A comment today pointed out a post by kirkshanahan on LENR-Forum.
KShanahan. What’s that story about the time you were trying to dispute some ‘cold fusion’ findings by showing a non-correlation between two factors, but ballsed up the analysis, and ended up unknowingly proving it? Or something. Abd used to write about it. Never heard your side of it. Maybe something about a horizontal line on a graph?
In my 2010 J. Env. Monitoring paper, there is a slight error in my discussion
of a specific figure. Abd has tried to use that to discredit everything I write
in a ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ style. I replied to him here on
lenr-forum, but in brief…
I find it sad that Kirk hasn’t learned anything, apparently, and his skill at mind-reading sucks. I do not use that error to discredit everything. It could illustrate, however, how his eagerness to debunk can overwhelm his understanding of fact. (And how his Letter was not carefully edited.) He calls it a “slight error.” It reverses the sense of his discussion there.
Kirk digitized a graph from Storms The Science of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (2007), Figure 47, page 87, wherein Storms presents results from ten heat/helium measurements by Miles, and three from Bush and Lagowski.
The graph is, in my opinion, mislabled, in a way that made Shanahan’s error easier to make.
To study this, Shanahan digitized the plot, measuring the position of each point. In fact, the data is in table 7 on the next page.
The correct comment on the figure in question (which shows #He atoms/
Watt-sec which can be related to the MeV/atom He purportedly released in the unknown LENR (the value is used to draw the horizontal line you reference)) is that the Figure shows nothing because the noise level of the results is so high it includes zero and values up to 2X the maximum postulated for the LENR.
If it shows nothing, why did Kirk feature it in his article? The Miles work was indeed quite noisy; however, Shanahan clearly exaggerates the significance of that. The purpose of the plot was to show scatter, and it shows how the scatter declines with increased power (and helium). There is, as Shanahan points out, a flyer, but this flyer is the result with the least reported power, 30 milliwatts. That sample also had the least helium, 0.61 x 10^14 atoms per 500 ml (of collected electrolytic outgas).
(There are many details to this experiment that I’m not going into now, but what is correlated with produced helium is energy, not power, but … the way the experiment was done and data was collected makes those equivalent. I.e., the power plotted is for a certain period.)
Background helium was 0.51 x 10^14 atoms per 500 ml, so that flyer was very close to the noise.
Abd thinks the Figure shows the reaction is related to D-D fusion, but to get that he (a) has to ignore a high flyer datum,
I don’t ignore that datum, and one of the great features of Miles’ work is that he reported all his experiments. This is not cherry-picked data. That the ratio of helium to heat was within an order of magnitude of the theoretical deuterium to helium conversion expectation was considered amazing by Huizenga, in 1993. This is a strong result, compared to the much less specific excess heat reports, but this is far from the best data. It was simply enough for its time. It can be seen on the Bush and Lagowski reports that the ratio is much more stable with better helium measurement accuracy. There is a broad agreement across many experiments other than Miles that the observed ratio is consistent with a retention of about 40% of the helium — if the reaction is deuterium conversion with no escapes. Of course, there is an escape, trapped helium, apparently, and that is certainly reasonable as an explanation for the “missing helium.”
There is more. Perhaps Shanahan should read my paper. The work that I recommend in it is being done, the heat/helium ratio is being measured with increased precision, and I expect they will capture all the helium, it is now known how to easily do that.
and (b) has to assume some large fraction (~40-50%) of the produced He atoms are trapped in the solid electrode.
I make no such assumption. I observe what has been found experimentally. I do not know what the true ratio is. I am aware of a level of evidence that it is within 20% or so of the “fusion” value, i.e., 23.8 MeV/4He, even that does not “prove” that the reaction is some kind of fusion. My hope is that we will know, in fairly short order, a tighter value.
The trap, by the way, would be near-surface, based on substantial evidence going back to Morrey et al. The location of trapped helium — it is not found in the bulk — is a clue as to the reaction site, for if helium were formed in the bulk, it would stay there indefinitely, absent extraordinary measures. Helium stays put in palladium lattice, and this is known from the behavior of 3He produced in the lattice by tritium decay.
Ignoring the flyer is not a good idea. It is a real data point derived from the
system under study. It shows you how spread the data can be, thereby supporting the assertion that the method is too inaccurate to be useful. The % thing has no technical support, it is just handwaving designed to ‘explain’ the result that the average value comes in well below the theoretical one (the horizontal line).
There are many other reports that align with Miles and Bush and Lagowski, done with increased precision. Shanahan is, here, handwaving himself, not looking at the actual experimental data.
I don’t really care all that much about that “horizonatal line.” Rather, what is observed experimentally? It is obvious that with a helium background of 0.51 x 10^4 atoms, a measurement of 0.61 is not likely to be tight, so of course that would generate flyers. Shanahan is ignoring the more solid results, turning a feature of Miles (reporting all the results) into a bug (which isn’t a bug, because Miles also reports no-heat results, which uniformly came in around the background value. If we were to report those results with high (and unjustified) precision, we would really have flyers. I’m actually appalled by this argument.
No, I didn’t ‘unknowingly prove’ anything. The ‘CCSH’ idea authors however, in proving their straw man false, unknowingly supported my ATER-CCS proposition.
First of all, this is not a discussion of whatever errors those authors allegedly made. It’s a discussion of what Shanahan wrote, and, now, how he is explaining his error away.
So what mistake did Shanahan make? Here is his response to Krivit and Marwan.
Storms also presents another heat He plot as Figure 47 in his book. However, this plot shows no correlation such as presented by K&M or Hagelstein.
Well, it does, that is, if we were to plot helium atoms vs accumulated energy, we would see them as a line, like the Hagelstein plot (which is from McKubre and the Case experiment, and presents other mysteries, but not this one). Perhaps I’ll do that plot and present it. The Storms plot was designed to show the scatter, not the correlation itself.
In fact, digitizing the data of Figure 47 and neglecting the one obvious flyer at the lowest excess power value produced a correlation coefficient of 0.0995. This is a highly statistically significant number indicating strong confidence that in fact no correlation exists.
Indeed. And if we look at, say, crude measurements of the diameter of a circle vs the ratio of the diameter to the circumference, we would find a low correlation coefficient, because that ratio is a constant, and a low correlation coefficient indicates, in this case, that the ratio of helium to heat does not vary with the heat, it is at least roughly constant. Hence Shanahah did show (not “prove”) the opposite of his intention, by misreading what he was studying.
Including the single flyer produces R ¼ 0.38, which is indeterminate as to whether a correlation exists or not. This plot was constructed from data from two different laboratories, one from 1998 and the other from 2003.
The plot was from Miles (2003), but the experiments were much earlier, that was a review, and it was from Bush and Lagowski, 1998 (and I haven’t checked, but I think that was earlier as well). Miles’ early helium measurements were quite crude.
Apparently, it depends on where and when one gets the data as to whether or not a correlation is observed. This is a typical problem observed when one attempts to plot two truly uncorrelated variables in a correlation plot.
Except that all roads lead to the correlation. There really isn’t any significant contrary evidence; and disputes exist about the value of the ratio, hence the value of more precise measurement. Back when Shanahan’s Letter was published, I noticed his error and wrote him (before I published it). He responded with an insult.
Just because I can, I will present the Marwan et al response to Shanahan on helium. They did not notice his blatant error, my guess is that it simply made no sense to them, and they focused on the Case SRI plot. I used that plot in my own paper, perhaps against my better judgment; the editors wanted some eye candy, but there are “issues” with the Case work. It’s still of high interest, to be sure, but … it was never formally published, for one thing, and there was some unexplained anomalous behavior. It showed a quite different retention ratio, perhaps because it was a very different experiment (gas-loaded, coconut charcoal coated with palladium)
2.5 Temporal correlation between heat and 4He
The China Lake experiments on the correlation of heat and helium-4 production carefully ruled out contamination.[5,21] Control cells were run in the same manner as the cells that produced excess power. Excess helium-4 was measured in 18 out of 21 cells that produced excess heat. None of the 12 control cells yielded excess heat or showed excess helium-4 production. The random probability of obtaining the correct heat/helium-4 relationship in 30 out of 33 studies is 1:750,000 (see Appendix C of Ref. 5). Furthermore, it is very unlikely that random errors due to contamination would consistently yield helium-4 production rates in the appropriate range of D + D fusion of 1011–1012 atoms/s per watt of excess power.[5,21] Case reported production of extra energy by nano-particles of palladium on the surface of charcoal when the material was exposed to D2 gas at temperatures up to 175°C. McKubre et al. replicated the claims. The results of this experiment are shown in Fig. 3a. This is the Figure 6 in the 2004 report prepared by Hagelstein et al.24 that Shanahan discusses. This plot illustrates the real-time correlation between excess heat and the growth of 4He concentration in a metal-sealed, helium leak-tight vessel that was observed in the SRI replication of the Case experiment. In his critique, Shanahan briefly touches on the quantitative and temporal correlation of excess heat and 4He production with an odd argument posed as a rhetorical question: “If in fact there is no excess heat, then what exactly is being plotted on the Y axis?”
Where does the “fact” that “there is no excess heat” come from? It comes from the strained logic that the CCSH “explains all excess heat results.” As discussed above, CCSH has no validity. Plotted on the X-axis of Fig. 3a is the increased level of 4He measured in samples drawn from a helium-leak-tight vessel. Again in his critique, Shanahan asks: “If there is no
proof that the observed He is not from a leak, then how does one know that is not what is being plotted on the X axis?” This is easily explained. The shape of the measured 4He vs. time curve is quantitatively different from that of a convective or diffusional leak of ambient 4He into the closed cell. The measured and plotted [4He] first remains constant (no leak), then rises approximately linearly to roughly twice the ambient air background level. A shape consistent with the hypothesis Shanahan proposes would be exponential with greatest slope at time zero and rising asymptotically to the environing background level (5.22 ppmV). So an
explanation invoking an in-leak from the ambient can be seen to fail quantitatively.
That rhetorical question is vintage Shanahan. What is plotted is independently calculated heat. Miles measured helium blind. The lab he sent the samples to did not know which cells had produced heat and which did not.
Come up with a final word for this post better than “error,” and you will win 50 quatloos, redeemable in advertising credits. Your message here!
“Better” means “more fun.” This is a blog post, not a scientific journal article. The intention of the title was playing on the claim that the error was “slight.” I thought, “itsy bitsy,” and then came the obvious result of pattern recognition. That song hit #1 on the charts in August, 1960, when I was at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for a summer program for high schoolers going into their senior year.
All submissions become my property. The winning entry, as judged by the chief cook and bottle washer at CFC (moi!), will be published as the revised title of this post. The authors of losing entries will be subjected to natural public ridicule by being published in comments here. In fact, that is how to submit a contest entry, by commenting on this post. Offensive comments will be deleted without mercy, but mild offensiveness may result in winning. Have fun!
37 thoughts on “It was an itsy-bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot error”
Abd – “Recent Comments” here only shows the last 5 comments. This is a little skinny here where there are some important things coming out in the comments and more than 5 of them can happen if I’m otherwise engaged for a while (visitors here, for example). I’d appreciate it if you set the number of recent comments up to maybe 15 or more.
Jed has probably covered most if not all of these points in other fora going back over years, but because I figured Rossi for a scam pretty early on and only dipped into the blogs occasionally, since that was the only topic that seemed to be being talked about, it wasn’t worth the time reading the arguments. These days it’s all legal arguments, of course, and whether the photographs show a window-pane there or missing. There’s no meat in that for me (not that I eat meat anyway – it’s just a saying).
Having some great LENR papers doesn’t help if no-one reads them. Jed knows which ones are useful and can point to them. Unlike other fora, I think THH will actually read what he’s been pointed at (I do just as soon as I can) and will change his opinion if it is warranted. There’s no point in discussing this sort of stuff unless you are prepared to change your opinion when given better evidence, and it seems that in most discussions people are intent on having other people change theirs. Jed has changed his opinion of Rossi based on the evidence of Doral. I came from sitting on the wall to the opinion that Rossi had nothing on the basis of the Doral evidence.
This is the reason I’d like to see a few more recent comments. Here they are mostly worth the time to read, and could change my opinions since I can refer back to the papers. If more people start adding information, and it’s not on the current topic, it’s quite easy to miss.
Okay, I just upped it to 25. Looks to me like the design could allow more. ECW shows 15. Heh! I’ll double that! (it is now 30)
Primary content organization here, however, is by post and page. Pages are really designed to build enduring content. THH can now create pages, and so could Rothwell if he wants (he’d simply ask for author privileges. Or you, Simon. I have taken some commentary and placed it on pages, it can work. To make it work, someone must do the work! It will sometimes be me, but if it’s always me, that is not going to work, except a little. It takes a village.
Thanks for the suggestion, it took moments to up the number. If someone does the work to compile content from comments, I assume that even if they don’t have author rights like THH — who hasn’t used them yet — I would do the minor work to create a post or page from it. Posts are for fun, mostly, and may be ephemera. Pages are for more serious content, especially if consensus is being sought.
Both Jed and THH have much to contribute, and their comments are appreciated. I’ve learned this myself. If I have a stupid question, others have it too, and if I ask it, and someone with knowledge or decent ideas cares to answer, the answers can help many. And even “wrong answers” can be useful, if they don’t overwhelm the process.
There is a gigantic difference. I do not merely say “it is impossible.” I give specific technical reasons from the literature proving that the skeptical objection is impossible. For example, Shanahan claims there might be recombination in the Miles experiment. I point to the numbers and descriptions numbers in Miles’ papers showing that all of the effluent gas from electrolysis was measured coming out of the cell, to within a fraction of a percent. There was no gas left in the cell to recombine. It is all accounted for.
There are two types of cell here, open and closed. For closed cells we have a recombiner, and a difference in the position of heat generation from recombination, relative to spatial heat losses from the inner cell, that alters calibration. Shanahan was talking about closed cells that were not nearly 100% efficient – and I agree his mechanism does not apply (or only <1%) to 99% efficient cells.
Open cells have many other mechanisms by which calibration can shift due to activity in the cell. I agree, Shanahan’s recombination idea can be disproved by analysis bounding the amount of recombination in the cell, but not his more general CCs ideaDifferential H/D experiments do not help this because H and D have very different physical characteristics. There is no other control I can think of that sufficiently duplicates active conditions to be of use here in an open cell.
So, what you need to rebut Shanahan is a closed cell with very low heat loss (say less than 1%). We then need to bound the calibration shift possible given a change in this loss, and work from that to the anomalous effect actually observed. I'd be very happy to see this bounding process done to validate these experiments, but my current understanding is that it cannot be done. Maybe that is just because I've not looked at the right experiment.
Finally – I should say that I don't expect Shanahan's mechanism to cover all anomalous heat results on electrolysis experiments. It might do so, it might (more likely) not. Nor do I assume it is the only non-LENR effect that could generate anomalous heat effects in these experiments. But if we could clearly bound Shanahan's issue it would narrow the investigation for other issues. For me, and others, only when all potential such effects are bounded can we have any confidence in the results, given that for whatever reason, political, scientific, etc, it is difficult now to replicate the experiments with additional instrumentation as is needed to eliminate each potential non-LENR anomaly.
Sorry, ran out of time. In open cells we need to go over the bounding of recombination and what effect the unbounded 1% or whatever cell recombination could have. Carefully. If you can point me to where Miles has done this – fine – but it would have been post hoc since Shanahan’s critique was post hoc, and I suspect not done using Shanahan’s model which it seems critics of Shanahan have not, in the literature, fully understood. So I cannot be sure they apply the bounds they properly come up with correctly to determine errors likely from calibration shift. I don’t particularly expect Miles to be wrong here – I think it possible that he has overlooked the potential amplifying effect of such a mechanism or some other detail. I also think it possible that Shanahan is completely wrong here and there is no amplification relevant.
So – we could go over this – in detail – with open or closed cells and rebut Shanahan. Or not, if this can’t be done. What I can see is that in the literature thus far there is no complete rebuttal, or anything like.
Note that recombination is much higher in cells at lower power. Especially cells with wrong geometry. Jones used a cell with 100 to 1000 times less power than any cold fusion experiment and the worst possible geometry to produce lots of recombination. See:
You would never see cold fusion at these current densities.
Actually, it is high current density that reduces recombination. Not high power per se. Fritz Will measured recombination. He reported it “comprises only 0.03% of the cell input energy at 400 mA/cm^2.”
Ref. 7 here:
Measuring 0.03% of cell input energy is heroic calorimetry, above and beyond a PHOSITA’s ability. People such as Will or Fleischmann can do it. The volumentric technique of measuring recombination with gas or liquid is a lot easier. It is less precise but very accurate, and reliable.
“Easy” meaning any high school kid could do it. Heck, I could do it. You just measure the water every day when you replenish.
“In open cells we need to go over the bounding of recombination and what effect the unbounded 1% or whatever cell recombination could have. Carefully. If you can point me to where Miles has done this – fine –”
I can point to Miles, Bush and Johnson:
Or Miles and Fleischmann:
Plus many other papers.
I am tempted to say you should do your own homework. However:
Volumetrically it is not 1%. It is within the margin of error. Theory predicts 6.73 ml/minute and they measured (Ref. 1)
Cell A 6.75 +/- 0.25 ml/minute
Cell B 6.69 +/- 0.15 ml/minute
Worst case would be Cell B 6.69 – 0.15 = 6.54, a deficit of 0.19 ml/m. Which, if I have done my arithmetic right (doubtful) comes to:
1 mole gas = 22,400 ml, so this is 0.000008 mol. Divide by 2 because it is water, 0.000004 mol. Multiply by the heat of formation of water per mole gives 1.2 J/min, or 20 mW.
Choosing the lowest possible value from the control cell B is unrealistic.
Ref. 2 gives the actual calormetrically measured recombination for a blank cell: 1.1 mW +/- 0.1 mW.
In these experiments, excess heat ranged from 100 to 500 mW.
[This message reposted because it came out in the wrong place.]
[Abd comment: Original post deleted]
Note that my response to this message came out below, in the wrong place.
This is a screwy message system.
You wrote: “There are two types of cell here, open and closed. For closed cells we have a recombiner, and a difference in the position of heat generation from recombination, relative to spatial heat losses from the inner cell, that alters calibration.”
No, it does not. That never happens. Shanahan claims it happens, but there is no experimental data showing that it does. On the contrary, calibrations show it does not happen. With most calorimeters the hypothesis is not only impossible, it is ridiculous. How could it happen with a Seebeck calorimeter, or a flow calorimeter? The temperature sensors are far from the cell! How could they know where in the cell the heat originates? Look at photo of one and ask yourself that.
“Shanahan was talking about closed cells that were not nearly 100% efficient – and I agree his mechanism does not apply (or only <1%) to 99% efficient cells."
I do not know what you mean by 100% efficient. If the closed cell recombiner is not 100% efficient, the cell will explode. The heat recovery rate for a calorimeter is never 100%, but with a good instrument it is close to that, and it is predictable. It is not better or worse for open versus closed cells.
"Open cells have many other mechanisms by which calibration can shift due to activity in the cell."
No, they do not. No such shifts have been detected. Shanahan only imagines they have been. If this could happen, it would be easy to simulate or detect with calibrations, for example with a resistance heater compared to electrolysis.
"I agree, Shanahan’s recombination idea can be disproved by analysis bounding the amount of recombination in the cell, but not his more general CCs ideaDifferential H/D experiments . . ."
There is no data supporting his notions. They are all imaginary. When he proposed these ideas, electrochemists looked at their data and did not see what he claimed should be there. Miles and others answered him.
"So, what you need to rebut Shanahan is a closed cell with very low heat loss (say less than 1%)."
You mean a 99% recovery rate. 99% of the heat accounted for. No calorimeter is that good. But you don't need that. You just need a predictable heat loss, and a stable calorimeter. Unless you are measuring recombination volumetrically, in which case you need a syringe. That's it. Twenty cents worth of equipment is all it takes to prove Shanahan is wrong. Everyone I know uses one.
Measuring the effect of significant recombination when it happens is dead simple. You can't miss it, as Miles describes in his paper. You can hear it. It make a popping noise. It sometimes causes a glass cells explode, or the safety valve to pop open. It never happens with an open bulk Pd cell, but as Miles points out, it often happens with other cold fusion experiments:
"We have demonstrated that any recombination of the deuterium (D2) and oxygen (O2) electrolysis gases in our experiments can be readily detected and easily corrected. There was never any measurable recombination when the palladium cathodes were fully
submerged in the deuterium oxide plus deuterated lithium hydroxide (D2O + LiOD) electrolyte. . . ."
"Despite the many attractive features of the co-deposition method, our experiments yielded more frustrations. Most experiments failed to produce any excess power that could be detected with our calorimetry . . . Although this method provides for a high-purity palladium deposit that is simultaneously loaded with deuterium, this palladium deposit is often dendritic in nature. Hence, the palladium becomes detached from the electrode, floats in the solution, and adheres to the cell wall above the D2O electrolyte level. This finely divided palladium acts as an excellent catalyst for recombination. Our co-deposition experiments sometimes resulted in loud explosions. . . ."
"We then need to bound the calibration shift possible given a change in this loss, and work from that to the anomalous effect actually observed."
That was done . . . About 150 years ago.
"Finally – I should say that I don't expect Shanahan's mechanism to cover all anomalous heat results on electrolysis experiments. It might do so, it might (more likely) not."
1. It does not show up in calibrations, where it is easily simulated. That is in fact the only way you can move the center of heat production from one place to another in a cell for more than a fraction of a second (the time it takes to pop or explode).
2. It is physically impossible with most calorimeters. There is no way to tell where in the cell the heat originates. Perhaps you could use an IR camera to spot the source of heat in a cell, but that technique is not recommended.
3. Shanahan posits that the effect is caused by recombination. He has not proposed any other mechanism that would shift the heat from one place to another. Recombination is his one and only hypothesis. The problem is, as I have shown, RECOMBINATION DOES NOT OCCUR in any bulk Pd cell, by any electrochemist, ever. If it did, they would know it. They would fix it. Or the cell would explode.
"Nor do I assume it is the only non-LENR effect that could generate anomalous heat effects in these experiments."
Okay, I'll bite. What other effect produces heat 10,000 times beyond the limits of chemistry, no chemical changes, tritium, and helium in a fixed ratio to the heat?
You wouldn't be hand waving again, would you? Claiming to know some other effects that can do that, without actually listing them? You don't get a free pass. All assertions, positive, negative, skeptical or supportive, must meet the same level of rigor. If you say that some other phenomenon can explain these results, you must say which phenomenon you mean, or your assertion cannot be falsified, and it ain't science.
"But if we could clearly bound Shanahan's issue it would narrow the investigation for other issues. For me, and others, only when all potential such effects are bounded . . ."
Read the literature and you will see that all such issues were bounded in 1990. Every skeptical objection was met, and many other objections the skeptics never dreamed of were met. Read the 1989 NSF conference proceedings.
Shanahan's notions took 5 minutes to disprove. They are ridiculous. Look at a calorimeter and look at where the temperature sensors are located and you will see that. It would be black magic if the instrument could detect where in the cell the heat originates from several centimeters away.
". . . it is difficult now to replicate the experiments with additional instrumentation as is needed to eliminate each potential non-LENR anomaly."
That's not the reason it is difficult to replicate. The problem is materials, not the calorimeters or mass spectrometers. They have always been capable of eliminating non-LENR explanations, and they eliminated all such explanations in the first few months. You don't know that because you have not read the literature, but the fact that you don't know it does not make it go away.
You cannot list any non-LENR, non-nuclear anomaly that does this. No skeptic has ever listed one. They only say it must be an experimental error, and they never say what error that might be, because they cannot. They don't even know that a calorimeter cannot tell where in the cell the heat comes from. You don't seem to understand that. Shanahan sure doesn't.
THH, you make many statements that I understand seem plausible from your position, but that certainly will not find agreement from Jed, because he knows the counterexamples. What is very clear is that Shanahan’s recombination ideas don’t have any traction with those doing experimental work, the possibility of recombination is one of the first things any electrochemist would consider. Shanahan has never convinced anyone with the means to test his ideas that they are worthy of such testing (and Storms actually presented contradictory data — he measured heat both in the electrolyte and then with the recombiner, coming up with very similar results — in one of the papers that Shanahan first critiqued, and Shanahan ignored it.) Shanahan has been proposing a theoretical solution but never managed to arrange any confirmation, it’s all armchair.
Pseudoskeptics commonly blame this on the “believers,” claiming that it is their responsibility, since they are making an “extraordinary claim.” This is exactly what Truzzi was talking about with “pseudoskepticism.” There is what is actually an extraordinary claim being accepted without experimental confirmation (so many electrochemists being dumb about electrochemistry). The entire concept of “extraordinary” is social and heavily subject to confirmation bias.
I’m not interested in “refuting” Shanahan, as such, other than occasionally pointing out the obvious, where it is sufficiently fun. Leading with the bikini (this post) is a clue that fun is the goal. And then I was moved to recreate the Storms graph, with data and the spreadsheet uploaded so anyone can play with it, in Shanahan’s Folly, in Color. I know what is behind that Storms plot, what was misleading about it, exactly the mistake that Shanahan made — and it was not “teeny-weeny,” though it was a bit “weeny.” I know many deficiencies in the heat/helium experimental history that we have. And yet, just as we can see with a dirty mirror, even badly tarnished, we can still see through these deficiencies to an underlying reality that can then be tested. Science is not about theory except as an element in this process, which involves tested imagination.
There are many hooks in your comment that could lead to pages. What interests you the most? And how about creating a page about it?
I know of few “bomb-proof results” and wonder why they would be considered necessary. This is not a criminal case, with cold fusion on trial — or skepticism on trial. Rather, what is the preponderance of evidence? This will require a different kind of examination than arises from these “debates.”
I was interested in promoting what has been called Plan B, basic scientific research. To do that I did not need to “prove” the reality of cold fusion, or of the heat/helium ratio, I only needed to establish enough evidence to make further investigation worthwhile — sufficient for researchers to be motivated to do it and sources of funding to fund it. I don’t think it likely, but if cold fusion is not real, if the heat/helium correlation is artifact and illusion, I’d expect the research to show it. It’s a standard argument against “pathological science,” that the alleged effect disappears when measured with increased precision. Well, does it?
(what the heat/helium history shows, so far, is that increased precision tightened the ratio, and then someone like Krivit argues fraud, data fabrication, bias, set beliefs, etc. And Shanahan’s oft-repeated complaint is that nobody is paying attention to him. Well? Does he deserve more attention? If so, THH, please give it to him!
I did this years ago, but maybe you will have more useful results. One result is likely: you will learn stuff.
Shanahan’s claims are a distraction. Cold fusion is chock full of real problems, such as:
* The effect of different cathode materials.
* The effect is correlated with current density, but that might actually be temperature, as Ed Storms suspects.
* Are the Ni-H claims real?
Instead of looking at actual problems, Shanahan and other skeptics would have us spend time looking at imaginary problems, such as recombination in cells where there is irrefutable proof that no recombination occurs. (The gas is all accounted for.)
Many other supposed problems listed by skeptics do not exist. THH and others keep insisting that as calorimetry and other diagnostics improve, the effect goes away. That’s not even slightly true. His latest convoluted way of expressing that is:
“That does not seem to be the case, because if it were we would by now have sequences of results where better calorimetry or control resulted in less marginal data.”
Eliminating double negatives, this means:
Claim X is wrong, because results from better calorimetry are more marginal.
No, they aren’t more marginal. It a matter of fact that they are not. The actual problems in cold fusion are bad enough. There is no need to invent imaginary problems that make it seem worse than it is.
Jed, people are free to invent problems. You may say “there is no need” until you are blue in the face, and it won’t change that. No need for whom?
Personally, I prefer — as I’m trained — to invent solutions or possibilities, over inventing problems.
There are a million stories in cold fusion. Over time, many of these will be completed, many will probably remain incomplete. What the hell happened with the “as-received” sample Pons and Fleischmann provided to the Morrey collaboration? And why did they provide an experimental sample with poor heat production?
That collaboration was poorly designed, my opinion, for with great effort, if it had all been done properly, it might have produced a single piece of evidence indicating helium production with heat, with maybe one or two data points. But it was not done properly, and this is obvious to serious LENR historians. Something was terribly off. That may have marked the last time that the mainstream physics community gave Fleischmann the time of day.
Perhaps the issue for me is the attitude here towards problems. When trying to understand an extraordinary and not theoretically predicted effect every possible problem needs to be explicitly considered and actively eliminated – not just dismissed as impossible. After all, we are in territory where conventional theory does not work, and that must be applied to expertise on typical erorrs as well as expertise on whether nuclear reactions are possible.
Jed’s “it is not possible” seems to me an exact analog of a skeptic’s “LENR is not possible”. One or other may well be correct, though at least one must be false, and both modes of argument are unhelpful.
You wrote “Perhaps the issue for me is the attitude here towards problems. When trying to understand an extraordinary and not theoretically predicted effect every possible problem needs to be explicitly considered and actively eliminated – not just dismissed as impossible.”
As Storms, Boss, Bockris, McKubre and many others have pointed out, cold fusion researchers have considered and eliminated all of the problems proposed by skeptics, plus many other problems skeptics never thought of. They did this in 1990. Read the literature and you will see.
“Jed’s ‘it is not possible’ seems to me an exact analog of a skeptic’s “LENR is not possible”.
There is a gigantic difference. I do not merely say “it is impossible.” I give specific technical reasons from the literature proving that the skeptical objection is impossible. For example, Shanahan claims there might be recombination in the Miles experiment. I point to the numbers and descriptions numbers in Miles’ papers showing that all of the effluent gas from electrolysis was measured coming out of the cell, to within a fraction of a percent. There was no gas left in the cell to recombine. It is all accounted for.
Electrochemists always account for effluent gas, by one method or another. Or by several methods. This issue is covered in every major cold fusion study that I know of. So, recombination can never be an issue. I have pointed this out to Shanahan, with specific references to the papers and page numbers. I have done this time after time, after time. So have the authors themselves. He ignores us. Therefore, he is not mistaken, but intellectually dishonest. He knows damn well there can be no recombination.
The issue for me is your attitude here towards problems. Instead of reading the literature to see whether problems have been addressed, you speculate that they have not been. This is a waste of your time. It is a waste my time telling you they have been considered. You could better find this out on your own by reading the literature, rather than have me spoon-feed you such details.
A person should not speculate about research, or hold any opinion about it, until he has done his homework and learned the details by reading the papers. Nearly all of the opposition to cold fusion from Nature magazine, Sci. Am., the DoE and other institutions comes from people who have read nothing and who know nothing. I am sure they have read nothing because:
1. They say they have read nothing. They brag about it!
2. They say that no papers on the subject were ever published.
3. When you ask them simple questions about the experiments, they never know the answers. They have never heard of Bockris or McKubre, and they have no idea what sort of calorimeters or instruments these people used.
4. Their assertions about cold fusion are utterly incorrect in every detail.
Blathering about a subject you know nothing about violates academic standards and common sense.
(The only major exception was Huizenga and a few of the DoE reviewers. These people did know some facts about cold fusion. They were not mistaken; they lied through their teeth. I suspect Robert Park may also know more than he lets on, but he claims he has read nothing, and his statements are devoid of any actual information.)
THH, you are replying to Jed, not to me. I don’t say that problems are impossible, Jed does. It’s his style. Yes, I see the analogy, and it’s a point I make with Jed often. It does not seem to inspire him, he likes thinking like he’s thought for many years. Funny that, eh?
Yes, both modes of argument are unhelpful, my opinion. However, now, how do we do better? Argument, in itself, may not be the most powerful path. Finding agreement is a different framing of what might be otherwise quite the same, but once a goal like “agreement” is declared, and as long as participants are adequately thoughtful, or willing to become so, progress actually becomes likely. Differences and the distinguishing of differences become, then, tools for digging deeper into issues, for expanding understanding, not only of the ostensible topic, but of each other. In my experience, a very useful exercise can be to express the point of view of someone else, even someone with whom one disagrees greatly, such that this person says, “Yes, that’s what I think, that is the evidence I’d show for it.” And even, just maybe, “Wow! I see you understand me! Okay, I accept this challenge, and here is my effort to express your position and evidence, please correct any errors!”
We already have a basic agreement, I have seen no disagreement here that does not accept the Austin work as likely to be useful, that confirming prior results (or disconfirming) with increased precision is a path forward in understanding and likely to lead to better knowledge. This is progress, far more powerful than endless argument that boils down to “I’m right and you are wrong.”
If we do this work well, it is not impossible that our discussions will contribute to improving the Austin work. It is not impossible that we will find something that has been overlooked, perhaps some possible (or “not impossible”) artifact that could actually be tested before they publish. Or after. I’d prefer before. This work is one job that should not be compromised from rush or other errors of the past.
Contest declared to rename this post! See http://coldfusioncommunity.net/it-was-an-itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie-yellow-polka-dot-error/#Contest
Last stand of the Mohicans?
The White Queen’s Evidence
https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~rgs/alice-XII.html … Thanks.
Again, I might use this somewhere, but this post isn’t the place.
Nice title. I might use it in the future. Shanahan is indeed the last stand. But I want to keep the bikini. Maybe I could just use “bikini.” There is a nuclear connection, or at least “atomic.” And it could be an excuse for me to research bikinis, presenting photographic evidence. Tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
Was the more relevant reference!
Summaries can be misleading, in this case.
If you read Abd’s description above of the Shanahan graph mistake, and shanahan’s correction which Abd helpfully posted on the other thread:
The correct comment on the figure in question (which shows #He atoms/
Watt-sec which can be related to the MeV/atom He purportedly released in the
unknown LENR (the value is used to draw the horizontal line you reference)) is
that the Figure shows nothing because the noise level of the results is so high
it includes zero and values up to 2X the maximum postulated for the LENR. Abd
thinks the Figure shows the reaction is related to D-D fusion, but to get that he
(a) has to ignore a high flyer datum, and (b) has to assume some large fraction
(~40-50%) of the produced He atoms are trapped in the solid electrode.
From these various descriptions we get that Shanahan made a mistake (understandable) and now corrected. The evidence from this specific graph for the excess heat/LENR correlation is then uprated: it no longer provides negative evidence. the positive evidence is unclear due to the high noise, and would need careful analysis including any selection mechanisms in the data to evaluate.
Abd’s post above is part personal and part detailed. Where he examines details I find this very helpful, partly because this makes clear that there are other details we need to settle the matter, and all details must be seen together. Isolating one mehcnaism or one experiment does not give clarity when there are multiple mechanisms, and multiple experiments with different methodologies.
Indirectly evaluating Shanahan’s likely competence and expertise, comparing that with others, making best guess assumptions about reliability based on that, I find unsafe. Any overall evaluation here will be colored by expectation – no criticism of anyone, it is just that we cannot in these complex situations reach a clear summary judgement that is independent of prejudice. Examination at the level of detail Abd shows here merely shows why that should be: it leaves unanswered many more questions than it answers.
So: I am interested in the unanswered questions (unlike most skeptics). However my expectation is that they will in the end have a no-LENR judgement (unlike those who judge that LENR most likely exists).
I agree with Simon above that debate over existing excess heat/He4 correlations is unnecessary since we expect new and better quality results from the Austin study. However, debate over that study, unless its results are very clear-cut, is quite likely.
I am influenced more than most, on these issues, by a meta-argument I’ll call margin-stickiness that is both very weak and, at this point in time, very strong. There are many different routes to detecting excess heat, or helium, from LENR. Accept that the LENR reaction is variable and that variability not easy to control. Nevertheless, we expect the magnitude of results to be unaffected by specific calorimetry. therefore the more accurate experiment should show similar magnitude of results to the less accurate ones. That does not seem to be the case, because if it were we would by now have sequences of results where better calorimetry or control resulted in less marginal data. The argument here is quite subtle. It rests on the fact that marginal results depend on calorimetry and so if we have marginal but interesting results with one type of calorimetry we expect not marginal results with much better calorimetry. The same applies with He4 measurement.
The relevance to the Austin experiments depends on to what extent errors can be reduced or controlled better than in other experiments. Margin-stickiness is predicted by the non-LENR hypothesis, and should not exist according to the LENR hypothesis. There may be some caveats and qualifiers to this view, but I think it applies quite often. Margin-stickiness is very weak in the sense that any replicable clear positive results would break it. It is strong because it can be applied over a whole corpus of different result series.
THH, you are implying, without evidence, that improved calorimetry and helium measurement did not create “less marginal data.” We can, and probably should, look at the whole body of evidence. What I see in it is a tightening on roughly 60% of the helium atoms being released in the gas phase, with the remainder sequestered until and unless measures are taken to release it. The Case data confuses the issue, because there was helium behavior there probably associated with a radically different reaction environment. Until the primary results are understood (with PdD electrolysis, i.e., the FP Heat Effect), results from other approaches (Arata gas-loading, etc.) should be viewed with caution.
In fact, Miles cluttered his own results by running a PdCe cathode. There were only three examples in his 33-sample series where there was excess heat found but no helium. One was a cell where an accident during the experiment led to possible calorimetry error, the other two were PdCe cathodes. Miles, however, did this right in that, not having declared a protocol that would exclude them in advance, he did report those pesky outliers, which is essential when doing correlation work, otherwise a correlation may be created by data selection. Mile’s analysis of his results includes the outliers.
Later work was much tighter. SRI M4 and Apicella et al Laser-3 were the only studies where reverse electrolysis was used, and both of these produced results that were within experimental error of the theoretical 23.8 MeV/4He value. The situation within the field is that heat/helium correlation at the fusion ratio is accepted, to the extent that my proposals for new measurement with improved precision — and using reverse electrolysis to release surface-trapped helium — were resisted, thought unnecessary, a waste of precious research funding. I persisted, for reasons that I’m sure you can understand. In the Apicella et al work, there were three cells tested. This was with laser stimulation, hence the cell names: Laser-2, Laser-3, and Laser-4.
What about Laser-1? What happened? I don’t know. At some point I expect I will ask Violante, but some groups report all work (SRI, generally) and some don’t (many researchers, including Violante in another case, the ET replication). For measuring heat-helium correlation, once a protocol is set, it is important to record and report all results, not just “successful” ones.
However, from the Violante (Apicella) report, I suspect that they simply saw no heat from Laser-1, and likewise no helium. If so, that would have been important to report! 0/0 results don’t tell us the ratio, obviously, but they do confirm the correlation, and could show that this is not leakage. In a large experimental series (which SRI M4 and the Apicella work were not) we expect with LENR that cell heat will be unreliable, at least until how to prepare cathodes is better understood. This, then, creates controls, i.e., the cells, ostensibly identical, spontaneously generate differing levels of heat. Do those cells then generate matching variation in helium production?
This is actually quite easy to understand. I have experienced no difficulty in explaining this to the naive and uninformed, nor to scientists. As you know, I consider the “preponderance of the evidence” to support the heat/helium correlation, and that this is certainly strong enough to support further work, I argued that this was a possible investment in LENR research that was quite likely to generate clear results, thus it was less speculative than investments focusing only on the reliability aspect, seeking to improve it. As to the latter, it’s obviously important, but over thirty years of effort have produced relatively weak results. Not “no results,” with some protocols, apparently, more than half the cells do generate anomalous heat.
Shanahan is actually arguing that there is an anomaly, but that it is not nuclear in origin. The anomaly is generally represented by him as unexpected recombination. In this particular consideration, heat/helium study, that is irrelevant. It is not necessary in this work to identify the anomaly, merely to measure it. However, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that helium leakage — the general helium artifact most commonly asserted in this work — would match the unexpected recombination or other heat anomaly that does not produce a strong temperature difference. As pointed out by Marwan et al, the helium measurements do not resemble what would be expected from leakage, unless there is some strong coupling mechanism, and I have seen none proposed that come close to considering the actual experimental conditions.
I can see that I need to plot the Storms (Miles/Bush) data. It is not nearly as flaky as Shanahan has represented it, and we must remember, this was the original heat/helium research, and does not consider later findings. Storms has presented a diagram of selected results, which is useful but has an obvious shortcoming. “Selected.” We need to show all results. Working on my article, I considered creating such a plot. There are heavy obstacles, arising from various ways of reporting data. I think it’s possible, but didn’t have time to do it before publishing, there was a clear deadline. Maybe I will start with a spreadsheet without analysis. Then anyone can analyze it.
You wrote: “That does not seem to be the case, because if it were we would by now have sequences of results where better calorimetry or control resulted in less marginal data.”
We do have that. The best calorimetry is from F&P, McKubre, Miles, the ENEA and the NCFI, and their results are by far the strongest, with high heat and a large signal to noise ratios. Over 100 W in some cases.
You made this assertion previously. I told you it was not true. It still isn’t true. Why do you repeat it? Have you read the literature or not? Do you disagree with Storms and with me, and if so, why?
Jed, with THH, I assume it is either simple ignorance, i.e., the state of nature, or THH is looking at this from some new perspective, which seems unlikely to me. So I take his comments as exploratory, the comments of a student, i.e., Hoffman’s Young Scientist. The issue here is not the “best calorimetry.” The issue would be a combination of calorimetry with precise helium measurement, and because the retention ratio might be sensitive to some experimental conditions, with full helium recovery. (And the hypothesis that all helium is recovered through reverse electrolysis for a brief period, the work should include at least some verification through thorough analysis of what is left, i.e., the cathode bulk — or other cell material, with some level of comparison between reverse electrolysis and no such electrolysis. But recovery through stripping the surface like that is so plausible that not much verification would be needed. Simply some.)
This is how I suggest taking THH’s comments: he is not convinced. It is an error to push him into disagreement, but, instead, he should be encouraged to express his doubts or questions, not taking them as you seem to suggest, as challenges to the expertise of Storms … and of your good self. Attacking what seems to you like his stupidity will not help matters, and is likely to simply generate noise, as it does on LENR Forum. Here, let’s address his points. If that is tedious for you because of Terminal Obviousness, then, of course, you are not obligated. However, please do understand the issues being considered, and “the best calorimetry” is not relevant unless that is specifically used and if the data shows low scatter. Helium measurement, we suspect, is an independent confirmation of the precision of the heat measurements, unless there are unknown factors that would shift it. Helium retention is not an “unknown factor,” and this can be studied. It seems that THH thinks this is a magic wand used by LENR researchers to cover up sloppy data, or he may express it in his own way, but, were it not for general context and the necessity of skepticism to LENR progress, I might be a bit offended, as he seems to take up the Krivit banner of biased interpretation due to “belief in the fusion theory.” What we believe should be irrelevant to heat/helium results, if they are properly studied and reported. To whatever extent I have formed beliefs, in this field, they are rooted in what seem like obvious interpretations of the data; however, even a perfect correlation at 23.8 MeV/4He would not “prove” that the reaction is “d+d fusion,” as Krivit imagines. Any reaction mechanism that starts with deuterium and ends with helium, with no major leakages of energy (as, say, through neutrino emission), would show that ratio, it follows from a basic law of thermodynamics, and exceptions to that would be truly revolutionary. I don’t think so! It remains possible that there are multiple mechanisms and pathways and the Storms assumption that there is only one mechanism is a heuristic, not a proven fact. If the ratio tightens on the theoretical value, then deuterium/helium conversion is the obvious and likely relationship of fuel and ash and energy. That’s all. It is mechanism agnostic.
You wrote: “Jed, with THH, I assume it is either simple ignorance, i.e., the state of nature . . .”
Your assumption is wrong. He is not ignorant. As I said, I pointed this out to him several times, and I cited Storms, yet he keeps on repeating this misinformation. Perhaps he does not believe me. Perhaps he has read papers that Storms and I have not read, or he disagrees with us for some other reason. He should give his reason.
“The issue here is not the ‘best calorimetry.’ The issue would be a combination of calorimetry with precise helium measurement, and because the retention ratio might be sensitive to some experimental conditions . . .”
There are only a few helium studies. All of the ones I know of employed excellent calorimetry. Unfortunately most had low power, typically less than a half-watt. As Miles says, it would be a lot easier to measure helium, and you could do it with greater precision, if they had several watts instead of a fraction of a watt.
As you point out, for existing data, the results are clearer with higher power levels.
I agree, that’s my impression, but I’ve never seen an explicit analysis of this. Shanahan completely missed the point, and THH has followed him in that, it appears to me, but the proof is in the pudding, and we have not served the pudding yet. Storms’ analysis does not actually cover this, and the 2007 book contains a number of errors.
The power level is not as important as we might think, if the power is measured with adequate precision. The FP approach has had 0.1 mW precision claimed. But even if it is only 1 mW, 100 mW would then be enough power for 1% precision, roughly. Then there is the proportionally low (we think) helium levels. This depends, however, on accumulation time and dilution volume. I think Apicella et al were able to get good values with low power due to a small head space. They measured increase in helium above ambient, so I must assume they measured ambient. Miles attempted to exclude ambient, and as long as his methods were uniformly applied with reasonable caution, that should also work. (And he actually measured leakage into his glass vessels, and compensated for it, and later used stainless steel to collect the gas.) But measuring increase over ambient is more satisfying, because, on the face of it, it rules out leakage. It would also make the experiment simpler. I don’t know what they are doing in Texas.
There is a lot of material in the whole LENR corpus. I have looked at only a small part of this, but it includes some of the F&P calorimetry that you recommend. I do not reach the same conclusion as you about the non-marginal nature of the calorimetry (in the paper I’ve looked at in detail). Headline figures of 100W don’t matter without the full context, which we could consider.
I’m not actually considering He4 data, because the new experiment is likely to superceded old ones in relevance. For the excess heat data what I notice (and I’m very open to correction) is that more robust forms of calorimetry result in lower claimed excess heat. F& P open cell calorimetry is less robust, for obvious reasons. Boil-off calorimetry is even more less robust.
I think you view would be that F&P have shown various techniques by which they can achieve very high accuracy, and that they (at least F) are experts whose opinion in this matter I should defer to.
I agree that F is an expert on calorimetry. I don’t agree that anyone should defer to his opinion. Equally I don’t (necessarily) claim to be able to critique his opinion – although in some cases I may be able to do so. Expertise is a two-edged sword, it lends assurance and sophistication, but it may also mean that assumptions are made based on domain experience. Those assumptions can sometimes break. A more generalist expert (Feynman perhaps would be an example) will be more open to the possibility of expert-related assumptions that break, unusually, in specific circumstances.
I’ve been reading Feynman lately. I identify strongly with him, and have had adventures similar to his, in many ways. I support your avoidance of deference, but do suggest respect — and I’m not seeing a serious lack of respect; rather, you are relatively ignorant in certain areas, but that opens up the possibility of learning, and as long as you are open to the fair consideration of evidence, I trust you will find your way. It takes time to grasp a new field. One of the crazy expectations that CMNS scientists held was that a brief conference (DoE 2004) would generate transformation. One cannot absorb the data in this field, and the implications, in a day. Probably not in a week. Maybe in a month with extensive effort (i.e., Duncan, I suspect — and even then Duncan was still coming up with dumb ideas. Hey, muons!!!)
I expect a genuine skeptic, approaching this field, to come up with many “dumb ideas.” It’s part of the process. Key is to keep going, and trust the process, with eyes open.
Well, Jed, you are ontologically naive. Assumptions are like axioms, they create a system. They are neither right nor wrong, they are not “facts.” Rather, in this case, the assumption is a stand, a way of looking at data, that creates possibilities. You are quick to claim “right” and “wrong.” I’m trained to notice this — for my own process, because failure to recognize the distinction between fact and interpretation causes extensive disempowerment. When I write about this, usually, Jed, you claim that you don’t understand it. It’s never too late to start the process of understanding. I was 65 when I started the training, I was commonly the oldest person around. I was coached by kids in their twenties and thirties. And they were clear-sighted and a joy to know and to learn from the interactions. These are people who are creating the future, so I see life differently from you. Routinely, I see people transform.
You wrote: “Boil-off calorimetry is even more less robust.”
Boil-off calorimetry is second oldest and by far the most robust method. The oldest was a phase change in the other direction: ice calorimetry, developed by Lavoisier and Laplace. Boil-off calorimetry is based on the heat of vaporization of water, which is one the most intensely studied and most accurately known constants in chemistry.
If you do not agree, I think you have not read Fleischmann’s papers carefully.
Fleischmann had . . . extreme contempt for people who think you cannot measure enthalpy by measuring the amount of water vaporized in a cell. This method is particularly simple and robust because the boiling removes electrolyte, cutting the connection between the electrodes. This ensures electrolysis stops and input power goes to zero. So there is only output power, which simplifies the calorimetry and removes doubts about input power measurement.
The method is highly accurate and reliable because you can measure the amount of water in the cell with confidence. You can weigh the cell, or you can see the water line. There is no water left after the boil off. The temperature remains high in heat after death for hours or days. It sometimes goes up for a while. It is somewhat harder to determine the output power during the phase after the water is gone. Obviously, in a Pt-H control cell cell driven to boil-off by ordinary electrolysis, once the connection between the electrodes is cut, power stops. The boiling stops immediately; there is very little thermal mass in the cell. As far as I know, some liquid electrolyte remains at the bottom of the cell. The temperature falls monotonically according to Newton’s law of cooling. This behavior is completely different from what happens with anomalous cold fusion heat. Everything we know about thermodynamics and calorimetry points to a real heat effect, more clearly than with any other method. You can see it happen.
There are some potential pitfalls in boil-off calorimetry, but they are easily avoided with proper cell design and calibrations. The main one is unboiled water leaving the cell. You can confirm this did not happen by measuring the salts remaining in the cell, by calibration, and by various other methods described by Fleischmann.
There are pitfalls to every method of calorimetry.
Note there is boil-off calorimetry and continuous boiling-cell calorimetry. They are different. Roulette and Roulette did the latter.
It is not unreasonable to suspect a Calibration Constant shift (CCS) where the location of the heat-source changes or some other conditions change, but as far as I can tell (as a non-expert on calorimetry) this won’t apply to Miles. Yes, a fairly large change in the gas-content of something may give rise to such an error (it seems that was the cause of Celani’s differences in heat when he used Hydrogen instead of the Helium in the control) but the amount of Helium introduced is almost-unnoticeable in practical terms and so doesn’t seem to be relevant. Moving the heat-source should be negated by the barriers and the stirring – Miles was not an amateur.
As such, to speculate that that calorimetry error is somehow correlated with the Helium produced, when all cells were as equivalent as could be done, seems like a last-ditch effort to deny that LENR was happening. Any explanation other than a nuclear reaction must be the cause of the measurements, since a nuclear reaction is theoretically impossible.
It’s been a long time since I read the Miles report, though, and although it’s on this box somewhere I haven’t gone hunting to find it. I’m happy to accept Abd’s careful analyses of the situation since he’s probably read it a lot more times and more recently, and he’s talked to a lot more of the people involved than I have. The Texas Tech project will produce better figures soon which should knock this argument on the head and leave the LENR sceptics with little choice – they either accept that the data is correct and LENR is a reality or they can claim that its a mismeasurement without being able to say exactly where the error is.
Of course there will be people even then who stick to the idea that it can’t happen because it’s theoretically impossible, but physicists should have learnt to hold lightly onto their theories since they are only ever one experiment away from being disproven. Meantime, of course, anyone who uses both quantum theory and relativity knows that they are mutually-exclusive as they stand and can’t both be right (when I was a student that bit of doublethink took a while to assimilate). Use the right theory for the circumstances and be aware of the limits we’ve tested it to. Outside those limits its predictions may not be correct. Within those limits it is fit for purpose, which is to tell us what we expect to measure – providing we don’t make cock-ups on the measurements, of course.
You wrote: “It is not unreasonable to suspect a Calibration Constant shift (CCS) where the location of the heat-source changes or some other conditions change, but as far as I can tell (as a non-expert on calorimetry) this won’t apply to Miles. Yes, a fairly large change in the gas-content of something may give rise to such an error . . .”
No, a large change in the gas-content could not give rise to this error. That hypothesis was tested in various ways. It is not true. You can move the heat source to any location in a cell by using a resistance heater. This does not produce a CCS. The CCS is a figment of Shanahan’s imagination.
With most real-world cells, the heat is measured outside the cell, some distance from it, such as with a flow calorimeter or Seebeck calorimeter. Obviously, moving the heat source in the cell would have no effect.
Perhaps if you had a cell in which the heat is measured in the electrolyte with no stirring, and you moved a joule heater very close to the thermocouples or very far from them, this error might occur. No one has anything like so the hypothesis is moot.
We can be sure that Miles did not have CCS from recombination for two reasons:
1. He measured the effluent gas and determined there was no recombination. Measuring the volume of effluent gas was an essential part of this experiment.
2. His later cells “include a copper (Cu) inner jacket that acts as the integrator.” He measured the temperature outside of the jacket, in two places. So, even if the heat source within the cell were to move, that change would be invisible from outside the copper jacket.
Miles, I and others have told Shanahan all of the above many times. He knows there can be no recombination in Miles cell. The papers by Miles all make that abundantly clear. He ignores us and keeps repeating this nonsense. He is not mistaken about this; he is dishonest.
To put it another way, Shanahan is a piece of work.
1. Simon wrote “it is not unreasonable to suspect…” and that is a simple observation with an ordinary judgment of reasonableness. Suspicion of something is the first step in studying evidence. Then the succeeding steps follow. You are arguing that, upon consideration, the suspicion does not remain reasonable, but where you sit is a very different place from where others, including genuine skeptics, sit.
My cardiologist told me that, if he were me, he’d have an angiogram done, and probable stent placement. Then he added, because we were having a real conversation, “But I know too much,” and he agreed that my alternate plan was not likely to be riskier — or at least not much riskier — than his suggested plan. I have since done much more research; what is published is confusing and contradictory, including what is published in major medical journals. In other words, I now know nuch more than I did, and I know, to some degree, what is truly established and what is speculation — or, there are accusations, promotion of drugs and very expensive procedures with little matching benefit. So I expect my cardiologist and I will be having very interesting conversations in the future.
And what I am actually doing, with his cooperation and prescriptions, is extremely likely to reduce risk of early death, it’s not even controversial: exercise, reduction of stress, and diet. As to diet, what I’m doing is contrary to a “consensus” that has been skewered by Taubes, yes, that Taubes, your friend and mine. I’m looking carefully at this, because I am defying “standard of practice,” what doctors must tell us or they are running a risk of lawsuit. (So I’m arranging for more extensive testing than is usual, such as C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation and a better predictor of heart risk than LDL cholesterol. And my CRP is 0.4, which puts me in a very low risk category.) But nobody disputes the role of exercise and stress reduction. These are truly major and powerful interventions, and this is not some vague “exercise,” it is two days a week in cardiac rehab, monitored, designed to take me to the edge of angina, with the long-term effect being naturally building collateral circulation that can make an obstruction of much less effect, as well as building strength, and three days of week running a strength training program, wherein I monitor myself (I have a pocket pulse oximeter, it’s amazing what can be bought cheaply nowadays. $10 on ebay).
Basically, I’m disagreeing with a specialist who has studied and treated heart disease for many years. However, he is also smart enough to know that if he just tells me I’m stupid, I’ll go to a different cardiologist, so I assume we will be looking at the actual studies behind his estimates of risk. I don’t like that he suggested a statin based on relative risk reduction rather than absolute risk reduction, and I don’t like that he was ready to put me through angiography based on similar risk reduction data. That (with a stent) is maybe $30,000 worth of not-fun, even though I wouldn’t be personally paying that, and I’d love to see that image, just as I loved seeing the nuclear stress test results that demonstrated a level of blockage. Hey, I got to be radioactive for a day! — from Technetium-99+, a nuclear isomer that emits gammas. My urine would probably have lit up a Geiger counter.
2. Shanahan is indeed a piece of work. However, don’t expect THH to be impressed by our mentioning that. He is correct that this impression is personal opinion and not a scientific argument. Even if it’s bloomin’ obvious.
You wrote: “Simon wrote “it is not unreasonable to suspect…” and that is a simple observation with an ordinary judgment of reasonableness. Suspicion of something is the first step in studying evidence. Then the succeeding steps follow. You are arguing that, upon consideration, the suspicion does not remain reasonable, but where you sit is a very different place from where others, including genuine skeptics, sit.”
No, I argue that until you read the literature, is it unreasonable to have any opinion about it. You cannot “suspect” this or that. For that matter you cannot have confidence in the result. You don’t know a damn thing and it is presumptuous to pretend you do.
Dreaming up imaginary, baseless, and impossible errors is not the “first step in studying evidence.” It is a waste of time.
In this particular case, with Miles, both the “suspicion” that there might have been recombination, and that the CCS shifting heat effect might have occurred are ruled out. Miles made that quite clear in several of his papers. The reasons are elementary. There is no recombination because all of the gas produced by electrolysis is measured coming out of the cell. There is no gas left in the cell to recombine. How could it be more clear than that? What better proof could there be?
Shanahan and many skeptics treat “recombination” like some ghostly effect that can never be ruled out. They think it crops up when you least expect it, in mysterious ways. In real life, recombination is easy to detect and dead simple to prevent or eliminate. In a properly designed cell, there is never any significant recombination, and yet electrochemists always test to be sure there is none. It is a non-issue.
Thanks Jed. I’m re-reading the report from Miles after a long time (maybe 5 years), and again I’m impressed by the care Miles took with all the variables he could test. During the sequence of experiments he took notice of criticisms and improved the hardware and techniques to satisfy (or at least try to satisfy) his critics.
The problem for most of us armchair critics is that we have no experience with these highly-accurate calorimeters. We need to listen to what the experts say – and sometimes they disagree.