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20 Years After Cold Fusion Debut, Another Team Claims Success

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed-lie-lie-again dept.

Power 373

New Scientist is reporting that twenty years to the day since the initial announcement of a cold fusion discovery another Utah-based team is trying again. This announcement is being taken a little more seriously than the original, although some might say it is just more available wishful thinking. "Some researchers in the cold fusion field agree. 'In my view [it's] a cold fusion effect,' says Peter Hagelstein, also at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Others, though, are not convinced. Steven Krivit, editor of the New Energy Times, has been following the cold fusion debate for many years and also spoke at the ACS conference. 'Their hypothesis as to a fusion mechanism I think is on thin ice ... you get into physics fantasies rather quickly and this is an unfortunate distraction from their excellent empirical work,' he told New Scientist. Krivit thinks cold fusion remains science fiction. Like many in the field, he prefers to categorize the work as evidence of 'low-energy nuclear reactions,' and says it can be explained without relying on nuclear fusion."

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Bad headline (5, Informative)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302365)

Twenty Years After Cold Fusion Debacle, Another Team Announces Success

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Bad headline (0, Troll)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302485)

I'm sure this "new" cold fusion device will have MUCH funding from the Scam, Cap and Trade economy so our "green donations" will be routed to another startup needing angel money.

Re:Bad headline (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302589)

Watching y'all freak out over the next 8 years is gonna be pretty funny, and bit sad.

Re:Bad headline (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302673)

Watching y'all freak out over the next 3 1/2 years is gonna be pretty funny, and bit sad.

Fixed that for you.

Maybe less, if he's not thrown out for gross incompetence and dereliction of duty first.

Re:Bad headline (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302917)

Hey, if the last guy wasn't thrown out for that, I don't think it's possible. "Mission accomplished," indeed! Hanging out in Crawford 3 months out of the year sure was fun, wasn't it?

Re:Bad headline (2, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303257)

Hey, if the last guy wasn't thrown out for that, I don't think it's possible.

Of course it's possible. It happened to Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr.

-jcr

Re:Bad headline (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302955)

A nigger in the White House?!?! Talk about irony! LOL

Thin Ice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302645)

Thin ice means REALLY cold fusion

Hey don't knock it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302395)

It's better than string theory.

Well... (4, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302399)

As long as I can use this new cold fusion device to power my perpetual motion machine, I'm good.

Re:Well... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302447)

If it's perpetual motion, why does it need power? :)

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302473)

Because while its motion may remain so perpetually, it still needs something to get it spinning :D

Re:Well... (5, Funny)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302523)

Because while its motion may remain so perpetually, it still needs something to get it spinning :D

That's right! Modernize the scam with "Add-Ons"!

Agreed, TANSTAAFL (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302471)

As long as I can use this new cold fusion device to power my perpetual motion machine, I'm good.

Agreed. Although IANAP, TANSTAAFL [wikipedia.org] .

Although, I do understand what they're trying to achieve on a simple level (fusion at sustainable temperature with a net return of energy, albeit small at first) and wish them the best of luck. My uninformed gut thinks this is a pipe dream but they will most likely discover something.

Also, why is it that everyone jumps to announcements when it would be more sensible to call up another lab somewhere else and ask them to run the experiment and verify your results independently? Another question is why are they using the label of "cold fusion" when it seems largely they are observing things that are hard to explain so they must be cold fusion at work? These two things seem imprudent to me. Interesting though, very interesting.

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (4, Insightful)

VagaStorm (691999) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302561)

Cold fusion == Holy grail == $$$. The question is if its them or the media that's calling it cold fusion...

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (2, Interesting)

HybridST (894157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302863)

http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=palladium+excess+heat&btnG=Google+Search&meta= [google.ca]

Here's a google search to a whole lot of sources for a paper I read several years ago in one of the journals(Science?/Nature?/...) at the local library. It referenced Palladium electrode(cathode?) and unexpected Helium and excess heat produced during electrolysis. It suggested that Hydrogen Nuclei were combing - Fusion by definition - within the lattice of palladium but concluded that the effect may warrant further research.

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27303095)

Cold fusion has been just as successful as hot fusion as a sustainable energy source. Look at all the billions that have been spent on hot fusion research over all these years, but there is still nothing to show for it. They both might have potential but the ROI on cold fusion has been better, only because less has been spent on it.

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (5, Insightful)

FesterDaFelcher (651853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302703)

it would be more sensible to call up another lab somewhere else and ask them to run the experiment and verify your results independently?

"Hey Guys, we've been working on this for X years, spent millions building specialized equipment, etc, etc, etc. Think you could you just run up a quick experiment and verify... Hello?"

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303083)

Although, I do understand what they're trying to achieve on a simple level (fusion at sustainable temperature with a net return of energy, albeit small at first) and wish them the best of luck.

And here's the part I don't understand and maybe someone can help me out here. The whole idea of fusion as a power source is that puts off an extremely large amount of energy for very little fuel. We could take this energy, in the form of heat and use it expand another substance (boil water) to turn turbines.

And there's the rub... if cold fusion is "COLD", then how do we utilize the energy? For that matter, what kind of energy is there? If it's truly cold, it seems to me that it would be worthless unless you are in the helium business. What would be the point? It would be like inventing a flame that burns cold or light bulb that gives off no light.

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (4, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303193)

I think "Cold" could possibly refer to the not-being-as-hot-as-the-heart-of-our-sun temperature range. Everything's relative, except absolute zero.

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (5, Funny)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303217)

You clearly fail to understand how "light bulbs" really work. They should really be called Darksuckers. See, what they do is you turn them on, and they suck all the dark out of the immediate area. Once the dark is sucked out, you can see in the area. The more powerful they are, the more Dark they can suck.

Of course, they can't STORE the Dark that they suck in. It has to come out somewhere. That's why the clouds coming out of power plants are usually black - they're chock-full of all the Dark that's been transmitted back down the lines to the power plant. If the clouds are coming up white, then there's not much Dark in them, which means it's probably daytime and more people are keeping their Darksuckers turned off.

It's the same thing as your air conditioner unit, which is just a giant Heatsucker unit that sucks heat out of your home and dumps it back outside...

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303221)

1) Cold is a relative term. Think more in terms of "not as hot as the Sun"

2) The term "cold fusion" describes the input conditions; it doesn't mean you wouldn't harness the output energy as heat. I'd have to guess you would.

Re:Agreed, TANSTAAFL (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303279)

There still is heat given off, harvestable heat. The key is that you don't need to run the reaction at the sort of temperatures you find in the sun. That's a huge, huge benefit. The biggest problem, however, is finding out whether what's going on is actually fusion. And that's proven to be far more challenging than it would at first appear.

Re:Well... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302517)

...power my perpetual motion machine...

You blew it. You never admit that you're powering your perpetual motion machine. You just tell the reporters to "Pay no attention to the black box attached to the machine. It is for decoration only and does not affect the function of my miracle machine."

(It's been done more than once...)

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

frieko (855745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302785)

A perpetual motion machine can have a power source as long as it's a perpetual power source ;)

Re:Well... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302929)

Lisa, in this house, we obey the Laws of Themodynamics!

Nice way to get tenure (1)

celticryan (887773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302429)

I wonder why every time one of these "breakthroughs" in cold fusion occurs the PI cannot seem to recreate the results after he/she gets tenure at some big name university?

Strange how that happens isn't it?

Re:Nice way to get tenure (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302651)

I was under the impression that announcing cold fusion was more likely to destroy your career than launch it to new heights. Besides, tenure comes with a much improved budget and more money means better equipment and more thorough experiments. It makes sense that results that were marginal before are shown to be incorrect when more time and effort is invested into them.

In my opinion, it comes down to the fact that something is happening during these experiments, we just don't know what. There have been anomalous neutrons detected many times by many different researchers using this basic setup, in this case they even appear to be high energy. If you wanted to fake the results of your research, why would you pick a topic that is guaranteed to be either laughed out of the room or scrutinized like no other topic would?

OK, let's test if it's a career destroyer then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302761)

was under the impression that announcing cold fusion was more likely to destroy your career than launch it to new heights

Ahem, Ahem... could I have everyone's attention. I would like to announce that today, March 23 2009, I have discovered evidence for cold fusion on the popular web blog called "Slashdot"
I infused my HTTP "GET" requests with Palladium and every 772 requests I receive a "Nothing to see here, move along"... this reply is the web version of the Neutrino particle and when combine with the Deuterium that seems to be leaking out from my chair...this has caused my cellphone and iPod to FUSE. ...oh yeah, also...I think I'm coming down with a "cold", so in effect, it's cold fusion.

Re:Nice way to get tenure (2, Insightful)

adamchou (993073) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303039)

In my opinion, it comes down to the fact that something is happening during these experiments, we just don't know what. There have been anomalous neutrons detected many times by many different researchers using this basic setup, in this case they even appear to be high energy.

I agree completely with this. I think that they really should pursue research into what is going on here. It might be something useful. But what they need to do is stop labeling it as cold fusion until they actually know what is going on. As soon as people see that nowadays, it seems as if they just completely disregard the research as nonsense, regardless of how good it is.

Re:Nice way to get tenure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302683)

I've never heard of this. Care to name someone who's done this?

Re:Nice way to get tenure (1)

celticryan (887773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303069)

Fleischmann and Pons both took jobs at a private lab in France after their announcement. The lab had a very nice 12 million pound grant from Toyota that yielded no huge breakthrough for the investors. I will take 12 million pounds for a few years over tenure any day!

I seem to remember something about concerning a Michigan State scientist also... but maybe I am just misremembering. I could not hunt any of it down with a quick google search.

They've done it! (4, Funny)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302467)

Second time lucky... right? right?!?!

Some objectivity needed (5, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302489)

I know one of the guys who helped debunk the thing way back when, and there's so much disgust for the original guys that it seems to be a foregone conclusion that cold fusion can never work. For example, in the current article, the tone seems to be that people really want to prove these guys wrong, which to me seems too much of an almost religious zeal. Worse, a lot of very prominent scientists have very vocally declared the thing impossible, and it will be a very hard thing for a lot of them to even consider the possibility that they were wrong. I think a lot of people made a false logical step from "these guys haven't proven their case for cold fusion" to "cold fusion can't work".

I think the original claim got a lot of fury from people who not only dismissed the research, but the way they announced it via press conference. In this case, the researchers are doing the right things - publishing first in peer reviewed journals, making presentations at the major conferences, getting the results validated by other experts.

It's not clear at this point that it *is* cold fusion, but the result is interesting enough that cold fusion seems to be a good possibility. Certainly it warrants investigation by other researchers who can keep an open mind. It would be funny if the biggest scientific joke of the last half of the 20th century ended up being the biggest discovery of the 21st.

Re:Some objectivity needed (1)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302801)

I agree on this. When one keeps a closed mind to potentials and possibilities, one allows someone else to find the The Big Discovery.

Or in this case, rediscovery.

If this team in Utah pulls a rabbit out of that deuterium tank, then champagne corks are gonna fly.

The Ponds/Fleischmann deal was half-baked, went off half-cocked with no or poor peer review. The basis seems to hold potential, but so many details need to be worked out before it could be feasible.

Re:Some objectivity needed (5, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303005)

If they pull a rabbit out of a deuterium tank, that's going to be one seriously pissed off rabbit.

Re:Some objectivity needed (1)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303085)

If they pull a rabbit out of a deuterium tank, I'd be wondering where that rabbit came from. And I'd be checking the alignment of the stars too.

Re:Some objectivity needed (1, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302819)

The only real danger I've seen is labeling your work "cold fusion" -- which you should not do if you want to be taken seriously. (Similar to how, if you were to come up with a legitimate scientific curriculum for grade schools, using the term "intelligent design" anywhere will not help people take you seriously.)

Nearly all of these "cold fusion" projects are easy enough to write off as nonsense on objective scientific grounds. Nobody has suggested a mechanism for action that has any reasonable physical basis, nor demonstrated that such a mechanism exists. Sometimes they conjure up theories that have neither experimental confirmation nor a reasonable physical mechanism (which means it's a worthless theory), or they build a single device that has some weird behavior, which isn't physics research.

Re:Some objectivity needed (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302821)

I think the original claim got a lot of fury from people who not only dismissed the research, but the way they announced it via press conference. In this case, the researchers are doing the right things - publishing first in peer reviewed journals, making presentations at the major conferences, getting the results validated by other experts.

Well yeah, of course they got a lot of well-earned ire for going around standard scientific channels, and a lot of well-earned derision when nobody else was able to reproduce their results. Ironically enough this was largely a case of cause and effect -- by skipping the peer-review and reproduction of experiments that usually precede such dramatic announcements, they skipped the step whereby the unknown factors in their experiment that prevented others from being able to reproduce the results from being discovered. So instead of "Hey we have this neat experiment, try to reproduce it" followed by "we couldn't, hey maybe there's a variable not accounted for", we got "Look world! Cold fusion!" followed by "We couldn't reproduce it, you're full of shit!"

My understanding is that these days people are regularly getting excess (as in more than expected, not net-positive) energy from the same experiment. It may not be fusion, but it's interesting, and would have a completely different image if not for the buffoonery of the experimenters.

So you're absolutely right, these guys are doing it the right way. Even if Krivit is right and the cold fusion hypothesis is just "physics fantasies", they're still doing "excellent empirical work" and that should be the key to figuring out what is going on.

Re:Some objectivity needed (2, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302851)

Well, they are basing their conclusion that cold fusion can not work based upon currently understood theory. Its always tough for new, unpredicted results to be accepted when they don't fit in with accepted theory. That's a good thing. The more fantastical the results differ from the accepted theory, the more proof their must be. And some one at some point will have to make an amendment to the theory, if this holds up. No one really wants to go down that path unless its absolutely certain that it is an unexplained result. So until there is an undeniable level of evidence ( including verification from other teams), the safe thing for theorists to do is to stick to their guns and say what they know to be true ( this should never happen).

Re:Some objectivity needed (2, Interesting)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302883)

For example, in the current article, the tone seems to be that people really want to prove these guys wrong, which to me seems too much of an almost religious zeal. Worse, a lot of very prominent scientists have very vocally declared the thing impossible, and it will be a very hard thing for a lot of them to even consider the possibility that they were wrong.

Welcome to the world of real science where the burden of proof lies upon the shoulders of those who's claims fly in the face of established theory.

Science relies on skepticism and strong proof. Indiscriminate acceptance of proof works against science. Current theory says "cold fusion" is impossible and the "very prominent scientists" would be remiss if they were not very vocally declaring it so.

Re:Some objectivity needed (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302979)

I know one of the guys who helped debunk the thing way back when, and there's so much disgust for the original guys that it seems to be a foregone conclusion that cold fusion can never work.

Most cold fusion press releases sound like this:

  1. We looked for excess neutrons
  2. We found excess neutrons!
  3. ?????
  4. Cold fusion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
Most cold fusion efforts seem to be little better than alchemy - tossing and mixing things together and then describing the effects in mystical technobabble. It would help a lot if they acted and sounded more like actual scientists with an actual theory of what they were trying to accomplish and actual test protocols describing how they intend to test elements of the theory and what the expected results are and why.
 
It doesn't help that cold fusion community has had problems in peer reviewing themselves (when all your 'peers' are True Believers, peer review really isn't worth much) and (worse yet) in demonstrating repeatable experiments.
 
 

I think the original claim got a lot of fury from people who not only dismissed the research, but the way they announced it via press conference.

 
The original (P&F) announcement generated a lot of fury - because the announcement was all they had. No papers, reviewed or not, no test protocols, nothing but a press release. It took a long time for any details to become available, as P&F's attention was concentrated on self aggrandizement rather than science.
 

In this case, the researchers are doing the right things - publishing first in peer reviewed journals, making presentations at the major conferences, getting the results validated by other experts.

 
Except they haven't actually had the results validated... They've produced something that looks like neutron tracks, and had an expert go "yeah, that looks like neutron tracks", but that's a long way from "is confirmed to be neutron tracks". This announcement sounds dangerously like P&F's - in that they found signs in a specific test setup, but didn't vary the setup. That they seem to have found neutrons with one very specific detection method, but don't appear to have tried any other detection methods raises huge red flags.

Re:Some objectivity needed (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302993)

think a lot of people made a false logical step from "these guys haven't proven their case for cold fusion" to "cold fusion can't work".

First, that may be the case but the fact remains that all claims, whether it be that cold fusion exists or anything else requires evidence to be taken seriously. Second, to the best of our knowledge, the physics simply isn't supportive of such a phenomenon under these conditions. That doesn't mean that it couldn't happen but it would require conditions not known to exist in these circumstances. There has to be a mechanism to bring two nuclei close enough to interact in such a way to fuse and to my knowledge, no such mechanism has been shown to exist. For fusion reactions to occur under such "normal" conditions any fusion catalyst would have to be fantastically efficient, far more so than even the most tuned chemical reaction catalyst could ever hope to be. The fusion of a deuterium and tritium nucleus requires that the 56 kev barrier be overcome. Imagine how good you'd have to be to cause these nuclei to bypass that barrier entirely at very low energy conditions. It's equivalent to claiming that you can ignite paper in cryogenic temperatures using a suitable catalyst. I just don't think it is very likely given what needs to be overcome.

Re:Some objectivity needed (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302999)

Were you even around when the first claims where made? You do realize the reason it was dismissed was because

NOONE COULD REPLICATE THE RESULTS!

It wasn't because the press conferences. That did not help their case but the simple fact that no other scientist could reproduce their results, closed the door on their claims of cold fusion.

It's simple science.

The article did not point out the problems with the original claims. The article simply said that , "...claims of fusion reactions in a tabletop experiment were dismissed by nuclear physicists..." The article did not point out that noone could reproduce the results. That's important.

This new claim is interesting but sounds like it is given to fanciful intrepretation. You need to definitively show fusion of deuterium and tritium atoms. Without that it's sheer speculation because other processes can produce high-energy neutrons; it's not unique to a fusion process.

Re:Some objectivity needed (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27303255)

Actually it's hard to say if anyone was able to replicate the results or not. It turned in a giant witch hunt in the end [wired.com] :

Still, Taubes's report in the June 1990 Science magazine clearly suggested that Packham might have added tritium to fake his results. This reassured many people that cold fusion had been bogus all along. Packham received his PhD, but only on condition that all references to cold fusion be removed from the body of his thesis. Today he works for NASA, developing astronaut life-support systems. "I don't know why Gary Taubes wrote what he did," he says. "Certainly I did not add any tritium in my experiment." (emphasis added)

People like Taubes went around accusing other scientists of falsifying results even though he had no evidence to back up his accusations. The bolded part of the quote above shows that people were forced to choose between continuing to investigate the phenomenon or keeping their jobs.

As today's news shows, there could be something very interesting worth studying, but people have been so scared away from testing it due to all the "liar liar" shit-slinging that research into the subject has been unnecessarily delayed for decades.

Huzzah! (4, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302503)

Just when we thought that Orbo's outstanding success wouldn't be topped this century!

Re:Huzzah! (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302925)

Speaking of huzzahs, The Simpsons also debuted 20 years ago. Coincidence? Perhaps not!

Odd (2, Interesting)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302515)

I wonder why they used, from what I can understand of the article, an unusual detection device. Did they try numerous other ones, until they came up with one that "worked"? I'd think that if an actual fusion reaction was occurring, it would produce enough radiation for noramal detection devices to pick it up.

I suspect that this will play out like the original mess.

Re:Odd (5, Informative)

celticryan (887773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302705)

CR-39 is a very common detection method. It is by no means unusual. The article does make it seem that way, but that is not the case. It is just a passive detector and is fairly cheap. The plastic is typically etched after exposure and analysis is usually automated with some software that "reads" the tracks.

Re:Odd (5, Informative)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302755)

According to the journal article:

Advantages of CR-39 for ICF experiments include its insensitivity to electromagnetic noise; its resistance to mechanical damage; and its relative insensitivity to electrons, X-rays, and gamma-rays.

So they chose it because it would give more reliable data, less prone to interference.

Hagelstein Is A Heavyweight (2, Informative)

cybrpnk2 (579066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302521)

Peter Hagelstein [mit.edu] has an interesting background in hi-visibility technology. In the 1980s he was at the heart of trying to create an X-ray laser [google.com] pumped by nukes that was to be a key component of the original Reagan Star Wars missile shield. See the writeup in the book Star Warriors [amazon.com] .

Re:Hagelstein Is A Heavyweight (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302769)

That excerpt makes it sound more like Hagelstein has an interesting background in pumping government dollars into far-fetched technologies that never bear fruit.

Re:Hagelstein Is A Heavyweight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27303275)

Hagelstein was my section instructor for MIT 6.002 (Circuits & Electronics). He was known for his Darth Vader impression whenever he asked a question and the student answered incorrectly.

[heavy breathing] I find your lack of intuition... distuuurbing

He was pretty smart though

Read the DOE Report on 'Cold Fusion' =They fund it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302529)

You guys are repeating the propaganda of the high energy fusion guys, who don't want it to be seen as 'real science'.

It is, and DOE's review team was careful to discuss all of your criticisms. Cold Fusion is real, and it is science, and it is not quite repeatable yet from lab to lab, tho getting better.

Anyone who says it isn't nuclear has to explain a large amount of energy, far beyond what chemistry can explain.

Re:Read the DOE Report on 'Cold Fusion' =They fund (3, Insightful)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302845)

Cold Fusion is real, and it is science, and it is not quite repeatable yet from lab to lab, tho getting better.

So it's more like alchemy than science.

Re:Read the DOE Report on 'Cold Fusion' =They fund (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27303125)

Got a link?

Do or Do Not, There is No Try. (4, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302543)

New Scientist is reporting that twenty years to the day since the initial announcement of a cold fusion discovery another Utah-based team is trying again

Sorry, but anyone can try to achieve cold fusion, just as you can try to build a perpetual motion machine. Call me when you've actually achieved something.

Re:Do or Do Not, There is No Try. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302911)

Sorry, but anyone can try to achieve cold fusion, just as you can try to build a perpetual motion machine. Call me when you've actually achieved something.

This may seem harsh, but:

1. I don't think they have in any sense tried to call you

2. If they are successful in their experiments, I still don't think they'll want to call you.

In summary: I doubt you interest them in the any way what so ever. Sorry.

mod dowN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302579)

this is cOnsist3nt It's best to try gloves, condoms I type this.

Fool me once (-1, Flamebait)

PingXao (153057) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302585)

Seriously, anyone who skips this "news" completely will have missed nothing. I have not read the FA, I have not read the /. story summary or any of the 8 comments thus far. There's literally nothing to see here except BS.

Re:Fool me once (1)

Almonday (564768) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302679)

Ah, sweet recursivity.

Re:Fool me once (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302865)

Seriously, anyone who skips this "news" completely will have missed nothing. I have not read the FA, I have not read the /. story summary or any of the 8 comments thus far. There's literally nothing to see here except BS.

So, in other words, dogma trumps the scientific method? I'm pretty skeptical of cold fusion, but that's no reason to dismiss the results without bothering to read them.

Re:Fool me once (5, Interesting)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303169)

I've seen a documentary on these guys. In the documentary they had several, highly sceptical, well respected physicists review their work - as in a couple of days, not weeks and weeks of peer review. All of them walked away saying stuff like, "I don't know what is going on but they are observing something. It may be a new phenomenon or an existing, well understood reaction created in an unconventional manner. I've not seen enough to say it is cold fusion - but more study is clearly indicated."

The people who have performed critical peer reviews have been equally stymied. Given the stigma associated with cold-fusion no one wants to stamp it accordingly. Just the same, just about everyone who critically reviews the available data and experiments walk away unable to explain the experiment. Furthermore, the more vocal saying its impossible and assuring everyone they have not created cold fusion have never even seen the data or talked with the group.

So to summarize:
o Everyone is seeing an effect which can easily be characterized as "cold fusion"-like.

o No one is willing to call it "cold fusion" because of the stigma. Saying it is cold fusion can be a career ending position - even if they are right - because of the stigma.

o All of the data thus far validates this is not fraud and clearly indicates something worthwhile is being observed in recreatable experiments.

o The people saying its impossible look like idiots because they refuse to consider the possibility, participate in a peer review, or even attempt to better understand and/or learn more about the experiment.

It may not be cold fusion but thus far, it smells and tastes like it. Regardless of what you call it, more research is clearly indicated.

Re:Fool me once (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302905)

Damn text based communication! I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not! How am I supposed to know whether to laugh or get angry?!

Cold fusion, or energy-positive fusion (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302593)

There are lots of examples of people building tabletop fusors, but they all have one thing in common; they produce less energy than they consume. Cold fusion isn't the interesting bit, energy-positive fusion is.

Re:Cold fusion, or energy-positive fusion (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302823)

There are lots of examples of people building tabletop fusors, but they all have one thing in common; they produce less energy than they consume. Cold fusion isn't the interesting bit, energy-positive fusion is.

Devices like a Farnsworth Fusor aren't "cold fusion". They're small-scale hot fusion.

Re:Cold fusion, or energy-positive fusion (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303017)

True. Muon-catalysed fusion[1] has been demonstrated in the lab as early as the late '50s and is an example of cold fusion. It occurs spontaneously as a byproduct of some experiments which produce muons, but in very small quantities. The energy required to produce the (very short-lived) muons needed for the reaction is orders of magnitude higher than the energy released by the fusion. If the muons stayed around for a few hours, then it might be energy positive, but they decay incredibly quickly.

[1] Muon-catalysed fusion works by replacing the electron around the hydrogen atom with a muon. This has the same charge but a much smaller orbit. This means that two muon-proton atoms will get much closer before their charge repels them, often close enough for the two protons to get close enough that the strong attractions overpowers the electromagnetic repulsion and causes fusion.

Olympic sprinters don't run with their first steps (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303045)

Getting past breakeven is likely to require first discovering and understanding a fusion mechanism that makes it possible, followed by a LOT of engineering to make it happen.

The successful path will likely start with something that produces a handfull of reactions - just enough to leave an identifiable signature - just as it did with nuclear fission bombs and reactors.

Unlike nitroglycerine, nuclear fission bombs didn't start with a lab explosion. Simalarly, nuclear fission power plants didn't start with a lab fire or a flask boilover (though there WERE a few such incidents along the way during the manufacturing-engineering phase, once they knew what they were doing but had some issues with knowing how to avoid doing it accidentally). Don't expect novel-mechanism nuclear fusion power plants to be any different.

I have proof that it's real.... (5, Funny)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302605)

Now Pamela Mosier-Boss and colleagues...

Now, if all of you remember from college, ALL of the physical effects were named after folks with obscure last names. There was never the Jones effect, or the Wang principle, it was always something the like "Heisenberg Principle" or something. Now, we'll have the Mosier-Boss effect to study. See? If she was named Jones, then it would definitely have been a fake because physical and chemical phenomena are never named after common surnames.

QED.

Re:I have proof that it's real.... (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302719)

I'll be sure to tell Gibbs and Carnot to stand down and surrender their physical effects...

Re:I have proof that it's real.... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302875)

I'll be sure to tell Gibbs and Carnot to stand down and surrender their physical effects...

They're safe since neither are common names in early 21st century North American demographics.

Oh, you didn't know that was the standard? Yeah, it was proven sometime in the 1980s.

Re:I have proof that it's real.... (1)

wonmon (1214678) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303037)

They're safe since neither are common names in early 21st century North American demographics.

Oh, you didn't know that was the standard? Yeah, it was proven sometime in the 1980s.

Ah yes, how could we forget the Smith Corollary.

Wait a second...

Re:I have proof that it's real.... (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303075)

The what?

Re:I have proof that it's real.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27303049)

Oh, there's definitely a Wang principle...I proved it using your mom as a test subject last night.

Re:I have proof that it's real.... (4, Funny)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303155)

>or the Wang principle

Well, only if you ignore the adult DVD of the same name.

Let me get this right. (1)

Luke777 (1122835) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302607)

Are they seriously basing all their conclusions on the presence of one neutron track? One during three weeks? I think someone needs to do an experiment with few of those cells, some with normal water to compare the results before everyone jumps to the conclusion it is fusion.

Re:Let me get this right. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302735)

Are they seriously basing all their conclusions on the presence of one neutron track?

No.

After two to three weeks, the team found _a small number_ of "triple tracks" in the plastic [...]

One is a small number, true, but honestly...?

Re:Let me get this right. (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302937)

Even so, how can they tell the difference between a neutron generated from fusion and normal background radiation? Which also can be neutron's.

Re:Let me get this right. (1)

Luke777 (1122835) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303063)

OK. I've read the paper. They do mention a higher number of triple tracks. There are some graphs of tracks distributions in the supplementary materials for the paper, but the whole thing reads as the authors were not bothered to investigate further. There are some triple tracks, but judging by the pictures included there is plenty of single tracks as well. They do perform an analysis of density vs depth of tracks and others, but skip the most important one which is: what percentage of triple tracks compared to singles there is and does it fit their assumption. Assuming some neutron flux and knowing the density distribution of carbon in this plastic they've used as a detector it shouldn't be difficult to come up with a proportion of triple tracks that should form(a proportion of neutrons striking a carbon atom head on). If their measured proportion is any different something else is going on and not fusion.

Can somebody explain this to me? (2, Informative)

jopet (538074) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302661)

Can somebody explain all the discussion and discrepancies here? After all, that kind of effect does not seem to require too much effort to reproduce, compared with hot fusion or particle physics.
So -- is there some disagreement about whether the effect is there and measurable or is the disagreement just about how to explain the effect? Is there some agreement on what the energy source *could* be? Obviously if there is an effect but you reject the hypothesis that cold fusion is the cause, something else must cause the effect -- and some material must chemically react or similar.

It is a bit weird in my opinion that there is still so much disagreement about this after 20 years.

Re:Can somebody explain this to me? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302987)

Can somebody explain all the discussion and discrepancies here? After all, that kind of effect does not seem to require too much effort to reproduce, compared with hot fusion or particle physics.
So -- is there some disagreement about whether the effect is there and measurable or is the disagreement just about how to explain the effect? Is there some agreement on what the energy source *could* be? Obviously if there is an effect but you reject the hypothesis that cold fusion is the cause, something else must cause the effect -- and some material must chemically react or similar.

My understanding is that after spending some time on further research, many can reproduce the results of the original Pons-Fleischman experiment. The problem was that in the original experiment there were variables the two didn't know about and thus didn't document but turned out to be important enough that others couldn't reproduce their work. And since they'd gone straight to the press declaring success before allowing others to run the experiment and thus figure this out, it made them look like charlatans, and held back the research that eventually perfected the experimental procedure for years such that few know it actually eventually worked.

I think mostly these days, and including this new experiment, it's the cause that is most disagreed upon, and most people do not think it is a fusion reaction. This particular experiment doesn't seem to have had much outside verification, but because they're doing it the proper way publishing in peer-reviewed journals and seem to have a good grasp on the experiment, they're being given much more benefit of the doubt. At least for the experiment itself, not the cold fusion hypothesis they put forward to explain it.

Re:Can somebody explain this to me? (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303133)

It sounds like everyone agrees that they saw the effect they claim, and reported it accurately. People don't agree about the cause.

The disagreement isn't necessarily "nuclear vs. chemical"; at least one guy is saying this may be a low-temperature nuclear effect but not cold fusion.

From a pragmatic standpoint, that might be a matter of semantics. Depends on how a few things fall out. "Well, yes, you can get net postiive energy out of this setup, and it's cheap and clean, but it isn't technically fusion so we were right to rip the cold fusion camp a new one." So then everybody can be happy...

Or maybe the mechanism behind this can't scale to a practical energy source the way people assumed cold fusion would. Or maybe the things it consumes and produces mean that it isn't cheap and clean when you do scale it. Or maybe it will never be net-positive energy output at all.

Understanding the mechanism will hopefully make those things clear.

Re:Can somebody explain this to me? (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303153)

A few people have repeated variants of the original cold fusion experiments recently, and found results that didn't quite fit the models. They may well not be the cold fusion - or any kind of fusion - but any time a repeatable experiment contradicts established theory is interesting science.

Nuclear battery explosions? (3, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302693)

They said that the rough surface of the palladium on the electrode focuses the energy into small pits, where it can be transferred to a single electron. The high-energy electron can then shoot into the nucleus of a nearby deuterium atom and combine with a proton to release a neutron and a neutrino (European Physical Journal C, DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s2006-02479-8).

"Electrons and protons don't have trouble attracting," Widom told New Scientist, and he says the explanation conforms to the Standard Model of particle physics. He speculates that this theory could explain instances of exploding laptop batteries, and could be harnessed as an energy source - something Larsen's company hopes to commercialise.

Nuclear laptop battery explosions? And that wasn't in the Slashdot summary? You're slipping!

It's easy to rag on Utah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302699)

... it was just the conference that's in Utah. THe authors are based in San Diego. Am I expecting too much from Slashdot?

LOLLL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27302715)

Ok, which one of you clowns added the !adobe tag there? I'm laughing my ass off.

adobe who?

Stupid Crazies (3, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302751)

I remember a real idiot 20 years ago -- Jeremy Rifkin, if my memory hasn't failed me completely -- claiming that Cold Fusion would be the very worst thing possible. How would cheap clean abundant energy be the worst thing possible? Because it would allow for further population increases.

I expect nothing less this time around if there's even a glimmer of a spark of something like that happening here again.

Re:Stupid Crazies (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303077)

How would cheap clean abundant energy be the worst thing possible?

Oil, gas, coal, and every other fuel would be valueless. The commodity prices of those items would crash, resulting in a economic crisis. The economies of Russia, Venezuela, and many Middle East and some Latin American countries would collapse. The stock of oil companies, shipping companies, power generation companies, etc. would crash. All the jobs, many of them very good paying jobs, in the energy production industries would disappear. Possibly, more children would be born and fewer people would die, resulting in a population boom which would result in a swelling underclass and a famine because there would be no way to produce enough food for everyone.

The end result would almost certainly be war, maybe several, possibly global.

Something in the Water or Air? (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302877)

A lot of kooky stuff seems to come out of Utah, it might be worth looking at environmental causes.

Re:Something in the Water or Air? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303187)

The air is quite thin, and the university is near the top of Salt Lake City. After a heavy rain, enough of the pollution has been precipitated out of the air that you can see the other side of the city, but most of the time it's just a brown haze. Somewhat ironically considering the state's laws on alcohol, there is a lot of very good beer to be found.

bad science question (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302935)

I read something a while back that absolutely seemed like it had to be wrong. Someone casually mentioned how plants transmute elements into different elements naturally. As far as I am aware, there are only two ways elements transmute in nature:

1.a) Inside a normal star, fusing merrily from hydrogen on up to iron
2.b) Inside super-nova, still a matter of stellar fusion but this is how we get anything heavier than lead.
3. Radioactive decay, heavier elements decaying into stabler lighter elements, no star required.

Disregarding the claims of this article for the moment, the above is true and leaves nothing out, right?

Re:bad science question (1)

Cyclopedian (163375) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303099)

If it's something that plants do, wouldn't it be a chemical process rather than a nuclear one?

Re:bad science question (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303211)

Someone casually mentioned how plants transmute elements into different elements naturally

Off-topic, but yes, this is indeed complete and utter nonsense. Plants do not transmute elements. They create compounds (so do animals) and they use photosynthesis to create compounds that have more binding energy than their constituents, but that's all.

Just finished a book about this... (1, Offtopic)

phallstrom (69697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27302957)

If you're into this sort of thing and other scientific anomalies check out 13 Things That Don't Make Sense. Looks at a variety of scientific topics that scientists can't explain or are deeply divided on. Good book.

http://www.amazon.com/Things-That-Dont-Make-Sense/dp/0385520689 [amazon.com]

Cold Fusion hypothesis on thin ice (2, Funny)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303025)

They're really skating around the weakness of their evidence. They are bound to be given the cold shoulder from the scientific community. They may need to cool their heels for a bit.

Mosier-Boss and Fleichmann? (3, Informative)

landtuna (18187) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303071)

Hey, look who Dr. Mosier-Boss authored a paper [sciencedirect.com] with!

Not a Utah based team (4, Informative)

butlerm (3112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303117)

According to the article, the team is based at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego, California. The announcement was made at a conference in Utah.

THATS NOTHING BUT FICTION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27303175)

cold fusion is nothing but fiction. they should stop wasting time and energy on it (pun intended.)

Besides I think a ZPM will bring us far more satisfying results, or even the OMEGA particle research will be more fruitful.

Cold fusion (5, Interesting)

BudAaron (1231468) | more than 5 years ago | (#27303231)

I spent the better part of a 17 year Navy career testing and working with atomic weapons and follow on technology. In 1941 the notion of an atomic bomb was science fiction. It took a war to make the thing work. I can't to this day discuss many of the things I know but when I left the service in 1963 I was inspecting little light 1 kiloton tank killers and rumors had an atomic rifle grenade... Lord only knows how far things have come in 40 plus years. My experience has been that is you can envision something it has a basis in fact. Can you even imagine how devastating cold fusion would be to the oil industry? I wouldn't be a bit surprised to discover that cold fusion is already a reality. It - like many other related things - never see the light of day for many reasons. Developing Fat Man and Little Boy took a war. So folks - don't write it off as a pipe dream/
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