At 03:01 PM 2/21/2011, Joshua Cude wrote:
On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 11:30 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
At 10:33 AM 2/21/2011, Joshua Cude wrote:
On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 8:49 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
So I'm going to ask, as to cold fusion in general, "what has been
promised" and what do promises have to do with science?
A new energy source has been promised.
Maybe you're new to the field.
Well, not exactly. In 1989, I bought $10,000 worth of palladium, as a
palladium account at Credit Suisse. That was a low-risk way to make a
modest investment, in case this thing turned out to be real.
Palladium is a precious metal, this was not a high-risk investment.
If I'd been a little faster, I'd have made a little money, maybe 10%
or 20% As it is, I broke even. The price went up and then went down.
I concluded, with everyone else, that it had been a bust. And there
the matter stood until the beginning of 2009, when I had independent
reason to investigate. I bought all the books, including the ones by
skeptics like Taubes and Huizenta, Close and Park, etc.
Compared to your average bear, no, not new to the field. By now,
intimately familiar with it. I was credited in the 2010 review by Ed
Storms in Naturwissenschaften. Have you read that?
Promises have been made by Pons & Fleischmann first in 1989 (just
watch their interviews on youtube, where they claim it is the ideal
energy source: clean and unlimited and simple) and then by just
about every cold fusion advocate since, including McKubre on 60
minutes promising cars that don't need refueling, Rothwell's entire
book of promises, and promises from shady characters like Dardik
and Rossi. There are endless promises every time the topic arises.
Pons and Fleischmann made no such promise. They noted the potential,
*if* this could be developed. Fleischmann wrote that it would take a
Manhattan-scale project. This is not an easy problem. Unlike the
original Manahattan project, there is no explanatory theory, making
engineering extremely difficult. And that has nothing to do with the
science. It certainly has nothing to do with whether or not there is
measurable excess heat, since we can measure heat in milliwatts and
the experiments often generate heat in the 5 or 10 watt range,
sometimes much more. Sometimes the heat generated is well in excess
of all energy put in to electrolyse the deuterium. In gas-loading
experiments, there is no input energy, beyond the natural heat of
formation of palladium deuteride. I.e., we definitely get excess
heat, over input energy, with gas-loading, but this is still small,
overall, and it's difficult to scale. This is where a lot of current
work has gone.
And, I'll ask again, "What to promises [and speculations] have to do
I'm not sure what you're getting at. Many scientific breakthroughs
and inventions are associated with the promise of benefits to
mankind. Insulin promised to save the lives of diabetics, and
delivered; high temp superconductors promised cheaper magnets, but
have not delivered (yet). Cold fusion promised abundant, clean
energy, and has not delivered.
Sure. But, again, that has nothing to do with the science. Phenomena
have been discovered and accepted, sometimes, for a century before
appplications became possible. Quite simply, that an effect is
commercializable -- or not -- could affect decisions about research
funding, for sure, but it has nothing to do with whether it is real
or not. Agree?
Cold fusion is a natural phenomenon, it promises nothing unless a
way can be found to make it happen reliably and with sufficient
return on energy input to cover losses.
Well, yes, but there are many claims of reliability (100%) with huge
returns (10, 20, even hundreds), but still no delivery on the promise.
There is a single, easily-describable, repeatable experiment. It has
nothing to do with huge returns, which are, themselves, anomalous,
i.e., generally not repeatable. It is pure science, i.e., it
establishes that there is an effect, excess heat correlated with
helium. You do, I hope, understand that correlation can establish
this kind of thing even if the effect itself is quite unreliable. Right?
Muon-catalyzed fusion, when discovered, was first thought to be a
possible energy source. That remains as a possibility, but, the
problem was, nobody knows how to make muons and keep them active
long enough to recover the energy cost.
Muon-catalyzed fusion was discovered by the associated radiation
(neutrons). Cold fusion was claimed on the basis of excess energy.
That's a big difference. If you start with excess energy, then
there's no need to find a way to get excess energy.
No, muon-catalyzed fusion was predicted first, before it was
confirmed. Yes, it was then confirmed through neutrons, I understand.
Cold fusion was not predicted and was not claimed on the basis of
energy alone. That's a myth of the history. What was actually claimed
was an "unknown nuclear reaction." Yes, unknown nuclear reaction was
claimed on the basis of the energy *density.* These were chemists.
The alternate explanations would be chemical, and these people,
experts in their field, actually among the world's foremost experts
said, "This is not chemistry." So ... what is it?
I agree, excess energy, even with very high density, doesn't prove
"nuclear reaction." Maybe it's zero-point energy, or something else
totally unknown or unexpected. Maybe it's a new kind of battery,
combined with some new energy source, say something that traps cosmic
ray muons and keeps them bouncing for much longer. Maybe, maybe,
maybe, but ... what do we actually know?
I think you believe that nothing new has been discovered since 1989
in this field. That's not true at all. First of all, in 1989, nobody
knew what the ash was. If there is a reaction producing energy, there
must be an ash, something left. Preparata predicted that the ash
would be found to be helium, from his own theories (about which I
know little). Fleischmann reported helium, but the report was not
solid. Bush and Lagowski reported helium, but the level was low and
the experimental series not adequate to be so convincing. Then Miles
ran his series and found helium correlated, very clearly and
strongly, with excess heat. Huizenga recognized the importance of
this in the second edition of "Cold fusion, scientific fiasco of the
century." But Huizenga expect that "like many other results in cold
fusion," it would not be confirmed. He believed that, he wrote,
because there were no gamma rays. If there is d-d fusion to helium,
if somehow the natural branching is changed, there would still be
gamma rays, for very strong reasons.
But, of course, Huizenga was making an assumption: that if there was
a nuclear reaction, it would be d-d fusion, if helium is being
produced. But there is at least one other pathway that would not
produce gammas. It was proposed in the mid 1990s, if I'm correct.
Multibody fusion, four deuterons, to Be-8, would then produce, by
rapid decay, two alpha particles, no gamma. The same energy as d-d
fusion. However, there are some reasons to think this is not the
reaction. My point is only that by limiting the possibilities to one
reaction, Huizenga and others fooled themselves into believing that
it was impossible.
We don't need a theory of mechanism to know that there is some kind
of nuclear reaction taking place, but this is important: the evidence
is very strong that the primary reaction is something that starts
with deuterium and ends up with helium, with no radiation and no
other products, except at very low levels. There are *secondary
reactions or minor branches* that result in tritium, transmutations,
and even a few neutrons, but these vary greatly in rate from
experiment to experiment. The constant, the known clear and
consistent correlation with excess heat is helium, at the right
value, within experimental error, for deuterium fusion.
And this is now the true mainstream, i.e., what is being published
under peer review by experts. There are still lots of particle
physicists and other scientists who thing this is impossible, after
all, who asked them? Garwin said, to CBS, "they say that excess heat
is proven beyond doubt, but I doubt." Well, in fact, what has been
said is "beyond reasonable doubt," and Garwin has not actually
advanced any explanation for the excess heat beyond "they must be
making some mistake." Given the full body of evidence, the doubt is
no longer reasonable. People who won't look at the evidence -- why
should they bother their heads with all this complication? -- imagine
that what they believe is solid and is the scientific consensus, but,
weird, isn't it, that point of view just isn't making it past the
peer reviewers any more. Wonder why that is?
Six years. 19 positive reviews of the field have appeared in
mainstream peer-reviewed journals and academic publications, per the
Britz database. Not one negative review. And I know that there have
been submissions. So what happened?
Preponderance of evidence finally caught up with the skepticism.
There was enough known by the mid 1990s to make a decision, if the
proper process had been followed. It certainly would have taken more
than the one-day meeting that was half the 2004 DoE review. But we
really should learn some lessons from this "scientific fiasco of the century."
And... "convinced of what"?
Convinced that nuclear reactions in cold fusion experiments have
produced measurable heat.
Thanks. Now, may I assume that you are not ignorant of the literature?
There are two questions here: the first is "measurable heat."
Actually, I could have made that more restrictive. I am not
convinced that cold fusion experiments have produced excess heat,
where by excess heat, I mean heat not associated with electrical or
chemical inputs; so that no indication of a potential power source
Gas-loaded nanoparticle palladium. There is a chemical "input" but it
is quite limited, it's the heat of formation of palladium deuteride.
However, are you claiming that electrochemists are unable to measure
the chemical "inputs" in those experiments? Are you aware of the
controls, that show that the calorimetry is accurate? Are you aware
that, in P-F class experiments, the excess heat is a chimera that is
frequently absent, i.e., the very same experiment, often the same
experimental run, under what would seem to be identical conditions,
will produce zero heat -- flat calorimetry -- at one time, then quite
significant heat, at another? I assume you would understand that this
means that most prosaic sources of heat are ruled out?
Would you like to look at some specific experiments? Your view is
certainly common. Are you aware that a hypothesis that the heat is
"something prosaic" -- but unidentified -- is not falsifiable? It's
fine to think there is an unexplained mystery, to a point.
Are you aware that you are asking for something that could well be
impossible, even if cold fusion is quite real? I.e., "no indication
of a potential power source." Again, we would need to look at
There are potential power sources in CF experiments: there is stored
deuterium, which can be combusted. There is, of course, in
Pons-Fleischmann type experiments, input electrical power, readily
measured and known. But these are quantifiable. If all the "potential
power sources" are quantified, and if they are measured as to their
effects -- i.e, combustion produces deuterium oxide, for example --
if all the heat flows are examined, and most of the time, same
experiment, all the flow in and all the flow out match, zero excess
heat, then, in the middle of this, a big gob of excess heat appears,
we can say that this is not coming from any of the known and
identified power sources, they have already been considered and known
to be in balance. It's an "anomaly." That's "excess heat" in most of
the early types of cold fusion experiments.
Something else happened. And, when examined quantitatively, the
energy produced was greater, for that period, in some cases, than any
known chemical storage mechanism could have produced. Sometimes the
energy produced is greater than all the possible chemical and other
sources in the experiment. Except, of course, for a nuclear
possibility. Maybe hydrinos, eh?
We have a huge number of experiments, some being repeated series of
identical experiments, showing "measurable heat." To be clear, this
means, for most experiments, heat that is not expected from known
prosaic processes, also called "anomalous heat."
Anomalous heat is heat of unknown origin, by definition. Is there such heat?
I don't believe there is. Obviously, the temperature readings are
not completely understood by the experimenters, so there is
something unknown, but evidence for excess heat is not compelling.
You are aware, I assume, that there is a lot more going on here than
"temperature readings." There are controls and calibrations; often
the calorimetry is periodically verified by dumping heat in with a
resistor. There are platinum cathode controls, which would produce
the same bubbling and input power error, if there were one. There are
hydrogen controls, which typically produce either no measureable
excess heat, or excess heat at far lower levels than deuterium. (Some
think this may be from the normal deuterium content in light water,
others think that there are rarer reactions that might involve
hydrogen). There are, more importantly even, "dead cell" controls,
which are CF cells that *for unknown reasons* do not produce excess heat.
And those dead cells also don't produce helium.
The second part of the question concerns the origin of the heat,
whether the origin is nuclear or not. May we agree that anomalous
heat, by itself, does not prove "nuclear."
Well if excess means not chemical, and not electrical, there are not
very many other options available; it's not likely to be gravitational.
"Excess heat" does not mean "not chemical and not electrical," as
such. It means "not attributed to those inputs, and not attributable
according to the experimental data, controls, etc.
Excess heat is an experimental result. If it is the result of an
artifact, it should be possible to identify the artifact. One
neo-pseudo-skeptic think's he's found two of these: misting and
unaccounted-for AC noise. I'm not going to go into why he's deluded,
but the fact is that, with either of these explanations, finding and
demonstrating the artifact would have been trivial. It's not that
these were never thought of, Morrison came up with the same two
possibilities in about 1993. For example, the AC noise issue, it
would have taken a few minutes with an oscilloscope to identify
significant current noise, which is the issue. (CF researchers
commonly use a constant-current power supply, and assume that the
bubble noise does not cause the current to significantly deviate from
the set current. Was that assumption false? I've told this newbie
that the researchers have confirmed their input power estimations
with high-speed data acquisition, with high-bandwidth wattmeters, and
with calorimetry itself (which is a method of measuring power), and
since all the results were the same, they settled on what was simple:
set current times average voltage. One researcher provided me with
some raw charting, LabView, as reported over the GPIB from the power
supply. Very simple, and quite accurate enough for purpose.
This is the point, Joshua: There are hundreds of researchers who have
reported significant anomalous heat from palladium deuteride. Now, is
this sampling bias? Is it only that positive results are reported and
negative results are suppressed? No. Some work reports all attempts,
such as the SRI work done under contract with EPRI in the 1990s.
Miles reported, in his heat-helium series, the excess heat results
and the "dead cells."
My question to you is, it seems that you believe there is no excess
heat. From what does this belief stem?
Most likely, if you are reasonable, you think that there is something
that appears to be excess heat, fooling the researchers. But,
"something" is not a scientific explanation. If there is something
fooling this many researchers, it should be possible to figure out
what it is. Lots of people have tried, you know. However, did they
try hard enough?
Cold fusion is often classed with N-rays and polywater, but in each
of those examples, the artifact was rather quickly found, once there
were enough people looking and running controlled experiments.
Was the artifact ever identified with cold fusion, Joshua? You seem
to believe that there must be one. But what does the preponderance of
the evidence show at this time? How would you judge?
And how can you explain the helium correlation, that magically
happens to appear at the right value for fusion? (Huizenga was amazed
that it was within an order of magnitude of that value, Miles' helium
measurements were relatively crude compared to what was done later.)
But if we cannot agree that there is anomalous heat, surely we will
be unable to agree on "nuclear."
Good. Do you know that you stand head and shoulders above a lot of
skeptics because of that single word?
That's why the 2004 U.S. DoE review panel, 18 experts, was evenly
divided on the question of excess heat, half the reviewers thinking
that the evidence for it was "conclusive," but only one-third
considered the evidence for nuclear origin to be "convincing or
"[The] reviewers were split approximately split approximately
evenly" between "1) evidence for excess power is compelling, to 2)
there is no convincing evidence..."
"Compelling" is not "conclusive", and if you read the individual
reports, that sentence from the summary is favorable to cold fusion.
By my reading, only 6 or 7 of the reviewers really take excess heat
at all seriously, and only one finds it conclusive.
Aha! Some experience here. You are inspiring me to do a detailed
analysis of the 18 reports on Wikiversity.
Your analysis might be consistent with the bureaucrat's summary, if
it was sloppy.
I already know that the bureaucrat completely goofed on reporting the
helium issue. And the bureacrat based his report on one of the
reviewers making an error as well. The two errors were compounded in
the report. Have you noticed that?
And, of course, the helium evidence answers much of the skeptical argument.
But whatever, at least half found the evidence lacking.
I'll look at the details again.
And those who found it at least somewhat compelling, not a single
one was compelled enough to recommend special funding for the field.
That would be criminal if they thought there was even a slight
chance of solving the world's energy problems. So there is no way
you can say the evidence is overwhelming, based on the DOE panel.
No. See, this is a conclusion from your opinion about practical
application. My own opinion is that the field is not ready for a
massive special program. The problem is that we don't know what's
happening! We could easily throw endless amounts of money at this,
and end up with nothing. Even if it's real. First of all, given that
half the panel found the "evidence lacking," to use your language,
just as a political matter, a massive program would be inadvisable.
But the problem is that engineering an effect when you don't know
what it is, is very difficult! The researchers in the field agree on
this, that what is needed is theoretical investigation, to find which
of the many theories is correct, or, if none of them are, to identify
the mechanism. We are not ready for a "Manhattan project" for cold fusion.
First of all, I do not say that the evidence is overwhelming "from
the DoE panel." Definitely not! What I say from that panel is that
there is not, as many pretend, a solid scientific consensus that cold
fusion is bogus. The panel came down in the middle, not on one end.
Given the long-term political context, one day is not nearly enough
to explore the field, to understand enough of the evidence to reverse
twenty years of often strongly-held opinion.
That the report could be blatantly incorrect about helium, that this
escaped notice, is telling.
The "proposers" were reported as claiming:
2. "The production of 4He as an ash associated with this excess
heat, in amounts commensurate with a
reaction mechanism consistent with D+D .. 4He + 23.8 MeV (heat)".
Okay, what evidence was presented? One of the things that I notice
about the Hagelstein paper is that the helium evidence was not
*effectively presented*. I found the coverage in Storms (2007) much
more direct and clear. Then the Appendix presented some work with
Case cells, in a way that was difficult to understand. I don't wonder
that a reviewer got it wrong. To really understand what was going on
there, I had to read some other work by Hagelstein.
This is what the summarizer said:
Results reported in the review
document purported to show that 4He was detected in five out of
sixteen cases where electrolytic cells
were reported to be producing excess heat.
This is a drastic misrepresentation of the Case cell report. If these
were the real results, then anticorrelation would have been shown,
1. These were not elecrolytic cells, they were gas-loaded Case cells.
2. There were sixteen cells. Eight were hydrogen controls, which
showed neither excess heat nor helium.
3. Definitely there were not sixteen cells producing excess heat.
4. Heat data is given only for one cell, with data showing the
5. Helium data is given for six cells (including the one mentioned
above). Of those five show some helium, one of which shows very
little, one shows a slow rise, slowly accelerating but not reaching
ambient, leaving three cells which show accelerating rise that passes
ambient. This is not the behavior of leakage, which would
exponentially slow as it approaches ambient.
From other experimental work, it's likely that three cells showed
significant excess heat, one showed less significant excess heat,
maybe a small amount from one other cell. But I've been unable to
find a confirmation of that.
That data was presented in such a way that makes it quite difficult
to interpret the report. I don't know why they did this, but
obviously writing polemic, text intended to convince, was not their
strong suit. These are researchers, accustomed to very modest
writing, academic style, and not trained in what might have been
needed to punch through the noise. They had a purpose to presenting
the Case results, but didn't make it clear.
Have you read the recent Storms review? It covers the heat/helium
evidence well. I assume you know that *there is no contrary
experimental evidence." I've seen claims that Storms has
cherry-picked only positive results. I don't think so. I'm not aware
of any published work that measured both helium and heat and found no
Right? So, first question, is there anomalous heat?
Given that there are massive reports of it, widely published, from
hundreds of research groups, 153 reports in mainstream journals as
of 2009, there is only one sane way for you to deny it, as least as
far as I can imagine.
That would be to claim that you know the origin of this heat, or at
least that someone does. Otherwise it's still an anomaly. Right?
I think they are all mistaken.
The existence of excess heat is an interpretation, not a direct
observation, and I think their interpretations are wrong. If there
were convincing evidence for excess heat, there'd be no need to
count the reports. The need to count is a sign of weak evidence.
When someone does an experiment that proves excess heat, and anyone
in the world (skilled in the art...) can repeat it with the same
result, then you will stop counting marginal results.
We count the reports because people claim that nobody was able to replicate.
You are asking for a "reliable" phenomenon. The phenomenon, at least
in the P-F form, is not "reliable" in that way.
But this is reliable: run a number of P-F experiments and measure
helium and heat. Use the state of the art to develop some significant
success rate. (Lots of groups are now reporting excess heat from
almost all cells. It takes special palladium, basically. Or possibly
you can use codeposition, a different approach.)
Compare the heat with the helium.
Lots of people have done this. They all report that if there is no
heat, there is no helium, and if there is heat, there is helium
(almost always, there are a couple of anomalous cells reported, with
heat and no helium. And there are other possible explanations for
that.... Storms reports that for those three cells (out of 33 total),
this is Miles' work, one "probably" had a calorimetry error, and the
other two were a different cathode material than all the other cells....)
(there may be more than one nuclear reaction!)
And like most of the scientific community, I feel no need to try to
understand how or why they have gone wrong.
That's fine. But if you don't you have not demonstrated artifact. You
are simply assuming one. Why?
It's much too late for that. My attitude is simply that if they were
right, it would be easy to demonstrate in an unambiguous way, and
I'm happy to wait for the demo.
Yes, I can understand. However, cold fusion, itself, has been
demonstrated, and quite well, by the correlation with helium. That
doesn't make it into the kind of demonstration that you presumably
want. But, guess what? Science doesn't come packaged like that.
They are claiming energy density a million times that of chemical!
If the experiment can't power itself, don't waste my time. As
Rothwell says, show me an isolated beaker with a half liter of
water palpably warmer than the surroundings for an indefinite
duration, and then call Bob Park. Not before.
First of all, "waste your time." What do you want to spend your time
on? I'm interested in the science, as were Pons and Fleischmann. They
were not searching for a new power source, they expected, in fact, to
find nothing. If you want to know that this could be your hot water
heater in a few years, then, I'd say, don't waste your time. I have
no clue that this will happen. Unless Rossi turns out to be real, and
I'm placing no bets on Rossi.
We already know how to set up that beaker of water, I suspect, but
nobody is trying to do it because, sorry, it will not be impressive
and it will be very expensive. Why bother? To prove something to you?
There is a problem with the palladium approach, palladium is a
precious metal. Using the Arata approach, my guess is that a hot
water heater could be built that might run for a few months. For
about $100,000 worth of palladium. At the end of the few months, it
would be necessary to reprocess the palladium, because, it seems, the
reaction chews up the stuff, demolishing the areas that are
nuclear-active, so it eventually stops working.
Now, this is really weird, I think. Hot fusion hasn't produced a watt
of power, but billions have been spent. On the other hand, we do
understand the theory behind hot fusion. Your practical argument is
being selectively applied!
To me, the science is important, and having practical application is
important for making social decisions, only so much money can and
should be poured into pure research. Cold fusion is definitely worth
that level of funding because, as you have noted, it would be
criminal not to check it out.
It's much like a magician. I may not understand how he does his
tricks, but I know that if he could really perform magic, he
wouldn't be wasting his time doing two-bit shows pulling rabbits out
of hats, he'd conjure up an island in the South Pacific, with a
harem to wait on his every need.
Sure. That's a magician. However, cold fusion researchers are not
magicians, and the legitimate ones don't claim to be able to generate
lots of power. In fact, many of them aren't concerned with power at
all, they are investigating things like transmutation (hey, we can
turn gold into lead!) and radiation and, more to the point,
techniques for enhancing the effect, most of the work I'm aware of
lately is with gas-loading, new approaches that investigate the role
of oxides, which seem signficant.
I suggest backing up. You dismiss claims of excess heat. You have not
stated why. Do you have a problem with mysteries?