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Talk:Wikiversity/Cold fusion/Excess Heat/Clarke Foreword

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  • Whatever the final verdict on this whole affair—and despite all claims to the contrary the jury is still out—it is almost certainly the biggest scandal in the history of science." —Arthur C. Clarke.

It may or may not prove to be a scandal but I predict it will prove to be an embarrassment to EPRI. If anyone should know how to model and measure AC power, it would be the technical staff at EPRI. —Caprice 04:19, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

  • Indeed. It would also be McKubre. EPRI was interested in results, and EPRI reports are the responsibility of those who prepared them. The published reports disclaim approval by EPRI. --Abd 15:30, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Off-topic discussion between Caprice and Abd, collapsed by Abd 17:32, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Any measurement is subject to possible error sources that may not be covered in a report on the measurement. Measurements in careful scientific work, however, are not necessarily presented in isolation, but control experiments, when possible, are used to confirm the results of measurements and calculations. Caprice (Barry Kort) is referring to the fact that measurements of AC noise power, which could possibly exist and, if present, which could cause unmeasured power to be introduced to McKubre's experimental cells, were not specifically reported. Barry shows, in a calculation that I have not checked, but which seems plausible, that a very large noise signal of 2 V peak-to-peak superimposed upon a 5 V DC level, could cause an underestimation of input power of 5%, which is partly compatible with the amount of excess heat shown in some of the McKubre work. The calorimetry is considered accurate to about 1%, as I recall.
  • That's enormous noise, and would not have escaped notice. Barry's study is an example of how detailed discussion in a Wikiversity seminar can uncover possibly unnoticed defects in experimental reports, but we should remember that all experimental reports may be incomplete, and possible defects in analysis may easily be moot. An artifact may arise from an unlimited number of unreported conditions; as I've half-seriously proposed, we might want to know the diet of the experimenters during the period, we might want to know who had keys to the lab, we might want to know how the power supply waste heat was directed, could it have been warming the cell? And on and on.
  • Scientists, whenever possible, do control experiments to rule out undiscovered errors, by independently confirming effects and isolating causes. In the case of the McKubre work that Barry was criticizing, excess heat excursions were rare, and did not show up in clear controls (cells with light water instead of heavy water), nor in "dead cells," where the cathode was constructed from palladium that didn't show any excess heat effect, nor in the same cells at other times, when current was also high. This is conclusive that the excess heat results of McKubre were not based on calorimetry error due to mismeasured input power, because the source of the alleged error is bubble noise, variation in cell resistance due to the formation and removal of non-conductive bubbles, which will then cause power supply voltage variations as the voltage slews to maintain constant current. Bubble noise would exist with hydrogen controls (though the level might be different because of the weight difference of hydrogen gas vs deuterium gas and thus of bubble bouyancy), and would exist with "dead cells," and would exist with active cells during the inactive periods, the same.
  • The power supply input power estimation is thus confirmed by the zero excess power observed in the blanks. Excess power, when it occurs, stands out as a radically different phenomenon. Would it have been desirable for McKubre to give measurements of noise power and to include it in his calculations (or rule out the necessity)? Of course. It would have taken only a few words, and the measurement would be simple.
  • I'll note that McKubre's subject work was not published under peer review, it was the product of a consultancy contract. Other errors have been shown to exist in the work, it was not absolutely perfect. Nor would any sane client require absolute perfection, because absolute perfection is insanely expensive! The substance of McKubre's work is, however, part of the backbone that gives the conclusion of "fusion" solidity; McKubre has done the most thorough and accurate of the measurements that not only confirmed helium as the demanded "ash," but also established that the heat/helium ratio was consistent with deuterium fusion. In his most thorough attempt to capture and measure all the helium, he came up with 24.8 +/- 2.5 MeV/He-4. Storms, reviewing the literature, estimates the ratio at 25 +/- 5 MeV, while the theoretical value is 23.8 MeV. Thus the calorimetry is also confirmed by helium measurements.
  • Plots of excess heat such as found in Hagelstein's paper, based on McKubre's work, New Physical Effects in Metal Deuterides, see, for example, Figure 5, showing bursts of excess heat, lasting for days, but also absent for periods when the current was the same, cannot be explained by power supply noise. The calorimetry,when it's showing no excess heat, i.e., a 1:1 ratio between input power and evolved heat, demonstrates that the input power is being estimated to accuracy sufficient to convincingly show excess heat when it appears. To maintain calorimetry (or calculation error) as the source of excess heat requires a hypothesis that hundreds of researchers have been fooled, through a plethora of errors (since some errors are ruled out by some experiments, where that possible error was controlled), and, then, it requires neglecting that the ash has been discovered and is measurable, and has been measured and is consistently correlated with excess heat.
  • That's not sustainable, and that's why the skeptical position on cold fusion has almost entirely disappeared from mainstream peer-reviewed literature. ("Failed replications," an accurate term, were assumed to be confirmations of error, which they most certainly are not. A confirmation of error would be a "successful replication" which then demonstrates the source of the error, as well as showing that this was actually behind all (or at least most) of the independent reports of other successful replications. Beaudette is correct that "excess heat" was rejected without observing normal scientific protocols, it was rejected based on the assumption of unspecified errors, and never was significant error confirmed, as to calorimetry, with the original results.
  • To be very explicit about this "refutation" that never took place, the experiment would be repeated with the same error in place, finding the same artifact. Suppose the artifact is unmeasured noise power from the power supply. So the experiment would show the same excess heat excursions that cold fusion researchers have found and confirmed, and then it would show noise power measurements for the experimental period, showing how, if the energy involved in the noise power is properly included in the input power estimation, the excess heat effect disappears. Nobody ever did that. But that would be hard work. It was much easier to sit back and make up possible errors, and then demand that CF researchers do all the work. Funded by? The most likely errors were, in fact, addressed, and McKubre's work with closed cells was designed to deal with unexpected recombination, the most plausible skeptical explanation, albeit one that is completely silent on the power density issue (which rules out DO recombination as a source of the excess energy, when that energy exceeds what could possibly have been stored in cell contents.) The closed cell work totally rules out recombination, since all the free D is already recombined. It also rules out "misting," one of Barry's other "findings" that is at least plausible to explain some CF results, if the experimenters were really stupid and didn't see what was happening under their noses. Was the assumption that all escaped heavy water had left as vapor a blunder? Consider that these were electrochemists, and familiar with the operation of electrochemical cells, and that their assumptions about cell operation were validated by control cells showing no excess heat, and control "periods of observation" when misting, if present, would also have been occurring. (Note that Kowalski, considering an experiment where there was considerable mist entrainment in the exhaust gases due to very high power input, immediately considered the energy issue with mist. That's because there was mist!)
  • In another course we will look at the 2004 U.S. Department of Energy review, and see what the state of the science was in 2004, as to reception by an 18-member panel chosen by the DoE. It is not what it has been sometimes claimed to be, rather, certain comments by the anonymous summarizing bureaucrat have been taken out of context and repeated to convey an impression of complete rejection. The 2004 DoE report, in fact, shows very considerable scientific community support for cold fusion, even under difficult conditions, where some experts were obviously rejecting excess heat (and helium) based on theoretical impossibility, which, of course, establishes and demonstrates Beaudette's point, a few years later. --Abd 15:30, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
McKubre expressly ignores AC noise power from fluctuations in the ohmic resistance. However, it's not hard to add the missing term back into the energy budget model. If the ohmic resistance is fluctuating R±r, then PAC ≈ α²PDC, where α = r/R. V will be fluctuating V±v, with v = Ir = αV. In other words, α = v/V, so the peak-to-peak fluctuations in voltage suffice to obtain the value of α for a given amount of drive current, I. —Caprice 17:04, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
You're right, Caprice (though I haven't checked the formulas -- and doubt them, because of frequency independence). But, of course, one would need to know the noise voltage, or limits on it, and the calculation of noise power is not independent of resistance variation frequency. You are missing the point, though. We are concerned about this possible error because, I assume, we'd like to know if the excess heat results were artifact resulting from it. From the behavior of "dead cells," -- which include hydrogen controls and even deuterium cells during periods of high current but no heat production -- we know that the overall noise power doesn't exceed about 1% of DC power (roughly).
To be explicit on the criticism of the formula, if the frequency is low, there is no effect on integrated power, which would be accurately measured by the averaging process McKubre used. If the frequency is very high, such that the power supply has no time to slew significantly, again there is no effect on power input. (And such high-frequency variation would produce current variations across the electrode-electrolyte interface (including the attached bubbles) that would be supplied by bubble capacitance rather than by the supply, thus no effect on actual supplied power.)
Noise would then appear in the region when the supply works hard to try to keep up with the variations. It is this work that is represented in noise power input to the cell. The value of your objection, Barry, is that if future work is done, noise power should be explicitly checked and reported. I'm not sure this has much practical significance, though. The reason is that highly accurate measurements are not necessary in most of the ongoing research; variation from other sources is far larger. Still, if excess heat in an experiment is 5%, and power supply noise could account for 1% of this, this introduces a 20% error in excess heat, and if we are attempting to nail down the heat/helium ratio to better than Storms' error bar of 20%, we'd want surer calorimetry. In the end, Barry, it's up to whoever is paying for the research. And it's up to the peer-reviewers to ask the questions, if they think them important. --Abd 17:52, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
  • You can certainly add detail to the noise model by using something more sophisticated than a simple square wave model for the fluctuating resistance. A square wave model gives PAC = α²PDC, whereas a sine wave model gives PAC = ½α²PDC. It doesn't really matter which model you use, for the purpose of demonstrating that AC noise will be present at a level ≈ α²PDC. Whether it's measured directly or estimated from a simple model, it clearly needs to be included in the energy budget. —Caprice 18:11, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
  • "Needs" according to what purpose? If an experimenter knows that r/R is small enough, by observing the voltage peak-to-peak, who "clearly needs" it? McKubre did this work more than fifteen years ago. The evidence which Barry keeps ignoring, entirely, in favor of a pedantic insistence upon absolute accuracy, shows that noise power was not a significant issue, and absolute accuracy was not what McKubre was being paid for. If someone designs an experimental protocol now, should they think of power supply noise? Sure. If they are going to use a constant current supply with high bubble evolution rate, absolutely. As we agree, it would be trivial to consider. So, your point? And, again, Barry, you are demonstrating that your ears are stuffed with cotton, because you are ignoring what's being said to you, and, instead, repeat the same moot argument over and over, while, at the same time, complaining about how much is written to clarify the issue.
  • Continued discussion of the Moulton Theories of Excess Heat belongs on appropriate pages. This is not about the Clarke Forward to Beaudette, at all, it is Barry turning this into his current Favorite Subject, and following his Favorite Habit: that of claiming that others are stupid. I.e., EPRI, originally, above, continuing his ignorant impeachment of McKubre. --Abd 18:53, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Arthur C. Clarke's jury needs it, to adjudge the case. Of course there is no requirement that a jury be given all the evidence. Lawyers are free to manipulate the presentation of evidence to mislead the jurors. And the jurors are free to conclude that a jury trial is not an instance of science. And the journalists are free to write stories that sell papers, with or without including any science in the stories. —Caprice 19:09, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
  • What case? The topic of the attached resource is the Arthur C. Clarke foreword. If every page is converted to a debate over issues which are irrelevant to the page topic, we will simply waste a huge amount of time, and confuse students who arrive later. I responded to the comment above, and probably should not have. Whether or not EPRI has done something embarrassing (what?), isn't relevant to what Clarke wrote. Whether or not I have done the calculations for Barry's AC model is irrelevant to what Clarke wrote. The Excess Heat course is designed to allow students to become informed as to the claims of experimental evidence that could lead to a conclusion of fusion, and when specific evidence is asserted, we will examine possible criticisms, though as subtopics; the goal here is to understand the claims. What is "Believed," i.e., "Accepted," by researchers and analysts? And we are doing this through studying the message of a book, Excess Heat. What's in the book? Are there errors in the book? I.e., we are looking at the book, not the Truth Of Cold Fusion. One step at a time. --Abd 17:30, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  • What case?
The case for or against the reality of cold fusion (versus the "excess heat" being explained by various mundane processes like venting mist or AC noise power). If Clarke's thesis is correct, then the proponents of CF will be scandalized by the revelation that they overlooked significant terms in the energy budget that anyone with a sophomore level of education would have known to include in the models and measurements. In terms of the associated affective emotional state, all I'm coming up with is embarrassment if such a revelation comes to pass. But I'm not sure that embarrassment is the right word. Perhaps it would be mortification. Abd, what do you imagine would be the affective emotional state of the proponents and champions of CF if the mundane explanations were eventually shown to fully explain all the experimental results? —Caprice 17:52, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
As to "case," that's what I thought. There is an assumption in your question, Barry, you should take a look at it, I'd suggest, if you want to understand what's going on. You assume some kind of uniformity among "proponents and champions" of CF. Such people are, in fact, a very diverse group. Some would be mortified. Some would be relieved. Some would be amazed -- all of them, probably. And the historians and sociologists of science will be fascinated.
Now, Barry, can you answer the question as to the skeptics, who fully committed themselves to vituperative and sarcastic rejection of cold fusion and the cold fusion researchers? What if Cold fusion proves to be real? I'd say that as far as editors and peer-reviewers, that's already happened. But you don't seem willing to see that evidence. How are you going to feel if the avalanche occurs, perhaps someone comes up with a killer demonstration, fully reproducible on demand. Indeed, Barry, just suppose that my kits work, that anyone can cheaply demonstrate very low-level neutron emission from an electrolytic cell, and lots of people start doing it. I'm not betting the farm on that, because the SPAWAR work, from my POV, is an unconfirmed report, unlike excess heat and correlated helium. But it's certainly a plausible possibility, that following a relatively simple protocol from a reputable research group, would produce similar results, eh?
It's impossible, you know. You can't generate neutrons from electrochemistry, right? But if it works?
  • It's easy to make your kits work. Just make sure that you have a whole lot of bubbling, and then pretend there is no AC noise power, and pretend the heat (from the AC noise) comes from some mysterious effect that no one has ever seen before. Then you can telephone up the press and speak over the phone using this same non-existent AC signal power. Recall that Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic." Telephony, as you know, is a magical effect, since a voice signal somehow propagates over a line driven with a constant current. —Moulton 13:52, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
Aw, Barry, get a life. I'm not doing significant calorimetry, I might well see no excess heat, and if I did, it wouldn't be authoritative at all, but, just for fun, I'll measure bubble noise. Don't you think that will be interesting? How lots-o-bubbling could make some neutrons, though, is beyond me. Any ideas?
(Barry is seriously misrepresenting arguments against his "noise power" theory. AC noise is definitely present, the issue is current noise, whether or not it is present at a value such that measuring average voltage and multiplying it by set current would not capture all the input power. There is AC noise. There is AC noise. There is AC noise. But the current is constant, so the AC noise averages out, and that's what the experts say, and that's what theory says, and it's confirmed by experiment where bubble noise is present, including using power meters, high-data-rate capture of voltage and current and integrating the product, and calorimetry itself, which is the most authoritative method of measuring power, it cannot miss noise power, it's frequency-insensitive. Radiated power, of course, would be missed, calorimetry will only show absorbed power, but, after all, in this work, absorbed power is what is of interest, not electromagetic radiation that would lower the heat, not raise it.
If it were this easy to produce "excess heat" in CF experiments, this would have been found and reported long ago. All it would take is a normal replication, where the same results are found as original reports, and then the artifact is identified as power supply noise, simply by measuring the effect of bubbling. We are talking about hundreds of experts who have worked on the problem. Barry, with no understanding of the experimental nature of cold fusion, the way that the phenomenon behaves, and the depth of the work, imagines that in a month or two of "thinking" he's going to find The Great Artifact That Deluded Thousands of Scientists. Not very likely, especially since, when he barks up a wrong tree, he doesn't reassess his position, he just keeps barking, all over the internet. --Abd 19:26, 29 January 2011 (UTC)