Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cold Fusion One Year Later

It's been a year since we last reported on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR), previously known as Cold Fusion. A lot has happened and a lot has not happened. What has surprised me the most is the number of organizations, companies, and individuals who are working on the technology. Some of the researchers are new, but some have been working ever since 1989, when Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann published their never-to-be-verified paper. This includes NASA, MIT (which helped debunk the original 1989 study), Darpa, and Cern. National Instruments' president Dr. James Truchard kicked off NIWeek 2012 with an enthusiastic push for LENR research.

The best article currently on the subject is by I still think skepticism is in order but I'm tending more toward the persistent and practical realm, rather than disbelieving in all and any energy claims. There seems to be something there, and now theoretical physicists are coming up with a number of explanations (here, here, here). That's the great thing about science, it will come up with the craziest stories as long as there is some repeatable experiment, i.e. "If you build it, they will come".

Lastly, there may be some critical cultural mass building for LENR since there is a science documentary called "The Believers" being released this week in Chicago.


Big Myk said...

To me "cold fusion" is just alchemy by another name.

James R said...

You're giving alchemy a bad name. It was incredibly useful. Starting with the often recognized founder of alchemy, Jabir bin Hayyan, 702 A.D. to 804 A.D., who invented a kind of paper that resisted fire and an ink that could be read at night. He also noted the use of manganese dioxide in glassmaking to counteract the green tinge produced by iron, a process still used today. And from there, alchemy just kept getting better. It sets quite a high bar for cold fusion.

Peter H of Lebo said...

Journal of Nuclear Physics is not a real peer-reviewed journal. It is the snake oil salesmen Rossi personal blog, so 2 of the articles cited in this posts are from Rossi's blog, the third one is on the MIT Prof Hagelstein who isn't a full professor, tried to do cold fusion in 89 and failed and is at it again, no one at MIT changed their minds. LENR is still a claim without evidence.

James R said...

You're right about the Journal of Nuclear Physics. It looked so official I didn't check it out. I think the only generally acknowledged theory of LENR (formerly Cold Fusion) at this point is the Widom-Larsen theory (which has been published in a reputable peer reviewed journal). The nice thing about the theory is that it doesn't demand any new physics.

It's hard to tell if LENR is still a claim without evidence or not. The American Nuclear Society, as prestigious as it gets, hosted a LENR session during its recent Winter meeting in San Diego. The session was just a panel discussion, but included Yasuhiro Iwamura and Domenico Cirillo, both of whom claim to have observed clear nuclear evidence, "including transmutations, isotopic abundances and neutron-burst evidence."

That quote is by Steven Krivit, who unabashedly promotes LENR, but who also is the most severe critic of Andrea Rossi.

My point in the blog article is that, while things are still murky, there is, surprisingly, plenty of work being done on LENR by many big corporations and big governments.

James R said...

Oh, and that 'science' movie I mentioned—check out the trailer here.