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Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight - Guest Speaker Dr. Brian Josephson

  1. Mar 28, 2011 #41
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    Here is Jed Rothwell's analysis:

    After the 18-hour test, Prof. Levi said "In my opinion, all chemical sources are now excluded." See:


    I agree with him. The reasons are a little complicated and take some time to explain. If you will bear with me --

    Before the first test, Levi looked around the outside of the device. In the photo you can see the machine is mounted on a wooden stand, which was placed on a table at an odd angle. The mounting gives you clear access to the bottom. You can see there are no wires or pipes going into it. The odd angle of the stand also happens to ensure that. The stand can be moved around and pushed back and forth, so you could not secretly mate a wire or pipe to it.

    The control box wires are ordinary household wiring. Above 3 kW they will burn [comment: that is for US electricity supply I assume, but even at 240V ordinary wiring would be pressed to carry 10kW without getting rather hot]. That excludes electricity as the source of the heat, even if we do not trust the power meter. (The power meter was an ordinary, off-the-shelf watt-meter, placed between the wall socket and the control box, so there is no way odd power forms might fool it. It resembles a Kill-a-watt: http://www.p3international.com/products/special/P4400/P4400-CE.html)

    Before the second test, Levi was more careful. He opened up the control box and confirmed there was no hidden source of fuel, he looked around the outside of the machine, and he also looked inside it. He looked everywhere but inside the cell itself, which is about 1 L in volume. (He now plans to open the cell and examine the Ni catalyst with mass spectroscopy, but that has not happened yet. More about that below.)

    So, we know there is not external electricity of fuel. If there is a chemical source of energy secreted in the cell, it has to fit into 1 L. It would have to produce as much energy as 26 kg of gasoline, which takes up about 35 L. I do not think that any chemical fuel is as energy-dense as this. If Rossi has discovered one, it is nearly as extraordinary and important as cold fusion.

    Needless to say, no battery could come anywhere near this. Batteries are far less energy dense in volume and mass than liquid fuel.

    Furthermore, as a practical matter, all types of liquid fuel require some sort of tank, regulator and burner. Solid fuel such a coal or solid rocket fuel can be ignited and it may burn at a constant rate, although it is difficult to control. Liquid or gas requires hardware, especially a burner, like this one:


    To produce a 15 kW flame, you could never fit the burner part into 1 L, never mind the fuel. This is more heat than a large 50-gallon gas water heater produces. Look under a water heater and you will see a burner and flame take up many liters of space.

    Another problem is that the 1 L cell is gas tight. The hydrogen tank did not lose pressure or outgas, and the weight of it did not change. There are no visible holes in the cell. So you have to supply both fuel and oxygen. So it would have to be not 35 times better than gasoline (by volume) but ~100 times better. Add in the equipment you need to regulate the flame and it would have to be thousands of times better.

    Finally, as a practical matter, any liquid, gas or even solid fuel placed in a such a small container, and ignited to produce 15 kW, would explode. It would be a bomb.

    Let me get back to Levi's future plans. As I mentioned above, he plans to run the machine for a while, and then open the cell and examine the nickel catalyst, which he will compare to an unused sample. Rossi has reportedly given the university a €1 million grant for this project, and Levi plans to cooperate with CERN for the mass spectroscopy. (Rossi is wealthy from his previous business ventures. He has spent at least another €1 million on his research.)

    Obviously, if there is some sort of extraordinary chemical fuel in the cell, or if Rossi managed to hide wires or a fuel pipe despite the despite the outward appearance of the machine, the fake nature of the machine will be obvious the moment they look inside the cell.

    If there is no nuclear reaction going on inside the cell, the mass spec analysis will reveal that fact. As far as I know, all cold fusion cathodes that produced large amounts of heat had transmuted elements in them, with unnatural isotopic ratios. So, if they run the machine for a few months, and produce several thousand megajoules per gram of nickel, even if it is the hydrogen which is reacting (fusing) I am pretty sure there will be transmuted byproducts of the reaction in the metal, and this will be indisputable proof that the machine is a nuclear reactor, not a chemical cell.

    The point is, Rossi himself is not only allowing this test, he is paying for it! If he were a faker or scammer, the last thing he would do is allow experts from a university and CERN to open up his cell, look inside, and take samples of the material for analysis. There is no conceivable "fake" cell that would not be detected by these methods.


    1. Based on the physical size of the cell, the fact that it is gas-tight, and the intensity of the heat, we can rule out any chemical source of fuel.

    2. Based on common sense, we can conclude that Rossi is not a scammer. He would not take steps that will reveal his own scam, especially not at a cost of €1 million to himself.

    Let me add that the calorimetry is so simple and the heat measured is so hight that I do not think any method of faking it is possible. People have said that Rossi might be a sleight of hand stage magician who fools people. A stage magician fools the human senses, especially sight, by distraction and various other methods. No stage magician in history has ever fooled a thermocouple or flowmeter. Instruments are totally immune to the kinds of tricks they use. If Rossi has supplied the instruments we might imagine he changed them, but Levi brought them from the university. In any case, the heat was palpable, and with the input electricity it would not have been.

    Finally, getting back to point #2 above, if Rossi were a stage magician, why would he now be taking steps that ensure his trick will be revealed, he will be disgraced, and he will forfeit €1 million? What stage magician would do such a thing? Why?!? It makes absolutely no sense.

    I think we can decisively rule out the chemical fuel hypothesis.

    - Jed
  2. Mar 28, 2011 #42
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    Can I confirm this thread is still running on opinion?
    And based on said opinion links given it seems they're not sure it is actually cold fusion?
    I don't think I've ever seen a crackpot not request someone 'disprove' what they're doing. Followed swiftly by them proclaiming any evidence against as irrelevant.

    He may be genuine, he may not be. He may simply be mistaken (doesn't have to mean he's a fraud if he's wrong). Personally, I haven't seen anything here that confirms cold fusion outside of people saying "well we can't see how it could do it otherwise, it must be".

    So far, common sense puts me on guard - the links show he wants to produce 300,000 reactors a year, so is he already planning to go ahead without knowing if he is truly mistaken or not?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  3. Mar 28, 2011 #43
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    @jarednjames: Rossi has presumably done enough tests (and has also had his conclusions checked by independent researchers) to be convinced that it is OK to go ahead. What more should he do, wait till the cows come home? And there has been no evidence against so far.

    The observation that Cu is produced indicates a nuclear reaction is involved. Some people object to the specific word 'fusion', which has led to a general preference for the less committal 'low energy nuclear reaction' (LENR).
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  4. Mar 28, 2011 #44
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    OK, so we're assuming that the tests have been done (along with implications regarding the conduct of said tests)?
    This does help the above, it indicates something has been done - somewhat - but are the tests done independently as well or are they simply relying on his data?

    Observing a demonstration =/= a test being done independently and scrutinized. Your above post does show some scrutiny of the device, so it is something of a plus.
    Well, as above, if they don't release the tech/knowledge/required materials etc for others to duplicate the experiment, chances are there'll never be any evidence against.
    So it appears we're swaying from 'cold fusion' then (as a term or otherwise). Fair enough.

    So far, no matter where I search I'm always finding the same stories / details, nothing that appears remarkably independent (everything revolves around news stories). The fact they're also keeping other details so secret (despite it being so widly publicised they created it) simply makes me suspicious. Why? Credit is guaranteed if it works so let others test it. If they are genuine and it really works, independent study will only serve to boost its status and increase the chances of it being published.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  5. Mar 28, 2011 #45

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    As we have done from time to time, due to his unique and esteemed position in the world of physics, Dr. Josephson is being treated as a guest speaker.

    Correct. A good number of reviewers felt there was evidence for a mystery, but not necessarily cold fusion. [This refers to the 2004 APS conference link cited on the first page of this thread]
  6. Mar 28, 2011 #46
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    In response to the above:

    1) I've deleted my response to your signature :smile:

    2) Levy is independent. His report of his first investigation can be found at
    http://www.nyteknik.se/incoming/article3076881.ece/BINARY/Levis+and+Bianchinis+rapport+%28pdf%29 [Broken].

    and here are comments by him on the second test:
    http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/energi_miljo/energi/article3108242.ece. This may not be a report as such, but at least it is a clear statement by the person who did the test.

    3) I am getting tired of explaining to people why the secrecy is not suspicious (does nobody take note of what I say?)

    4) if a flaw were discovered in the way the excess heat is measured, that would be evidence against the claim. If you can't find a flaw then the claim stands.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Mar 28, 2011 #47
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    I'll have a read through.
    These two go hand in hand for me.

    I completely understand why people want secrecy, but you can't have secrecy and have acceptance of your claims without a lot more legwork. Hopefully to come (skeptical I may be, but I'd really like this to be true).

    If you don't allow other people to setup and do the experiments, independently, then you drastically reduce the chances of finding a flaw.

    What I'm seeing (as with a lot of claims such as this), is "I have done X. To do X you need a, b and c, but I'm keeping c secret. Now prove there's a flaw." - which any reasonable person would point out is virtually impossible without knowing what's happening.
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  8. Mar 28, 2011 #48

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    I do a lot of work that involves proprietary information - the intellectual property of large companies. I have also pursued the inventing game for most of my life. There is no doubt that secrecy is a big issue in industry. An unfortunate example, perhaps, but this is why Pons and Fleishman first went to PBS instead of going through the normal publication process. They were worried that they had what could have been the most important discovery of the century and they were afraid of losing control of it. Another example would be a high-precision resistor company here in Oregon named Caddock Industries, that makes some of the world's highest precision resistors. Only a few people know their secret and it has never been patented for fear of losing control.

    There is definitely a big difference between the worlds of industry and academia. Secrecy is always a concern in industry. That much I can say for certain.

    It is also true that patents are often only as good as the lawyers hired to defend them. Patents can be all but useless.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  9. Mar 28, 2011 #49
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    OK, I can understand that, but it puts those of us without the ability to directly examine the results in a controlled fashion in the position of wondering if there is a "man behind the curtain." It's not a blanket distrust of Rossi, you, or the field, but a concern I'd have for ANYTHING. In a way, I can see the reverse logic as well... patent and publish; claim this in a way that makes imitators obvious before they can find an 'in' and copy anyway.

    I wouldn't need to examine the catalyst, just isolate the entire device, isolate total input, and total sustained output. That would be a very good start, and from my simple point of view, it's what you're arguing HAS happened. I gather the other side is that without looking at the guts of this thing, maybe it isn't what it appears to be. I can't say, only read what you have to say and consider it as I would any other claim.

    I admit, if I were Rossi I'd have found a major government and contracted with them, demo'ed this on television, and to a select few. With something this enormous, I don't know that individual secrecy is an option, even if it is reasonable.

    I certainly hope that you're right, because it would change the world.

    I think I expressed myself poorly; I mean to say that when you stick some willow bark into hot water (aspirin tea basically) and drink it, you may have no idea what's going on, but you know that it's willow bark... something about JUST willow bark works. Take an onion and slap it on a wound, and you don't need to believe in germs, but you still need to see and have the onion.

    This to me, is more like being handed a closed box that does what is advertised. Each time I see the box, even though it works, I have no idea if it's willow bark or an onion each time, or if it's just box covering a huge vat of neosporin. Has Rossi created a generator... you've convinced me that he has. Has Rossi created cold fusion?... I don't know, because it's still a closed box... could be a mix of capacitors, batteries... or magic for all I know! He's produced Soylent Green, but why is it so nutritious and tasty?... I'd like to know if it's a special new concoction, or if it's people.

    The talk is not impressive, but if Rossi does this I will be VERY impressed. Anyone can say they'll do something, but if he sells first and asks for money after proof... well... that's a whole new realm, and his credibility soars through the roof. He has to actually DO it first though, the promise alone depends on personal trust, a quality I lack in this case. You understand, it's not a distrust of you, or even Rossi... it could be an honest error, a source of energy that is NOT cold fusion, but just as amazing, or it could be precisely what you say and Rossi claims. Until he sells these puppies and has satisfied customers, it's intriguing, but not satisfactory as a Skeptic. A cynic of course would just "poo poo" the whole thing, note that I'm not doing that.

    My state is conditional; no particular distrust, just a reaction to evidence as it's provided.

    This would be my concern of course, but I think your argument boils down to: 'Don't assume, don't believe, don't doubt; here's a man who's going to prove himself, wait and see.' I'm more impressed by that than I would be by a claim with no plan to go forward. Still, until this all plays out in the next stage (happy consumers without an ability to self-cheat) it's an exciting notion to me. I would be lying if I said I believed this, but I'd be an arrogant fool if I said I believed it had to be a hoax.

    Rather, this is a mystery to me, and may remain so. When Rossi begins to make sales, then unlike your fear that people like me would say "one more kW or I won't believe you," I'd be impressed. It's the essential public proof of concept that matters most in my view, even if it can't be scaled. Nobody is whining that the NIF only fuses a tiny hohlraum of Deuterium and Tritium, the concept is there.

    I'm reading and watching everything you're providing, but I'm not sure it's within the realm of anything less than either exposing the inner workings of this device/catalyst, or as you've said... sell these sans money-up-front and let the thing speak for itself, like aspirin.
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  10. Mar 28, 2011 #50
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    Some quick points in response: whether the energy is nuclear or not doesn't matter from the practical point of view. What matters is that if the device continues to work (and it has been known in the past that something like a change in supplier makes a process suddenly stop working) then, when you put the numbers in, this is very cheap energy using small amounts of fuel that is plentiful and non-polluting, just what we need.

    That sounds too good to be true of course, but if you study the details you are pretty well compelled to this conclusion. It must be pointed out that people in the field are every bit as critical as you guys, and there were initial doubts, but these were resolved by the 2nd. expt. I see a lot of you pulling problems out of the air but these do not fit with the facts.
  11. Mar 28, 2011 #51
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    I'll just add that Rossi does have a buyer, Defkalion Green Technologies of Athens (where there is less red tape than in most places it seems), and the 1MW reactor will go to them after it has been demonstrated in the US. Presumably there is a contract which does have this clause about money not being handed over until the customer is satisfied that it works.

    Also, there have been occasional reports of large energy releases in LENR expts. (including the Mizuno expt. where water unexpectedly rose rapidly in temperature till it boiled and there was an explosion, with the recording apparatus recording what happened right up to the explosive event). So what Rossi has done is not completely new, just a matter of finding the right conditions. Also, I have to point out that while this development has not been published in the journals, earlier work by Rossi and Forcardi has been.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  12. Mar 28, 2011 #52
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    The details all come from opinion at the moment. Which is all well and good, but I'm not seeing hard facts. Hopefully something new will turn up soon.
    Which facts? Again, as I mentioned before, I have done a bit of digging and it's turned up nothing amazing. Only a lot of almost identical copies of reports and news stories.
    Have you seen their website?

    From their website (well the one page that is it):
    First impression is it's a company set up specifically to sell this product. So it's hardly proof it works and certainly doesn't back anything up. I can 'invent' a PMM and make a company to sell it (as are all over the web), it doesn't prove it works.
    Is it really a good thing they've gone to a country because there's less red tape? Or does it mean they're simply trying to avoid issues? I also note the countries they are selling it to don't include any major players (well the big boys - US, Europe etc).
    I'll take your word for this, but any further on this matter may require sources (wouldn't be right not to check these things, rules are rules).
  13. Mar 28, 2011 #53
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    OK, I have more reading to do, that's clear. One thing that strike me about the boil-over incident... could that be the result of something simpler than a burner, like using a reactive metal to evenly heat the water? I truly don't know if that could replicate the effects seen.

    That there is a buyer is very interesting, and the red tape I assume would be related to safety, not efficacy, so it probably has no bearing on the validity of the device. Thank you very much for sharing this information, and I'd say more, but I really do have to read more of what you mentioned, including previously published results. Certainly cold fusion is nothing I've studied in depth beyond its use as an object lesson, a bit like the boogyman. As I'm willing to research even such topics as religion, this is surely no less deserving of exploration, and unlike religion, seems likely to yield SOME answer within our lifetimes. (bit of dry humor on my part, sorry)

    After all, should this work, we'll be in a fairly brave new world, and shold it fail it would be dissapointing, but still an answer for the time being.
  14. Mar 28, 2011 #54
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    Please note my above on this matter. It really isn't as good as it sounds.

    Their website: http://www.defkalion-energy.com/
  15. Mar 28, 2011 #55
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    Well, if they use this reactor to produce energy and it doesn't work, it could be part of an elaborate scam, but the "why" would be rather large. If it doesn't work, they'll be producing energy through usual means, and forced to sell at a loss. If it's meant to increase funding, that could be pernicious.

    The red tape end, I would guess, is to do with safety more than proof of concept... after all you can buy 'x-ray specs' on the back of a comic book... if they were truly radioactive, you might have to go to another country. The one upside I will say, is that as a guest speaker we don't' have to be concerned about the rules of evidence in the same way. This is more along the lines of information sharing from a highly respectable source (appeal to authority or not) than it is about a conclusion.

    Even if this is a dummy company, once they move from posing to operating, they'd be under enormous scrutiny. Such a company would find it very difficult to resist attempts at industrial espionage in Greece I think, so one way or another the guts of this thing will likely be spilled. Whether that turns out to be a case of fraud, an honest error, or a new and cheap means of generating power would, as you say, take time to prove.

    I would say we're in the rare case where, proof or not, we're essentially talking to a RADAR operator describing their personal experience within the rubric of their expertise. This is a rare chance, and it costs nothing to explore something fully. As claims go, this is a big one, but as scams go it would be equally large, and involve finance... not something you want to be doing in Greece... they wouldn't just laugh it off.

    In short, this isn't quite "too good to be true", nor is it obviously real... it's a black box. When it comes to this issue, and when nobody is asking me for cash... I'd like to keep an eye on the box. It's this rare combination of factors; the source, the topic, and its more demonstrable and physically consistent nature that intrigues me.

    If this was a black box that claimed to cure all illness, I'd laugh. A black box that claims to produce energy without violating local conservation, through previously unproven means is not claiming to break the laws of physics. In short, to me, this is more like sighting a UFO, than it is like claiming to have been abducted by aliens. The former is still an incredible claim, requiring evidence... the latter requires something concrete or bust.

    In this case, time will confirm or bust the notion, and given the speaker, I'm inclined to just listen and learn, wit holding all judgment. Remember, this is not a claim to a PMM, it's a claim to reactions at lower temperatures than we currently expect and believe they could occur at. In some ways, it's the very lack of pretension to PMM that makes this intriguing, rather than amusing.
  16. Mar 28, 2011 #56

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    As a guest speaker, Dr. Josephson is not bound by the standard rules. You are free to ask questions, but I will take care of the moderation.
  17. Mar 28, 2011 #57
    I'd just say, this is a case where I think it's worth the care to ignore the "free energy" crowd; their excitement may drown out the genuine research and discussion; Rossi is not pulling a 'Sarah Palin' and avoiding all contact, just limiting exploration of a potentially high value technology.

    I believe, from checking on this Greek Entity, that they plan on installing the 1MW generator in October of this year, and how that pans out, or not, will be very interesting. Still, this is the murky end of Skepticism... if an alien ever did make human contact, the first and loudest voices would be the nuts... still wouldn't mean an alien didn't land. It's the wait for a second "thermal bloom" of academic and industrial interest that we need to wait for, and watch, to see if this was a "launch event", or just a flash in the pan.

    Yes, I did just mix several metaphors there.
  18. Mar 29, 2011 #58
    @bjosephson Thank you for your thoughts on thoughts on the matter. I saw the Rossi work maybe a year ago but i have read very few valuable opinions about it.

    @everyone else While skepticism is valuable it seems to have reached the levels of religious fervor in the western world, and no one seems to want to make skeptical inquires anymore, only dismiss things as silly without examining them first (thank you Descarte).
  19. Mar 29, 2011 #59
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    Re the request for sources, here is the reference; it is clear that the 'reactive metal' theory (or a hydrogen explosion) can't explain what happened; as noted, the entire 700 ml volume of water was heated from 25 deg. C to at least 70 deg. C in 20 seconds or so:


    By the way, we sceptics do like to check up on things :uhh:, and here is the relevant correspondence:

  20. Mar 29, 2011 #60
    Re: Cold Fusion Back In The Limelight

    I see a lot of typical 'denier' behaviour here, though some are responding more thoughtfully.* People are saying this is just opinion, newspaper reports, etc. But published papers usually describe what was done and finish with 'conclusions', where the experimenter's opinion as to what the experiment shows is stated. In the same way. Levi has provided the details of his investigation and concluded with his opinion as to what is demonstrated by the results (in the case of the 2nd expt., that chemical sources are excluded). In the first case there was a formal report. I'm not sure if there is a similar report for the second expt., but the http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/energi_miljo/energi/article3108242.ece" [Broken] does contain direct quotes so it is not just the reporter's opinion of the significance of the expt.

    *I fully understand the difficulty in adapting when one's fundamental beliefs turn out to be misconceived. I myself accepted the story 'it was all an error', until someone gave me a copy of the video 'Fire from Water' in which various experimenters who had been successful described their investigations (if anyone is interested, you can now see it on http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6426393169641611451#" [Broken]).
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