Saturday, May 01, 2010

Is cold fusion really dead?

Cold fusion is the vampire of the world of physics. No matter how many times it's staked through the heart, it keeps popping up. This report concerns a new symposium looking at several varieties of reported cold fusion reaction.
COMMENT: I've never known what to think of this topic. Certainly I don't have the background to pronounce on it with any kind of authority. But it's interesting there are a handful of people with doctorates who are willing to run the gauntlet of ridicule to report on what they think are important results. They may still be wrong, but what if they're not?


Jed Rothwell said...

More than a a "handful" of people have published positive cold fusion results. Roughly 2,000 researchers have published 3,500 papers describing positive results. The effect has been replicated in over 200 major laboratories, roughly 14,000 times, according to a tally from the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Front. Phys. China (2007) 1: 96 102).


Researchers in the U.S. face considerably more than a "gauntlet of ridicule." Professors who report positive results have been summarily fired or force out of their job, or re-assigned to menial stock room chores. Their experiments were trashed with horse manure; their equipment and papers stolen; their houses vandalized, and they were accused in the Washington Post, Time magazine, the New York Times, Sci. Am., New Scientist and elsewhere of being “frauds, lunatics and criminals,” which made it impossible for them to get funding. Robert Park and other members of the APS have publicly vowed "root out and fire" any scientist who tries to get funding for an experiment, or attends a conference, or even talks about cold fusion. They have followed through on these threats.

Fortunately, in other countries such as Italy and China, academic freedom is still honored, and scientists are allowed to conduct research in peace. They have made tremendous progress since 1989.

Matt Bille said...

Jed, thanks for that update. I did not realize the situation had become that heated - way overheated, if your report is correct. I have to ask, though, if there's a documented source for allegations as serious as vandalizing reseacher's homes.

Jed Rothwell said...

You wrote:

"I have to ask, though, if there's a documented source for allegations as serious as vandalizing reseacher's homes."

Probably not. Stan Pons told me that. Plus I've heard people threatened to harm his children. Those were some of the reasons he fled the country and renounced his U.S. citizenship. (He is now French.)

The other incidents are documented in various places such as Beaudette's book and:

The attacks by Robert Park and others at the APS were published in the Washington Post, New Scientist and elsewhere. If you have any doubt about Park's intentions, ask Park himself. He loves to brag about how he destroyed cold fusion. I suspect he exaggerates his role in "rooting out and firing" people but I am sure he and Zimmerman (a Clinton appointee) did fire some researchers because both the researchers and Park told me so.

Park also brags that he has never read a single cold fusion paper. He doesn't have to; he known fraud and lunacy when he sees it. The two previous editors of Scientific American also told me that they have not read any cold fusion papers because "reading papers is not my job" but they were sure cold fusion is garbage. See:

These people do not hide their views or their antipathy toward the research, so the attacks are well documented.

For some quotes and sources see:

Schwinger's response to the APS is here:

It is a sordid business. The worst example of academic politics run amok in modern history.