Thursday, December 31, 2015

Annual Splashing of Cold and/or Hot Water on Cold Fusion

Because it’s been a year since my last report, let’s restate the buzz words:
  • Cold Fusion - the term coined by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann for generating energy from a nuclear reaction at, or near, room temperature. 
  • LENR (low-energy nuclear reactions) - the current term for cold fusion
  • CMNS (condensed matter nuclear science) - the current term for the field of cold fusion
  • CECR - (controlled electron capture reaction) - the term used by Brillouin Energy Corporation for their type of LENR
  • Brillouin Energy Corp. (mentioned in my 2013 report) - the company collaborating with Stanford Research International (SRI) in developing LENR, and, of course,
  • E-Cat - Andrea Rossi’s LENR device 

Here’s some news from 2015:
Andrea Rossi obtained a U.S. patent for a “Fluid Heater” that raises the temperature of water using a mixture of nickel, lithium, and lithium-aluminum-hydride powders with heat. The mixture produces more heat than added. This is the first patent Rossi has been able to obtain in the U.S. His previous attempts were for devices which mentioned cold fusion.

Andrea Rossi, whose ecat device was “independently” tested last year (As pointed out in last year’s report, there was controversy over the “independence” from Rossi’s interventions during the test.), has been testing a one megawatt ecat for several months which should wrap up in February. While it is operating continuously 24 hours a day, it requires constant monitoring and adjustment. Clearly, not close to a commercial product or even one which can boast an independent test.

On December 1 of this year Brillouin Energy Corp. released a 35 page report by Michael Halem, a third party technical investigator, on Brillouin Energy’s Hydrogen Hot™ (HHT™) prototype Boiler System reactor. The report was very positive. "I was given full access to the experiments," said Mr. Halem. "I was able to confirm, with a high degree of confidence, excess energy output above chemical and likely due to a nuclear reaction." The report was peer reviewed by Mr. Halem’s technical colleague, Dr. Antoine Guillemin. The report also affirms that the technology “is scalable by assembling multiple HHT™ tubes in the reactor system."

Here is the Brillouin Energy's web site. You can find news about the December 1 report as well as many peer reviewed papers on the science and the company's technology. If nothing else, you may want to read the Preface, the first article under "LENR Peer Reviewed Papers" which will answer many of your questions (or not, as the case may be).

So, as has become typical, it was a mixed year for the technology. I still say the science seems real, as there are just too many experiments yielding positive results, but the chance for a commercial product is still very much in question.

One article I found interesting was this one by Louis F. DeChiaro, Ph.D, a physicist with the US Naval Sea Systems Command. He lists some conditions necessary to produce successful LENR. It is quite technical, but the key, to me, is towards the end where he points out that none of this was known in 1989 by Pons and Fleischmann. 
Without knowing what one is doing and why it works, the probability of achieving successful results via the so-called Edisonian method of trial and error is disappointingly low. Reasonable scientists and engineers can be forgiven for their difficulty in believing that there might exist ANY circumstances under which such things could be possible. And to be blunt, it was only in the last few months that the causal chain finally became clear.
If you are interested in the topic, here is a link to the notes of a presentation by DeChiaro in September of this year which summarizes the whole field of LENR.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kaiser William

"You Are Old, Father William" by Lewis Carroll was one of my favorite poems growing us.  The poem was a parody of another poem, Robert Southey's rather pious "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them” -- well known to children of Carroll’s time.   Of course, Southey’s poem is now mostly forgotten, and only Carroll’s parody is remembered.   Martin Gardner called it "one of the undisputed masterpieces of nonsense verse.”

Parody only invites further parody.  Here is a clever one that that I found while looking for other things.  And you also get a brief history lesson.

You Are Young, Kaiser William  
By Mostyn T. Pigott
"You are young, Kaiser William," the old man exclaimed,
"And your wisdom-teeth barely are through,
And yet by your deeds the whole world is inflamed--  
Do you think this is proper of you?"
"As a baby I doted on playing with fire,"
Replied the irascible prince,
"And though I was spanked by my excellent sire,
I've been doing the same ever since."
"You are young," said the Sage, "and your juvenile legs    
Are not what one would call fully grown;
Yet you point out to grandmamma how to suck eggs-- 1
Why adopt this preposterous tone?'  
"As a child," said the youth, "I perceived that my head      
Wouldn't ever allow me to learn,    
So I made up my mind to start teaching instead,
And I've taught everybody in turn."
"You are young," said the Sage, "as I mentioned just now,          
Yet with relatives over the sea      
You have recently kicked up a terrible row—  
Do you think that such things ought to be."
"In my yacht,' said the youth, 'I will oftentimes range,
And at Cowes I have gibed once or twice. 2
So it came to my mind that by way of a change
To gibe at a Bull would be nice."3

"You are young," said the Seer, "but the past you ignore,    
And have an extravagant trick
Of using up telegraph forms by the score
Why are you so painfully quick?"
"As a child," replied William, "they taught me to write
An entirely illegible scrawl;
But a wire which the post office people indite
Can be read without trouble by all." 4

"You are young," said the Sage, "but you cling to the view
That the whole of the world must be yours,  
Now show how the Transvaal's connected with you,  
And what business you have with the Boers." 5
"I am tired of your questions, and sick of your din,"
Answered William; "obey my behest—"
Be off! or I'll treat you as one of my kin,"
And order your instant arrest!"

1 “Teaching grandmother to suck eggs” is an English expression meaning to give advice to someone else about a subject about which they already know (and probably far more than you.).  This may also be a reference to the Kaiser’s grandmother, Queen Victoria.

2 Cowes is a town on the coast of England that hosts the world’s largest regatta every August.  Beginning in the 1890s, Wilhelm visited England for the regatta and often competed against his Uncle Bertie, later King Edward VII, in the yacht races.

3 “To gibe at a Bull.”  Here, Pigott makes a pun on the word gibe.  As we all know from sailing, to “gibe,” more commonly spelled “jibe,” is to shift from one side to the other when running before the wind. “Gibe” also means to show one's contempt in derision or mockery.  I’m guessing that “the Bull” refers to John Bull, the national personification of Great Britain; similar to how Uncle Sam represents the United States.

4But a wire which the post office people indite/Can be read without trouble by all.” This has been the hardest reference for me to track down.  The closest I came resolving this is the fact that apparently Wilhelm’s handwriting was not good.  His mother, the Crown Princess Vicky of Great Britain, insisted that Wilhelm write to her in English.  At one point she told him, “The handwriting distresses me, it is so babyish.”
     But as to the line accusing the Kaiser of having "an extravagant trick/Of using up telegraph forms by the score," I haven't a clue.  Pigott’s reference in this poem written in 1896 to Wilhelm’s use of the telegraph, however, was remarkably prescient.  In July and August 1914, a flurry of telegrams were exchanged between Wilhelm, and Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, on the eve of the First World War, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent war.  They were called the Willy-Nicky telegrams.  The two leaders were related and well acquainted with one another (they vacationed together, hunted together and enjoyed dressing up in the uniforms of each other’s military officers when sailing on their yachts).  They referred to each other as Nicky and Willy in the telegrams.  The telegrams were written in English.
    I’m open to other suggestions as to what this verse might mean.  Perhaps Big Pete, whose specialty is WW I, may have some answers here.

5And what business you have with the Boers."  In January 1896, Kaiser Wilhelm sent a telegram to the president of the Transvaal Republic congratulating the president on repelling a raid by 600 British irregulars from Cape Colony into the Transvaal:  “I express to you my sincere congratulations that you and your people, without appealing to the help of friendly powers, have succeeded, by your own energetic action against the armed bands which invaded your country as disturbers of the peace, in restoring peace and in maintaining the independence of the country against attack from without.”  The British saw the telegram as German meddling in what they considered their own sphere of influence and a threat that Germany might lend support to Transvaal’s independence in the future.  Not surprisingly, the message led to further deterioration in relations between the two countries.

Friday, December 18, 2015

We Must be Doing Something Right

It may not get much coverage, but 2015 was the best year for humanity in history:  2015: The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being.

And the best year in history before this year was 2014:  Goodbye to one of the best years in history
;   A Look Back at the Best Year in Human History.

And the best year in history before that was 2013:  5 Reasons Why 2013 Was The Best Year In Human History.  

And the best year in history before that was 2012:  Glad tidings Never in the history of the world has there been less hunger, less disease and more prosperity.

I'd say that we're on a roll.    2016?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Gold Cookbook

I think that we forget how funny Dad was.

Probably the second most revered cookbook at home growing up was The Gold Cookbook by Louis P. De Gouy (behind only the Cadillac of the genre, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook).  To my memory, Dad had always prounonced the author's name as Louie de Gooey.  And, knowing no better as a young lad, I always thought that was the proper pronunciation.

I recently made some reference to Louis de Gouy to Sue, and she laughed and said there's nobody named "Louie de Gooey!"  I insisted that there was and lo and behold we found The Gold Cookbook online.  But, I'm sure that to no one's suprise, we also discovered that the pronounciuation to his last name was not Gooey, as appropriate as that name might be for a chef, but is pronounced "gwee."  (you could verify this with Kathleen).  Obviously, Dad preferred the Louie de Gooey pronunciation.

And, once the cookbook's instruction were carefully followed and dinner prepared, Dad  would  sit down and enjoy his meal, frequently accompanied by a glass of his favorite wine, Châteauneuf-du-Peuf.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Keep Krampus in Christmas

In central Europe there is a dark side to Christmas.  Sure enough, St. Nicholas makes his appearance bringing candy and presents to children, but he's often accompanied by a not-so-nice demon.

This companion takes many forms.  In the low countries it's Zwarte Piet (or Black Peter), a moor from Spain.  He is probably the most benign of St. Nick's side-kicks.  He's Santa's right hand man and helps out along the way.  Today his main role is to amuse children and to scatter Christmas candy for those who come to meet the saint.  Although, it's not all goodness and light.  Both St. Nick and Zwarte Piet will seize bad children and carry them off in a burlap sack back to Spain, where Sinterklaas and his helper dwell out-of-season.  

In much of Germany, it's Knecht Ruprecht (Servant Rupert)  According to some traditions, Ruprecht began as a farmhand; in others, he is a wild foundling whom St. Nicholas raised from childhood.  He carries the sack of presents and a rod for disobedient children. "Just wait until Ruprecht comes" is still a common threat in German homes.  

From the palatinate in Germany comes the Belsnickel.  The Belsnickel travels alone.  He is a man wearing furs and sometimes a mask with a long tongue. He is typically very ragged and disheveled.  He carries a switch in his hand with which to beat naughty children, but also pocketsful of cakes, candies, and nuts for good children.  The Belsnickel tradition remains alive among the Pennsylvania Germans.  Sue's mother recalls hearing about the Belsnickel when she was young.

Dwight from The Office as the Belsnickel

But the darkest and most horrifying of Santa's companions is the Krampus, found in parts of Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.  While St. Nicholas brings gifts as rewards to good children each year, he leaves the task of punishing bad children to the terrifying Krampus.  Bearing horns, dark hair, and fangs, the anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch sticks meant to swat naughty children. He then hauls the bad kiddies down to the underworld.

Not surprisingly, the Krampus derives his name from the German word krampen, meaning claw. 

The Feast of St. Nicholas is December 6th.  The eve of the saint's day is known as Krampusnacht.  On that night the Krampus makes his appearance, sometimes with St. Nick and sometimes alone.  He roams the streets terrorizing adults and children alike.  Be forewarned, tomorrow is Krampusnacht.

The Krampus is the perfect antidote to the all the Christmas kitsch and sentimentality we put up this time of year.   Oscar Wild said that "the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart."  If there was ever a time of year to stay away from cynicism, Christmas is it.

This will really get you in the Christmas spirit:  Krampus: The Dark Companion of Saint Nick