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NASA's page on LENR

by phyzguy
Tags: lenr, nasa
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Feb21-13, 08:33 AM
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(1) What do people make of NASA'a page on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions?

(2) Is there anything to the "Widom-Larsen Weak Interaction LENR Theory"? Is anyone aware of any peer-reviewed publications?

(3) Is there any evidence for NASA's claim that, "several labs have blown up studying LENR and windows have melted, indicating when the conditions are "right" prodigious amounts of energy can be produced and released" ?
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Feb21-13, 01:13 PM
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What do people make of NASA'a page on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions?
Pure pseudo-science, comparable to Bigfoot and Area 51. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." -- Carl Sagan. In other words, in such a controversial area, a responsible investigator keeps his mouth shut until he has convincing evidence. Bushnell does NASA a disservice by associating their name with this investigation, which has not achieved any reproducible results.
Is there anything to the "Widom-Larsen Weak Interaction LENR Theory"?
No, it's nonsense, to wit:
SPP electrons bathed in such high fields increase their effective mass, thus becoming heavy electrons. Widom and Larsen propose that heavy SPP electrons can react directly with protons, deuterons, or tritons located in surface patches through an inverse beta decay process that results in simultaneous collective production of one, two, or three neutrons, respectively, and a neutrino.
Collectively produced neutrons are created ultra-cold; that is, they have ultra-low momentum and extremely large quantum mechanical wavelengths and absorption cross-sections compared to “typical” neutrons at thermal energies.
Finally, Widom and Larsen propose that heavy SPP patch electrons are uniquely able to immediately convert almost any locally produced or incident gamma radiation directly into infrared heat energy, thus providing a form of built-in gamma shielding for LENR nuclear reactions.
What's wrong with this? Well to begin with, a neutron is heavier than a proton. The proposed reaction would absorb energy rather than produce it!
Is anyone aware of any peer-reviewed publications?
Many informal comments, half-a-dozen papers on arXiv, no peer-reviewed papers that I can find.
Is there any evidence for NASA's claim that, "several labs have blown up studying LENR and windows have melted
Sounds like an Urban Legend. And I certainly hope so! An experimenter with such complete disregard for the safety of himself and others should not be allowed near a lab.
Feb21-13, 01:30 PM
P: 922
I come back and visit PF after a long hiatus and what do my eyes behold...

Bill K has the right of it currently.

Just some background on this program is worth mentioning. The funding for this work was originally (and still is) through a creative & innovative projects funding which essentially is the area of small investment with large possible outcomes for society. Joe Zwodney is the PI on the project and is not a nuclear scientist - he mainly works on atmospheric science. You can read his position on the whole idea here on his personal blog:

The odd thing about this project is that they didn't contact anyone at Langley who is actually does nuclear physics. There are at least a handful that I know of.

Feb21-13, 01:50 PM
P: 2,195
NASA's page on LENR

Bill_K: Thanks for the comments. It appears that you are right - I'm surprised NASA allows these claims to be posted on their web site. For what it's worth, I did find a peer-reviewed paper from Widom and Larsen, and I believe that the European Physical Journal is a reputable journal.

Widom, A., Larsen, L., “Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces," Eur. Phys. J. C (2006)

The concept is interesting and not completely crazy. As you say, the neutron is heavier than the proton, and the mass difference between a neutron and a proton is 1.29 MeV, or about 2.5X the free electron mass. They are saying that if the effective mass of an electron in a solid is greater than 2.5X the free electron mass (which is possible), then the reaction p+e-> n becomes "downhill", and free neutrons could be formed. Once neutrons are available, lots of nuclear reactions are possible.

However, effective mass is a solid-state concept, and I don't think it can be extended to say that an electron in a solid with an effective mass of 3.0 times the free electron mass therefore has a mass-energy content of 1.5MeV in stead of 511KeV. Can it?

Also, I see no evidence of any kind that this is actually happening, and I agree with your comment that, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.".

Any other thoughts out there?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Widom_Larsen.pdf (321.9 KB, 8 views)
Feb23-13, 09:29 AM
P: 1
Cold fusion is quite legitimate science nowadays. There is a 5.5 million USD research program running at University of Missouri. They will also host an international conference on cold fusion in July this year together with Purdue

“Applying the Scientific Method to Understanding Anomalous Heat Effects: Opportunities and Challenges.”

Now most people have no clue. Bill K, as your local science advisor, thinks it's "pseudo-science", "nonsense", "impossible", "not peer reviewed" and an "urban legend"

Well, Bill_K, thanks for the comments but they are all wrong, better read up on the subject before you produce more drivel.
Feb23-13, 10:05 AM
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The topic on Cold Fusion and LENR is close to getting onto our BANNED discussion list because of exactly thread such as this.

For now, this thread is closed until we decide.

Feb25-13, 08:09 AM
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Update: The Mentors have decided that the topic of Cold Fusion/LENR has been added to our banned topic list as of now. We have tried for a while to provide a forum for a rational discussion of this subject area, but most, if not all, of the discussions have not been up to the standards that we require within PF. Thus, this topic is no longer allowed for discussion in this forum.

Cold fusion/LENR has been added to the list of our banned topics. Please refer to the PF Rules for the complete list.


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