Why scientists oppose cold fusion

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

LENR THINKER

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.

Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax

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

13 thoughts on “Why scientists oppose cold fusion”

  1. Abd – I think one of the big reasons scientists as a whole oppose Cold Fusion (though not muon-catalysed Cold Fusion, which is why I tend to use the term LENR instead) is that they know that nuclear reactions don’t work that way. Nuclear reactions always produce detectable nuclear radiation. Show a lot of neutrons, or some decent gammas or betas and they’d not be against it, but as it is it produces only gamma rays in the IR range (note that gamma rays are now defined as EM photons emitted by the nucleus, and X-rays by the electrons, rather than the more-sensible classification by energy), it’s not nuclear physics as they know it.

    Any experiment that produces a small amount of power where the experimental accuracy cannot be determined except by a specialist in calorimetry (which is a specialised subject all on its own and easy to get wrong) is going to be dismissed by those who don’t understand the fine points of the calorimetry – and that’s nearly everyone.

    Going against any well-established theory has the same barriers, and anyone who does this needs to have an experiment that anyone can understand and use. It is worth pointing out that you also react that way with regard to 2LoT – you just don’t believe the logic I’ve used and the low-power experimental evidence I’ve pointed at. In order to convince you I need to have a high-power experiment that you cannot ignore. Luckily I can do that without needing millions in backing – at least in making the undeniable demonstration, anyway. It will need a lot of money to get to mass-manufacture, of course. That’s the main reason I’m not detailing construction details, in order that whoever does back it can see a profit. Alain’s posts have a nice endquote:’ “Only puny secrets need keeping. The biggest secrets are kept by public incredulity.” (Marshall McLuhan)’ .
    So: take how you’ve reacted to my propositions on 2LoT, and consider how anyone who knows nuclear physics and has worked out the details is going to react to LENR, where there’s no obvious nuclear radiation and the ash is not radioactive either. It goes against what they know to happen, and there’s no workable theory that says how it can be possible either. It’s really much the same as claiming Perpetual Motion (which of course is what I’ve claimed in essence). It needs undeniable proof.

    Amoco replicated F+P within a year (I think it was less than that, in fact), but couldn’t see that it would be profitable. Shell has a lot of investment in renewables and are actively looking for new ideas and markets, and I think I saw that BP does much the same. They have no reason to block LENR, it’s just that they don’t consider it worth investing in – maybe they just don’t think it’s a real effect, in the same way as mainstream consensus. I don’t see any conspiracy, except the normal one of wanting to make as much money out of their customers as they legally can.

    As you say, Japan is not doing a lot in LENR – we have Jed’s knowledge on that. They are putting quite a bit of effort into wind-power, though, even in locations where it’s not that cost-effective. China and Russia seem to have a fair number of papers on LENR, though the Russian ones I’ve looked at do seem to follow Rossi to a large extent so may be badly measured. It’s hard to tell without spending a lot of time on them, and I haven’t done that.

    Given where we are, putting LENR firmly into the “real science” domain instead of the fringe/pathological area it is in at the moment is probably the fastest way to be sure of getting progress. Though I’m fairly hopeful that Brillouin’s results are real, the details are secret and of course their theory is wrong – they don’t get the intermediate products in the predicted proportions. Using an inaccurate theory doesn’t stop the experiment producing heat, though, but it may be why they aren’t getting bigger results. Of course, there’s a chance that Edisonian experiments may give some progress, but that’s pure chance and largely self-financed experimenters.

    Mainstream science isn’t opposing LENR, they simply regard it as an error of measurement that will get sorted out at some point. Some people will be actively opposing it in the same way as they oppose Bessler wheels as a way of powering the world – “go and do that on your own money and time, and not on mine”. It’s a logical response when you know it can’t work.

    Once LENR is in mainstream science, it becomes a puzzle to study in the same way as superconductivity was an experimental fact that people accepted as real. That took a while to get any good explanation, but anyone with liquid Helium and some Mercury could demonstrate it worked. LENR may be a bit harder to demonstrate reliably. As such, Plan B is the first and necessary stage, and then it’s a matter of getting that reliable experiment where it happens every time. Then maybe some bright young theorist (who knows LENR works) will give us the theory for why it happens.

    1. This is a huge issue, and I have not attempted — here — to answer the question, but, yes, more or less what you wrote; however, the essence of the Pons and Fleischmann report is the finding of an “unknown nuclear reaction,” which they proceeded to confuse by referring to d+d fusion with the normal products. So part of the reason was a series of errors by Pons and Fleischmann in how they announced the discovery. Then there were the negative replications, and that would not have been such a problem if they had been very clear about the conditions of the reaction, but they weren’t, and probably for IP reasons.

      What we know now still is inadequate to set up easy replication, though it is now possible to set up a protocol that usually produces measurable heat. I fully understand why this isn’t impressive, still, but the reliability problem is exaggerated in the minds of most scientists, who are not aware of the body of research. It’s still a problem.

      Heat/helium bypasses this because all measurements taken contribute to the result, because the result is a ratio, not an absolute level of heat. It is then possible to develop a reliability of a different kind, one that is accessible, and an experimental series can be definitive without each result being reliable, other than in the ratio. If it is true that as experimental precision increases, the ratio approaches a specific value, this is highly significant evidence. If that value is the theoretical conversion value from mass to heat for deuterium conversion to helium, this could be considered proof, not only of reality of the heat, but also of the transformation. Does it approach that value with increased precision? That’s the question being asked and I hope there are answers in short order.

  2. I do not think there is any substantial research going on in Japan. I would probably hear about it if there were.

    Martin Fleischmann told me the Toyota research project was stopped because Toyota got into a fight with Johnson Matthey over intellectual property. He blamed Toyota. I gather Toyota wanted all the marbles. As far as Martin knew, and I know, the project was not stopped because someone worried about the impact on established energy suppliers.

    I have the impression that no managers in established energy companies worry about cold fusion, any more than they worry about space-based solar energy, or Tokamak plasma fusion. They consider these things impractical. Looking at history, established industries never worry about disruptive competition from the outside until it is too late. See the book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” for details and examples.

    1. Generally, yes. Your impression matches mine. Even if a manager is aware of any solidity to LENR claims, the most they would do, even to this day, would be to watch the field. Attempting to stop it would require a belief that it is probably a reality, but if it is a reality, there is time. A smart manager would watch for signs of breakthrough. And they would notice the position and efforts of Industrial Heat, and might cooperate with them. IH (and through them, Woodford) is positioning itself to be aware and ready to make massive investment, quickly, if it becomes appropriate. One place to get a billion dollars, if needed, would be the energy industry.

      Meanwhile, to goal of Plan B is to lay the scientific foundations, to strengthen them (or, in theory, demolish them). This is where, again in theory, we should be able to attract the participation of genuine skeptics, and even if they show some pseudoskeptical edge. Genuine skeptics may have such edges, but also recognize them. As to our own positions, we might have some “believer” edges. It’s natural. It is also natural to think that my edges are based on reality, whereas yours are you own dumb opinion. If we can laugh about this, we will be okay.

  3. My conclusion from what I’ve seen about opposition to cold fuions is far from conspiracy, but into sociology and vested interest.

    First the opposition is only by academic.
    All industries, nuclear, oil, microelectronics, have maverick engineers and researshers who replicated.
    In EDF, CEA, CNRS (those who make nuclear reactors, and alike) there was clear forbiding to make any LENR reserash even at home, but because of fear of bad image.

    the cause of LENR rejection as I understand is that
    1- modern science is pathologically focused on theory.
    As Edmund Storms says, theory is essentiel to design and interpret experiments, and one can only refute theory, not experiments. you explain experiments with a theory (the usual one, say it is an artefac you describe, or a new one).
    But today it have gone too far, and people reject evidence when they dissent with theory.
    sometime they reject an experimental resulst if the theory proposed by the scientist is clearly wrong.

    2- because all is focused on theory, the hierarchy of scientists is established by their proximity to theory, and their simplicity relative to theory.
    First you have theoretical physics, nuclear physics, particle physics, then lowe physicis (material science…), then chemistry, then electrochemistry, then biochemistry, then biology, then medicines, then zoology…
    from simplicity to complexity.

    3- when LENR was considered in 89, it was considered from a theoretical analysis grid.
    It was clearly a nuclear reaction claim, and this attributed to nuclear physicist. this absurd choice, from an experimenta lpoint of view, is the core of the tragedy.

    The problem was that the experiments themselves were of electrochemistry, and calorimetry, job of chemists.
    The physicist, and it is documented, were very incompetente, compared to chemists, and experienced with their simpler domain they did not understand the subtleties of material science, chemistry, nanotechnology (non existent at that time), calorimetry…
    they ruined experiments, that they did in a shorted time than chemists, being unable to even understand they were doing an awful job, because they were too incompetent in calorimetry and electrochemistry to understand that.
    Of course chemist replicated in a year (cross checking takes time), but in 40 days physicist had ruined 2 experiments, sabotaged data, and concluded with absurd claims of artefact that were later refuted and should cause shame if academic were honest.
    This is where the hierarchy of scientists made impossible for chemist to get a victory agains physicist.

    note that similar incompetent of F&P in cuclear physics, both experimental en theoretical, helped to make them lose respect of physicists.
    5- beyond the experimental fiasco of physicist
    the priority given on theory against evidence made the experimental evidence to be anyway rejected because they were challenging physicists theories.
    Using theories, they said any experimental result need to be wrong. This is dogmatic way of thinking, but this is how academic works today.

    6-
    There is also a more general cognitive problem with modern academic, and especially with physicist. Modern academic cannot accept their ignorance, they consider that if they cannot find a way to do something in their theory, then it is theoretically impossible.

    In fact LENR is not impossible according to QM, but impossible to usual assumption of nuclear physics.
    As Edmund Storms and Luca Gamberale (and Preparatta, and Schwinger, and many others )says, there is a need to involve a collective QM effect, which is common in material science, but not in any nuclear science.
    There is a cognitive problem for nuclear physicist used with few-body systems to work like material physicist do.
    7-
    another cognitive problem is “neomania”
    Jed explain it regularly, that Calorimetry is an old established science that is very solid.
    But not only the experimental evidence that physicist master the best are prefered, but their science is more recent than calorimetry.
    It is absurd, opposed to reality , but today people are more confident in a science that is 80 yeard old, than in a science that is 180 years old

    8- the stigma of cold fusion caused by that misfit choice had consequence on the population working on LENR

    Some of the initial good experiments, good theorists, some good labs (CEA,EDF,BARC,LANL), with some selfish interest computations, decided to protect their carreer and even their private life (see Bockris bullying) by quitting the domaine and retracting.
    But many loose thinkers, theoretical guru, wishful thinkers, become instantly attracted by this newfound land with clear opportunities and challenges.
    Many con-men, deluded entrepreneurs, crooks, also get attracted by a domain were there was high expectation, and no official rules except “don’t even touch it”.
    The shouting of the clowns and the crooks is covering the calm voice of serious experimenters and theoreticians.
    The results is an awful image given to the outside world

    1. You wrote: “another cognitive problem is “neomania”
      Jed explain it regularly, that Calorimetry is an old established science that is very solid.
      But not only the experimental evidence that physicist master the best are prefered, but their science is more recent than calorimetry.”

      Yes! That is a peculiar way of thinking. I do not understand why modern scientists feel this way.

      A variation of this is to think that expensive, complex instruments are inherently better than simple ones. The people at Lugano put their faith in an expensive IR camera. They should have used a thermocouple. Or, at least, a thermocouple plus an IR camera.

      People believe an electronic black-box gadget the shows a number that came from who-knows-where, because it seems modern. It seems sophisticated. They believe it more readily than, say, a mercury thermometer or the kind of balance weight scale people have used for thousands of years.

      1. Neomania is one concept of Taleb, while he explains that some “systems” prove their quality by having survived long (species, languages, companies, technology) unlike some others that gae (people, machines).
        Old science that have survived long are based on solid principles and facts…
        for me it is funny to hear physicist say they are right agains LENR, while they have discovered nucleus structure less than a century ago, and still wonder about the vibration modes of nucleus…

        You introduce the idea of “complexmania”… interesting.
        It remind me the fiasco of Opera neutrinon, and the fioasco of it’s critics.
        after all it is just a very complex instruments with tons of wires and tunings…. they made one sequence of identical experiences, found an anomaly, searched further and they found some artifact… so what, I can do that on a lab bench will less reason to have a bad wire. No reason to fire the boss as they did.

        but it is so.

        Hierarchy, theory, neomania, inverted popperism, meta ignorance, budget groupthink… this is what is killing science today.

  4. Abd – IIRC Martin Fleischmann was surprised that the people attempting replications didn’t contact him to find out the details of the conditions and how to perform the experiment, as this would normally be expected. Maybe Jed can fill in the details on this, since I got that information from a comment he made a year or two ago. There’s maybe some element of those replicators seeking glory for themselves, here, rather than sharing it with MF – or at least that’s the impression I got.

    Part of my point, however, was to try to demonstrate to you just how ridiculous most scientists regard the claims by showing you how you react to what you regard as a ridiculous claim. If you don’t understand the reason for the attitude, your persuasion techniques will be non-optimal. You have obviously had some success (which is/will be very important) in getting Plan B off the ground, but it might have been easier.

    The heat/Helium correlation ties things down to being both nuclear and producing heat. Though Jed has a point that simply heat should be enough, you need to factor in the “ridiculous” nature of the claim in order to be totally convincing. For Rossi, it’s the ridiculous nature of his claims to be able to dissipate 1MW in the Doral warehouse that’s the real killer. In order to explain it, he’s invented a heat exchanger that is obviously inadequate to do the job, and would in any case be extremely obvious to anyone passing by – and no-one saw it or has any hard evidence of its existence. When something is claimed that goes against our basic understanding of how the world works, we reject it as simply impossible. This is of course how nuclear physicists in general regard LENR, as well. The story from Mitch Swartz is that he thought it was a ridiculous claim and thus set out to prove that there was no effect, and found instead that there was an effect he couldn’t dismiss as experimental error. He thus joined the side of the heretics, and is probably regarded as a crackpot by his colleagues who haven’t done the experiments themselves and thus proved it to their own satisfaction.

    Let’s take another ridiculous claim, that the Earth is hollow and has holes at the poles that allow ingress, and that there’s a whole civilisation living on the inner surface of the globe. There’s photographic evidence from NASA that the holes are there, after all (satellites did not pass over the poles at the time, so the composite they published had holes at the poles). We reject that as ridiculous, but there could be a conspiracy to cover it up and the authorities have placed spikes in the ground some way from the holes (in fact those spikes are some distance from the real poles) and silenced anyone who found out. The only way you’d be convinced would be to see those holes yourself and go inside, since video can be easily faked. Even though NASA have since mapped over the poles, that can be regarded as a cover-up, and the photos of the holes are still there on the net. There are still quite a few people who believe that the Moon landings were faked, and even that the ISS videos are computer-generated.

    In order to get over the ridicule for LENR, we need some extremely solid data that is incontestable, and even then there will be a sizeable proportion who will continue to contest it until they can buy one at the local hardware store. It’s possible to change the paradigm with enough hard data, but not easy.

    1. You wrote: “IIRC Martin Fleischmann was surprised that the people attempting replications didn’t contact him to find out the details of the conditions and how to perform the experiment, as this would normally be expected. Maybe Jed can fill in the details on this, since I got that information from a comment he made a year or two ago.”

      Gene Mallove said the people had trouble reaching Fleischmann and Pons at first, during the brouhaha phase. On the other hand, most of the people who replicated early on, such as Bockris, Miles and Huggins, knew them both quite well. I doubt they had trouble reaching Martin.

      In later years, Martin complained to me that people ignored his advice. He would tell them what to do and they would ignore it. Others disputed that. When Dennis Cravens gave a lecture describing his methods, Martin stood up later and said, “that’s exactly what we do!” He nominated that as the best paper in the conference. Others groused about it saying: “Why didn’t you tell us? Why do we have to hear it from Dennis?”

      I refer to Dennis’s paper here:

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

      It resembles the “How To” paper by Ed Storms.

      What Martin told me, which was very amusing, was that he gave out samples of palladium. They worked well. They were what he called Johnson Matthey Type A palladium, designed for hydrogen filters in the 1930s. I described what he told me here, on p. 7:

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

      1. Jed – thanks for the explanations. It’s possible that MF didn’t feel the need to explain what was obvious to him, such as not touching the prepared cathode with your hands or with tissue. The selection process for the cathodes may be systematised as Dennis said, but it seems likely that MF did this more intuitively and “just knew” which ones would comply with what he wanted, because of his long experience and expertise. Maybe hearing Dennis’s description of the criteria was a revelation for MF too, by setting out the reasons for things that MF did without such a check-list.

        It may be simply that my background is in failure analysis, but I feel that getting the maximum information from the failures is more critical to getting the process right than knowing what succeeded. Some things will not get mentioned in the reports, though (such as handling the samples with bare hands) since they may not be recognised as anything out of the ordinary until pointed out by someone who realises it’s an error. The source and purity of the materials may well be a critical point, as well as the actual impurities it contains (compare with the semiconductor industry where a few ppb can affect the results). One thing jumped out at me from the two files you referenced, and that is that Pt on the surface will stop a cathode from working – and yet a Pt anode is normally used and thus will deposit Pt on the surface of the cathode if you don’t take enough care with the current profile and electrolyte strength. Dennis mentions that the anode needs protection of any sharp edges to avoid the anode dissolving. I wonder what the results would be using a Carbon anode? More reliable?

        In both electronic design and in software design, I’ve needed to give “walkthroughs” where every design decision is discussed with peers and needs to be justified. If there’s any weakness in the design, there’s a good chance that someone will expose it. Most of the people in LENR, though, seem to be loners or isolated groups trying to protect their IP in case they succeed. They thus don’t get the benefit of informed criticism, except maybe something if they publish a paper. The CF community is really more of a collection of islands, with a few like MFMP working in the open and the rest as hermits with email.

  5. A lot of comment here, as Abd says it is a big subject.

    I’d make just two points:

    Simon said:

    Any experiment that produces a small amount of power where the experimental accuracy cannot be determined except by a specialist in calorimetry (which is a specialised subject all on its own and easy to get wrong) is going to be dismissed by those who don’t understand the fine points of the calorimetry – and that’s nearly everyone.

    That is right, for a deep reason as well as a superficial one. If the results are small – in the sense that they are close to possible calorimetry errors – we have an effect that can be explained in diverse mundane ways. Calorimetry errors, or unusual chemical reactions involving hydrogen in lattices. Saying that energy integrated is large, or that power density over a small period of time is large, does not resolve this, because it leaves these possible explanations open.

    The hypothesis of LENR an extraordinary effect (whether nuclear or just many OOMs out of known energy densities chemical) is always going to lose if backed only by such marginal evidence and without a theory that makes predictions other physical theories get wrong, or ties together many other diverse phenomena in some overarching way. Breakthroughs often do both. After all, if an extraordinary energy density effect exists, and has been seen in many experiments, it would be expected to be seen in some stronger form that ticks all boxes and is no longer close to calorimetry errors. For example in a system with no or minimal external power input. That is an argument which any scientist can understand without being an expert in calorimetry. Scientists also, rightly, are suspicious of experts. If 10 experts in calorimetry line up and say we have this anomaly it will take a lot of convincing evidence before the consensus is new science rather than experimental error. Normally you would start off with consensus amongst the calorimetry community that howsoever they try the calorimetry anomaly remains, is significant, and cannot be explained. From that, way-out hypotheses might emerge including perhaps nuclear.

    Ed Storms replying to Alan as quoted by Abd:

    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.

    Firstly: what happened in F&P days was unusual. F&P broke conventions, and politicised a matter that would have required great care not to be politicised. So not entirely their fault. Once the topic is political and of popular interest normal scientific considerations can be overwhelmed – democracy does not do science well short-term, with emphasis on quick results and simple solutions.

    Otherwise: the real issue is continued rejection by scientists of the LENR hypothesis. This cannot be primarily orchestrated from some top-down conspiracy because science does not work like that. Scientists are relatively independent of institutions, institutions are relatively independent of the state, Journals have editorial independence. Not all scientists are independent, not all institutions are indepedent, not all journals will be immune to pressure. It does not matter. The law of large numbers applies – there will be some work on fringe topics as we can see. And scientists are very highly incentivised, from the bottom up, to be curious and play with things that seem unusual.

    So there might be some governmental of business conspiracy to suppress LENR – though I see no evidence of this and view it as motiveless (as Abd comments) and highly unlikely. Even so, it could not suppress scientific interest in a new idea. Look at astronomy when in Galilean times the scientific process was much weaker (fewer scientists, less independence, more censorship). Fostering that interest, or asking why it is not strong, should be at the top of the agenda for those who think an LENR hypothesis is real and will revolutionise science.

  6. Scientists do not oppose cold fusion. It is not a task for science to oppose, but to research. Unfortunately, research without results is futile.

    Thus, researching cold fusion seems to be very futile indeed.

    1. No, there are results, many. And then hosts of arguments over how to interpret them. In this context, I suggest looking for what is multiple and independently confirmed; this winnows the field to a relatively few reports, and the best such, my opinion, is work that measured excess heat and helium simultaneously or within set time periods, showing strong correlation. This has over a dozen confirmations, some of them involving series of experiments. It is then testable and confirmable with increased precision, taking only will and funding, and confirmation with increased precision is under way.

      I suggested this work because it was likely to produce useful results. If it succeeds, some experiments will show excess heat. It is not necessary for all of them to do so, far from it. For this purpose even a few would be enough, but experience suggests that it is likely that more than 50% of cells will show some XE, even if small. Some will not be so small. So, then, if all these experiments are treated identically, follow the same protocol, and if — I’d suggest — helium measurements are blind, and if reverse electrolysis is used because there are indications that this releases all the helium, causing measurements to tighten around the theoretical deuterium/helium conversion ratio — we should end up with definitive evidence as to the correlation and the underlying ratio, with much better precision on this than is currently available.

      In theory, the work could find that excess heat, as measured, and helium, as measured, do not correlate. (Shanahan made that claim, which was contradicted by the data he was looking at: he’d misread the data.) I would then find some other project to work on, there are many, and so would others, I think. That would be a useful outcome! It’s about time that these basic research issues be decided by careful experiment rather than by endless argument.

      If they correlate, and tighten on the theoretical value, the likelihood of some artifact or set of artifacts that settle on that ratio is extremely low. Forget it, basically!

      This will not overturn mainstream physics. The concept that cold fusion was impossible was always seriously defective. It’s like saying “God” is impossible, without having a clear idea of what “God” is. It is a rejection of Vague. Never a good idea. There were decent arguments about the possibility of “d-d fusion,” but they were based on, again, defective understandings as to absolute impossibility. At this point, even with a 23.8 MeV heat/helium ratio, ordinary d-d fusion still looks very unlikely. D-d fusion happens with muon catalyzed fusion and shows the classic hot fusion branching ratio, apparently. Something quite different must be happening, if this is fusion.

      If the heat/helium work succeeds (meaning there are clear experimental results, not that those results are “positive”) it may then become possible to identify heat and helium artifacts, on the one hand, or to use the ratio to vet approaches to theory.

      (I have also suggested looking for other prompt signals correlated with XE and helium. Light, sound, RF, radiation, or sensitivity to loading ratio and temperature, laser stimulation, etc. This could accelerate research, though the best finding, for a long time, would be a reliable lab rat experiment. I merely think we will best stop waiting for it. It may take billions of dollars in investment to reach that goal. Or someone, doing the other work, working with and nailing what is already more-or-less known, might stumble on it.)

      Cold fusion research is quite difficult, but there are ways to break through this. Part of the approach I’ve been suggesting is to shift the attitude of the community toward skepticism, toward accepting it and even welcoming it. Better active skepticism than pure ignorance, “any publicity is good publicity,” etc.

      I am offended when called a “believer in cold fusion.” I accept the reality of a nuclear effect in PdD, based on what I see as the preponderance of the evidence. That is not a “belief.” It is a provisional conclusion, rebuttable by new evidence or discovery of error in what I base the conclusion on.

      I do not expect to see commercial cold fusion in my lifetime, but consider that this is not impossible, merely unlikely. Investment in cold fusion should be long-term, any seeking of quick profit is likely to be disappointed. My interest is in the science and I do expect to see the mainstream scientific consensus shift in my lifetime, as new results, with more careful work, are published in mainstream journals.

      Many in the field expect that the effective embargo against cold fusion papers will continue. That embargo is already over-rated, it only applies to a few journals, they are merely well-known journals. If it does continue, if peer review unfairly rejects papers that are clearly qualified, this can be and should be publicized, with clear evidence, and other journals will publish. The DoE recommended publication in the “journal system,” which is not confined to those few journals. We disempower ourselves by focusing on them and expecting them to continue a possibly foolish policy determined over 25 years ago. It is time for our community to move into the future, which doesn’t happen through complaint.

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