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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.