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Wikiversity/Cold fusion/The Wikipedia article/Comments on edits
 refers to Roberts et al (1990) as a "negative result." This shows a common problem with coverage of cold fusion. There were many apparently contradictory earlier results, but as work accumulated over a decade and longer, consistency of results was discovered that incorporated and showed, as expected, many early results considered "negative." The classification of papers into "negative" and "positive" is, then, problematic. This particular work is titled Energy and flux limits of cold-fusion neutrons using a deuterated liquid scintillator.
- Deuterated liquid scintillator detectors (NE230), which give excellent n/γ discrimination and provide a direct measure of the neutron energy spectrum, have been used to search for 2 to 3 MeV neutrons produced in d+d cold fusion. The apparatus consisted of an electrolytic cell using high-efficiency inverted-well geometry. Several samples of annealed Pd wire and a Pd casting (up to 13 g) were studied over a period of several weeks. An upper limit of <=10-3 fusion (n/s g) Pd was obtained corresponding to <7×10-24 fusion (n/s) dd pair in our samples which excludes most of the reported positive results. Several sources of spurious signals, which could closely mimic signals from fusion neutrons, were also observed.
This is not the most notable work on neutrons, though it is listed in the Britz bibliography. Hoffman does not cover it, and I don't see it in the indexes for Taubes and Huizenga. I believe there is another source setting upper limits on neutron production from CF experiments.
Some obvious points:
- The lack of significant neutrons from CF experiments, in general, with only reports of very low levels of neutrons -- which don't contradict this paper, apparently -- is generally accepted. Storms notes in his review (2010) that the reaction is not accompanied by "harmful radiation," he's talking about neutrons. Neutrons were considered significant in the early days, especially because Fleischmann and Pons had (erroneously) reported significant neutron radiation (but far below what would have been expected if the reaction were "hot fusion," d-d fusion). So, from the point of view of current cold fusion theory and experimental results, the Robert's paper confirms present thinking in the field. So why is it considered a "negative result," implying that it is negative about cold fusion? It's negative about neutrons, but neutrons from what?
- There is no evidence that Roberts et al actually set up a cold fusion reaction. Given the length of the study, with the experimental approach used, it's highly likely that they did not succeed in replicating, because they very probably did not get high enough loading, and many other experimental variables were not known at the time they did this work.
- This work isn't well-covered in sources because it's basically irrelevant. It's an accepted fact (by all sides) that CF experiments, where they produce any detectable neutrons at all, only produce a few, at levels that Roberts et al would probably not have detected, even if they did set up the reaction -- and most failed at that in those days -- unless they were very lucky. (SPAWAR used SSNTDs which integrate the radiation, so extremely low fluxes can be observed, with spatial precision still allowing distinguishing the radiation from background, and these neutrons are considered to be the result of rare or secondary reactions.) The lack of neutrons is often advanced as an argument against CF, but it is actually an argument against d-d fusion, which is only one theoretical possibility out of others. --Abd 19:27, 29 December 2010 (UTC)
Issues for the article
 An edit on the CF talk page introduced a list of issues about a revert that had been made, and an editor responded with brief answers. The entire discussion was removed because the editor posting the questions was accused of being a sock puppet, an issue I won't begin to address here. However, the questions and answers were actually quite important. So we can discuss them here. The reference is to the pair of versions shown at . The questions and the answers follow, answers in italics, comments interspersed and signed individually, others may add comments to each.
Is it fair to say that those eight underlined regions are the main areas of substantive factual disputes?
- Is ability to replicate experiments proportional to ability to achieve high loading ratios, per Hubler et al?
- There are many discussions of loading ratio in Wikipedia reliable source of loading ratio as crucial to any demonstration of the CF phenomenon. If this is "irrelevant," it's hard to image what's relevant. We should create a resource here on loading ratio, it's one of the experimental variables that has been heavily correlated with excess heat production, and is the explanation given generally for the early replication failures. Ordinary palladium, generally, could not be coaxed into the necessary high loading; loading is frequently measured in CF experiments, now, so the ratio at which excess heat results begin is visible and often reported. The significance was not understood in 1989-1990. --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
- What source says Fleischmann and Pons' experiments produced 10-20% excess heat?
- Already listed.
- Normally a source will be cited after the sentence where the fact is stated. There are two sources cited. There is the U.S. DoE report (2004) and Hubler, cited through a DOI. (Note that links to lenr-canr.org used to exist for papers like this, even after the blacklisting of lenr-canr.org was removed, but they've been removed. For convenience, this is the Hubler slides. I don't have the paper.) The abstract and the slides refer to 50-200% of excess heat, but the text in the WP article only refers to Fleischmann. Hubler covers the loading ratio issue specifically.
- The article is talking about general cold fusion results, not just Fleischmann. Results later became more reproducible and more intense. By presenting only the early Fleischmann results here, the article makes the cold fusion effect seem weaker than what has actually been reported.
- The DoE report link doesn't work for me. There is a copy of the review at , but perhaps the reference is to the review paper. It's all covered at . I see no reference to the power ratio in the review paper. Generally, absolute power ratio is not of much interest to CF researchers, because the calorimetry is sensitive enough to detect quite small amounts of excess heat. McKubre in his recent work generally considers 5% excess heat to be significant. As much as 2500% has been seen in an Energetics Technologies cell that McKubre reports on in the ACS SourceBook (2008).
- The question was related to a "citation needed" link, which had been removed by the editor claiming the material was already referenced, but there sure wasn't a specific reference, and certainly not a page number! --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
- Can helium from air contamination be ruled out (e.g. with atmospheric argon) and what source says it can't?
- No. The one listed.
- The article text doesn't cover the issue at all. Helium contamination can be ruled out (or at least ruled unlikely!) by a long series of factors, and the practice of measuring argon, which will generally accompany helium leakage, is common. The other factors are the time behavior of the measured helium, the rise above ambient that is sometimes seen, the absence of helium from hydrogen controls, and, last and defintely not least, the strong correlation with excess heat. "The one listed" is vague, because the sentence about helium contamination from air is not sourced.
- Perhaps the source is the DoE review, which, by the way, isn't strong WP source, it was written by an anonymous bureaucrat, and was not reviewed as such. Be that as it may, it states: "Contamination of apparatus or samples by air containing 4He was cited as one possible cause for false positive results in some measurements," Notice, "was cited" and "some measurements" This is simply a verification that some people claim that leakage is a problem (which it certainly could be, if not for the rest of the experimental evidence!). There is certainly no discussion of argon. --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
- Do the peer reviewed literature reviews say helium production is correlated with excess heat?
- Only the ones done by cold fusion proponents.
- This is a familiar circular argument. Any papers that present reviews that can be seen as favorable to cold fusion is, by definition, "done by cold fusion proponents." A review of the field will almost certainly be written by an expert. Who is expert on cold fusion? People who have done the research, who have followed the field, who are familiar with it. There is a radical misunderstanding of Wikipedia sourcing requirements here, "independently published" means that the publisher is independent. If a review appears in a mainstream journal, independently published, such as the recent review in Naturwissenschaften, that's golden for Wikipedia purposes. But material from these sources has long been suppressed by certain editors on Wikipedia, and, lately, they have effectively been unopposed.
- But the editor's claim not even true, unless you want to call Huizenga a "proponent." He commented on Miles in the second edition of "Cold fusion, scientific fiasco of the century" (1993), writing that this, if confirmed, would solve a major mystery of cold fusion. It was confirmed and later work became more accurate.
- There are seventeen positive reviews of cold fusion which have appeared in mainstream journals or as academically published books in the last five years. There are no negative reviews. Thus we'll get to another question asked here. --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
- Have X-rays been reported in secondary peer reviewed literature published in China, Europe, and the United States?
- "Secondary" as compared to the cold fusion community? No.
- Again, "secondary" means that the author and publisher are independent from the original author (and publisher, perhaps). This is a bit like insisting that a report reviewing a medical finding must be written by someone outside the medical community. --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
- Which current sources say proponents' explanations are not accepted by mainstream scientists?
- "Current" is irrelevant. Cold fusion is more relevant as a historical incident.
- Not according to the peer reviewers at a pile of mainstream journals. Not according to the editorial practice of Elsevier, Springer-Verlag, and the American Chemical Society/Oxford University Press, and others. The text uses the present tense, but is based on no source, and a source from, say, the 1990s cannot be used to show present "mainstream" opinion. It's clear that cold fusion was, indeed, "not accepted." Then. The 2004 U.S. DoE review showed a very substantial turnaround, and that was a shallow review. Since then, the publication record is clear: this is an accepted field of research, and knee-jerk criticism of it has become "fringe," even if it's popular opinion among the uninformed. Skeptical papers are being submitted, I'm sure (from reports from one skeptical author), but are not being accepted, he's complaining.
- By the way, the general history of cold fusion is covered in many sources of high quality (skeptical and neutral and positive). It's mostly been excluded, I suspect because the real story conflicts with the image of "Bad Science" that's been promoted. There was Bad Science on all sides, in fact. "Mistakes were made." --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
- What source says that the DOE found theoretical explanations to be the weakest part of cold fusion claims?
- The DOE report.
- I don't see that in the report. By the way, there is no accepted theory that explains cold fusion, only a theory that establishes it. I.e., it is now known that the (main) fuel for the reaction is deuterium, and the main ash is helium, with energy produced commensurate with the known value for deuterium fusion. That's enough to state a "theory" that deuterium is being fused to form helium. That does not state any mechanism, and d-d fusion (which would produce lots of tritium and neutrons) is extremely unlikely. In other words, "cold fusion" is about a result, not a mechanism, no mechanism is necessary to show that cold fusion is a real effect. We'd all love to know what it is, but as long as a large segment of physicists believe that their theories trump experiment, they won't look at it. There are theoretical physicists working on the problem, but this just may be a mystery that is a long time in solution. The math is horrific, for starters. --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
- Did cold fusion researchers at the United States Army Research Laboratory propose Bose–Einstein condensates and Widom–Larsen theory as theoretical explanations?
- No. That's not what is stated.
- That was a weak source, just a conference agenda, showing that the speakers on those theories were scheduled. I believe that there are better sources for similar facts. Definitely, they the lab wanted to hear presentations on theory, though. But this was minor, compared to all the major facts about cold fusion, amply present in recent peer-reviewed secondary source, and that do not contradict older strong sources! If an old source says that "it hasn't been replicated, that's a temporary fact, and a later replication doesn't contradict it, it merely makes it obsolete. --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Can we go through these one by one and discuss, please?
- That was a vain hope. Discussion has generally been shut down and prevented. The issues are abstruse and complex, and there are clearly editors who are purely obstructionist or promoting an anti-cold fusion agenda, being personally convinced that the field is totally bogus. But the reliable sources say quite otherwise, making w:Cold fusion quite an odd topic, where there is massive opinion, still, that it was not "replicable," -- in spite of 153 peer-reviewed reports of excess heat in palladium deuteride -- that "the effect disappears if more careful measurements are made" -- apparently based on a single report where some initial weak results disappeared, but neglecting the huge amount of work done and reported to employ more accurate calorimetry, which confirmed quite robust results -- and that the field is entirely dead -- but, on the other hand, increasing publication rates (from about six reports per year in 2005 to about two reports per month in 2010), definitive results, and many signs of mainstream recognition, i.e., by journals and the ACS, which is the largest scientific society in the world. "Mainstream" is not just "mainstream physics," and these are really chemistry experiments. That just happen to produce some heat at a density such that the chemists say, no, this is not chemistry, and they also measure helium. They are expert at the heat measurements, physicists don't normally use that technique.
- The demand for a theoretical explanation, on the other hand, is demanding what physicists would be expected to produce. Until they wake up and starting thinking about it, we will have chemistry experiments that produce helium and a little tritium and a few neutrons. Cool, eh? I didn't know you could do that with chemistry.... What I did know, though, from sitting with Feynman at Cal Tech, was that we didn't have the mathematical tools to accurately predict quantum phenomena in the complex environment of solid matter. Works great in a plasma. Gets really ragged, obviously, in condensed matter. --Abd 03:35, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
At present, the article says:
- By late 1989, most scientists considered cold fusion claims dead, and cold fusion subsequently gained a reputation as pathological science.
and, deeper in the article,
- In May 1989, the American Physical Society held a session on cold fusion, including many reports of experiments that failed to produce evidence of cold fusion. At the end of the session, eight of the nine leading speakers stated that they considered the initial Fleischmann and Pons claim dead with the ninth, Johann Rafelski, abstaining. Steven E. Koonin of Caltech called the Utah report a result of "the incompetence and delusion of Pons and Fleischmann" which was met with applause. Douglas R. O. Morrison, a physicist representing CERN, was the first to call the episode an example of pathological science.
- : Physicists Debunk Claim Of a New Kind of Fusion, New York Times, May 3, 1989, report of APS meeting.
- : U.S. Will Give Cold Fusion Second Look, After 15 Years, New York Times, March 25, 2004, report of coming 2004 DoE review.
- : A report from the American Physical Society, Spring Meeting, 1-2 May 1989, Baltimore, MD, Special Session on cold fusion unpublished report, email from Emmett Black to Vincent Cate. Appears to be an individual's notes on the meeting.
The subpage examines the details and history of this.
This covers a recent discussion on w:Talk:Cold fusion, permanent link. I was mentioned in that discussion, causing the wiki to notify me, so, on the subpage, I may be more free with mention of specific editors than normal. I am banned on Wikipedia, so I cannot respond there, but hardly anyone is banned here on Wikiversity. --Abd (discuss • contribs) 19:08, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Years ago, lenr-canr.org was listed as a source to read papers on cold fusion. These were removed and lenr-canr.org was blacklisted; eventually the blacklisting was lifted, but still putting convenience links to legal free copies (usually author preprints) was strongly resisted. Recently, lenr-canr.org was added to the External links. It has been there, now, for three weeks. There is also a link to the papers published in February in Current Science. That was requested by an editor of that section, so the user who added it may have been responding to that. I'm not seeing the usual names on Talk:Cold fusion. IPs are asking questions, no answers for the most part.
People have long come to the Wikipedia article talk page and want to discuss the topic. Attempt have been made to link to Wikiversity for discussion of the topic, they have always been reverted. That is likely to change, because the arguments against linking are blatantly bogus. Wikiversity is a WMF wiki and any Wikipedia editor may edit here immediately. We have a neutrality policy. However, we handle neutrality with inclusion, not with deletion and not with banning of people who are actually interested in the topic!
There was an answer by a long-time user on March 31, but the IP clearly did not understand, and thinks the issue is the authenticity of the press release. This kind of misunderstanding of Wikipedia is common. If it's "true" then it should be in the encyclopedia, right? Wrong. It must be covered in independent reliable source, to be sufficiently notable for inclusion. If the press release is covered in a reliable source, then it's possible a link might be added to a report based on that. Otherwise, useless. It has been 9 days since that question was asked. Something has happened on Wikipedia. Looking up certain previously prominent users with regard to the article. Mostly gone, inactive. A user with the page on their watchlist will get an email that the page has been changed. If they don't respond, it slides into oblivion after it no longer shows up on their watchlist, which they may no longer be checking.
A user is warned that Wikipedia is not a forum, and is told to go elsewhere to discuss the topic. Does the informant know about Wikiversity? Possibly not. --Abd (discuss • contribs) 00:51, 10 April 2015 (UTC)