On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 10:34 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax

> At 03:01 PM 2/21/2011, Joshua Cude wrote:
> By whom?
>> Maybe you're new to the field.
> Well, not exactly.

It was a joke.

>   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.

First of all, "has promise" normally has a built in hypothetical. "The child
showed remarkable promise in the recital." That's the way the promise of CF
has been voiced. It's what I meant.

Secondly, from an interview in 1989:

Macneil / Lehrer: This is being hailed as the ideal energy source. Is that
the case?

Fleischmann: Yes. There would be many advantages in using it as an energy
source. Because, as was referred to in the run-in to this program, the
reaction would be clean, ... the fuel supply would be plentiful, and it
could ... be carried out in a very simple manner.

That's an expression of promise for the field of cold fusion.

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.

The difficulty in scaling robs those experiments of credibility. The gas
loading experiments have to detect nuclear heat above considerable chemical
heat, and the results are far from convincing. If a trace amount of Pd
produces a watt or so of power, why would 10 or 100 times as much not
produce 10 or 100 times the power? Why does it only work when the
measurements are dubious. And why can't Arata pressurize a small cell with
his magic powder, isolate it from all external connections, and demonstrate
that the thing gives off heat indefinitely?

> 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?
> Disagree. If an effect is not real, it is not commercializable. If it is
real, it may be. If nuclear reactions in cold fusion experiments are
producing measurable heat, it would be daft to think that it is not

>  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.*

You're not contradicting me. Muon-catalyzed fusion started (experimentally)
with neutrons, cold fusion started experimentally with excess energy. And if
you start with excess energy, there's no need to find a way to get excess
energy. Ergo, it holds promise, if the results are real.

Whether it was called "fusion" or "unknown nuclear reaction" is not relevant
to the point, but since you raise it, we should at least get it right.

In J. Electroanal. Chem. 261 (1989) 301, "fusion" is in the title (although
they later claimed they had intended to follow the title with a question
mark), and fusion reactions are explicitly postulated. Here's Pons in the
same Macneil/Lehrer interview:

"[Deuterium atoms] are then forced into the lattice ... they are compressed
to the point and are retained close enough to each other for a long enough
time that atomic fusion occurs."

So, although they later become less committed to any particular reactions,
DD fusion was definitely on their minds and their lips in the early days.

For what it's worth, for the elements involved, only an increase in the
atomic numbers releases energy, and loosely speaking, that can be called

> I think you believe that nothing new has been discovered since 1989 in this
> field.

I believe nothing new was discovered *in 1989* in this field. There are
simply no definitive experiments in this field. There are various different
types of experiment, but all of them end up unconvincing and controversial.
It's not unusual for a new field to suffer from difficulty in
reproducibility, but I can't think of another example (esp. in modern
science) of a 20-year old field in which not a single experiment can be
relied upon to give an expected result.

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.

The helium-heat results were reported in the early days, as you say, so do
not represent progress over the 20 years. The Miles results from 1993 have
still not been confirmed in peer-reviewed literature. One of the more active
groups (Gozzi) bowed out in 1998 with the final salvo admitting that the
helium results were not definitive, and that *was* in peer-reviewed

This, as you say, is an important experiment, and removes some of the
objections about reproducibility, and yet NO ONE seems to be doing the
experiment at the level required for publication. People in the field rehash
old numbers ad nauseam, replotting, reclaiming, and rebutting, until they
are blue in the face. For god's sake, just do the experiment properly. Get
levels of helium that Krivit can't dispute, that PRL will accept for
publication. There are reports of hundreds of MJ produced by CF. That would
make a lot of helium. The failure of this experiment to resolve itself
definitively is enough reason to dismiss the field.

> 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 yet, since 1993 only one peer-reviewed publication -- a negative one.

> 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?

This is your fantasy that maybe helps you sleep at night, but has nothing to
do with reality. "Reasonable doubt" is a legal term, not a scientific term,
and in any case was established in black and white by the DOE panel. And
since that panel, nothing much beyond the dubious CR-39 results have been
published in peer-reviewed literature; notably nothing on helium-heat

CF papers are published in a few second rate journals, but not in nuclear
physics journals, and certainly not in premier journals, where this kind of
breakthrough would automatically appear if this were now the mainstream.

Mainstream science was satisfied 20 years ago that the evidence for CF was
absent. It will not check every new experimental result that is essentially
the same as previous results, but cloaked in new verbiage. If it wants
attention again, it needs something new. Something isolated and hot. Why is
it that negative points of view don't get past peer review? Because they are
not submitted for peer review. And yes, I know Shanahan's rebuttal to a
rebuttal to a rebuttal was rejected, but journals are not blogs, and
bickering does not elevated their status. There have been far more
rejections of CF papers, including an entire proceedings by the APS just a
few months ago. Say what you want. CF is not mainstream.

> 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?

Submissions of negative reviews? Or rebuttals to rebuttals?

Those 19 reviews exceed the number of primary research papers published over
the same period. A field that spends more time rehashing old results than
producing new ones is in trouble. Those reviews represent cold fusion's

> 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?

Calorimetry is a temperamental beast, and there is no reason to expect
prosaic (by which I assume you mean chemical)  phenomena to be any less
temperamental than nuclear phenomena.

But I am not claiming that electrochemists can't measure chemical inputs. I
am claiming that if there is nuclear output, it should not be necessary to
measure chemical input. If this represents an energy source -- and a big one
-- then design an experiment that shows energy output without energy input,
obviously, indefinitely. That's of course what Arata claims, but he claims a
degree or two above ambient in a very complex apparatus connected to many
things. Not convincing at all. Remove that deuterated pd (under pressure if
necessary), isolate it, and see if the temperature goes up.

> 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.

Sure it's falsifiable. Do a better experiment, where there are no inputs,
where the heat is palpable and indefinite, where prosaic heat is far less
likely to account for it. As long as there are inputs, and differential
equations, and calculations of chemical enthalpies, artifacts will be

> 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."

Too vague to answer. I think if cold fusion is quite real, then an isolated
palpably warm device should be possible.

> 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.

Yea, yea. But all those calculations and quantifications are begging for
artifacts to creep in. Certainly in 1989, this sort of result captured the
attention of the world. It looked promising. But now, after 20 years, the
same damn experiment is getting boring. By now, even if you don't understand
the physics, empirical exploration of parameter space should improve the
results. Enough to use the excess heat to supply the input, to give an
isolated device that just plain generates heat. Not excess heat. Heat. (From
D-Pd or H-Ni). Like my furnace (from gas of course).

> 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."

That's the problem. The more that goes on, the more interpretation is needed
to conclude there is excess heat. I want less going on (on the outside). A
match produces chemical heat. There is no calorimetry or interpretation
needed for that conclusion. If D-Pd produces heat (after the chemical bond),
calorimetry should not be needed to prove it.

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