Cold Fusion


by Russell E. Rierson
Tags: cold, fusion
Russell E. Rierson
Russell E. Rierson is offline
#1
Aug10-04, 01:20 PM
P: 389
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/hea...a_cold_theory/




QUOTE:

COLD FUSION

Heating up a cold theory

MIT professor risks career to reenergize discredited

[...]

So over time, cold fusion scientists have become members of a small, close-knit culture unto themselves. They visit each other's labs. They have their own newsletters. They have their own conferences. And every year, their results get stronger, the group says, results that cannot be explained away by error or any other reason other than a new nuclear process.

[...]


"The day I know it's wrong, I'm dropping it," Hagelstein said, almost sounding like he yearned for that time. "If someone can explain to me (it's not real), I would stop."


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russ_watters
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Aug10-04, 03:44 PM
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Fifteen years ago, two University of Utah chemists claimed they created such a reaction, an announcement quickly denounced as quackery. Today, cold fusion is as scientifically scorned as UFOs.
Oh, is that how it happened? Cut away or gloss over the actual history and the scientific community comes off seeming rather cavalier. The part the writer skipped in her article is the fraud. Pons and Fleischman started off merely as bad scientists, but quickly became frauds by lying about their work.

Next, all this guy got the DOE to do is read a paper. The DOE hasn't given an opinion yet (though the cold fusion community is already working on their excuses).

But I guess if you take all that into acount, there isn't much to write an article about. Then again, maybe news isn't the purpose of the article? The article takes a shot at Robert Park's "Voodoo Science" in which he devotes considerable time to pop-culture, entertainment based reporting of science in the media. This article is just such a cookie-cutter newsertainment story.
selfAdjoint
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Aug10-04, 05:11 PM
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The cold fusion flap was the first time I noted a phenomenon I called rolling non-reproduction. There were for a while headlines that Pons and Fleishman's results had been confirmed at this lab or that one around the world. But when you looked at the results of those new experiments they weren't actually confirmations of P&F but new and faint phenomena of the same general kind. When peole at government labs carefully tried to reproduce the P&F experimental results, they couldn't do it.

Since then I've noticed that rolling non-reproduction is a feature of "paradigm shifting" pseudoscience of all kinds.

Ivan Seeking
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Aug10-04, 06:24 PM
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Cold Fusion


Some positive results were due to contamination during the manufacturing of materials. In at least a few other cases the net postive energy results claimed were actually smaller than the margin of error for the experiment.
Ivan Seeking
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Aug10-04, 06:35 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters
The part the writer skipped in her article is the fraud. Pons and Fleischman started off merely as bad scientists, but quickly became frauds by lying about their work.
What fraud? I knew that they really blew the neutron measurements, and they completely missed the Compton Buldge [I think it was called] that Cal Tech saw within the results that all but dispelled the cold fusion claims, but when did they lie? I thought after the Bonneventure Hotel meeting they went and hid under a rock in France somewhere.
selfAdjoint
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Aug10-04, 08:22 PM
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There was an article that appeared in Science soon after their announcement on TV that concerned the probability that their main graph was altered to make it more impressive. I don't know how that ever came out.
Russell E. Rierson
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#7
Aug11-04, 01:00 AM
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http://www.ncas.org/erab/




QUOTE:

Cold Fusion Research

November 1989

A Report of the Energy Research Advisory Board to the United States Department of Energy Washington, DC 20585


russ_watters
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Aug11-04, 11:31 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking
What fraud? I knew that they really blew the neutron measurements, and they completely missed the Compton Buldge [I think it was called] that Cal Tech saw within the results that all but dispelled the cold fusion claims, but when did they lie? I thought after the Bonneventure Hotel meeting they went and hid under a rock in France somewhere.
I probably use the term more loosely than most, and because they hid under a rock, specific, direct fraud (SA's example) is tough to prove. However, they did continue to stand by their initial claims long after it was clear to the scientific community that there was nothing to them. They mislead and decieved the scientific community on how to reproduce their results, allowing them to keep their claims alive longer than they should have been. There were a couple of key clues that should have given them pause, but didn't: Neutron flux and the control test.

It was pointed out a number of times that if there aren't any neutrons, there isn't any fusion. Instead of dropping back to punt, they went for it (god, I can't wait for football) and claimed that their cell didn't just produce fusion, but it also suppressed the evidence!

One scientist at some conference (perhaps the one you went to?) asked if they had done a control test with regular water and they hadn't. Later, apparently they did do one and all they said about it was something like "we didn't get the baseline we expected." They tried to ignore that - and that to me says they looked at incontrovertible evidence they were wrong and consciously chose to ignore it.

IIRC, they did get some funding out of the debacle. The case would be tough to prove, but cheating someone out of money is fraud.

I'll go back over "Voodoo Science" tonight and see if I can get more specifics.
russ_watters
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#9
Aug11-04, 11:36 AM
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Quote Quote by Russell E. Rierson
http://www.ncas.org/erab/




QUOTE:

Cold Fusion Research

November 1989

A Report of the Energy Research Advisory Board to the United States Department of Energy Washington, DC 20585


Good (albeit old) report. Did you read the conclusion? A few key points:
...the Panel concludes that the present evidence for the discovery of a new nuclear process termed cold fusion is not persuasive.
And maybe more importantly: where da money at?
The Panel recommends against any special funding for the investigation of phenomena attributed to cold fusion.
I predict the upcoming report from the DOE will say much the same thing.


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