"Between cold fusion and respectable science there is virtually no communication at all. ...because the Cold-Fusioners see themselves as a community under siege, there is little internal criticism. Experiments and theories tend to be accepted at face value, for fear of providing even more fuel for external critics, if anyone outside the group was bothering to listen. In these circumstances, crackpots flourish, making matters worse for those who believe that there is serious science going on here." -David Goodstein
I'm going to tell you a story that starts back in 1770, before not only the idea of nuclear fusion, but before atomic nuclei or even the modern theory of atoms existed. Instead, our story starts with the very first chess-playing automaton, Wolfgang von Kempelen's Turk.
Nearly two centuries before the invention of the modern computer, the Turk was able to play a very strong game of chess, winning most of its games and defeating all but the world's very top players at the time. Immediately, of course, it was believed to be a hoax, but many exhibitions of the machine seemed to prove it genuine, and the machine seemed to display not only remarkable chess skill, but also the ability to detect false moves. As one (defeated) opponent observed, his attempt at cheating,
"by giving the Queen the move of a Knight, but my mechanic opponent was not to be so imposed upon; he took up my Queen and replaced her in the square from which I had moved her."
The Turk -- which would have been the ultimate steampunk invention -- required cranking, and would cause a machine-cranking sound inside. In addition to the lower drawers, which contained a chessboard and pieces, there were six doors, three on the front and three on the back. Behind the left door, as shown above, was a set of interlocking metal gears, which turned after being wound. Behind the right two was a red cushion and open space, so that all doors could be opened and one could see clearly through the Turk.
After defeating all but the strongest regional competition, the Turk was taken around Europe, where it played in a great many exhibitions, including one against the strongest player of the day, Andre Philidor, who -- although victorious -- called it "his most fatiguing game of chess ever!"
But the gears on the left and the drawers on the bottom were false; they only extended a third of the way back, allowing the operator -- who was hidden inside -- to slip to an unseen position when the rightmost two doors were opened. The Turk was, in fact, not an automaton, but a very well-designed machine, driven by a human operator inside.
But it was not until the 1820s that the fraud was uncovered, and it would literally not be for 200 years after the Turk's first match that a truly automated program could play chess at the level of the Turk. Keep this story in the back of your mind, now, as we switch gears to a much more modern puzzle.
Much more pressing, today, is the problem of needing a clean, safe, and affordable source of energy. Of all the options available, the most ideal (and the one with perhaps the most potential) is nuclear fusion.
The primary source of energy in the Sun, nuclear fusion is the release of energy that happens when the atomic nuclei of lighter elements fuse together into heavier ones. Nuclear fusion, unlike our current terrestrial source of nuclear power -- nuclear fission -- involves no radioactive waste and no threat of a meltdown.
Couple that with the incredible efficiency of nuclear power, and it's no wonder that it's viewed as the holy grail of energy. The principle behind nuclear fusion is incredibly simple.
The most stable element in the periodic table is Iron-56. If you have an element that's significantly more massive than Iron-56, you can generally cleave it apart, producing lighter, more stable elements, and releasing energy: that's nuclear fission. (For some elements, that process is so energetically favorable that it occurs spontaneously: that's radioactivity!) Fusion is just the opposite: taking lighter elements and joining them together, creating more stable elements and releasing energy. We should note that the Sun takes protons and -- in a chain reaction -- builds them up into Helium-4, which converts about 0.7% of its mass into energy via E = mc2. While this isn't all that much for a single atom's reaction, when you realize that 1038 protons do this in the Sun every second, it adds up to a tremendous release of energy.
So how do we make it happen -- in a controlled fashion (not like this) -- on Earth? There are three approaches generally taken towards this goal.
One is to take a frozen pellet of isotopes of hydrogen -- deuterium and tritium -- and compress (and heat) them by bombarding them with ultra-energetic particles or lasers. If the bombardment is sufficiently energetic, you can produce temperatures and energies sufficient for nuclear fusion; this method is known as inertial confinement fusion.
The second, instead, uses magnetic confinement of very hot plasmas, in donut-shaped reactors like the one shown above. At the intense temperatures achieved inside, controlled nuclear fusion can be achieved, just as it can for inertial confinement.
The problem with both of these methods is that both of them require a larger energy input to make the fusion happen in the first place than they give off through the fusion reaction. Until the energy out exceeds the energy you put into it -- but not by so much that it blows your reactor apart -- it isn't a useful machine. Throughout the past three decades, these two methods have inched ever closer to the break-even point, with magnetic confinement currently (slightly) in the lead.
And most recently, there's a new method that combines both of these two methods: Magnetized Target Fusion, which I once wrote a bit about here. Again, it hasn't reached the break-even point, but it's got quite a bit of potential.
But all throughout the news, if you've been paying attention over the past year, there have been reports that cold fusion has been achieved, and may be the ultimate solution to the energy crisis.
Those of you who know your history may remember back in 1989 that a team of scientists -- Fleischmann and Pons -- claimed to have achieved nuclear fusion at room temperatures through an electro-chemical process: cold fusion. This would be fantastic, of course, because it would mean that huge energy outputs (on the nuclear scale) could be achieved with only small energy inputs (on the electro-chemical scale, which is about 100,000 times lower), a clearly revolutionary discovery!
Unfortunately, their results were hugely flawed, and their experiments were not reproducible, and cold fusion is now synonymous with ideas like perpetual motion machines: very appealing promises of virtually limitless energy, but that are unfortunately physically impossible.
Now, that's not necessarily fair. While perpetual motion machines would violate known physical phenomena -- like the conservation of energy -- cold fusion is, in principle possible. If we go back to the Sun, where nuclear fusion definitely occurs, it isn't like the temperatures there are sufficient to cause the individual nuclei to overcome their mutual electric repulsion and fuse together. Instead, something else remarkable happens to the two nuclei that are about to fuse.
Remember that instead of being solid particles, these nuclei are quantum mechanical objects, meaning they act both as particles and waves. The quantum mechanical wavefunctions of these nuclei -- in the Sun, at any rate -- wind up overlapping, so that there's a small but finite (and important) probability that two of them will find themselves in a more energetically favorable state! When that happens, they can tunnel into that energetically favorable state, and fusion can occur!
Now, this has never been observed at cold temperatures, but from a theoretical physics standpoint, it may be possible. (In other words, don't be so quick to dismiss the idea out of hand.) So, with all this in mind, what does one make of the recent headlines?
With reports coming in from all over the web, including Wired, MSNBC, Sweden's NYTeknik, Bloomberg TV, Wired (again), and many other sources, inventor Andrea Rossi's cold fusion device -- known as the e-cat, or energy catalyzer -- has been exhibited at a few semi-public demonstrations, and has been observed to put out nuclear-scale energies with only electro-chemical-scale energy inputs. In particular, he claims that enriched nickel is being fused with hydrogen nuclei to create copper, and release large amounts of energy. If true, that would, in fact, be nuclear fusion! And a confirmed, controlled test of this would be spectacular, and an incredible cause for celebration.
Rossi has been awfully secretive about the e-cat, and all of the "demonstrations" performed are awfully suspicious to me. What do I mean? Just a sampling:
- Rossi has never published a peer-reviewed paper on how his device works, either theoretically or experimentally.
- There are only very rough schematics publicly available, and they are all from the Journal of Nuclear Physics, which is Andrea Rossi's own private journal. But doesn't Journal of Nuclear Physics sound reputable? Not quite: it was founded just last year, in 2010. Don't confuse it with the real journal, which is simply Nuclear Physics.
- Andrea Rossi had a company in the 1980s, Petroldragon, which claimed to turn garbage into oil. Sound too-good-to-be-true? Andrea Rossi went to jail for this scam, although he gives his own version of the events.
- The first reactor, scheduled to be built for Defkalion in Greece, was mysteriously cancelled at the last minute by Rossi. Although initially no explanation was given, he recently made this (perhaps foolhardy) statement:
Talking of Defkalion, Andrea Rossi says that he led the company a false trail. They took the bait, thinking that he would be selling small eCats in October. In doing so, it wrong-footed them and upset their plans to present a fake version of the same.
- No one observing these tests has ever been allowed to "look inside the Turk," so to speak. In other words, no one -- other than Rossi himself -- has any idea what the internal design and mechanism that result in the claimed nuclear fusion (and energy production) actually is.
Well, what do you think?
Yeah, me too. Look, if you're going to make an extraordinary claim, like that you've discovered cold fusion, then you've got to provide extraordinary evidence, not this half-hearted, half-powered demonstration coupled with a long track record of swindles and lies.
I would love for this to be real, but everything about it screams "hoax" to me, and it's only the overwhelming number of requests for a post on this that have led me to write this at all. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, remember? There's a reason we do science out in the public sphere, open it up to peer review, and require a high level of scrutiny and cross-checking: to avoid frauds and hoaxes, which this has written all over it, despite the impressive control it exerts over google searches.
But you can't fool all the people all the time.
So yes, I think cold fusion is possible. And no, I don't see any reason to believe that it's real. Take away the smoke and mirrors, and show me the physics, and then we'll have a story. Because that's what scientists -- real scientists -- do. They don't play games, they don't hide behind "black boxes" and billion-dollar claims of free energy, they prove it. They put their results out there for everyone to see, scrutinize, reproduce, and test. That's how science works. Pons and Fleischmann may not have been very good scientists, but at least they were scientists.
Until Rossi proves otherwise, all we've got here is a known con artist perpetrating a long con. And -- pardon the native New Yorker inside me -- I ain't buyin' it.
You stand next to a source of 1 MW of nuclear power, fusion or fission, in the absence of shielding as they are, you die about two weeks later. Bunkum.
What do you think about Polywell Fusion? I've read about it in a few places, and I don't have the background to properly evaluate the claims, but it sounds like it has as much potential as the Inertial or Magnetic methods. They always seem short on getting funding on the scale of the other major methods, though the guy behind it claims to be ready to build a demo plant for ~$200M, pocket change compared to what's going to the other big fusion projects.
If he can fuse nickel and hydrogen to make copper he can't be too far off the alchemists' dream of making gold!
Virtually free power and gold as a by-product. I guess the only disadvantage is that if there is lots of gold around then some economies might collapse.
Ethan, if you were to "look inside the Turk" would you not have found a remarkably talented chess player? The truth behind the fraud is as interesting as the sideshow itself.
Thanks for this write-up, Ethan!
When they talk about the e-cat releasing energy, what form and where in the electromagnetic spectrum is it being released? Wasn't one of the problems with Fleishmann and Pons' "results" that, for it to have worked the way they said it did, everyone present would have been killed by the radiation?
I guess the real question is whether any actual nuclear physicists have looked at the thing. And, if the answer is "no" then that tells us everything we need to know.
@John, are you saying that if you stripped off the aluminum foil around the doo-dad, you might find an impressive collection of batteries? Sure, they'd be impressive, but batteries are well-understood. So are small human chess-players.
(OB turk story: I know a guy who was getting his butt kicked in an online chess game, so the next time he played that opponent, he got his moves from a chess-playing program. Subsequent games were tight and showed some of the weirdness you see when computers play against computers. What was probably happening was two chess-playing artificial intelligences playing a game, using human beings as the communication channel. Next-up: computer dating)
Ethan, you're a genius. Connecting a scientific story on a subject like cold fusion with a chess story 200+ yrs old - you're a great story teller! Thanks!
That's some chess player, playing extended challening games in some incredible awkward position without giving the game away, so to speak.
Cold fusion... Yeah, certainly every single attempt has failed, and any successful attempt would likely look like a multi-million dollar project involving deep quantum mechanics or something.
Just to play devil's advocate for a moment, I often hear some people say that cold fusion would violate conservation of energy, but I don't see why. I mean, you still need to input raw material for the fusion, so it seems to me that conservation is maintained.
The writer did his homework, good sourcing, overall a balanced article. I am at the 50% point on this, the amount of reputable people who have seen the E-Cat device in operation are mostly agreeing that anomalous heat/energy is being observed. The hoax, if it is one, is a good one, the devices are (apparently), putting out more energy than chemical reactions could be accounted for. His terrible reputation cancels out all of the the scientific provenience in the end. However, this is no ordinary fraudster perpetrating a quick money making scheme. This Rossi character is truly going for broke in a big way, he's actively promoting the E-Cat as a real energy producing device, he is claiming to be manufacturing and selling them right now. He is rubbing elbows with American Politicians, and actively seeking publicity with anyone who will listen. In other words, Rossi is doing 200 MPH while headed for a brick wall, whatever the outcome of this, the results will be educational. Either Rossi is about to change human history forever with a real Cold Fusion breakthrough, or we are about to witness a crash and burn rarely seen.
We continue to be dependent on oil and other carbon-based energy sources because of fiction like this being passed off as fact. I really don't have the time or inclination to address every falsehood or inaccuracy. I will only address the biggest, most commonly held and widely disseminated falsehood, which is the statement that the experiments of Pons and Fleishmann was never able to be reproduced. These results WERE reproducible and have continued to be replicated hundreds of times over the last 20+ years. For a well-documented history of this whole saga, go to lenr-canr.org and read the documented evidence.
"But you can't fool all the people all the time."
Get up, stand up! Proof that you are right!
"These results WERE reproducible and have continued to be replicated hundreds of times over the last 20+ years."
Well I'm glad you addressed that one. I, for one, am now totally convinced. It's the use of capitals that convinces.
Yes, cold fusion is voodoo science.
Sadly cold fusion preys upon the hopes of scientifically illiterate people to be richly rewarded by owning the technological rights to unlimited, nearly free, pollution free energy.
Thus "cold fusion" is fringely active research (see wiki); as in since we don't understand it, let's hedge our greedy bets. By whatever name, e.g. "chemically assisted nuclear reaction", "focus fusion"; cold fusion is a "shlock science hoax".
Some beneficiaries of cold fusion are:
- charitible organizations
- research corporations
- individual researchers
All of which profit from the greedy dream of unlimited, nearly free, pollution free energy.
Voodoo science does sell. Voodoo science is deliberate hype of misinformation.
Voodoo science is different than alternative science. e.g. Fred Hoyle did not promote misinfornation. He offered an alternative interpretation of the same information. Fred did not have any "privileged" data. Voodoo science always rests on some privileged data, i.e. "a latest questionable experiment" that needs to be verified or scaled or....
We have followed Mr. Rossis experiments/presentations since January now and each of them was flawed. We have a lot of documentation on that guy and his device over at esowatch:
We believe, he tries to pull a similar stunt as Blacklight Power or Steorn ...
How much have you actually read about Andrea Rossi's machine? You do know that the E-cat was opened up on October 6th in front of a group of people? I've read and seen just about everything made available and my conclusion right now is that there is a good chance that it is true, but it's still inconclusive.
Fleischmann and Pons cold fusion experiment is almost certainly real. It's difficult to replicate and the theory is probably still wrong, but Fleischmann and Pons were NOT scammers. I will say that with 100% conviction. Even if Rossi's invention is a fraud, cold fusion is not.
The person saying that you did a great job of researching it must not know much about it.
The part where it is opened is at about 11:30 of this video. It's difficult to know how much they stripped it down.
Of course, in earlier tests the "E-cat" was an earlier version and was much smaller. The earlier tests used steam, which was a big topic for debate as to whether or not it was measured correctly so that is going to be worthless for some people.
There's also the big issue that the only ways the nuclear physics could work to give the results that Rossi claims are in conflict with the ways nuclear physics is known to work, as a Swedish professor shows:
They also surprisingly claimed that they tried to publish their results on arxiv.org but were rejected, so that is why they publish in "Journal of Nuclear Physics." Well, if you want a non-moderated version of arxiv.org, but you still want your paper to be freely and publicly available and scrutable, why not publish it on vixra.org?
This would be standard, run-of-the-mill crackpot territory if he weren't trying to defraud people of many millions of dollars. If this were real, going public with the science behind it would surely net a nobel prize, international acclaim, and untold riches for the rest of his life. The continued secrecy and lack-of-explanation screams "hoax."
"Eric Lerner, the former Executive Director of the Focus Fusion Society,.. is the President of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP)... is the author of The Big Bang Never Happened... has become internationally known for his studies linking cosmic plasma phenomena and laboratory fusion devices, especially the dense plasma focus... has developed original theories of quasars, large scale structure, the microwave background and the origin of light elements all based on the plasma cosmology approach, which is an alternative to the Big Bang theory... has outlined a new theory of quasars that did not require black holes, describing quasars as a magnetic self-compression process similar to that occurring in the plasma focus. In effect, the plasmoid in the plasma focus is a tiny scale model of a quasar... is currently preparing for a new set of plasma focus experiments, including using hydrogen boron fuel, as well as continuing research in plasma cosmology... The Focus Fusion Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization... With your support, we will continue to be active spectators of the world of fusion research, with a front row seat on one particular, accessible fusion experiment, the âLPPX Projectâ... The first provision of the Focus Fusion Society General Plan is to support the Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Experiment (LPPX)... Iran is pursuing fusion with a PF - canât let them beat us! Due Diligence requires that we inform people of the LPPX project so that it gets adequate funding to see the project through. The âoversoldâ principle requires that we say itâs not a done deal, and due diligence again means that we need a backup plan in case it doesnât work out. Hence, Plan BF." from Focus Fusion Society non-profit site.
"Lawrenceville Plasma Physics was founded in 1974 in Lawrenceville, NJ, by Eric Lerner. LPP was incorporated in 2003 and built its lab in Middlesex, NJ, in 2009. Our primary research device, "Focus Fusion-1" became operational in Oct. 2009, and continues to make progress toward our goal of clean fusion energy." from Lawrenceville Plasma Physics site.
Seriously, with experts like Eric Lerner, the LPPX project, the "oversold" principle and the backup Plan BF; cold fusion is in good hands. Lerner is rolling the dice. Will he get a nobel prize; ahh not yet. Come on we gamble at Vegas why not in science; is LPPX a winner? Not yet.
"If LPPX fails - until it does, it galvanizes attention and creates a sense of possibility which can be leveraged for funding of other projects." Come on you greedy little science gamblers double your bets and roll the dice again. If we have enough money we can keep going and "until LPPX fails" and then there's always the "oversold" principle and the backup Plan BF.
Seriously, biology has the health benefits of rhinoceros horns, physics has cold fusion!!!
There is no doubt the LENR has been proven. See lenr-canr.org for a list of several thousand published papers on the subject.
Even Pons & Fleischmann have had their work replicated a number of times. It seems the early groups that tried this did not understand the requirements. There is reason to think MIT fudged the results that did show a small amount of anomalous heat. At least their chief scientific writer resigned over it.
I conclude that too many reputable scientists have witnessed trials of the E-Cat and believe it produces anomalous heat, even if the amount is disputed, for it to be an illusion. Particularly those close to Rossi, like Focardi and Levi, must know if it works.
It is also a funny way to perpetrate fraud when Rossi only gets paid for E-Cats after they have been tested by the customer. There are many pathological skeptics on line, but they don't deserve much credit for stating any new invention doesn't work. 99.9% of them don't. The trick is to spot the few ground breaking ones that do.
It's true there is a 1% chance Rossi hired actors and it is a fraud. It can't be considered certain without a more definitive test.
Scientifically illiterate? Really? Do you mean Nobel prize winning physicist Dr. Brian Jospheson who fully supports cold fusion and Andrea Rossi; or Dr. Edmund Storms who was on the staff at Los Almos National Lab in 1989 and was part of a group that actually replicated Pons and Fleishmann; or James Patterson who had a Master's degree in chemistry, held over 100 patents and produced his own cold fusion cell; or Dr. Dennis Cravens who holds two PhD's and scientifically validated the work of James Patterson; or Dr. George Miley of the University of Illinois, who also validated Patterson's work and is currently working on his own cell; or Dr. Brian Ahern, graduate of MIT, holder of 26 patents, contractor to Ames National Laboratory, and set to give a presentation on his research on Dec. 7 (calls it LENR, not cold fusion); or Dr. Michael McKubre of SRI International who has been doing his own research for 20 years; or Dr. Yeong E. Kim of Purdue University who has published one of the most plausible theories to explain cold fusion/LENR; or Prof. Yoshiaki Arata who publicly demonstrated a cold fusion cell in Japan in 2008; or Dr. Pamela Moiser-Boss of the US Navy's SPAWAR weapons division who has done her own successful experiments and published a seminal paper on the matter in 2009; or biophysicist Prof. Franceso Piantelli of the University of Siena, who began his research 6 months after Pons and Fleishmann using nickel and hydrogen, holds multiple patents on his cell and used to work with Prof. Sergio Focardi, Rossi's current research associate; or do you mean Dr. Melvin H. Miles who was part of a group in 1989 that initially failed to replicate but then figured out 6 months later the reason why was that his group performed the experiment incorrectly.
Or, by scientifically illiterate do you mean Robert Park, author of Voodoo Science, who has spent over two decades trying to "debunk" cold fusion and has ruined the careers of many scientists on his personal witch hunt, yet claims that he has never read ONE of the thousands of published scientific papers documenting it. Illiterate indeed.
The incredible public spectacle of Andrea Rossi and his Leonardo Corp's flimsily supported claims about their so-called âE-Catâ systems producing extraordinary amounts of âexcess heatâ and very recently, claimed sales of MW-output commercial power generation products to third-party customers, have been ongoing for almost a year as of this writing. Even after all that time, given a long series of technically inconclusive, highly publicized âdemosâ purporting to show remarkable production of âexcess heat,â it is still unclear to what degree, if any, Mr. Rossiâs extremely bold claims represent independently verifiable, testable physical reality.
Interestingly, the at times semi-hidden, underlying 'core' of supporters of Mr. Rossi who have been incessantly promoting the 'reality' of Rossiâs heat output claims all over the Internet for some time are exactly the same group of publicity-seeking zealots who have been ballyhooing the erroneous notion of "cold fusion" for the past 20 or so years.
For example, some of the more publicly visible members of this tactically cohesive âcoreâ group of cold fusioneers include, in no particular order, Dr. Edmund Storms, Prof. Peter Hagelstein, Dr. Michael McKubre, Mitchell Swartz, M.D., Prof. David Nagel, Dr. Michael Melich, Prof. Brian Josephson, as well as the prolific Internet poster-commenter Mr. Jed Rothwell, among others. The highly coordinated nature of this sub-groupâs longstanding promotional activities on âcold fusionâ can readily be verified by simply Googling on varied combinations of pairs and trios of their last names. Unfortunately, the D+D ï He-4 + heat "cold fusion" process was thoroughly discredited as a scientific concept back in 1989 - 90; it remains just as obviously wrong today as it was then. Nothing has changed in that regard.
Notwithstanding the ongoing Internet theatrics of Mr. Rossi and his frequently shifting array of publicly visible âcold fusionâ supporters/promoters, LENR phenomena are in fact real, but LENRs are most certainly not high-Coulomb-barrier nuclear fusion processes of any kind --- hot, "cold," warm, or otherwise.
Rather, LENRs in condensed matter involve many-body collective quantum effects with hydrogen-loaded metals that can trigger weak interactions --- that is, e + p ï n + neutrino --- but thatâs another highly technical story (detailed answers and extensive analyses of a wide variety of experimental data are available in a collection of public documents found at http://www.slideshare.net/lewisglarsen )
In particular, a 21-page âPrimerâ paper, which provides a high-level overview of the entire expanse of the Widom-Larsen theory of LENRs from the microcosm (very high local E-fields on nm-to-micron length-scales on condensed matter surfaces) to the macrocosm (dusty plasmas and magnetic-regime astrophysical phenomena on large length-scales), recently published in an Indian Academy of Science journal as follows (much less mathematically intensive than our EPJC paper published in 2006):
âA primer for electroweak induced low-energy nuclear reactionsâ
Y. N. Srivastava, A. Widom, and L. Larsen
Pramana â Journal of Physics 75 pp. 617 â 637 (2010)
For inquisitive readers interested in examining recent, somewhat more factually objective news coverage about Rossi et al. (as opposed to only seeing the veritable 'blizzard' of what are essentially company PR releases issued by various Rossi promoters and amateur supporters-groupies that magically appear on a growing myriad of new âpop-upâ websites) as well as a fact-based chronology of this continuing saga, please consider going to the New Energy Times (NET) website blog at http://blog.newenergytimes.com/ and following NET webpage which provides a Rossi news timeline with links to related source files & documents at http://newenergytimes.com/v2/sr/RossiECat/AndreaRossiAndHisEnergy-Catal…
When he invented the light bulb, Edison started with existing knowledge, then tested thousands and thousands of substance to find a filament that would generate the desired effect of a lasting light. He finally achieved success when he tried a carbonized cotton thread filament (later replaced by Tungsten). Edison published no papers on this work while he was doing it. He just did it, ignoring the naysayers. After looking over everything I could find concerning Mr. Rossiâs E.cat project, including comments from many sceptics, Iâm pretty convinced that Mr. Rossi has done it, and he did it in more or less the same trial and error method Edison used. I'm relying on the many convincing comments by the several established scientists involved.
Considering the catastrophic state the environment is in and the worldâs current geopolitical situation as well, I think Mr. Rossi did it just in the nick of time, IF this is the substantial cheap energy producer it seems to be. This would make it an even more critically important triumph than Edisonâs light bulb. By the way there were many high-placed sceptics who claimed Edison had not done it and it was impossible--until they put their hand in his wound and saw the light.
Sven Kullander and others of his stature have witnessed the production of excess non-chemical heat and could detect no fraud. He is Professor Emeritus of High Energy Physics University of Upsala, Member of Swedish Academy of Science (chairman of energy committee), Heâs also a Member of Nobel committee that choses the final winner of the Nobel prize in Physics.)
Is it possible that a new age is about to dawn? We'll know soon enough. A tested one Megawatt ecat machine is in the hands of its buyer, waiting to be re-assembled and "fired" up.
P.S. I was a skeptic too-- I was until I watched all the ecat videos on youtube. I think like John above. If this is a fraud it's the most spectacular (and inpenetrable) one ever perpetrated.
" It is also a funny way to perpetrate fraud when Rossi only gets paid for E-Cats after they have been tested by the customer. "
People keep going around and around on this issue of whether or not Rossi got paid. An Ampenergo official said in an interview that Rossi did.
Rossi's payment, according to Casserino, was "an important part of the equation." Nobody has any way to know how much else Rossi collected from investors.
Investor scams, exemplified by Steorn, collect millions ahead of product sales from investors with more money than brains who do not perform due diligence. In Steorn's case, it was 20 million Euros! Contract agreements and NDA's are written in a way to prevent investors from complaining later. In Rossi's case, the one and only customer claimed is anonymous. It is likely that he is also fictitious.
Rossi has had ample offers, many free or nearly free, to safely have his device evaluated independently and he has always refused. Those offering have included many friends and enthusiasts of cold fusion.
There is no way to know for sure whether Rossi is a fraud or not but he certainly acts like the classical free energy, magnetic motor, or car that runs on water con man.
This post by "Ben" is instructive insofar as it reveals the want and paranoia-driven blindness that is ALWAYS present in the nutcase camp. When a person's basic world-view is that some bunch of guys operate a secret society and that nobody else has access to valid information, than it is all to expectable when that person would identify truth as that any idea that is otherwise known to be false. The "man" tells us that cold fusion is unlikely or impossible so cold fusion must be valid and must be suppressed to make the "man" more rich and more powerful. I love it! Same rhetoric "proves" the existence of Area 51 aliens and World Trade Center demolition and Apollo Moon Mission hoax and Chem Trails and and andâ¦
What's missing is education in thermodynamics and macro economics. Should anyone have found a true cold fusion solution, there would be an immediate race to help that person fund a full scale rollout of industrial scale production facilities across the world. All oil companies would immediately abandon their wells and rigs and refineries and jump on the cold fusion band wagon. The inventor would be rich rich rich beyond the scope of historical comparison. The economies of the world would multiply by folds overnight. True cold fusion would not be a back-page story. It would immediately and profoundly change the course of human history to a degree incomparable with any past invention or discovery.
So, please people, lets be reasonable. The "man" isn't hiding the truth about cold fusion. Cold fusion hasn't happened. You will know when cold fusion has happened â the whole world will change overnight.
The implications of cold fusion working are a bit daunting. For one, cold fusion would expose a translation between the quantum and classical realm that itself would either expose deep chasm in 2nd law thermodynamics or a back door channel of interaction between "sub-space" and relativistic spacetime, there is no theoretical model that predicts or explains the physics from which cold fusion, or fusion without extreme pressure, would arise. As Ethan explained, fusion happens when the wave functions of two quanta combine, but nobody understands either why it happens under extreme pressure or how it would happen without. Should the 2nd law apply at the quantum scale, and every experiment and most theory says it does, than cold fusion would have to be thermodynamically compliantâ¦ meaning, cold fusion would depend as all other known dynamics do, upon a downward flow of energy from more energetic to less. Should such a process be possible and as mechanically simple as cold fusion experiments seem to be, than cold fusion would be a spontaneous process and could be found under the right conditions, naturally (as is true of nuclear fission).
Where is COLD fusion happening naturally and spontaneously?
The article is so full of errors regarding Rossi it's hard to know where to start. It also does not even attempt to address the subject of LENR in any honest way.
Neither are there any references to a plethora of papers showing excess anomalous heat from Nickel-Hydrogen experiments.
And why bother posting a picture of a perpetual motion machine? This is a clear attempt to debunk and misinform readers. Perpetual motion is not being claimed here, and it appears you are trying to use a tactic of ridicule by association.
Re Ben @ #20
That the same Brian Josephson who claims that ESP and PK are real phenomena?
Lol! Wow, both J Randi and M Hat are posting on your board Ethan, you should be honored. Seriously, M Hat? I thought mine was... anyway..
I was taking my first physics class at the U of U when P and F came out with the cold fusion claim. I remember my professor telling us that the way science works now we would have this all cleared up in six months. At the time, I thought he meant 'solved' as in 'it works'. Too bad though, must be some big conspiracy between the oil companies and toilet paper manufacturers. that'd be my guess.
I believe cold fusion was actually achieved in 1986 using muons. Of course it takes more energy to create muons than can be had from the fusion reactions catalyzed by them before they disintegrate. If the Rossi machine was real he could patent the design and publish it so that it could be replicated and verified. He'd be a billionaire overnight. Science isn't even necessary to correctly analyze what's going on here.
Randall asks "Where is COLD fusion happening naturally and spontaneously?"
In sticky tape, x-rays are being produced when it is peeled off.
In an artical from the New York Times- "Finally, there is the possibility of nuclear fusion. If energy from the breaking adhesive could be directed away from the electrons to heavy hydrogen ions implanted in modified tape, the ions would accelerate so that when they collided, they could fuse and give off energy â the process that lights the sun.
Rather than comparing the fraudulent promise of abundunt energy from cold fusion with a perpetual motion machine it would have been more apropos to compare it with the greatest and costliest scientific fraud of all time: Hot Fusion Research.
$6 billion squandered since 1948 in the US alone, with an ongoing promise from the researchers that it is sure to be made to work in fifty years time, according to "peer reviewed" claims and articles issued by those quacks from time to time.
What's most interesting about the Rossi story is that other groups also appear to be claiming positive results from Ni + H fusion, although not in quite such a public way. Not all of them appear to have quite such a dubious past but typically their results are much less spectacular (outputs of a few 10s or 100s of watts W and COPs of 2 or 3).
Ethan, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your excellent article. Additional arguments for this being a complete hoax is the absence of any significant radiation and the fact that the Coulomb barrier tunneling probability for p+Ni is negligible compared to Pons and Fleischmannâs d+d fusion. In other words d+d cold fusion is at least conceivable but p+Ni isnât.
I have an additional argument for which I would like to know your expert opinion as astrophysicist. Any nickel isotopes consumed in the e-cat would also have been converted into copper in the sun where there is some nickel and certainly plenty of hydrogen, higher pressure and higher temperature. Also there has been plenty of time; billions of years as compared to six months. Yet, the isotopic abundances of nickel observed on the sun and in the solar wind are the same as on earth.
It's a very difficult argument to make, that p + Ni would lead to Copper in a low-energy reaction, for reasons much more compelling than whether or not copper is formed in stars. (The answer to which is, although the Sun is lousy at forming copper, high-mass stars can form copious amounts of copper through the s-process, as this book by Ken Croswell details.)
But you want the nuclear physics details, so here you go.
The reason it's so hard is because the (normal, unenriched) Nickel you start with on Earth comes in a combination of five (stable) isotopes: Ni-58 (68%), Ni-60 (26%), Ni-61 (1%), Ni-62 (4%) and Ni-64 (1%). If you add a proton to any of them, you'd get Copper. In particular, Cu-59, Cu-61, Cu-62, Cu-63, and Cu-65. (That's in principle.)
Now, here's the problem. Cu-59, Cu-61, and Cu-62 are all unstable. If you form them, they radioactively decay by emitting positrons (Î²+-decay), which would be easily detectable via its gamma rays. Why's that? Because positrons annihilate with electrons to form two gamma rays with 511 keV of energy apiece, which is unmistakeable.
That's 95% of the Nickel, right off the bat, that's ruled out.
It's hard to see how Cu-63 would ever form (and release energy) from Ni-62, given that Nickel-62 has the highest binding energy per-nucleon of all the known elements (when you include electrons; Fe-56 is highest if you don't).
So the only way we could be getting this energy is from forming Cu-65 from Ni-64 and a proton. But remember, for naturally occurring nickel, Ni-64 is only 1% of what you start with. In Rossi's experiment, however, he claimed that 10% of the sample wound up as copper. Non-radioactive copper, mind you.
So, unless Rossi is obtaining Nickel that is somehow enriched to have Ni-64 in ten times the normal abundance, and we're seeing copper that is exclusively Cu-65 in the final state, we're dealing with an elaborate hoax.
This is a long enough comment that I may turn it into a blog post of its own at some point!
For once I could enjoy from the vantage point of a night course in Black Holes, etc.
The large differences in electron level energies and nuclear ones are 100,000, you say. Just as the difference between gravity attraction and electrostatic repulsion between protons are on completely different orders.
But I write to close a knowledge gap. What are preferred energy levels? Are they always lower, driven by order to disorder, rising entropy? Or are there quantum clarifications, of which I know none?
Didn't have my brain fully cranked up reading the article.
Going from nickel (above the watershed of Iron) to coppar(even higher) by addition of proton, I think it stood, is of course patently impossible.
All fusions above iron required ADDING ENERGY, and in nature is usually done in a supernova, but lots of energy is added. So here NO energy could be released by such a process, only consumed.
Not only the scales between chemical and nuclear energies are ignored, but saying production of energy from an endothermic process is possible! Hope no one has invested in this one.
I am familiar with the nuclear physics arguments, but your compelling review would definitely be worth a separate blog post. Kulander did isotopic analysis of the sample where he found the 10% copper. The composition was identical to the isotopic ratio found in natural copper. This would be the case, for example, if someone had added copper powder on purpose.
The nickel-in the-sun argument is independent of what happens in high-mass stars or supernovae explosions. In other words, the sun would be a copious copper producer too if Rossi was right; but it isnât and he isnât. The advantage of this argument is that it circumvents all the crackpot explanations of how a miracle can happen that would allow the Ni+p reaction to go.
I think you are right. Specifically, by looking at which nickel-abundant stars do and do not have copper signatures, we can say something important about what conditions are necessary in order to allow Ni+p to go, as you point out.
Mind if I use it also?
Let's back off from the science and compare Rossi with the robot who played chess.
We got something locked up in room, available for viewing at agreed times in agreed ways, a heat sink (running water) whose temperature rise can be measured and the energy produced calculated. OK, who calibrated the measuring instruments, who examined the table, floors, etc. for electrical power lines, who has the details on the control device (push-button, turning a knob(rheostat?), etc.?????
Come on, if you can't check the setup for obvious fakery then why waste the time.
And besides, the oil companies would have put out a contract on him years ago. As would Wall Street.
Ethan, Randi is just jealous of your dark beard and what it signifies compared to his white one.
And the coppar isotope argument was a true Sherlock Holmes' case closer.
Nature doesn't lie, just humans do.
Sure Ethan, go ahead and use it too, but please give me credit for the initial idea about the sun. Perhaps you could reference my comment #32 to your blog post.
I have a couple of comments about what you wrote before:
âIt's hard to see how Cu-63 would ever form (and release energy) from Ni-62, given that Nickel-62 has the highest binding energy per-nucleon of all the known elements (when you include electrons; Fe-56 is highest if you don't).â
The âhighest binding energy per nucleonâ argument is not really correct. You would indeed get energy from 62Ni + 1H = 63Cu* = 63 Cu + 6.122 MeV where the * indicates an excited state of 63Cu. I always include the electrons because in the low energy regime you always start and end up with neutral atoms. You of course can verify this yourself by looking up the atomic masses. The explanation is that, while it is true that the binding energy per nucleon is somewhat smaller for 63Cu than for 62Ni, there is one more bound nucleon in 63Cu and that extra binding energy more than makes up for the difference.
The 6.122MeV of excitation energy is quickly emitted as one or several gamma rays, some of which most probably have energies higher than 511 keV. So it isnât true that producing only the stable copper isotopes would solve the âno observed radiationâ problem.
It's interesting that the supporters of cold fusion have similar characteristics and behaviours to most other believers in woo. It's a conspiracy, other things don't work, believes in it, look at this long list of (worthless) publications.
But never a detailed debate on the science or an unambiguous demonstration.
Since he has patented it, but no one can build a working prototype from the directions in his patent, either he doesn't have something that works, or he has not described it such that someone else can build one, so his patent is invalid.
#24 @Randall Lee Reetz: The majority of my post was a list of scientists who have performed and documented successful research in the field commonly known as cold fusion (or LENR, or LANR or CANR). The names I listed include a Nobel prize winner, a recipient of the Edward Teller Award, a recipient of the highest award in Japan, The Order of Culture, graduates of the world's best universities and past and present members of the United States military's advanced weapons services. It was in reply to an assertion that people who believed in "cold fusion" were scientifically ignorant. You in turn replied with a diatribe filled with nonsensical references about paranoia, nut cases, conspiracy theories and talk about "the man." The only "man" I mentioned who was in disagreement with this group was Robert Park, who seemingly has made it a personal crusade to discredit cold fusion and it's researchers, yet claims total ignorance about the matter in terms of the documented science behind it. Much like you Mr. Reetz. I would suggest that next time you leave your name-calling and appeals to the prejudices of your peer-group where they belong, in the locker room of your middle-school. Such behavior is really not appropriate for a science blog.
#40 @Acleron: It's interesting that the opponents of cold fusion have similar characteristics and behaviours to most religious fundamentalists. The common catch-phrases are "It's junk science, the things don't work, I WON'T believe in it," yet never read any of the publications regarding it.
But never a detailed debate on the science or acknowledgement that it even exists.
READ THE LITERATURE BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR PROVERBIAL MOUTHS!
I'm done here.
@idealist707: "Ethan, Randi is just jealous of your dark beard and what it signifies compared to his white one." WTF does that mean?!
And there's another white-bearded J Randi out there who doesn't buy this thing At All... :)
Wait - he's been allegedly powering his office with one... but it doesn't work when demoed? Uh, yeah, right.
If fusion is "cold," that's because it's not generating zillions of degrees of waste-heat. And if it doesn't generate so much waste-heat, that kinda implies it doesn't generate nearly as much energy in general as the known forms of fusion. Which forces us to ask whether "cold fusion" (or whatever is really happening here, if anything) would ever generate nearly as much energy as the idea of fusion energy promises.
Oh, and yes, all that paranoia and secretiveness is a dead giveaway: the inventor knows damn well the whole thing is phony, and is trying to cover it up for as long as he can. Seriously, if the guy who would profit most from a new discovery won't publish a peer-reviewed paper detailing what he's discovered, it's a safe bet he hasn't really discovered anything.
This sounds an awful lot like the Dean Drive. Did anything ever come of that?
And besides, the oil companies would have put out a contract on him years ago.
No, they would have bought the rights to his gizmo (most likely with a handsome share of all profit made from its use), put it to use on a national scale, laid off all those miners, drillers, explorers, refiners, etc., and basked in the glory as all that pressure from envirionmentalists simply melted away.
muon catalyzed fusion does work at room temperature. The idea is simple, a muon instead of an electron can shield EM repulsion between two nuclei so that their wave functions can overlap long enough to have finite probability to fuse. Not energy producing though because of energy to produce muons and low catalytic rate. This was first proposed by Sakharov.
A friend of mine, an electro-chemist, was at the Baltimore meeting and presented a devastating critique of P&F
On another topic. Would be interested in seeing your views on the work of Hajdukovic on Quantum vacuum fluctuations produced polarized gravitational fields that seem to fit multiple phenomenon as well or better than CDM or MOND. Agree it is speculative in that assumes that antimatter have a negative gravitational field so that virtual matter and anti-matter form gravitational dipoles. I know there is also work on solving the 123 orders of magnitude problem for vacuum fluctuations producing the effect of dark energy. Some of it seems to have some success. Would be really interesting to combine that with virtual gravitational dipoles.
"involves no radioactive waste"
Not buying it. The gamma radiation hits the container and converts some of the material into radioactive isotopes.
"This sounds an awful lot like the Dean Drive. Did anything ever come of that?"
I haven't heard of that since reading about John W. Campbell's claim to have seen it, and later Jerry Pournelle sniffing over it for a company for which he was employed. That was more than 50 years ago (that it happened: I'm not old enough to have read of it then). Robert Vesco's name came up too.
Is it still stomping around?
Here we are 25 years later and still no gammas. Show me the gammas!
Chris @49: what reactions or isomers were you thinking might be produced? I'm very skeptical of your comment, but I'll admit I don't have a TOI handy to look at what 6 MeV gammas might do to stable isotopes in the Z = 20-30 range. Given that 6 MeV is below the binding energy for a neutron, my first guess would be that they do absolutely nothing.
@daedalus2u - It is pretty routine to leave stuff out of patents. I think the requirements are that the patent description has to work, but it doesn't necessarily have to work well. Chemists have been leaving catalysts out of synthetic patents for eons, or documenting sub-optimal routes. If it came down to a court case no doubt an MS would identify that the compound being claimed was present, albeit at the ppm level or something.
While I don't like the way that "belief" in cold fusion is often used as a litmus test for crackpots, I can't say I've been swayed by the arguments so far. There may very well be interesting physics in some of the experiments - it would be nice if we could get past the religious objections and figure out what that physics actually is (even if most likely it isn't actually fusion). What real science that may exist in the field unfortunately seems to be drowned out by likely scams like this one.
Just as with the Fleischmann and Pons experiment, Rossi's demonstration requires substantial electrical input to prime it before it starts releasing heat. In both cases there is a lack of credible accounting for the preliminary electrical energy input compared to the heat energy output during the running phase. How many joules of electrical input were provided and how many joules of heat were output?
Would another alternative method be possible ? We can now manipulate at the atomic level. Could nucleii simply be mechanically squeezed together, like in a nutcracker ? How much force is needed to squeeze 2 H together ?
There are very good arguments that cold fusion is not happening in Rossi's device, see this excellent article.
After initial excitement over Rossi's claims, I finally was rather convinced that he's a scam. Especially after seeing the video where he shows the vapor coming out of the outlet hose. Calculations say that the vapor must be pushed out of the hose at 10 m/s or more, what you actually see is a soft breeze at most, and Rossi often has to dump "condensed water". Oh yeah. And nobody has ever known his secret customer who allegedly purchased the 1 MW plant, never to be seen again. Neither has anybody seen the E-cats with which he has claimed to have heated his plant for months, they're mysteriously gone.
However, the story recently got a new twist, when Defkalion announced that they had their own LENR device developed now, and they published detailed specs. They even announced independent tests by scientists (1st quarter of next year). If this is all a scam, it's turning very bizarre meanwhile. With nothing in their hands, why should they make such bold claims that would be easily disproved? So far, they are still in phase of making claims only without having proven or shown anything. It will definitely be interesting to follow the further development.
I'm more or less impartial meanwhile. The claims are a little too bold IMHO. Maybe there is something to this. Maybe Pons & Fleischman weren't just stupid, even if they couldn't reproduce their experiment, perhaps they had not been able to reproduce exactly the right conditions. Maybe it's no cold fusion at all which is happening there, which would explain the absence of Gamma rays, but some other process we do not understand yet. We will know eventually. At least, it's an interesting story to follow.
I understand Rossi is using a processed nickle?
This sector is certainly popping with Rossi's sales including one to a client that will allow examination?
And so the underlying science is the question. Does Evans' VERY well read ECE Unified Theory http://www.aias.us/ allow for the the "impossible" COP claimed delivered by Rossi?
And as we discussed some time ago, MT Keshe in Belgium continues to publish and present his terribly simple answer to all these questions weekly.
The model is cracked. I think it will be amazing at what that means.
Whenever free energy is shown in any form, it is quickly brought down by anyone and everyone in the science community. They are all in the back pocket of big energy!
Here is NASA Langley Chief Scientist Dr. Dennis Bushnell on the impact of LENR:
"In Short, LENR , depending upon the TBD performance, appears to be capable of Revolutionizing Aerospace across the board. No other single technology even comes close to the potential impacts of LENR upon Agency Missions."
Bushnell is just one of two dozen highly qualified scientists supporting the commercialization of LENR technology. There is now critical mass of expertise confirming LENR. Ad hominem attacks identify NWO oil/coal/utility trolls.
"Bushnell is just one of two dozen highly qualified scientists supporting the commercialization of LENR technology. There is now critical mass of expertise confirming LENR. "
Supporting something that might occur but hasn't been demonstrated is not the same as confirming it - you seem to have missed that.
Sven Kullander and others of his stature have witnessed the production of excess non-chemical heat and could detect no fraud.
Scientists generally make lousy fraud detectors - as James Randi has demonstrated several times over the years.
Get a professional fraud detector on the case - and I bet Rossi will duck and weave to ensure the professional gets nowhere near a "working" device.
I saw a article in New York Times- there is the possibility of nuclear fusion. If energy from the breaking adhesive could be directed away from the electrons to heavy hydrogen ions implanted in modified tape, the ions would accelerate so that when they collided, they could fuse and give off energy â the process that lights the sun.
Has anybody seen this Video from the University of Utah already?
LENR Confirmed by MainstreamÂ Scientists
(Transmutation, peer reviewed, nuclear processes, remediation of nuclear waste)
"Show me the physics"
OK What if there is another physical action you know nothing about? Impossible?
More things in Heaven and Earth!
Getting into Space was once a total NO NO !
A new book on it:
If you are interested in an explanation of how the phenomenon works I recommend you start by watching
for more detail you can read
The website should be undergoing an upgrade soon but the /Docs1 will give you direct access to significant information and experimental results. A PhD. experimental physicist out of LANL watched the PPS several times and designed an experiment around the concept. He is using pulses in one direction, that are two long and not supplying enough H into the system. This results in the production of easily detectable amount of Tritium. This result is actually predicted by the hypothesis. Go read the information on the site!
I think the long-unresolved proportionality problem (simple perpetual motion) has some potential. Just see my designs and experiments. Take it with a grain of salt if you need to: