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A Cold Look at Cold Fusion Claims: Why E-Cat Looks Like a Hoax

timothy posted about a year ago | from the judas-gets-too-little-credit dept.

Power 426

In the past few days, several readers have submitted word of a paper published on Arxiv allegedly confirming the efficacy of Andrea Rossi's "E-Cat," a device Rossi says transmutes nickel into copper, producing cheap energy in the process. (Mentioned before on Slashdot.) Ethan Siegel of ScienceBlogs takes a skeptical look at the buzz surrounding this paper, and asks some seemingly obvious questions, pointing out various ways in which the cold-fusion / cheap-energy claims could be either confirmed or debunked. First time accepted submitter CdXiminez writes with a capsule of Siegel's points: "What would it take to convince a reasonable observer that you've got a controlled nuclear reaction going on here? Things not shown in the earlier report: Show that nuclear transmutation has in fact taken place; Start the device operating by whatever means you want, then disconnect all external power to it, and allow it to run; Place a gamma-ray detector around the device; Accurately monitor the power drawn from all sources to the device at all times, while also monitoring the energy output from the device at all times."

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W.C Fields was an optimist (0)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#43803479)

There's far more than one sucker born every minute.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803541)

That quote is P.T. Barnum. If you are looking for a W.C. Fields quote for this article, I suggest "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull."

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#43803587)

I stand corrected, however, the principals regarding both suckers and bafflement remain sound.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803699)

Principals? Principles.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (3, Funny)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#43803923)

Well, Barnum & Fields were the principals.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803601)

Barnum never said that. Or, at least, he claimed to have never said that.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43803623)

It would be bad for business if his marks knew that they were suckers. Of course he would deny it.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803629)

Actually it's not PT Barnum either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There%27s_a_sucker_born_every_minute

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (5, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#43803847)

Actually it's not PT Barnum either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There%27s_a_sucker_born_every_minute

Your URL makes it sound like the quote is "There's 27 suckers born every minute."

Must be due to inflation.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803977)

The population has increase quite substantially since the late 1800s.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about a year ago | (#43804333)

over 250 people are born every minute (only about 100 die). I'd say they are all suckers - either the teat or the bottle.

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803697)

you forgot inflation - that should now read
"every second".

Re:W.C Fields was an optimist (3, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#43803813)

Still too low. 1 sucker born per second would result in only about 24% of people being suckers.

Currency conversion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803489)

Why would I want to turn my nickels into pennies? They just got rid of them here in Canada!

Re:Currency conversion (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43803721)

I would assume nickle is (or was at the time) worth more than copper, its size vs. a penny reflecting value of 5 copper slugs.

Re:Currency conversion (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#43803735)

I'm too lazy to look up Canadian values, but US coin values make this a profitable concept.

According to these guys [coinflation.com] , a nickel's metal value is just over 90% of the face value. So if you've got a dollar worth of nickels, you've got about $0.91 worth of nickel.

Compare this with (old copper based) pennies, where the metal value is more than double the face value at 215%.

This is legit science. Do not argue!

Re:Currency conversion (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#43803935)

But pennies are only 2.5% copper.

Re:Currency conversion (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#43803947)

Wait..Ignore braindead post. Misunderstood which direction this interaction went.

Re:Currency conversion (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#43804239)

Yes but here in the US they just created a $1 coin containing copper.

Need to Be Careful (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43803549)

Don't conflate a charlatan with the science. NASA [nasa.gov] is still looking at this.

Re:Need to Be Careful (5, Informative)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about a year ago | (#43803619)

NASA is "looking into this": don't misinterpret investigation as validation. If it's not reproducible, more work needs to be done. If the process appears to violate the laws of thermodynamics, your first reaction should be "scam", not "how do I get in on this?". Your second reaction should be "how do they do it"? It's been many years since cold fusion and while there have been tantalizing hints that there may be something to it, nobody has been able to reliably reproduce the phenomenon for objective observers.

Re:Need to Be Careful (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43803743)

I think it would be just as foolish to dismiss this outright, considering the " tantalizing hints that there may be something to it" and the developing theories as it would be to start dumping your life savings into Rossi's company.

Re:Need to Be Careful (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43803973)

When you've attended enough UFO Churches, you can pretty much tell how things are going to turn out by the first sermon.

It's not foolish to dismiss this outright. Dismissal is the only sane thing to do to save our resources. If it is a breakthrough, it doesn't matter if nearly everyone ignores it: It will quickly become widely known on the merit of the advancement. Not because pundits sing its praises, or expound on the possible endless benefits of infinite rectal probing.

Re:Need to Be Careful (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43804017)

Indeed. If it's real, he just needs to give a few away to customers who'll use them for a year or two and tell everyone how wonderful they are.

Of course, if it's real, you might wonder why the government is letting him build unlicensed nuclear reactors. Clearly they don't think it is.

Re:Need to Be Careful (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#43804137)

You do not need a license to build just any nuclear reactor, but if it produces significant radiation then they start to take notice.

Re:Need to Be Careful (3, Informative)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#43803771)

If it's not reproducible, more work needs to be done.

It is reproducible, that's the whole point they're still "looking into this".

If the process appears to violate the laws of thermodynamics [...]

Can you explain how fusion (of any kind) appears to violate any thermodynamics' law?

It's been many years since cold fusion and while there have been tantalizing hints that there may be something to it, nobody has been able to reliably reproduce the phenomenon for objective observers.

Actually there were several successful experiments, it doesn't take much work to look for their results. You may start with Dr. Peter Hagelstein, from MIT.

But usually people prefer to just dismiss without much thought, since the topic became taboo. Group-thinking is surely a fucked-up human characteristic.

Re:Need to Be Careful (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43803835)

But usually people prefer to just dismiss without much thought, since the topic became taboo.

Largely because it's all been demonstrated to be either fake, a gross misunderstanding of what's happening, or so totally un-repeatable by anyone else as to be suspect.

Group-thinking is surely a fucked-up human characteristic.

Right, all those people who still think we live on a flat earth or that the world is only 6000 years old are the victim of groupthink.

Or, you know, if you make an extraordinary claim, you're gonna need proof.

Re:Need to Be Careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43804039)

"Appears to violate" is the critical word. If the total chemical energy feed into the device is less than the chemical energy coming out of the device, either 1 of two things have happened. 1) its a hoax, or 2) they have successfully extracted energy from the nuclear bonds of atoms.

2) is very very hard to do. The sun accomplishes fusion because of its huge gravitational pressure at its core, and even then, the amount of energy produced per cubic meter is very small, simply the sun is very large so it produces a lot of energy.

Re:Need to Be Careful (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43803815)

I should clarify: "This" is LENR, not the E-cat.

Re:Need to Be Careful (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#43803631)

Maybe they're still trying to reproduce it after all this time. Doesn't sound very promising to me.

Re:Need to Be Careful (5, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43803657)

NASA looks into all sorts of silly things from time to time on the off chance that perhaps one of those wacky ideas might pan out... and because some congressman or senator has made a gentle inquiry wondering if it is bullshit or not. That has nothing to do with the validity of what it is that may be claimed and sadly tax dollars are still being wasted on utter garbage that has nothing to do with science.

Besides, even this crazy theory you are quoting here doesn't seem to have anything to do with the e-Cat other than it is what Ross claims the device is doing without any real proof that anything is happening at all. That isn't happening, and no real 3rd party investigations into the device have happened. Heck, the guy can't even get patents accepted much less prove that anything is going on.

Rossi even claims to have a factory making these things somewhere in Florida, but when the State of Florida decided to go in and check out what was going on (after a "concerned citizen" made a complaint about a nuclear reactor being built in the state without permits and such) Rossi and his agents had to back off and assert that no manufacturing was even taking place in the state. Yeah, funny how that works out when your bluff is called.

I've made my own private inquiries about the device, and the more I push the more I am firmly convinced this is a hoax of the worst possible kind. I don't know what Rossi's end game is, but he doesn't even merit being a good charlatan as well.

Re:Need to Be Careful (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43803799)

Which is why I said not to conflate, confuse, the two.

Rossi's failure to provide a machine freely for examination is a sure sign he's doctoring something.

Re:Need to Be Careful (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43803737)

NASA are looking at a possible mechanism for how a similar reaction might go. NASA have not, and probably will not, touch Rossi with a barge pole.

Re:Need to Be Careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43804351)

Managers tell the engineers what to look into. Engineers are the ones that would know what not to look into.

Sad legitimate researchers (4, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#43803615)

What I feel sorry for is any researcher who wants to do some genuine research into cold fusion. To me it would cause rate up there with inventions such as fire/math/smelting ore/cooking food/clothing.

If cold fusion were invented tomorrow everything changes, world politics, anything involving oil or energy production, the environment, space travel, food production, basically everything. So while it attracts cranks by the boatload I would be happy to see huge amounts of funding going to CF. Yet I suspect that if you are a legitimate researcher and you mention cold fusion that there is stunned silence in the room. You might as well bookend it with paranormal research.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#43803647)

If cold fusion were invented tomorrow everything changes...

True. I for one would be worried about getting hit by one of those flying pigs.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (2)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#43803795)

If cold fusion were invented tomorrow everything changes...

True. I for one would be worried about getting hit by one of those flying pigs.

With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. [ietf.org]

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (2)

knarfling (735361) | about a year ago | (#43804087)

If cold fusion were invented tomorrow everything changes...

True. I for one would be worried about getting hit by one of those flying pigs.

With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. [ietf.org]

oink, flap ... oink, flap ... oink, flap

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#43803819)

Just hide under the cows that just came home... You will be fine..

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43803681)

There's plenty of reseach into legitimate low-temperature, low-pressure fusion, going under names like muon-catalysed and antimatter-catalysed fusion. It's very well accepted work. The trouble is that most research going under the name "cold fusion" would better be described as "I have invented a machine that makes energy from nowhere and am postulating fusion as its mechanism of operation".

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43803831)

Even though from time to time people try to come up with perpetual energy machines, most of the people who were involved in such scams have moved on to nuclear devices of one sort or another simply because most ordinary people don't really understand nuclear reaction. Those devices, like the e-Cat, are still pretty much perpetual motion machines but re-branded under the guise of some silly nuclear reaction of some kind.

You are correct though that legitimate nuclear energy research is being done besides the ITER project. It is even possible for mere mortals with a modest amount of money and no government grants to be able to engage in legitimate research to make nuclear reactors, such as a software engineer in Brooklyn [prometheus...ection.com] that is trying to duplicate some of the research of Robert Bussard's work with the Polywell reactor.

There are other efforts that have indicated there may be something to the idea of "cold fusion", but I still think it is nothing more than a scientific curiosity and not something that could be used to make a practical power source.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (3, Informative)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#43804337)

Muon and antimatter catalyzed fusion are based on well understood physics (the rate at which muons catalyze fusion can be calculated by any graduate physics student). So far though these schemes have insurmountable "technical" issues: The muons stick to the helium and can't be re-used, and the anti-protons require too much energy to produce (and probably anhillate too often).

The research is legitimate because it is possible that there is a way around these problems. I think its unlikely, but the value if you succeed is so high that it is worth some effort.

The other style of cold-fusion is really a form of : we have this gadget that gets hot due to some "new" physics. That would be OK, except it us usually coupled with "it is a secret process, so we won't give you full access to the machine"

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

polar red (215081) | about a year ago | (#43803683)

If cold fusion were invented tomorrow everything changes, world politics, anything involving oil or energy production, the environment, space travel, food production, basically everything.

and how would that work ?

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803773)

Cold Fusion generates a reality distortion field that breaks the laws of physics, economics and rational thought.

And it's only (x + 10) years away!

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43803779)

and how would that work ?

Well, in the good scenario, an energy based economy which suddenly became free means we get unlimited cheap power and can do a great deal because it's no longer a scarce resource we're competing for.

In a bad scenario, the technology gets hidden away, or we still end up paying the same for everything, but the people selling the devices print money like mad fools by enforcing artificial scarcity with patents.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#43803865)

and how would that work ?

Well, in the good scenario, an energy based economy which suddenly became free means we get unlimited cheap power and can do a great deal because it's no longer a scarce resource we're competing for.

In a bad scenario, the technology gets hidden away, or we still end up paying the same for everything, but the people selling the devices print money like mad fools by enforcing artificial scarcity with patents.

There will still be a limited amount of energy production, from a finite number of devices, so it will still be a scarce resource. Read an economics book!

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43803959)

There will still be a limited amount of energy production, from a finite number of devices, so it will still be a scarce resource. Read an economics book!

If you can make a large amount of cheap devices which all produce energy from relatively cheap inputs, you end up with something which is markedly less scarce, and potentially something you can produce yourself and eliminate the energy companies.

Read an economics book!

I'd suggest you do the same.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

polar red (215081) | about a year ago | (#43804157)

solar panels. wind turbines.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

Saethan (2725367) | about a year ago | (#43804077)

Cold Fusion != Free Energy

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43803885)

Aside from everything getting cheaper, access to truly ridiculous amounts of energy at an affordable price opens up whole new areas of industry. Recycling, for one - no messing around with separate processing and delicate, fiddly chemistry. Just dump the whole lot into the blast chamber, reduce it all to plasma and condense whatever you need from the atoms as they cool. Literally anything goes in, valuable raw materials come out. Food production goes up dramatically as it becomes practical to maintain fields under artificial sunlight all night. Water shortage becomes a non-issue as desalination becomes affordable to all. It really would be one of the great revolutions of history: Agricultural, industrial, information, fusion.

Not that it matters, because cold fusion isn't going to be invented tomorrow. Or ever.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

polar red (215081) | about a year ago | (#43804125)

ridiculous amounts of energy at an affordable price

they said that with fission.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43804277)

And they were right.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

Saethan (2725367) | about a year ago | (#43804133)

Just dump the whole lot into the blast chamber, reduce it all to plasma and condense whatever you need from the atoms as they cool.

Where we're going, we don't /need/ roads!

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (5, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#43804065)

If cold fusion were invented tomorrow everything changes, world politics, anything involving oil or energy production, the environment, space travel, food production, basically everything.

and how would that work ?

Assume for a minute you can head down to your local Home Depot and pick up a portable "Mr. Fusion" 1 MW reactor powered by a single box of Borax laundry detergent (that is a 100 year supply of Boron I should note too). How do you think that would change the world?

First of all, you would no longer be dependent upon utility companies for heating or cooling your home, and even worrying about things like insulation or energy efficiency would go out the window. People living in cold weather climates could put either wires or warm water under their driveways and sidewalks to melt snow and ice and not give a damn about how much that costs. As a side note.... you thought global warming was bad with coal plants and such, just wait until everybody is turning out gigawatts of energy on a personal basis and wondering where all of that heat is going after it has been used for something else!

It would change international relations as oil would no longer be nearly so important except as a lubrication fluid, and even that can be mostly done with renewable resources like corn oil or other vegetable stock sources. Most of the recent wars would become irrelevant as control of petroleum resources would be insignificant.

Transportation costs are largely dependent upon energy costs, thus building locomotives, ships, and even automobiles with these fusion devices would render most transportation costs to trivial levels except for the cost of vehicle construction and paying professional operators (like an airline pilot) or other crew related costs.

Food production is largely a logistical issue as well, where trivial transportation costs would significantly lower food prices as well.

As for space travel is concerned, fusion energy sources for spaceflight would ensure that you could travel to Mars in just a couple of weeks, and even trips to other stars might take just a few dozen years. Certainly interplanetary spaceflight would be a common to the point that even poor people of 3rd world nations could become "astronauts" and go anywhere in the solar system if they cared.

The big question is if such a future could ever happen? It is an interesting promise that has captivated the imagination since the idea of nuclear fusion reactors was even conceived as a remote possibility. Cold Fusion reactors may be a way to get one of those "Mr. Fusion" reactors built, but you would have to prove that they really work as promised. Unfortunately there is more reason to think Andreas Rossi is full of BS and is being intentionally deceptive.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (2)

polar red (215081) | about a year ago | (#43804151)

assume for a minute you can head down to your local Home Depot and pick up a portable "Mr. Fusion" 1 MW reactor powered by a single box of Borax laundry detergent (that is a 100 year supply of Boron I should note too). How do you think that would change the world?

assume for a minute you could head down to your local supermarket and pick up a portable flying pig ....

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

SoldierII (2785237) | about a year ago | (#43803685)

That is exactly how I feel about it, this would change our world just like many inventions have in just the last 100-150 years...

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43803719)

There isn't much legitimate research because cold fusion violates some very well-established laws regarding energy requirements: You need to put energy into fusion to get more energy out, and that energy in is rather a lot. The more widely accepted not-cold fusion provides this energy by operating at extreme temperatures, and certainly can work in theory - the barriers are purely engineering problems, difficulties in containing a stable reaction using equipment a bit more compact than a star.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#43803889)

[...] difficulties in containing a stable reaction using equipment a bit more compact than a star.

A star is just a bunch of shit clumped together by gravity.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43804029)

Yes, but, consider how many more orders of magnitude of shit gets clumped into a star.

Define "Legitimate" (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#43803827)

What I feel sorry for is any researcher who wants to do some genuine research into cold fusion.

The trick is that you don't put your conclusion before your hypothesis. "Cold fusion" is the conclusion, or the result, of the whole process that would result in your utopian revolutions (again, something that is post conclusion or desired symptoms of the result of this sort of research). When your research begins by you working backwards, that's when the red flags should go up because there is no logical way to work backwards. Sometimes a sci-fi author will imagine something but it takes a very talented scientist/research/inventor/engineer/whatever to go from hypothesis to that end construct -- even then there's often a slight catch or permutation of nonfiction idea.

What this paper appears to do is formalize observations ... which is great (any more transparency is always welcomed). But it's also curious, wouldn't you say? We've been hearing about this for years now and no one can tell me what, exactly, is going on in this solution filled chamber. The critics are rightly asking questions about why the next steps aren't being taken (like getting real world measurements on its power draw versus its power emission). And are suspicious not of the data that is provided by this paper but of the data that aren't provided and would be obviously interesting.

The fear is that Rossi stumbled upon a neat trick that is just not sustainable but he realizes that if he controls the parameters on the experiments, he can make it look like this thing works. Then he rakes in billions and walks away from any involvement in it. It is suspicious because it's being conducted at a university that should be making obvious logical steps forward. Yet we continually only see "demonstrations" like his "public displays" and "observations" like this paper.

My charges are still borderline character assassination/ad hominem and this could very well work. But I've had enough talk of what is "perceived to happen" and I'm afraid that someone has a really neat trick that they've already thoroughly investigated and figured out why it works. And maybe it even fooled them in the beginning. But truly there is no good way to monetize this trick. So they give everyone else only enough information to make them think that it works. Then they capitalize on this public interest and walk away from it just before the reveal.

If not, I apologize but I also wouldn't be buying into this idea until we start with a hypothesis and tests are reproduced around the world and the true reason behind this anomaly is well understood and indeed a good energy answer. It's totally possible he doesn't know yet and his greed is the reason we only get tastes of this device. If that's true, however, we still don't know if it's a good answer to our energy addiction.

I only hope there are enough details in this paper for other researchers around the world to better reproduce and analyze these results. I'm sorry if this is just a matter of an ill-equipped laboratory at Bologna University but with all the interest this has generated, I would be surprised if that was reason.

In conclusion, start with a hypothesis, openly publish your methods and results. Wait for others to reproduce. Your rigor and its results will be your vindication if you fear being attacked for doing research. Just don't start your research by saying, "I'm going to make cold fusion and cheap energy is just ten years away." That's when you're openly attacked for good reason -- that's not science, those are words that you spout to get money.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about a year ago | (#43803995)

Not to mention the ability to extinguish an active volcano [imdb.com] by freezing it.
'Cause that's what the "cold" in cold fusion means, right?

/sigh/ Remember when there used to be science in science-fiction?

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803999)

If cold fusion were invented tomorrow everything changes [...]

Yeah! I mean, then the oil cartels and coal industry would have to write a bunch of NEW carefully-calculated-not-to-be-slander FUD about a whole different form of power generation! I'd place my bets with lies involving deadly scary radiation (because who has the time to learn the dumb nerdy difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion? They're both new-cue-lahr, after all!); pity stories about killing good, patriotic, AMERICAN jobs in coal mines and oil rigs (cut to shot of Native American crying a single tear as a waving American flag fades into the background); and fusion facilities being eyesores next to the glorious, natural majesty of AMERICAN coal plants.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about a year ago | (#43804115)

Any competent professional ought to be able to come up with a new name for whatever it is and an easy way to say it's 'obviously' something completely distinct from cold fusion; "Gentlemen, this is not some crackpot cold fusion scheme - it's a perfectly legitimate catalyzed sub-nuclear synthesis." For extra credit, claim to have been led down that path by tantalizing hints you found in three articles published by grad students of people who also co-authored with Einstein, but DON'T claim to have been inspired directly by anything the great man wrote, except in the general 'science is cool' sense.

Re:Sad legitimate researchers (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#43804199)

Well, if it worked, it may or may not have a huge impact. Just because energy is produced does not make it cost effective for energy production. For instance there have been some interesting advances in tabletop fusion, but it requires more energy then it produces. It has some interesting applications for medical equipment as a neutron source but is hardly game changing when it comes to energy production.

I believe it when I can build it... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43803643)

EOM

An easy solution (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43803677)

If they want to know if the E-Cat works, why don't they just measure it with an E-meter?

Re:An easy solution (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#43804043)

Because the Scientologists scare them.

Re:An easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43804385)

Is there an app for that?

Of course it's real... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803695)

It's on the INTERNET for God's sake - people, it wouldn't be 100% true if it wasn't on the internet!

Re:Of course it's real... (1)

The123king (2395060) | about a year ago | (#43803749)

But it's not on the internet, it's in Italy. I'd be genuinely surprised if cold fusion happened on the internet...

Re:Of course it's real... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803845)

Yea, I'm a french model too...

Thermal Hysteresis (1)

eggstasy (458692) | about a year ago | (#43803705)

It sounds like the poor sap just "invented" thermal hysteresis - the fact that things take some time to cool off, and therefore it's possible to keep them hot after shutting down the power. In the article, it says that 360 Watts were applied continuously with interspersed periods of 930 W, if I understood it correctly.

Re:Thermal Hysteresis (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43803809)

There were two experiments. In one, 360W was applied continuously, and in the other, 930W was applied on a 35% duty cycle. Of course, that's assuming there's no trick wiring. The other assumption is that their baffling method of estimating the power output was working properly. It certainly looks fine (assuming the IR camera didn't go over 50C, which is all it's rated to without active cooling) but Rossi doesn't like people to do actual calorimetry and I can't help but read that as an indication that the positive results would immediatley disappear.

I know E-Cat is real (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | about a year ago | (#43803723)

My E-meter measured it! Measured evidence, isn't that what every scientician respects?

What would it take? (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about a year ago | (#43803731)

What would it take to convince a reasonable observer that you've got a controlled nuclear reaction going on here?

Simple scientific methodology; reproducibility. Pick another, unassociated lab, and have them do it.

Re:What would it take? (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43803757)

I'll settle for less: let the same people perform the experiment again, but don't have Rossi setting up the experiments in his lab on his terms. You don't invite Yuri Geller into the lab then let him set up the spoon-bending experiment.

Re:What would it take? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#43803905)

Or sell a generator to a legitimate client, and see if they can draw a continuous 1MW from it over a long period of time. I'll lay good money on the claim that this "customer" is a pal of Rossi.

Re:What would it take? (1)

ecotax (303198) | about a year ago | (#43804347)

You don't invite Yuri Geller into the lab then let him set up the spoon-bending experiment.

On behalf of all those Yuri's out there: his name is Uri Geller.

Independent test report (1, Redundant)

warehousenorth (645004) | about a year ago | (#43803747)

This is an interesting read. Informed opinions tend to be more useful. http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.3913 [arxiv.org]

Re:Independent test report (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803883)

Congratulations on posting the paper which is linked first in the summary, and which this story is about ... ;)

Wrong approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803797)

I don't care if it's a "controlled nuclear reaction" or not. We can figure the science out later. What I care about is does it work?

The paper shows that it almost certainly does, unless Rossi is performing skullduggery (such as beaming energy to the device via microwaves, for instance).

From the paper:

"Even from the standpoint of a “blind” evaluation of volumetric energy density, if we consider the whole volume of the reactor core and the most conservative figures on energy production, we still get a value ... that is one order of magnitude higher than any conventional source"

To answer specific points:

Show that nuclear transmutation has in fact taken place

Yes, that would be nice, but the residue contains some Secret Sauce so it ain't gonna happen.

Start the device operating by whatever means you want, then disconnect all external power to it, and allow it to run

The device creates heat; it does not yet create electricity, but it needs electricity for the device to operate. So, yes, in theory a nice idea (still doesn't get around beaming microwaves into it, though).

Place a gamma-ray detector around the device

On the assumption that this LENR which we know basically nothing about must give of gamma rays? Poor assumption.

Accurately monitor the power drawn from all sources to the device at all times, while also monitoring the energy output from the device at all times

This is exactly what they did.

Re:Wrong approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803875)

wow, what an obvious astroturf comment. The skulduggery is that he's supplying power to the device via the ground or earth connection. They did not monitor that for power draw because he won't let them. Why guess microwave power when it's just plugged in?

Re:Wrong approach (4, Informative)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about a year ago | (#43804389)

Or, much more likely, that they're simply measuring the current incorrectly.

The paper clearly states that power was delivered to the system in surges, or pulses. Clamp-on ammeters *deliberately* smooth out measurements. Small pulses of power are simply not reported by the device, so if their is a shorter-duty-cycle delivery to the E-Cat, then this will disappear from the measurement. I believe this can explain 100% of the phenomenon being reported.

This problem with power measurement is extremely well known, and is the same basis of "proof" that many similar devices have put forth in the past. Newmann's machine was perhaps the most celebrated example, where simply hooking it up to an oscilloscope demonstrated the total area under the curve was less on the output than the input. The same is true of Naudin's version of the MEG, but in this case Naudin *did* capture the pulses on an oscilloscope, but then applied incorrect math to extract the resulting power figure. Once again, simply applying the correct formula demonstrated that the output was less than the input.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity - Hanlon's razor

Re:Wrong approach (1)

kimvette (919543) | about a year ago | (#43804009)

I've read papers that "prove" the existence of Big Foot, Nessie, "pyramid power" and little green men at Roswell. That someone put dreck to paper doesn't make it true.

Re:Wrong approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43804175)

Valid papers, or magazine articles in monthly pulp made to sell adverts?

Re:Wrong approach (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43804283)

Rossi is almost certainly faking it.

The residue is part of the scam or he would let people look at it. There would be no secret in the waste if he was not lying about how this works.

Good thing that we can easily turn heat back into electricity then!
Just use it to run a thermoelectric effect device or stirling engine. Once that device makes enough electricity you can unplug it and run it until the fuel runs out. He won't do that, because he is a conman.

To me, (3, Insightful)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#43803821)

This either works or it doesn't, it exist or it doesn't and can be proven or not. Why is it so hard to just get the facts? It is supposed to be a process and actual equipment. Seems like there is a lot of bull fertilizer going around from every party involved. Proof shouldn't be so hard to get. This has been going on since 2011.

Re:To me, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803921)

Hard to get the facts when they won't let independent researches have access to the device for testing. It's not bullshit from the real scientists. They just haven't had the ability to actually test the device but are asked to comment so you get assumptions and guesses. Still, those assumptions and guess are based on real science more than this device.

Re:To me, (2)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#43804003)

bull fertilizer

For growing bulls?

Re:To me, (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#43804015)

If it is just a case of verifying the experiment, then it is easy. If the inventors are deliberately pulling a scam, then you would need complete access to the device, including dis-assembly. The device only produces a about a kilowatt - you can supply that on very fine wire hidden in the support structure if you want.

Re:To me, (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a year ago | (#43804393)

When you have a real scientist working, is easy to get the facts. But when you have a possible scammer working, which hides all the means to verify the accuracy of what he is claiming, then it gets hard to get the facts.

In Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803825)

Extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary evidence. Show me some extra-ordinary evidence or stfu.

This kind of research is necessary (1)

Covalent (1001277) | about a year ago | (#43803837)

It may seem wasteful, but it is in the best interest of scientific literacy in general to debunk this sort of thing. If cold fusion is real (highly unlikely) it will stand up to all the scrutiny that science can throw at it. If it is not, then scientists will debunk it rather quickly and we can move on to the next snake oil crackpot idea.

law of physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43803849)

There's one law of physics that comes into play more than anything else here. It is: if a company has an amazing claim but makes excuses about verifying it with 3rd parties, it's lying.

If the E-Cat is real, then it seems Andrea Rossi (5, Insightful)

Alejux (2800513) | about a year ago | (#43803961)

goes out of his way to make it look like it's a hoax.

Not a hoax (3, Funny)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#43803979)

My D-Wave tells me the E-Cat will work.

Here we go.... (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#43804121)

Spin up the fraudsters and their supporters...

Cold Fusion is *not* likely. Subatomic physics really makes this impossible, at least in an energy positive way.

The same with all the schemes that violate thermodynamic laws and claim "free energy" or other frauds. It all sounds nice, and we wish it was true, but the laws of physics pretty much tell us it's not possible..

Yes, we did go to the moon, 9/11 wasn't an inside job and aliens never existed, even in Area 51 (Sorry Roswell NM..)

Queue up the loud crowd that posts their useless drivel to the internet in 3.... 2.... 1....

QED (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | about a year ago | (#43804245)

The first person to encourage independent confirmation of a published cold-fusion device becomes the person who has made the greatest contribution to the betterment of the human condition in all of history.
People who think they can make more money by preventing a section of humanity from using a cold-fusion device are too small minded and petty to stand any chance of having inventing one.

Cold, hot, no difference (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about a year ago | (#43804309)

I love articles like this one, where the author sits down and clearly shows how science is supposed to work and what to look for if the topic isn't really science.

But the problem is that the big lab's claims about fusion are just as bogus. The science isn't, that's all real, but the reactors don't work, and likely never will.

So when the press fawns over one bogus project that's bogus from end to end, why aren't we as upset when the fawn over another that's only half bogus?

I mean, they're still reporting that NIF is some sort of power source. It's not, and likely can't be developed into one:

http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/fusion-the-power-of-wishful-thinking/

The name is all wrong. (2, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43804381)

The guy is calling himself Andrea Rossi. And he says he gets free energy by transmuting nickel into copper. Everyone knows free energy comes from Atmospheric engine. And the inventor's name should be John Galt. In about a decade all the Atlases who are holding up the Earth are going to shrug and move to gold currency in Galt's Gulch. All because all these Atlases and genii could not build themselves a stupid railway track to some stupid copper mine after the railroad company refused to build one. Makes one wonder were they really the Atlases holding up the world? Or some stupid self important sanctimonious a holes.
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