“When we think about the present, we veer wildly between the belief in chance and the evidence in favour of determinism. When we think about the past, however, it seems obvious that everything happened in the way that it was intended.” -Michel Houellebecq

If you take anything in the Universe and want to know what its size is, you simply take something whose length is known and compare. On microscopic scales, it isn’t much different: take something of a known wavelength — like light or another matter particle — and compare. If your wavelength is too big, you’ll pass right through; if your wavelength is the right size or smaller, you’ll interact.

Visible (left) and infrared (right) views of the dust-rich Bok globule, Barnard 68. The infrared light is not blocked, as the dust grains are too small to interact with the long-wavelength light. Images credit: ESO.

Visible (left) and infrared (right) views of the dust-rich Bok globule, Barnard 68. The infrared light is not blocked, as the dust grains are too small to interact with the long-wavelength light. Images credit: ESO.

This concept of deep inelastic scattering has been successful at measuring the sizes of molecules atoms, atomic nuclei, and individual protons and neutrons. It’s discovered what we consider to be truly fundamental particles: the particles of the Standard Model. But are they truly fundamental? Are they truly point-like? Or is there an actual size to them, after all?

The sizes of composite and elementary particles, with possibly smaller ones lying inside what's known. Image credit: Fermilab, via http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive/archive_2012/today12-03-09_NutshellReadMore.html.

The sizes of composite and elementary particles, with possibly smaller ones lying inside what’s known. Image credit: Fermilab, via http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive/archive_2012/today12-03-09_NutshellReadMore.html.

Find out what we know to the limits of the frontiers of physics on this week’s Ask Ethan!

Comments

  1. #1 Elle H.C.
    September 17, 2016

    What about virtual particles, and the negative particles that make up the vacuum as in Dirac’s sea of particles?

  2. #2 axil
    September 17, 2016

    One of the take away from this article is that science has not got to the bottom of all the complication inherent in the particle zoo yet or how particles work in every situation. There is some more work to be done. One interesting speculation that has turned up from fringe science is that the proton and neutron can be persuaded to decay when exposed to the mysterious emanations of metalized hydrides. Fringe science is holding the fort until real science gets interested in nucleon decay and meson production using metalized hydrides.

    One wrinkle in the strong force and quantum chromodynamics is a CP violation parameter and the associated strong CP problem. The CP θ term is usually near zero in nucleons whose adjustment may well be responsive to precipitating CP violation. When this emanation from hydrides hits the nucleus, CP violation seems to occur and the quarks in protons and neutrons change their nature into strange matter where mesons, pions, and muons are produced. Could this strange emanation from metalized hydrides be axions, or the fifth force boson, or some instantiation of monopole magnetism is yet to be determined but what it might hold some interest if and when science gets interested is such things.

  3. #3 Anonymous Coward
    September 17, 2016

    @axil #2 It is certainly true that science has not gotten to the bottom of the complications inherent in the particle zoo. There’s the problem of neutrinos that I’ve pointed out in the past, which I think is a much better example of these sorts of complications that are still unexplained.

    Yes, the equations of QCD theory predict that strong CP violations should occur, but no credible experiment has ever observed it. A quick Google of metal hydrides and strong CP violation fails to turn up anything relevant to the fringe science you refer to, but there is a reason why fringe science is fringe science: it’s generally because real scientists already tried to replicate the results and found that they couldn’t.

  4. #4 axil
    September 17, 2016

    @Anonymous Coward #3

    Leif Holmlid is a chemist and a member of the AIP whose many publications have all been peer reviewed. Holmlid is producing mesons, pions, and muons using a catalyst.

    https://www.infona.pl/resource/bwmeta1.element.elsevier-5946267c-c016-3a45-bccc-9ec5a5728fdb

    also see how Holmlid produces fusion and muons

    http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/adva/5/8/10.1063/1.4928572
    “Also including the large kinetic energy which is directly measured for MeV particles leaving through a small opening gives a gain of 2.3. Taking into account the lower efficiency now due to the suboptimal fusion process, previous studies indicate a gain of at least 20 during long periods.”

    Also see how Holmlid detects muons in a peer reviewed paper.

    http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/rsi/86/8/10.1063/1.4928109

    “The lifetimes of the MeV u−1 particles agree with
    those for kaons and pions which all decay forming muons.
    In our thermal (calorimetric) laser-induced fusion experiments
    in D(0) (in press), a substantial fraction of the total particle
    energy from the fusion process was not measurable. It was
    leaking out in an unidentified way, apparently as penetrating
    particles but not as neutrons. A search was then initiated to
    identify gamma radiation or other high-energy particles. This
    resulted in detection of very intense beta-like energy spectra
    and line spectra due to muons. It appears likely that many
    small-scale fusion test systems emit muons, and it is thus
    important to understand how to selectively detect muons with
    high sensitivity. Progress in this direction is now reported.”

  5. #5 axil
    September 17, 2016

    @Anonymous Coward #3

    Please let me add this article as an overview.

    http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/2016/07/is-lenr-cold-fusion-solution-to-all-our.html

  6. #6 Narad
    September 18, 2016

    Also see how Holmlid detects muons in a peer reviewed paper.

    By a combination of self-citation and motivated reasoning?

  7. #7 axil
    September 18, 2016

    In a request that is in the best tradition of open science, Holmlid has asked for replication. The experts at CERN should step up and put an end to this claim by using their expertise to put a stake in the heart of this heresy once and for all. Humiliate Holmlid and Olafsson by showing that their claims are based on self-citation and motivated reasoning.

    The CERN guy Röhrich states:

    – “Peers are not infallible, and they can not – and should not – check everything. It does not have to be about a scam that I mean either. Most likely, the results caused by wishful thinking. It’s easy to get caught in their own world and not see the mistakes you make. That is why we in CERN has several experiments that largely does the same. A minimum is that experiments must be so nondescript that they can be repeated. But I do not even understand what they want to measure – muons, electrons, gamma radiation or neutrons”, says Röhrich. He acknowledges myonkatalysert fusion is possible, but notes that the muon lifetime is so short that the technology is unlikely to make practical application.

    @Narad #6

    There is not much going on at CERN these days. Why not put an end to Holmlid’s claims now? Why not try a replication by a top CERN scientist with the full cooperation of a LENR experimenter who will gladly share all without reservation in true scientific brotherhood? There is nothing to be afraid of.

  8. #8 Narad
    September 18, 2016

    There is not much going on at CERN these days.

    I’m sure they’ll be surprised to be advised of this.

    Why not put an end to Holmlid’s claims now?

    Because playtime in the rabbit hole isn’t a particularly interesting way to spend one’s time? “Detecting” “muons” “from” “H(0)” is, y’know, putting the cart before the horse.

  9. #9 axil
    September 18, 2016

    @Narad #8

    H(O) also demonstrates a new concept in superconductivity call “HOLE” superconductivity.

    See

    http://sdphln.ucsd.edu/~jorge/hole.html

    Also there is a way that hole superconductivity can resist high temperatures through EMF pumping as follows:

    http://www.phys.ens.fr/~castin/carusotto.pdf

    Maybe a trip into the rabbit hole might help in reversing faulty theory is superconductivity.

  10. #10 Narad
    September 18, 2016

    H(O) also demonstrates a new concept in superconductivity call “HOLE” superconductivity.

    I wrote, referring to Holmlid, H(0). That’s a zero – i.e., his putative ready-to-hand metallic hydrogen. It has precious little to do with your two links (which do, however, suggest that you didn’t read your own Rev. Sci. Instrum. cite; the Carusotto seems to have nothing to do with anything).

    You appear to just be regurgitating material from lenr-forum.com that itself is sourced from word coincidences – e.g., randomly invoking Hirsch.

  11. #11 axil
    September 18, 2016

    @Narad #10

    Superconductivity and Bose condensation are keystones upon which LENR rests. Carusotto explains how Bose condensation can be produced in a system that is far from its lowest energy state. Room temperature Bose condensation in cavity packed metalized hydrogen has been detected in iron oxide. This is the non-equilibrium Bose condensation condition that LENR exists in.

    Hirsch is reference in Holmlid’s theory of D(0) deuterium as follows:

    Neutral multi-MeV/u particles from laser-induced processes in ultra-dense deuterium D(0): accurate two-collector timing and magnetic analysis

    https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1508/1508.01332.pdf

    “Two ultra-dense hydrogen materials have been proved to exist so far, ultra-dense deuterium D(0) [1,2] and ultra-dense protium p(0) [2,3]. They both exist in a few different forms with slightly different bond distances and densities. All these forms may be characterized as spin based Rydberg Matter (RM) [2]. This description is based on a theory developed by J.E. Hirsch [4].”

    Hole superconductivity produces metalized hydrides when the Meissner effect expels electrons from the positively charged hole centric core of the hydride.

  12. #12 Narad
    September 18, 2016

    Hirsch is reference in Holmlid’s theory of D(0) deuterium as follows:

    Neutral multi-MeV/u particles from laser-induced processes in ultra-dense deuterium D(0): accurate two-collector timing and magnetic analysis

    htt[]://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1508/1508.01332.pdf

    Fine, it’s second-hand word association. Although I’m not going to read that Holmlid any time soon, I will offer a well-meaning suggestion: Use the base arXiv link,* not the PDF. It just makes life easier for everyone.

    * Here, http://arxiv.org/abs/1508.01332.

  13. #13 axil
    September 18, 2016

    @Narad #12

    Holmlid is producing some astounding results. Don’t be afraid, If you are interested in paradigm shifting breakthroughs in particle physics and quantum mechanics, read Holmlid. Don’t leave the new science to such inferior untrained minds such as mine. We need the best and the brightest, we need those who can use those state of the art research instruments to do cutting edge research, those who know the ropes, those who know what to do and what not to do, to push the new science ahead at the best possible speed.

  14. #14 Narad
    September 18, 2016

    If you are interested in paradigm shifting

    Actually, I’ve found invocations of Kuhn to be monotonically more irritating over the years.

  15. #15 Anonymous Coward
    September 18, 2016

    To quote one of Ethan’s previous articles: “A few successful, small-scale tests might be evidence that we really have something interesting here, or it could be evidence of one of the hallmarks of tinkerers who work with perpetual motion machines, free energy machines and other device along those lines: you are dealing with someone who has confused themselves by constructing something that they do not understand.”

  16. #16 axil
    September 19, 2016

    That is why replication of these experiments must be done by experts who as not other tinkerers. but eminent men of science.

    Men of science, we common people need guidance to avoid the pitfalls of faulty thinking. But mere words are not enough, actions and public experiments that confirm or deny these results are required to convince the common folk.

    Come down from the white towers and get your hands dirty in friendly camaraderie with the common folk in the pursuit of truth.

  17. #17 eric
    September 19, 2016

    But mere words are not enough, actions and public experiments that confirm or deny these results are required to convince the common folk.

    I think you’re vastly overestimating your claim’s popularity. ‘The common folk’ mostly don’t know or care about cold fusion claims. No scientist needs to run a (dis)confirmation experiment to put these claims to rest; they are already resting. Or maybe pining for the fjords.

    I agree with you, that it would be nice for these tinkerer results to be reproduced by larger, more professional, independent laboratory teams. It would be nice if every result of science was independently reproduced – too few are. But as long as both the people and money resources for reproduction are limited, scientists are likely to allocate (most of) those resources to reproducing results they think have a reasonably high chance of being true. Snipe hunts are pretty far down on the list.

    Or to summarize, the ball’s still in your court. You’ll need more than the occasional tinkerer paper before the community pays attention. (And it certainly doesn’t help that some proponents claiming results refuse to share their design and operating principles. If you LENR folks really want independent replication, why put such barriers in the way of it happening?)

  18. #18 Wow
    September 19, 2016

    “That is why replication of these experiments must be done by experts”

    Well, at least you’re admitting that cold fuion is being done by non experts….

    But, no, they don’t have to be done by experts, since there is no liable method for it to work. Just trying for shits and giggles is a huge waste of money and you would be the first to scream out at tax hikes to pay for research elsewhere.

  19. #19 Wow
    September 19, 2016

    “What about virtual particles, and the negative particles that make up the vacuum as in Dirac’s sea of particles?”

    What about them, chelle?

  20. #20 axil
    September 20, 2016

    The science community in America is undercutting the national security of the U.S.A, as other countries are moving past American on the LENR race. Congress is becoming concerned that the national security is at stake. Wake up American science and do your duty.

    In the appropriate place in the report to accompany H.R. 4909 insert the following new Directive Report Language:
    Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) Briefing
    The committee is aware of recent positive developments in developing low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), which produce ultra-clean, low-cost renewable energy that have strong national security implications. For example, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), if LENR works it will be a “disruptive technology that could revolutionize energy production and storage.” The committee is also aware of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) findings that other countries including China and India are moving forward with LENR programs of their own and that Japan has actually created its own investment fund to promote such technology. DIA has also assessed that Japan and Italy are leaders in the field and that Russia, China, Israel, and India are now devoting significant resources to LENR development. To better understand the national security implications of these developments, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing on the military utility of recent U.S. industrial base LENR advancements to the House Armed Services Committee by September 22, 2016. This briefing should examine the current state of research in the US, how that compares to work being done internationally, and an assessment of the type of military applications where this technology could potentially be useful.

  21. #21 eric
    September 20, 2016

    The science community in America is undercutting the national security of the U.S.A, as other countries are moving past American on the LENR race.

    Yes, well, we chose to race the Russians down the path for telepathy and clairvoyance in the 1970s, and look what that got us. Thankfully we didn’t follow Iraq down the path of using dowsing rods to detect bombs. I’m comfortable not-following other country’s leads on this one.

    The directive you quote was for SecDef to produce a report by 22 September 2016 (i.e., Wednesday). If it made it into legislation, I’ll be curious to see what the OSD says (assuming they make the report public). If it didn’t, then your request to have it put into legislation now is laughably late.

  22. #22 axil
    September 20, 2016

    The recent appearance of the report by Mosier-Boss, Forsley and McDaniel,

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

    released for public access by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency report on LENR, claims that it is possible to replicate the original Pons and Fleischmann effect with a certain Palladium co-deposition technique.

    The paper reports detailed experimental protocols and results which suggest that Pons and Fleischmann were not mistaken or fraudulent in their claims (as they were widely accused of being in the late ’80s and early ’90s). However that was 25 years ago, and most of the scientific world has moved on.

    The authors write:

    The physics community noted that Fleischmann and Pons had not published their results in any journal prior to their announcement, there had been no reports of any replications of the effect, there was no mention of the generation of any nuclear ash, and that the reported results did not match theory. Despite these perceived irregularities scientists, worldwide, went into their laboratories to replicate the Fleischmann–Pons results. A few scientists succeeded but a great many more failed. It is now known that those failures were due to the fact that the experimental conditions necessary to achieve the effect, i.e., high D loading and high D flux inside the Pd lattice, had not been achieved. Ultimately, the lack of replication by others and the fact that Fleischmann and Pons were not able to defend their original claims caused most scientists to lose interest.

    This report has been released without any kind of announcement or fanfare from the US DTRA. “DTRA has confirmed the documents are authentic.”

    The questions that arises for me are, what if this document really does contain key information that would confirm the Pons and Fleischmann effect? And what if the many replicators who rushed to test the claims of P&F had had this information back in the early days — and had been able to see similar results?

    And also, does anyone care enough now to try and replicate with this additional information? Or is this all to remain a footnote in history — forever a cautionary tale about pseudo or pathological science? I wonder if a US Military Agency report like this from the DTRA would be enough to stimulate new interest, given that it provides some specifics regarding how to achieve replication. Let’s also not forget that last year research notes of Louis F. DeChiaro, Ph.D, a physicist with the US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Dahlgren Warfare Center were published in which he wrote:

    As for duplicating the Pons and Fleischmann results, we now have a much better understanding of the phenomenon, and the list of prerequisite conditions is rather lengthy. Failure to meet even one of those conditions results in zero excess energy output. The data suggest that there may be more than one initiation mechanism, so I’m most qualified to comment upon what is known as the atomic vibrational LENR initiation mechanism (because my formal background is in Condensed Matter Physics).

    He then goes on to list a summary of what he has found to be necessary conditions to see the P&F effect.

    Over the years there have been multiple reports published showing successful replications of the P&F effect (see here for a summary of some of them), yet still we find that LENR/Cold Fusion is considered by most people who have heard about it as an impossibility. I wonder if with new information from US Military sources, and an overall uptick in interest in LENR any new blood will be interested in getting into cold fusion research at this point.

  23. #23 Narad
    September 20, 2016

    The recent appearance of the report by Mosier-Boss, Forsley and McDaniel … released for public access by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency

    Uh-huh (Disqustink).

    “DTRA has confirmed the documents are authentic.”

    You’re copying and pasting from the Daily Caller. Killfile it is.

  24. #24 eric
    September 21, 2016

    To add to Narad’s post, here’s another link that debunks the implication that DTRA supports LENR. True: they funded some research with SPAWAR as the performer. Also true: after a few years they pulled the plug on the project. That behavior is not an indication that they believe LENR works; its an indication that they believe it doesn’t.

  25. #25 eric
    September 21, 2016

    Post script: Axil’s bringing up this DTRA-SPAWAR effort also, ironically, undermines his own argument that scientific community is leaping to the conclusion that it doesn’t work rather than doing the research needed to conclude it doesn’t work. Well, pretty clearly SPAWAR did the research. And pretty clearly, DTRA assessed that research and decided it didn’t work. Congrats, Axil, LENR got exactly the attention you claimed it should get – a government-funded research effort – and the results failed to convince the government client it was worthwhile to continue.

  26. #26 eric
    September 21, 2016

    Goodness there’s been a lot of thread necromancy going on lately. And Axil’s been posting more. I think we’ve discovered another conservation law – conservation of crankdom.

  27. #27 Wow
    September 22, 2016

    “Thankfully we didn’t follow Iraq down the path of using dowsing rods to detect bombs. ”

    But that technique totally works! Keep walking about with your rods and when you fly up in the air, you have found the bomb!

  28. #28 Wow
    September 22, 2016

    “The science community in America is undercutting the national security of the U.S.A,”

    No they aren’t. They’re just not wasting time, money and effort in a futile attempt to make you right, axil.

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