This appeared on Peter Gluck’s blog. It was based on a private CMNS list conversation, I think I can reveal that. Ed Storms gave permission for Peter to publish it (as Ed normally does). If others give permission for me to publish their private comments, I will, but this is what was on EGO OUT. My comments are in indented italics.
Inspired by ALAN SMITH who will speak about “Why Scientists Oppose Cold Fusion” at a conference at April, 30 invited by Prof. Huw Price
Event already announced by this blog
Edmund Storms’ opinion/answer to Alan Smith’s presentation to come
Alan, this is a good question that needs a straight answer. New ideas are always rejected initially. Normally, this rejection is half-hearted and short-lived. In the case of cold fusion, the rejection was clearly orchestrated and has been sustained.
Ed has become cynical and often despairing. There was a level of organization to the rejection, but that was not the only factor; the rejection was natural, in many ways, and ascribing causation to a conspiracy that existed (rather openly) misses the deeper causes and, to the extent that this became a common reaction in the LENR research community, it disempowered it, because the true failures were then overlooked and what could have and — I’d say “should have” — been the community response was, for the most part, reactive instead of collaborative.
To understand this strong opposition, we need to consider how the energy resulting from cold fusion would threaten and destabilize the world-wide energy economies. This economic system is so large and so connected with the economic life of nations that the threat had to be fought. In other words, the response is based on self-interest and not on the difficulty in understanding the phenomenon. The people in charge know full well that given enough resources, science will eventually master LENR. This success would clearly result in economic chaos. That threat has not changed.
This sets up a very-likely-imaginary view of the “enemies of LENR,” and assigns them vast power as well as high motivation. Struggling against that confuses us and is a formula for failure. Instead of understanding the skepticism, and cooperating with it, taking it as a reality to be addressed clearly and with confidence in the ultimate prevalence of truth — which we have no monopoly on — we created and maintained an idea that it was all useless, because “they” would not let us succeed.
“Just because you are paranoid does not mean that they aren’t out to get you,” is not a confirmation of the “truth” of paranoia, and it does not matter what “they” do, it matters what we do. Conspiracy theories are associated with losers, not because there is no conspiracy, but because the idea that there is, if it is allowed to dominate our thinking, is guaranteed to disempower us.
Evidence for this conclusion can be found when the nations and industries that are now investigating this energy source are examined. The two countries desperately in need of clean energy, Japan and China, have major programs and the companies developing megacomputer servers are interested.
Japanese funding for LENR research is thin. This is not clear evidence for the “conclusion,” it is weak, circumstantial, and probably misleading.
These countries and industries are interested because they have a self-interest that over rides the potential threat. I predict success by these efforts will force the rest of the countries and companies to develop the energy source as a means of self defense.
A major breakthrough anywhere would lead to such effects. This is Plan A. A hope of this was behind the level of support for Rossi’s work that arose in the CMNS community. It was argument from conclusions, and we abandoned, to the extent that we did this, ordinary scientific skepticism and reserve. We abandoned the normal necessity of truly independent confirmation, some of us. Plan B, is my term for the ordinary process of science, as recommended by both U.S. DoE reviews (but not funded by them, probably due to political forces). Plan B is not reactive and is not designed to “prove” anything, but to confirm — or disconfirm –, with increased precision, what has already been reported, with a special focus on what is already independently confirmed, i.e., on research very likely to generate useful results, not speculative.
Plan B is the follow-up research, the process of replication of experimental results. It is not “replication” that is actually vague confirmation of a class of results, without being specific and measurable, i.e., “some anomalous heat” — but unreliable — or “some nuclear result” — but not correlated with heat. Plan B takes the best research and attempts to improve precision, to expand confirmation, to general results that can be analyzed and compared statistically.
In other words, rejection has put off the day of reckoning but it has not eliminated the problem. Therefore, the threat needs to be understood and solved because this energy will eventually be available on a commercial scale. Unless introduction of this energy into the system is done in an effective way, chaos will surely result. The energy industry needs to figure out how to prevent this chaos rather than reject the idea because rejection is no longer working.
This is the thinking behind the suspicion, generally among supporters of Andrea Rossi, that Industrial Heat’s goal was to destroy Rossi’s reputation, to suppress his technology, argued with a justification that some Industrial Heat investors have investments in or have consulted with regard to solar energy. This would allegedly demolish their solar energy investments. Much more clearly, though, if they were successful with LENR, and owning licenses, the profits would dwarf any possible losses with solar power. The same argument applies to oil companies: some of them have supported LENR research, which could be viewed as a hedge. Viewing a competing technology as a threat rather than as an opportunity is a formula for ultimate failure. Sane investors see opportunities, not threats, as such. (They will see how variant technologies will alter the overall economics, and will balance risks and possibilities.) I doubt that Toyota stopped funding Pons in France because of this “threat.” Rather, the results did not have the clear commercial implications that might have been needed for continued funding.
Meanwhile, the phenomenon is a challenge to understand in the context of conventional nuclear interaction.
It is not a “conventional nuclear interaction,” so, of course! We don’t know what it is, even if some of us think we do. We know what it does, but not how it does it. If we converse with the skeptics from a position that we understand the mechanism, it better be good! and not merely a speculation with many missing pieces, details to be filled in later.
This challenge is attracting young minds who will eventually discover how LENR works.
That skips a very necessary step. Ed’s focus on “figuring out how it works,” i.e., the detailed mechanism, when the reality of the effect has not been clearly and unmistakeably nailed down and demonstrated so that those young minds are not facing career suicide through an interest in LENR, puts the cart before the horse. The horse is — or will be — fully confirmed and published experimental reality, then creating something needing explanation, even if that is difficult, even if it might take the combined mainstream scientific community decades to develop.
It is not necessary to satisfy everyone. It is only necessary to satisfy funding sources (as we have seen with the Texas Tech heat/helium initiative) and develop peer-review-published cover for academics to
This process is being accelerated by the increasing amount of information that is easily available on the web. The conventional journals no longer have the power to control information. In fact, LENR is part of the revolution in understanding that is now underway on the web involving many unconventional ideas.
It is essential for the breakthrough that will lead to adequate acceptability for LENR research, that will open the doors for graduate students to choose LENR study, that work be published in the journal system. It is possible that if true suppression continues, this could be challenged to break the back of it, but it is not clear that true suppression continues. Many CMNS scientists stopped submitting articles to major journals. It’s understandable, but it is not helpful overall.
So the message is; change is underway, either adapt or die.
We are all going to die. Adaptation allows us to live powerfully until we die.
Blaming the skeptics (and the “enemies of LENR”) is a failed strategy. I see nothing in Ed’s analysis that provides guidance for moving forward. Ed has made some quite interesting discoveries that may be related to his theories, but that do not depend on them. It is taking years for this work to be confirmed or disconfirmed. Why? Some of it is quite simple.
For example, excess heat in the Fleischmann-Pons experiment has long been correlated — or suspected to be correlated — with electrolyte temperature. However, heating the electrolyte has been avoided because it then leads to lowered COP, if the heating is done directly. Avoiding low COP was a reaction to skepticism. In fact, raising electrolyte temperature only requires continuous input power due to losses, and this is easily controlled and the effect on calorimetry is well-known, and heat-reduction calorimetry can be used, to maintain constant temperature, and constant temperature reduces the experimental variables, leading to improved understanding.
And Ed found that if the electrolyte temperature was maintained, elevated, though below boiling, anomalous heat continued even if electrolysis current was shut down. This was actually “heat after death,” but because of the input power for heating, might not be seen as such. However, with insulation, if desired, the temperature maintenance power could be reduced and with good enough insulation and with enough anomalous power, input power might actually be eliminated entirely, requiring temperature control through cooling.
That continued anomalous power did not depend on “current density,” i.e., electrolytic power, appeared contrary to prior studies. But it is possible. Has this been confirmed — or disconfirmed? Not to my knowledge.