. Why? What are they doing that is different? Anything? Are they simply unlucky? Or are the original reports in error? This is all being carefully examined. It’s important, it is possible that more will be learned from a “negative result” than from a confirmation. That is, eventually learned. We now know enough to look back at the early negative replications and say, with confidence, why they “failed.” They were demonstrating, in fact, aspects of the necessary conditions for the reaction, most notably loading ratio. None of those early experiments reached the loading ratio later found to be necessary. So the “negative replications” actually confirm what later came to be known.

(2) systematic error. Good experimental protocols, and sensible calorimetry that leads to positive results, will naturally spread. If there is some undetected systematic error in these protocols applied to that calorimetry it will be replicated making multiple results of no more value than one. Normally, in science, the effects detected are predictive and even if how much the effects happens is variable there are parameters that can be predicted and aligned with theory. That cross-validation saves results from this type of error. In LENR there is almost no such cross-validation.

No, it exists. There is less than I’d like to see, to be sure, but “almost no” is a loaded qualifier that neglects what has actually been done. In any case, THH identifies the clear exception:

The exception (to lack of cross-validation) is Abd’s championed He/xs heat correlation.

This is not the only example of “cross-checks.” It is, however, the clearest and strongest and the most difficult to explain away by “systematic artifact.” Shanahan has claimed that correlation is meaningless because the data could be wrong. That’s circular. It’s also a basic error. We know, generally, to trust data when correlations are clear, and not easily explained except by an actual connected effect. Correlation is statistical in nature. It is not “rigorous proof,” but that doesn’t really exist outside of mathematics, with its set of axioms and strict logical process.

He and I take a different view about the strength of the current evidence for such correlation.

That, of course, is subjective. I will suggest that it could be of interest that I was able to convince an initially very negative peer reviewer with that evidence. Yes, my paper is flawed in certain ways, most notably by presenting a plot of the Case experiment, when that’s actually an outlier, with confusing and confounding differences. But the editors wanted eye candy. I wanted to compile better eye candy, but this was much more difficult than I had time for. Storms has complied a restricted set of the data I’d have wanted to show; I wanted to do that for all reports, not just selected ones. It would show the outliers. This is part of real science, it shows variation.

(Ideally, results would be shown from an extensive series of identical experiments. That is not generally what has happened with cold fusion, and the historical reasons for this deficit are reasonably clear. That is, I hope, being remedied now. Yes, if there is a systematic artifact, it could be reproduced, so additional experiments, identical except for a single control variable, would be performed, to look for and attempt to prove such artifacts. However, what artifact would explain a strong heat/helium correlation? There are possible artifacts that can explain some errors in measuring heat — that is quite controversial — and there possible artifacts that could explain some helium results — though not all, as far as I’ve seen — but what could explain a strong, linear correlation between heat and helium, where “heat” does not mean “temperature.” The temperature difference is generally only a few degrees C.)

However Abd and I both certainly reckon that getting better evidence of this (or lack of better evidence in well-conducted experiments that should from setup provide better evidence) would be valuable. You, I’m less sure because you reckon there is no question of non-chemical level effects here anyway from other work.

The comment is to Jed. The main chemical effect proposed is unexpected recombination, or shifts in the location of recombination. Shanahan generally is claiming unexpected recombination at the cathode. That claim matches the evidence poorly or not at all. As an example, one of the Storms experiments Shanahan has covered had two calibrations, and one of them involved a resistor near the recombiner. He also calibrated with electrolytic power. I have studied this in the past, and Shanahan neglected the resistor calibration. Why? It appears that Shanahan was looking for something to criticize, and then believing his conclusions so strongly that he overlooked contrary evidence. It gets worse in his Journal of Environmental Monitoring Letter. He actually presented evidence for correlation there, but because of misreading what he was examining, he calculated an anticorrelation.

(Shanahan named his idea “Calibration Constant Shift,” which is not exactly wrong, but might as well have been calculated to mislead electrochemists, and thus the misinterpretation of his claims in the JEM response. He is not actually talking about a CCS as this would ordinarily be understood; rather, it’s obvious: a cell may have different calibration constants for different locations of heat generation — and with some experimental arrangements, the shift that Shanahan posits would have little or no effect.)

So given the work in hand now, it seems possible that new experimental data will allow both of us to reconsider views.

Yes. That’s the idea, and that is the proper goal of skepticism.

Otherwise my general points contradict your general points leaving a stalemate.

How is “stalemate” judged? There is a lost performative here. “According to whom”? This entire conversation posits a limited conversation, in a zero-sum game. However, generally, I consider THH a “friendly skeptic,” even if sometimes showing attachment to beliefs of his own. THH is, I expect, coachable. He is not Mary Yugo, nor is he Joshua Cude.

Looking in more detail at the Shanahan/Morrison/others arguments might in principle help, and can be done by mathematically literate non-experts such as, possibly, I and you.

Yes. It’s been done, but to the extent that it was done on LENR Forum, the result has been a farrago of contradictions and irrelevancies, with some real work mixed in. This present discussion is still like that, but we will, I declare, then see what can be grown from it.

Or a few others here. It requires a good deal of patience and the ability to stay focussed on one little agreed part of the picture, because at the level of detailed inspection needed to validate contrary arguments we need time enough to read references, check maths, etc. that makes it unfeasible to check a large amount of different stuff. Without that detail it is likely that judgements will be made in line with current views.

Yes. The Forum format discourages this. We will use Pages here, seeking consensus presentations. In consensus organizations, decisions will be made by supermajority, but the minority will always be able to present a minority report. No matter is ever totally closed. If THH asks for it, I will give him Author privileges here. This will be fun.

I’m not rejecting a detailed look at your referenced material. Some of it I have already studied to some degree, though I find I can always get more out of stuff coming back to it, and I would not say i have got to the bottom of it. But my judgement of these matters would convince neither me nor you. My judgement of a set of contrary arguments from experts, of claimed experts, would convince me, if I spent enough time doing it, but possibly not you. You have stated that the issue is my ignorance, but you phrased this in a way that makes me not willing to accept your relative experience, because you believe it not plausible for this group of experts to be mistaken, and base your judgments on that. I differ from you in that.

Jed is looking at the conclusions of people who have studied the field, and THH has already given an excuse for there not being experts who present opposite conclusions. This would be like global warming deniers claiming that there is a “silent majority” of “experts” who disagree with the apparent (and strong) majority. However, then, if something is missing, supply it! THH is perfectly capable of writing critiques good enough to be publishable. He knows it’s a lot of work. However, is the investment worthwhile? LENR could be a trillion dollar question. There is a shortage of genuine skeptics. How about he steps up to the plate? I can ensure that any real questions he raises will come to the attention of in-field experts. I have done this in the past with much less than he might be able to create, and got answers. If nothing else, then, the issues become clear, and there are possibilities to be specifically tested, instead of the terminally vague “they must be doing something wrong.”

Those negative expert reviews don’t exist. Shanahan’s critique was of a peer-reviewed review in a mainstream journal. It was published only as a Letter, and contained major errors. It was answered in the same issue, and Shanahan was left sputtering that the editors would not allow him further response. Storms wrote a review, published in Naturwissenschaften, Status of cold fusion (2010). There has been only one published response, that of Krivit, who was critiquing details. And the pseudoskeptics cite a dozen excuses to reject that review, but have apparently not submitted any review that was accepted in any journal. There are journals which will publish articles on cold fusion, and which have also published critiques.

There are a few critiques published of specific findings, written by authors who accept LENR as legitimate. There is no overall expert review that rejects LENR. The last DoE review certainly did not reject LENR, even though it has often been framed that way.

One of the best demonstrations of what happens when a skeptical reviewer takes the time to look at the evidence is what happened with Robert Duncan and CBS Sixty Minutes. Now, we all know that even experts can be deceived. But the norm in science is to look at what is being published in peer-reviewed journals. It is reasonable to except and set aside, at least temporarily, “walled garden journals” like JCMNS. However, Current Science is not a walled garden, and all the articles in the Special Section on LENR had to go through normal peer review, not merely the special section editorial review by Meulenberg and Srinivasan, who are cold fusion theorists or researchers, but also independent review. The quality of that may have varied! Mine was tough, he hated my paper at first, until I rewrote it to better convey the evidence.

However, where are the responses? That was February, 2015. Have any been submitted?

No account of any rejected response, or stonewalled response, has been supplied, anywhere that I have seen. Shanahan is still sputtering, essentially a die-hard.

That’s telling. Something shifted in the field. Morrison at one point proclaimed that cold fusion was dead. Morrison is dead, and it appears that if there were any skeptical experts remaining, they are also dead or not active.

Richard Garwin said to CBS, “They say there is no doubt. Well, I doubt.” Q.E.D.! However, Richard was responding to a straw man. Some say there is no reasonable doubt. Is Garwin’s doubt “reasonable”? He was reduced to “they must be making some mistake,” which is somewhat similar to THH’s position, though I think he is a bit more open than that. He is claiming that some doubt may remain because some possible artifacts have not been completely ruled out, or he thinks that.

All too often, the issue has been presented as if evidence for LENR must be “beyond doubt.” That’s a criminal standard, not a civil one.

So at least one leg that THH is standing on is dead. However, THH could supply it, and that is what Jed was actually suggesting. Write the damned review! Or at least respond to Bad Science in the journals. It’s probably too late to respond to Storms, Naturwissenschaften remained cross-disciplinary, but now only with life sciences being one of the disciplines. They might publish something significant on biological transmutation, though, if it is submitted and passes review.

THH has already invested a great deal of time in his commentary (only a small part of this has been as “THHuxleynew.”) He can accomplish more with less. Focus, he said the magic word.

More, much more, will come.

Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax

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

20 thoughts on “Validity of LENR Science”

  1. You wrote:

    “Tritium is found, but roughly about a million times down from naive expectation. Neutrons, also, but about a million times down from tritium. These are not good evidences, they are circumstantial only (even though someone like Jed Rothwell will argue that they are convincing. Maybe.)”

    Tritium yes, neutrons no. I do not know much about either BUT experts (especially Ed Storms) tell me: Neutrons can be produced at these low levels by known mechanisms, especially fractofusion. Highly loaded cathode material is under tremendous strain from electrochemical forces. It sometimes fractures. This could be the cause of the neutrons. I said “could be” — not that it surely is. Neutrons may have a prosaic source, so even if they are real they may not indicate a novel nuclear effect.

    This may also be a problem with studies of neutrons from rocks shattered under pressure.

    As you note, tritium has been found at much higher levels that neutrons, measured against the expected value from plasma fusion. In some studies there has been only a little tritium. This might be contamination from heavy water, perhaps concentrated by electrolysis. Those are iffy experiments. In other cases tritium has been detected at levels far too high to be contamination or concentration, with many blank experiments showing no tritium. Such as Storms, Bockris and especially F. Will:

    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/WillFGtritiumgen.pdf

    Bockris (listed under Chien):

    http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/ChienCConanelectr.pdf

    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/BockrisJdoestritiu.pdf

    Every expert I have heard from, and every paper on the subject I have read says that results such as these are definitive. Again, that does not mean that all positive tritium studies are definitive.

    1. Thanks, Jed. I wrote “not good evidences.” I have changed that to “not conclusive evidences.” Yes, the tritium evidence is strong enough to show something nuclear happening, my opinion, but what? I decided to focus on heat/helium because it brings together a nuclear product with the heat, and the correlation cuts through the noise. I hope much more work is done with tritium, though controlling NAE is probably a stronger priority.

  2. So: just some summary points on this discussion.

    (1) Abd has answered some of my points in his main article now, with arguments that cohere. However, they do not change my views, because they do not raise matters that I have not previously considered. Abd’s post gives the impression of a lack of symmetry – in that he would appear to believe he has a more complete and considered view of this specific matter than mine, and his arguments would seem to be more telling. Therefore, he argues, where I have contrary views I perhaps have a pseudoskeptic (faith-like, in this context) attachment to them. I see a symmetry here. I can (and would elsewhere – see below for the necessary conditions) reply to Abd’s reasonable comments with reasonable comments of my own giving opposite conclusions. Should I therefore be symmetrical in my summary of Abd’s stance – and reckon that his complete negation (in counter-argument) of my points implies a faith-like fixity of viewpoint? That would be very unhelpful to this discussion – nor am I willing to think that of Abd. But I get the sense here that on the soft evidence there may well be very different views that are difficult to move because there is a lack of real relevant data.

    (2) The form of debate on this page I find difficult, because it is inherently non-linear. LENR forum for all its faults provides a linear thread of comment, with easy access, which can work well when drilling down to specifics and replying to other comments. Here, what I’d really like is to follow up each unresolved issue in a linear format and its own place.

    (3) In this area of judgement, where hard data is not present, it is inherently difficult to weigh arguments. I’d find it interesting to catalog the various arguments (much as in the AGW debate some sites do) with a summary. Unlike the AGW debate where for nearly all of these contentious argument there is hard fact that supports specific interpretation – not 100%, because AGW relates to hypotheses still underdetermined by science to date, but enough to make the fringe skeptical opinions clearly unlikely – in this debate the hard fact does not exist for many of the arguments. Of course, the way to test that is to evaluate such an argument with hard facts attached. This is difficult. For example, over excess heat, there are very many experiments, each with different issues, and coming to a group judgement not possible unless the effects of selection and systematic error can be weighed. That just does not seem possible to me which is why I find it more illuminating to drill down into specific papers looking at all the evidence. So we get a catalog of arguments, but it will be written differently by those of different views. You’d in many cases need to leave at least two different summaries unresolved.

    (4) My current view of Shanahan’s arguments is that I don’t know whether they specifically apply to LENR experiments. They certainly could so apply to many. Shanahan tends not to be interested in the limits of applicability of his ideas, which I dislike. Equally Jed and on evidence this page Abd seem not to be interested in the extent of applicability of his ideas, which I also dislike. For me the fascination is exactly in delineating that applicability however large or small it is. And the chances of its being either 0 or 100% – given that the ideas pass basic sanity checking – seem low to me. One proviso though is that if I look more deeply into it I may discover some killer problem not raised (or perhaps raised and not fully understood by me) by the many people here who dismiss Shanahan’s work.

    (5) Perhaps Abd could progress the debate here by enumerating the areas of LENR evidence that are critiqued by the (experienced and knowledgable) LENR community. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if I read, from those who believe LENR is very important – as those who think it probably exists must do, a normal variation in opinion with detailed and serious doubts about the relevance of given experiments, with reasons. That would help reviewers from outside to identify material that was relatively stronger, and also show that groupthink did not suppress the process of scientific debate within the LENR community. I am myself unclear as to what an LENR expert would consider the strongest evidence. Jed’s contribution to this has not yet helped me, though the McKubre isoperibolic series report (with high apparent excess heat) looks a good place for me to start since there is available much detail and Jed identifies it as being specifically convincing. I’m not certain that others would agree with Jed.

  3. Post updated beginning at http://coldfusioncommunity.net/validity-of-lenr-science/#03/06/2017

    (in this case some weird glitch deleted the link target. That’s been fixed. Maybe I should use visible section headers with an id field, that way one could also find the page position with a text search….)

    The goal of update notice comments is so that people receiving notifications will see a major edit. I think I should test the RSS feed/email notification, I haven’t.

  4. Hi Abd
    You said I.H may have given
    up on Rossi except for cleanup.
    Can you tell me how J.T.
    Vaughn has not been fired from I.H. for his screw ups
    with Rossi since he runs I.H.
    Or if Mr Weaver reads this he
    could comment.

    Regards
    Sam

    1. I don’t see any “screw-ups.” I’ve seen no gap between Vaughn and Darden. While IH has never commented on what they were doing, other than what is filed in Rossi v. Darden (and briefly in the press release in April, 2015), I have inferred it, and Dewey has more or less confirmed it. They set out to do something and they succeeded. Their mission was not fixed to some particular scenario, but created possibilities, which is what I’m trained to do, and so I easily recognize it. If Rossi had delivered what he promised, they would already be fabulously wealthy.

      I’d have predicted industrial products on the market, easily by now. Remember Rossi was claiming to have this, already, in 2011! There was nothing that prevented Rossi from marketing devices in Europe, for example. The only excuse I could see is that Rossi was “tied up” with IH, spending his time personally. However, if the Rossi technology depends on the personal presence of Rossi, it is not a developed technology at all. It’s still a secret that he will not reveal to anyone, including his own “team.” Or, of course, it’s a fraud.

      I don’t know that Vaughn is an “employee” of IH, to be fired like you imagine, Sam. He is a major investor.

      IH became, in 2015, wholly-owned by IHHI, and you can see the list of investors on the British web site for IH Holdings International, Ltd. You can see the financial statement. They are doing quite well, thank you. So why in the world should Vaughn be fired, for executing a plan that, obviously, Darden approved? — and that resulted in major increased investment? (Not from Rossi technology, almost the opposite. Holding a hedge, though, would be piece of how they made that safe.) The plan: do whatever Rossi wants, “within reason.” Don’t accuse him of anything. Keep your mouth shut about his obvious lunacies. Sam, have you read the Rossi Hydro Fusion email from 2012? IH could see him, he was completely visible. They knew what they were doing. They stuck a clothes pin on their nose and went ahead.

      It is possible, then, for legal reasons, that IH may not be able to recover their existing investment. They are fully prepared for that. It’s a risk that they consciously took on in 2012. I find the law on this a bit obscure, so I doubt that IH would be able to win a summary judgment for damages, that part of Rossi v. Darden will probably have to go to trial, unless Rossi will settle and IH accepts it. (I consider it likely that IH will move and will prevail for summary judgment on the Rossi claims.)

      (It is also possible that IH will, in fact, win, at trial, a judgment against Rossi, and with a bit lower probability, against Johnson. Fabiani and Bass, even lower, but the decision to pursue the last two, I’d leave to the lawyers. That’s their professional expertise, and the popular idea of lawyers as greedy for fees is probably based on shallow experience. I’ve seen the reverse: lawyers do want to be paid, and well, but will attempt to earn that by avoiding unnecessary litigation. I think that Jones Day has made a few mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes. Even the best professionals.)

      1. Hi Abd
        Maybe replace and not fired.
        Or they could have hired
        someone better suited to
        work with A.R.
        I still think in the end we
        are going to find this was
        a big part of the partnership
        failure.

        Regards
        Sam

  5. @Simon.

    There is nothing like getting caught out oneself (and,as often happens, very mystified for a while) to make one sensitive to these non-obvious issues. Of course when you know them they are obvious, but experts are seldom expert in multiple fields…

    Remember also that the issue of RFI on the sensitive TC inputs is much worse, because much less easy to measure, and also less obvious, than the issue of input power mismeasurement. People don’t realise but high slew-rate large edges are always rectified to DC by amplifiers due to asymmetric slew-rate limiting. You can get round this by using good RF practice everywhere in your nominally DC amplifying chain, but people usually don’t – because high power RFI made of high slew-rate edges is not so common. These can creep in through any bit of metal not isolated in a Faraday cage (= metal box in this case) with feedthrough caps and LPF resistors on all connections through the cage. You can get effects from this stuff on supply lines or (worse) earth as well as signal lines.

    I don’t want to say these issues are killers, they are not. But they are not normally found in calorimetry and require the right specialist attention. Hence I view is quite likely they are missed by both Brillouin and SRI – especially because surely if they have checked this (which is quite complex to be sure you have controlled it) they would say that they did,and there is no such statement.

    1. 1. The SRI report on Brillouin is not “scientific.” It’s a technical report from SRI-as-consultant to Brillouin, but it’s written very strangely for that purpose.’
      2. SRI has not, to my mind, been proven as a scientific consulting laboratory since the departure of McKubre.
      3. The Brillouin SRI report does not show any official SRI sign-off.
      4. I consider all work that involves secret formulas or protocols to be commercial, not scientific, because there are intrinsic difficulties with replication. They are “news.” The best they can do is to attract investors who will presumably, then, do due diligence. I used to assume that this had happened with IH and Rossi. That’s how it looked! But, in fact, Rossi had been, with IH, the same as with everyone else. Everyone else backed out when he wouldn’t show the beef. Or he disappeared.
      5. So Brillouin is interesting, as a claim to their present state of research, at least along one line. But I would never cite Brillouin as any kind of scientific proof of LENR. If it were truly important, I suppose I’d be in extensive conversations with them. I’m not, though it could easily happen. For my purposes, it’s not important.
      6. (If there is a standard product available, involving secrets, it could be independently tested, as a “black box.” Yes, as pointed out by Simon, the power supply could be within the calorimetric envelope, and there are other ways (probably easier) to test the power in that signal, which could be reported. It would require NDAs, properly negotiated.

      All this would require money. Who is going to provide it? Basically, the investors. It’s their money and if they are not supervising it, they are in a possible Rossivent. I wish them well. (Disclosure: I’ve been supported to a degree by an investor in Brillouin.) I consider the Rossi Affair to be tragic, not “evil” as Gluck imagines.

    2. By the way, Parkhomov famously faked some data. Why? Well, his recording system was on a laptop computer, and the battery was running down, so he lost some temperature records. It wasn’t that important, he thought, to his conclusions, which were based on boiler water loss (and how he measured that is another story. Parkhomov used a cobbed-together home system, but did not take the time to make it more precise, which he easily could have done. He was, in fact, just tinkering. And then when he experienced thermocouple failure, quite predictable, he jumped to conclusions and mostly ignored the temperature data.)

      So why was he running the computer on battery? I don’t think he has ever admitted it, and his data falsification was probably created to avoid making it obvious. So I don’t take Parkhomov seriously, sadly, he’s not willing to clearly admit mistakes unless absolutely forced to. He was probably running on battery because it was the only way he could read the thermocouple data. These were from a thermocouple in the middle of a heating coil, powered by an AC signal, which would then be induced in the thermocouple wiring, and to avoid most of this, he floated the data acquisition system, allowing him to make readings. He probably still had considerable noise.

      Any electronics engineer would see this immediately. Right? Parkhomov wasn’t an electronics engineer, he was a physicist. This is why the best papers should be read by multiple experts before publication. Not taking the time for careful review, Pons and Fleischmann made some major mistakes about neutron detection in their first paper. When that was demolished, they had egg all over their faces, distracting from their primary finding, excess heat. Really, their first announcement should not have mentioned the word “nuclear,” and if someone had asked, they would have said, “Interesting idea, but we don’t have enough evidence for that. We have some anomalous heat of unknown origin, and we think this could be of high interest, if confirmed.”)

      Many cold fusion papers were apparently rejected because they did not include an “explanation.” Cold fusion researchers, my opinion, should have strongly resisted that, for primary research papers. Leave that for the secondary reviews. Instead, they tried to include explanations, and papers were then rejected for including preposterous explanations — or so it appeared.

      The rejection cascade created a series of social pathologies. That is all part of the full story.

      Now, we have the opportunity — and apparently the funding — to return to roots, to answer the basic questions that should have been addressed more than 25 years ago, but that were lost in the frenzy. What I see is an opportunity for consensus, and it is already being expressed here and there. Even strong skeptics — pseudoskeptics, really — have agreed that the Texas Tech initiative is the way to go. Real science, increased precision, all that good stuff. My goal is to do what I can to support Duncan et al addressing all reasonably possible artifacts, and communication with them is open, I can ask questions and possibly more. Got any?

      If we find anything here worth rattling their cage over, I will. Some of what they tell me I cannot disclose yet, but I can tell them or ask them *anything*. I make no demands.

    3. THH – I’ve been thinking of the thermocouple problem and how to avoid the EMI errors, since of course with Brillouin the Q-wave is intended to be about as hard to shield as it gets. At the moment the only thing that might pass muster is a bimetallic strip moving one plate of a capacitor, with a coil across it and an oscillator driver. The signal would thus be AC and immune to the interference provided a PLL was used to lock on to the overall frequency. It’s possible you could get the same effect using a correctly-cut Quartz crystal (most such crystals are cut to minimise the temperature effect). You can now put the timing systems for these sensors into a Faraday cage and AFAICT you should be able to rely on them telling the truth in a very noisy environment. Luckily in this application we don’t need to have minute sensors or a very fast response, so they can be in sealed shielded tins. They are there to back up the thermocouples, and tell you if there’s a problem with them.

      Since as you say there is no mention of extreme precautions, you’re most likely right that they weren’t taken.

      I would expect that if there was an effect on the TC amps, then it could be found to exist by switching the Q-wave on and off and seeing the temperature change rate. If there’s a step-function that is faster than the thermal mass could sustain, then it’s almost certainly an induced error and not a real measurement. Even without the severe precautions, therefore, it should be possible to test for the need to take those precautions. If they’d done that test, I’d be surprised if they didn’t mention it.

      There’s thus a possibility of this being a killer, but we don’t know. I hadn’t thought of this before….

      1. It’s handled most easily by calibration. They use compensation calorimetry, a method that should be relatively immune to most artifacts. I went over the paper in detail and intend to publish that, but most comments I made were about the politics and presentation of the document. If there is an EMI error, it should be relatively easy to find, however. I’m not going to describe details. What they actually did, I find difficult to read, the paper does not seem to be well designed to communicate confidence other than “SRI Expert.” It doesn’t read like any SRI report I’ve seen before, but, then again, I’ve never seen an independent Tanzella report before.

        Compensation calorimetry was used by Storms in his recent work. Part of the issue was that he was demonstrating the dependence of XP on temperature, and many isoperibolic studies I have seen make it difficult to see that. He was also looking at how XP continued after electrolysis was shut down (Heat After Death), and to do this, he needed to maintain cell temperature, since the natural cooling rate of the cell was substantially higher than the XP. So he set up compensation calorimetry, which keeps the cell at a controlled temperature, using a separate heater. Very cool, very simple to understand. I think this wasn’t used much because it looks like “power input” to the cell, so there goes the COP! However, maintaining temperature constant is not actually a power input, and it could mostly be done with very good insulation, and then even low XP could maintain the temperature. It isn’t done because that would be, for this class of experiment, a damned nuisance, complicating design and operation. (But, hey, maybe one would see self-sustain!). The resistor was DC powered. So was the electrolysis. No AC involved. This should all be low noise.

  6. Abd – I’d like to expand on your comment about the SRI Brillouin replication.
    This is the famous “moving target” — even though the argument is reasonable. The context was an effective denial that there had been replications, but … the recent SRI report is an obvious exception to that claim. Then there is a possibility of a systematic artifact. Which, of course, could apply to any replication. The replication could even be confirming the artifact, showing that it recurred, and then leading, possibly, to its discovery, if work continues. SRI Brillouin HHT report.

    Abd, you are right that this is a different issue from that of replication. And that skeptics require both issues, and many others, to be covered. But calling it a moving target somehow implies that it is not a valid concern.

    Before I comment on the specific artifact I alluded to, I want to address the issue of replication. The SRI work is valuable in that: (1) they are independent of Brillouin and this therefore excludes errors from one group with direct commercial interest. (2) This apparatus delivered the same results repeatedly in two different locations and over multiple setups. That basically means that with a finite amount of work the claimed effect can be either validated or shown to be artifact. However this type of replication, because it exactly replicates the calorimetry, replicates artifacts. I accept in this case that SRI are competent parties to make the standard elements of the calorimetry safe – they were involved in the original design and so essentially this is their stuff. But I don’t accept that they are immune from being deceived by non-standard aspects of this setup which has over the years been optimised by Brillouin for the effect – whether this is a non-standard artifact or LENR excess heat.

    Which brings us to the matter of artifacts. This, for me at least, is not a moving target. I have noticed that LENR claims sometimes go with an experimental setup that is particularly difficult to validate. The addition of e-m stimulus in the form of pulses with high-power RF content adds enormous complexity to the validation process, because it enables a new class of artifacts which are particularly difficult to diagnose. RFI is just nasty. I know this from personal experience.

    I was aware of the Brillouin work, and immediately remarked this, much earlier. You do not have to take this as evidence, but can understand if true that it makes me sure this is no moving target. I remember there was a remark in some earlier report (sorry I don’t have the reference) describing the effect of the “stimulation” and noting that the excess heat followed this. Indeed. What I noted is that the described stimulus, high power fast pulse edges, was precisely what would give the most severe EMC problems due to rectification of edges. That, for any researcher aware of EMC issues, means that you need a way to distinguish between apparent results caused by pulse rectification in sensitive DC amplifiers, and a genuine temperature change.

    Also – less problematic but an issue if the pulse power is comparable to the claimed excess heat signal – and again correlating exactly with the conditions here – you need to have an accurate way to measure the pulse power when integrating the square of two waveforms with fast edges requires measuring equipment to be up to the job, and the result can be skewed by lead inductance.

    There are ways to deal this – for example you can investigate time constants. You’d expect that any rectified injected DC had a different time constant from temperature variation – which would normally be slower.

    For the power in issue you can (perhaps) have an effect significantly larger than the extra pulse input power. You can bound the errors in measurement by investigating carefully all the circuit parasitics, or you can directly measure the power out from given pulses.

    All this can be argued. And while it will not be seen at first, it is a constant of this type of system and so controlling these potential artifacts is an obvious necessity. In any report claiming extraordinary results therefore, you make it much stronger by addressing these matters. Maybe, in this case, they have been addressed long in the past. In that case however any summary report (such as the SRI Interim Report) would at least note, as additional validation, that these matters had been considered and give a brief statement of how they were addressed though maybe suppress the details as covered elsewhere. Therefore I expect that SRI does not know of any checks in this area. I hope that in a future more complete report they can document such checks – which could be made. Until then this data has a plausible non-LENR explanation.

    I should add that from the SRI data I note they say that shorter pulses give a higher relative power out. That is exactly what you’d expect if the issue is rectification of edges. But there are too many unknown parameters in this experiment, because they measure only part of the generated power, and because the effect of EMC issues will have some unknown dependence on pulse length, to gain any assurance from this – it is just a mild indication.

    I have no idea whether this issue is in fact affecting the described results. But I can argue with confidence that it is a real issue until ruled out, and that I have seen no past report from Brillouin rule this out, nor did this SRI summary refer to such work. Therefore the LENR community, if wishing to have these claims taken seriously, should view this criticism as one that must be addressed and skepticism based on it as valid, not moving goalposts. More generally, there are many possible artifacts, and a proper concern for all of these can seem like moving goalposts when I’d argue it is just proper concern. This relates to the subtle issues of systematic errors, and selection of both experiments and results, that would need a further long post to address.

    if the LENR community can show itself interested in all these issues, and address them, then it will allow them more accurately to distinguish real results from potential artifacts and also mean that the claims of real results (if any exist) are much stronger.

    1. THH – I’d suggest that the problem with measuring the energy in those fast edges, which is as you say a major source of error, could be bypassed by measuring the DC power supplied to the Q-pulse generator. In any case, if the generator is inefficient then there is a problem getting more power out than is put in, anyway.

      I would hope that people wouldn’t rely on the measured Q-pulse power for the reasons you state. Kit lies when you go outside its parameters, and we’ve probably all been bitten by that one. Digital measurements have their own sources of errors, with EMI being one and interpolation between time-steps being another. Using multiple different methods of measurement of the important parameters (for temperature, such as Mercury-in Glass, Alcohol-in-Glass, pressure methods as well as thermocouples or making a cup of tea) gives the cosy feeling that if they all agree then there’s probably no error. It’s still pretty hard to be absolutely certain, though, unless you get your cup of tea several times as fast as using the input power alone.

      I have a pretty high opinion of the integrity of the Brillouin scientists. The inability to scale it up, though, and make a samovar of tea, does allow for a bit of suspicion that the measurements may not be as accurate as they think.

      A personal example of problems in measuring high-voltage and sharp edges, where I thought I’d get around the metering errors, is my attempt to use a Copper calorimeter (sounds good, but it was simply a turned bar with a deep recess, and well-insulated) to measure the energy in the spark by the rate of temperature rise. This gave me an efficiency of turning input power to spark power of around 7% which matched the calculation so I was happy. Use that same spark generator in Hydrogen with a shorter spark-gap and multiple points, though, and its efficiency rises to around 70%, and it took me a while to realise that using control experiments. Red face…. Luckily I took the time to try to prove it wrong.

    2. Abd – I’d like to expand on your comment about the SRI Brillouin replication.
      This is the famous “moving target” — even though the argument is reasonable. The context was an effective denial that there had been replications, but … the recent SRI report is an obvious exception to that claim. Then there is a possibility of a systematic artifact. Which, of course, could apply to any replication. The replication could even be confirming the artifact, showing that it recurred, and then leading, possibly, to its discovery, if work continues. SRI Brillouin HHT report.

      Abd, you are right that this is a different issue from that of replication. And that skeptics require both issues, and many others, to be covered. But calling it a moving target somehow implies that it is not a valid concern.

      I did not imply that. “Moving target” is a social phenomenon. Debater raises concern A, as crucial. Respondent shows error in A. Instead of acknowledging that, Debater moves to concern B. This can proceed down an endless regress, because it is always possible to raise a concern, though some require Rube Goldbergian conditions. This is “moving target.” It does not imply or require that any of the concerns be “invalid.” However, as it can happen, it is ultimately a conversation-killer, it’s not surprising that people get pissed off. Addressing concerns is part of normal discussion process. However, with “moving target,” the goal of the debater is to win, to be right, and to crush the opposing position. The debater has a conclusion in mind, and is finding various ways to push it. Most common: error is never admitted, even when it become obvious to everyone (but the debater?).
      If one is only concerned about the conclusion, which tends strongly to be black and white: reality or bogus? — then comments like “pseudoskeptic” and “believer” and “moving target” are irrelevant. But that is not my primary concern, my primary concern is community and social process, how small to large numbers of people can communicate, cooperate, coordinate, effectively and efficiently. Cold fusion happens to be a topic that I learned about. I am not attached to it being real, but I am sharing what I’ve learned, and that sharing is a necessary part of the community process I have in mind. What I’ve found, however, in person, is that it is relatively easy to establish the major point I make: the desirability of further research, and, as part of that, a generation of full attention to possible artifacts.

      With heat measurements in cold fusion experiments, possible artifacts abound. The LENR Forum discussion is coming to those, to the real issues and questions. IO started out swinging, insulting the entire community, including the entire LENR Forum community. His message is thoroughly boring. But several persons upvoted some of his worst messages, the most deluded. That I find interesting, and anomalous. I investigate anomalies. Mary Yugo was obvious for this, given Mary’s history and stand. Your upvote was anomalous. What does that mean? My training is grounded in “empty and meaningless,” but you may answer.

      This point should be made, though: excess heat tends to be a single measure, and then it might be correlated with conditions. I.e., excess heat has been correlated with input current and with loading ratio. Those are interesting and somewhat increase the probity of results. However, it’s also obvious that both might be associated with some artifact. The claims of mismeasurement of input power wrt SRI are old. I’ve gone deeply into them, as to some of the work. They are unlikely to be real, i.e., the likelihood is that SRI generally measured input power accurately. However, there are ways to demonstrate this. Were they used? Sometimes, yes; for example, with SRI P13/P14, there were two cells in series, a D2O cell and an H2O cell. All other conditions identical. Because they were in series, the current was identical. The history was different, but was identical for a long time before the famous excess heat current excursion. The loading was identical. And that current profile was run twice with no XP showing up with either cell. In the third run, a clear XP signal showed up. Now anyone with a creative mind can invent possible artifacts. One that came up in an extensive discussion on Wikiversity was that bubble noise was different, since hydrogen bubbles are much more buoyant. Bubble noise could in armchair theory create power measurement error. So Dieter Britz did a study with some actual data he had. No. Bubble noise is relatively low-frequency, and the 1 MHz bandwidth of the constant-current power supply was more than adequate to handle it. In addition, several cold fusion scientists, asked on the CMNS list, said that they had looked at the power signals with an oscilloscope. There was no high-frequency noise.

      Now, The ET replication could have some possible issues, though the AC there was highly controlled. Turning to the Brillouin study, absolutely, it’s a concern. However, we don’d have a final report, only a preliminary report that doesn’t look like it was written for publication, except it does. It’s very odd, and I have written a review and am awaiting some comments from the knowledgeable and concerned.

      The LENR community, as a full community, is quite interested in the possibilities of artifacts. You should see the discussions on the CMNS list! There is skepticism there surpassing anything you have written. While the CMNS list community has gotten increasingly ragged by accumulation, it is still a scientific list at core, but, when we are lucky, the real scientists, the best, the most professional, do sometimes comment. (And then Steve Krivit sometimes grabs it and publishes it, violating privacy and copyright.)

      I was encouraged, in 2012, specifically to take on a skeptical role within the community. It’s not always popular! I’m about to write a review of a CMNS journal article that never should have been published there, at least as written. Remember that one of my favorite authors is Gary Taubes. Bad Science, and it abounds, and not just with cold fusion. Taubes went on to nutrition, bringing there his experience with physics (and he thought of and probably still thinks of cold fusion as a physics topic). The colloquial term for what he’s doing is “kicking butt.” And he’s having fun. Instead of just complaining about Bad Science, he started an Institute to do real nutritional research, and to him, “research” consists of trying to prove your own ideas wrong. Trying really hard. He claims that about 5% of “scientists” actually do this. The best.

      Taking on a topic, Taubes investigates it obsessively. His interview, which does ramble — though the interviewer encourages him — goes into all that. I identify. When he investigates thoroughly, he ends up, in some ways, knowing more than “experts.” He not only knows what they know, he knows the history of the ideas — and they often don’t.

      THH, you have some experience with this. I know what you wrote, and what you did with it, and you were tagged as obsessive, by someone who basically was lazy, from this point of view. What you did I respect, very much, and I understand how you became involved, and, yes, I’ve looked at your older history. To my mind, we have an opportunity, to engage in a discussion that establishes roots. Out of this discussion on LENR Forum (“Validity”) I expect to create educational resources, and that will include polemic, but with full consideration and multiple points of view represented fully, by the best writers, where possible. Mostly, this has not happened yet, other than scattered discussions with the only summaries I know of being published by me on newvortex. Most issues being raised in the Validity discussion have been raised many times. What consensus is possible? Where can agreement be found, because consensus is powerful. As long as there is only opposition and contention, nothing moves forward. The debates can be educational for the few who research the evidence, but not for most.

      Cold fusion was called “the scientific fiasco of the century,” by Huizenga, that’s the subtitle of his book. Would it be valuable to create educational materials on the topic? Was that an exaggeration by Huizenga to sell books? Is it really just some stupid idea held by a few “die-hards” that don’t understand science? If this was proven, where is the killer review that actually showed this? If not proven, isn’t it about time that the issue of reality and nature of the Anomalous Heat Effect be resolved? It is not going to be resolved by hot air on blogs. However, it is possible to create political pressure, and buzz, as well, to attract the necessary funding for research. If there is education and research, if a body of public, recognized expertise is created, there will be fewer opportunities for frauds and scammers, who will only appeal to the ignorant, as they always have. IH’s goal was to “crush the tests,” i.e., to find out, and that example has probably created an environment where never again will a secretive and paranoid inventor be able to create the kind of support that Rossi created, unless he allows fully-independent testing before funding agencies and organizations put in any money more than needed for such testing. (i.e, it would be and should be still possible for some garage obsessive to find the magic formula, if one exists. But serious funding for commercialization will not arrive until the technology has been thoroughly tested to the real satisfaction of the investors. IH was very special and will not pull that trick again. This was one-off, and, I think, by design.)

      1. I did not imply that. “Moving target” is a social phenomenon. Debater raises concern A, as crucial. Respondent shows error in A. Instead of acknowledging that, Debater moves to concern B. This can proceed down an endless regress, because it is always possible to raise a concern, though some require Rube Goldbergian conditions. This is “moving target.” It does not imply or require that any of the concerns be “invalid.” However, as it can happen, it is ultimately a conversation-killer, it’s not surprising that people get pissed off. Addressing concerns is part of normal discussion process. However, with “moving target,” the goal of the debater is to win, to be right, and to crush the opposing position. The debater has a conclusion in mind, and is finding various ways to push it. Most common: error is never admitted, even when it become obvious to everyone (but the debater?).
        If one is only concerned about the conclusion, which tends strongly to be black and white: reality or bogus? — then comments like “pseudoskeptic” and “believer” and “moving target” are irrelevant. But that is not my primary concern, my primary concern is community and social process, how small to large numbers of people can communicate, cooperate, coordinate, effectively and efficiently.

        I take your (social) point here. You are quite right that this is very off-putting. What I would add however is that we have a problem in an area where, with these experiments, there are multiple possible ways they can go wrong and no way to know which (if any) are actually happening. Ideally those conducting and commenting on the experiments would be interested in the hunt for errors. But, if not, those properly doing that hunt will not be liked. Because the process of finding possible errors is exactly one where you check first the most obvious candidate, and then move on till you have checked absolutely everything. Only then do you say: “Hmmm – interesting. Let us replicate”. Where checking is unclear – there might be an error – or not – it may well be that replicating is called for anyway. But, in that case, it can be replication with better instrumentation that controls the error.

        Whether replication is planned or not the process of identifying possible errors is needed, and that must involve checking multiple mechanisms any one of which can be an issue.

        This level of scrutiny is not used when experiments are on firmer ground, with known theory, because in that case the known theory provides validation and cross-checks so that it is much more difficult for random experimental anomalies to be confused with signal. Where there is no such predictive theory, and signal is anything unusual, then a much higher level of scrutiny is necessary.

        There is, for any community, a great advantage in consistently providing such a high level of checking, which is that much effort is then saved not chasing things that seem interesting but in fact are shown to be experimental artifacts.

        Regards, THH

        1. The necessity of rigorous — and skeptical — vetting of experimental results is clear. It is, however, always possible to invent possible artifacts. To make real-world decisions, there must be a termination point, a place where we make the decision without total certainty. The degree of confidence required varies with the importance of the issue, and the possible cost of error. There is a process protection: there is no single conclusion necessary. The basic decision to be made is funding, and there are many sources of funding. My goal with Infusion Institute was to make advice available to funding sources. Not to make decisions for them. Structurally, this is the “judicial function,” not executive. The executive function is best, in modern society, distributed and not excessively centralized, overcontrolled. Modern society functions best through diversity, which mirrors the overall process of evolution.

          My own suggestion is to, by all means, be skeptical. Be careful, however of believing the skeptical arguments. My training is to observe the evidence (i.e, verifiable fact, preferably actually verified, but we do accept testimony as a level of fact), and the arguments (interpretations, reasons, theories), avoiding conclusions until decisions are necessary. At some point, we might put our weight on the invisible bridge. That’s a choice, and then we see a result. Or we might put our weight on “conventional wisdom.” That is also a choice. And we walk or we fall, and that’s life. Or we stand in place, afraid to move. I prefer to move, once I have seen enough. And if I fall, it was my choice, I am responsible for it.

    3. TTH,
      I put an [OT] link in the playground to a different forum yesterday. It was in regards to the EMdrive.
      I would only ask that you read it. Serious researchers will try to understand the entire range of errors and address them. Take a look please.

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