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Cold Fusion Scientist Exonerated

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the cold-hearted dept.

Science 171

Icarus1919 writes "New Scientist reports that the scientist who discovered a possible cold fusion reaction by bombarding a solvent with neutrons and sonic waves has recently been exonerated of accusations of scientific misconduct following the verification of his results by another scientist."

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Obligatory (2, Funny)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070100)

Yay! I'm gonna get a Mr. Fusion!

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070116)

this means what? Was cold-fusion discovered or what?

Re:So... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070302)

If you drop Mentos into a cold bottle of Diet Coke, you get cold fusion [eepybird.com] .

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071102)

The article says yes. Of course, low temperature fusion is already old hat anyway (Farnsworth Fusor [wikipedia.org] .) The article doesn't say whether the reaction produces more energy than it consumes, which is what would make it interesting.

Re:So... (4, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071862)

Good news everybody...

Re:So... (2, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18073028)

Of course, low temperature fusion is already old hat anyway (Farnsworth Fusor.)

From the article you link:

Unlike most controlled fusion systems, which slowly heat a magnetically confined plasma, the fusor injects "high temperature" ions directly into a reaction chamber, thereby avoiding a considerable amount of complexity.
The Farnsworth Fusor is a high-temperature fusion device, just like sonofusion systems are high temperature fusion devices (if they really do produce fusion.)

Do not confuse "table top" with "cold". The only reason conventional hot fusion systems are big is because the plasma losses scale as the surface area while the energy production scales as the volume, so the ratio of losses to energy goes down linearly with the size of the system. If one could produce a non-equilibrium device that had relatively smaller losses or larger energy production one could have a table-top fusion generator. Unfortunately, there is a quite general theoretical proof as to why such non-equilibrium devices cannot ever produce net power.

Re:So... (3, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18074098)

Well... not necessarily. You refer to Todd Rider's papers. Rider's general analysis is on quasineutral, isotropic nonequilibrium systems. For example, Farnsworth-Hirsh fusors are not quasineutral; they strive for only protons in the plasma. Polywell (Bussard's variant) is anisotropic. Rider addresses some exceptions in very general terms. For example, he discusses a plasma of protons (non-neutral), but only under pure magnetic confinement, and then decides that the Brillouin Limit rules it out for feasible magnetic field strengths. It's all quite applicable, but not a general critique of non-neutral plasmas.

Most of what Rider's papers discuss deals with the nonequilibrium aspect. That is, some fusion systems, fusion is attempted to be conducted at a lower energy by having a non-Maxwellian energy distribution in the plasma. That is, a Maxwellian plasma has most of the particles at a lower energy than the temperature would suggest, with the few high temperature outliers causing most of the fusion reactions. If you can only spend your energy accelerating particles to energies that stand a significant chance of fusing (without wasting it on bulk material that will still be too low energy), you can get a much higher rate of fusion. Rider goes on to show that, barring heavy use of selective removal of low energy particles for reacceleration, non-Maxwellian distributions of ion energies will rapidly decay to a Maxwellian equilibrium distribution. He also discusses energy loss mechanisms, and how formidable they are. In a later paper, he discusses more specific fusion systems and the problems inherent in them, and then proposes several possible systems that use resonant excitation or filtering of low energy ions for reacceleration to bypass the limitations his paper sets on fusion systems.

Anyways, back to sonofusion. The idea with sonofusion is not, to the best of my understanding, to get a non-equilibrium energy distribution. Rather, it is to get extremely high temperatures in a very small region of space, and then have A) the resultant neutrons seed cavities in the opposite nodes, and B) have energy from the reaction feed back into the wave, helping compress the opposite nodes at the same time that the input accoustic waves normally would. In short, Taleyarkan hopes to achieve a kind of sonofusion chain reaction in which accoustic waves self-maintain a strong degree of anisotropy due to the fusion reactions that they cause. Even if a chain reaction is shown to be impossible, the hope is to at least make a good neutron source.

At least, this is my understanding of what I've read; admittedly, it's been a while.

Re:So... (1)

biggaijin (126513) | more than 7 years ago | (#18074268)

I have read several articles in recent weeks about this controversy, and the New Scientist article is unique in that it references an independent replication of Taleyarkhan's results. None of the other articles have said anything about this.

Instead, they described the Purdue investigation as being constrained to some very specific procedural matters in the way a paper from his group was published last year without Taleyarkhan's name on it. In this, he was absolved of any wrongdoing.

But, I haven't heard of any independent verification that the "sonofusion" Taleyarkhan described actually works.

Re:So... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071108)

This wasn't "cold" fusion, it was fusion in microbubbles created through ultrasonic agitation of a fluid. These bubbles are very hot, but they're also extremely small.

Now, if it proves possible to get useful energy out of this apparatus, call your broker and buy all the puts on oil company stocks that you can.

-jcr

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18071972)

Its wouldn't occur to you if you consider the companies might protect their investments in illegal way.

Article is confusing! (0, Redundant)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070140)

This article is the most confusing thing I've read all day. All those techy words! :(

Re:Article is confusing! (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070262)

Are you being sarcastic or are you that illiterate? It just states that the supposed radioactivity was not caused by Californium. Subsequently they have to find another excuse to disregard his findings.

Re:Article is confusing! (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070644)

I'd suggest questioning the ability of anyone who works at LeTorneau (or however it's spelled) University to verify something as complex as fusion.

(I live near LU, and my very competent boss is an alumni. It's just not somewhere you'd expect such findings to come from)

Re:Article is confusing! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18071210)

How about you use your brain and question the process and evidence they've presented and not suggest discrediting them based solely on a useless metric such as what school they attend?

Re:Article is confusing! (4, Funny)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071280)

Because that takes effort, and this is Slashdot?

Re:Article is confusing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18071302)

That sounds like a metric whereby you'd shoot the sh*t over their sports team lineup, not attack a scientific finding.

Re:Article is confusing! (1)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071456)

I live near LU, and my very competent boss is an alumni.
So, it's safe to assume you're boss reads Slashdot?

Re:Article is confusing! (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071514)

Not that I'm aware of.

Hey, if you had a boss who knew what he was doing you'd brag about it, too.

Re:Article is confusing! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18071820)

Subsequently they have to find another excuse to disregard his findings.

I think the fact that almost no one can reproduce his work seems like a good enough excuse.

Re:Article is confusing! (2, Funny)

Adelbert (873575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070774)

Yeah!

Who could have imagined that you'd need a techy background to understand articles posted on Slashdot?

What's next? A puerile sense of humor on Fark.com? And interest in current affairs for the BBC?

missing info from TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070146)

How many transactions per second can this ANS thing handle?
And why doesn't it work in California?

I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (2)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070172)

Well, maybe in 20 years we'll have plenty of power for electric cars, but then in 20+ years, what will we do with all that bio-fuel?

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070450)

Convert them to a profession that isn't heavily supported by government intervention?

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070692)

Right, because private enterprise never funds pure science [wellcome.ac.uk] ...

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (1)

Dan Farina (711066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071970)

Sometimes, however, it is a lot faster to go through the government -- take the space program, for example, or the human genome project. Both were huge upfront investments with no obvious beneficial foreseeable outcome other than the invention of many technologies and seeding new types of research and technology. It is true that by the standards of modern techniques that both are quaint in their approaches, but the massive amounts of money being pumped into (what were at the time) new technologies and techniques surely helped a great deal.

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (3, Interesting)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070512)

Maybe they then can go back to their roots and produce food? Maybe a too obvious insight though...

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070826)

I suspect that racing will see a boon. Nothing quite like a 20,000 RPM ethanol engine screaming past you at 200 mph with no muffler. America needs to get their race on like the Europeans.

Still, bubble fusion isnt exactly new. About a decade ago a scientist at the lab I work for did the same thing with only ordinary water and sound waves. Nothing has come of it so far, so I suspect that this "new" technique is going to end up as vaporware too. It seems that all currently known lukewarm fusion methods suffer from never being able to break even.

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (1)

mstone (8523) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072210)

IIRC, this procedure creates bubbles much bigger, and thus much hotter, than any previous version.

There's no theoretical barrier that makes sonofusion impossible. It's just a very difficult engineering problem. The more we learn about making very small bubbles hotter, the closer we'll be to getting something that does pass the break-even point.

And just for the record, very-large-and-very-hot fusion hasn't passed the break-even point either, AFAIK.

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (2, Insightful)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072330)

feed it to the 12 billion poor people

Re:I guess this is bad news for corn farmers? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18073182)

We stockpile them for use when the next ice age comes.

We will need all greenhouse gases we can get.

Moo (2)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070174)

Cold Fusion Scientist Exonerated

Was that post-mortem?

Re:Moo (2, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070288)

It said that a solution was bombarded with neutrons and sonic waves, not that the scientist was.

Re:Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070406)

It said that a solution was bombarded with neutrons and sonic waves, not that the scientist was.

But, when the problem is cold fusion, isn't the solution a scientist?

Re:Moo (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071750)

when the problem is cold fusion, isn't the solution a scientist?


      No the solution is a large grant at regular intervals, for at least YOUR lifetime... But it will happen, I *promise*, and when it does, either we'll blow up the planet or have an inexhaustible supply of cheap energy, cats and dogs will be friends, women will want sex every day, and we'll be stinking rich!!! Yadda yadda yadda...

Re:Moo (3, Funny)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072524)

Women do want sex every day - just not with me.

Re:Moo (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070870)

No no... exonerated, not exhumed.

It's an easy mixup to make.

Re:Moo (5, Funny)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070930)

No no... exonerated, not exhumed.

Ah, and here i thought exxonerated mean having a bunch of oil spilled on you.

Re:Moo (2, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071136)

i thought exxonerated mean having a bunch of oil spilled on you.

Nah, that's when you get "Valdezed" or "Hazelwooded".

-jcr

Re:Moo (1)

BlindRobin (768267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18073474)

Then being exxxonerated indicates the use of baby oil and plastic sheets. Right ?

The Saint Exonerated? (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070180)

Mr. Kilmer will happy to hear this news.

Re:The Saint Exonerated? and Doc Brown (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071140)

And so will Miss Shue [imdb.com] , who discovered cold fusion for Mr. Kilmer after she was able to travel from 1985 to 2015 with Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Fox, thanks to Mr. Fusion.

Odd. (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070182)

Where's the cold fusion? The article sounds more like Sonofusion [wikipedia.org] . Which, I can assure you, is a long ways from "cold".

Re:Odd. (2, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070228)

So, maybe he's just stupid, not guilty of misconduct. Not sure, as a scientist, which I'd rather be labeled with.

Re:Odd. (5, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070464)

I can assure you that Taleyarkhan is *not* stupid. The problem is, his main (or at least one of the originals) detractor is Seth Putterman, who is also decidedly *not* stupid. This is one of the few issues I feel a little more familiarity with than most slashdot readers, and nothing in this case is as clear-cut as "he's obviously dumb or a liar".

Re:Odd. (3, Insightful)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070610)

The most preprominent problem with non-mainstream science and results is that it is a political minefield. Anything rieking esoteric in the scientific community is suppressed and/or ridiculed by the peers. This is a common problem. It is much easier to argue "it's bad science" than to disprove one's results if your own field of expertise is threatened in the slightest way.

Novel findings frequently take time to be accepted (1)

Scott7477 (785439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072976)

For example, take the work of Georg Cantor, creator of set theory. Per Wikipedia's entry on Cantor [wikipedia.org] ,

"Cantor established the importance of one-to-one correspondence between sets, defined infinite and well-ordered sets, and proved that the real numbers are "more numerous" than the natural numbers. In fact, Cantor's theorem implies the existence of an "infinity of infinities." He defined the cardinal and ordinal numbers, and their arithmetic. Cantor's work is of great philosophical interest, a fact of which he was well aware. Cantor's work encountered resistance from mathematical contemporaries such as Leopold Kronecker and Henri Poincaré, and later from Hermann Weyl and L.E.J. Brouwer. Ludwig Wittgenstein raised philosophical objections. His recurring bouts of depression from 1884 to the end of his life were once blamed on the hostile attitude of many of his contemporaries, but these bouts can now be seen as probable manifestations of a bipolar disorder. Today, the vast majority of mathematicians who are neither constructivists nor finitists accept Cantor's work on transfinite sets and arithmetic, recognizing it as a major paradigm shift. In the words of David Hilbert: "No one shall expel us from the Paradise that Cantor has created."

I added the bold highlights to the Wikipedia quote. In case you doubt Wikipedia, my copy of Van Nostrand Reinhold's Encyclopedia of Mathematics says substantially the same thing. Cantor's work is one of the primary foundations of modern computer science.

Re:Odd. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070484)

Honest mistakes should be more tolerated than intentional lying. I'd take stupidity, we're all stupid about something necessarily.

Missing Option (3, Insightful)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18073600)

Or maybe it's been dumbed down for/by the press.

Physicists often over-simplify or inappropriately categorize things when trying to explain their papers to reporters (note that most journalism programs don't include courses on nuclear physics). Even if the reporter knows the difference between genuine cold fusion and sonofusion (keeping in mind that "cold" can be used somewhat ambiguously in regards to fusion), they might not expect their readers to and dumb it down themselves.

Most likely of all is the stereotypical Professor Frink sitting in his lab babbling excitedly away about how it works while the reporter sits there and nods. When he says something like, "While individual Alpha particles are created with energies of N electron-volts, the system temperatures are on par with hypothetical cold fusion scenarios," guess which two words out such a statement will actually get written down in the reporter's notes.

Taleyarkhan didn't claim he had caused cold fusion. He claimed sonofusion.

For all readers getting excited about Mr. Fusion and nuclear jetpacks, I hate to inform you that Taleyarkan's experiments, assuming they genuinely did induce fusion, fell far, far short of unity.

Re:Odd. (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18074126)

At least he's giving it a go. Given the accusational history of this topic it's amazing anybody will publish anything on it. I give him big points.

Re:Odd. (3, Informative)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070268)

Your definition of cold fusion is fusion happing at relatively low temperatures I take it?

Well, the problem with that is that it most likely cannot exist, a certain amount of kinetic energy is required at the atomic level for fusion - meaning a lot of heat for the fusing atoms.

I think cold fusion in general means that the average temperature of the reaction chamber is low. If I read the wikipedia article right, the technique used generates small superheated bubbles, but doesn't necessarily superheat the solvent, this I think it can be classified as cold fusion.

Re:Odd. (2, Informative)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070438)

OK, this doesn't look like low energy input, even if it is room temperature, so it's probably not cold fusion as the OP posted.

Cold Fusion [wikipedia.org]

However such a thing may exist, and has been reproduced with difficulty, albeit on a small and commercially non-viable scale. It looks like it's hell on the components. And I suspect there are areas of high heat since it mentions parts melting.

Re:Odd. (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070542)

Your definition of cold fusion is fusion happing at relatively low temperatures I take it?

Well, the problem with that is that it most likely cannot exist, a certain amount of kinetic energy is required at the atomic level for fusion

It's easy to fuse hydrogen at room temperature, as long as you first replace the electrons in the atoms with muons. (Obtaining the muons is an exercise left to the reader.)

Re:Odd. (4, Funny)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070626)

cows?

Re:Odd. (1)

schon (31600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071062)

No, those would be moo-ons. Muons are something else.

Re:Odd. (2, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18073696)

They've been in short supply ever since the cow jumped over the moon, which radiates mo-ons. Meanwhile, experimentalists at the Tevatron are still offering a reward for information on The Dish, who is suspected to have absconded with their only spo-on.

Re:Odd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18071220)

cows?
No, cats.

Re:Odd. (1)

shma (863063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072546)

Why is this modded as funny? Muon-catalyzed fusion [wikipedia.org] has benn well understood for years.

Re:Odd. (5, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070696)

Your definition of cold fusion is fusion happing at relatively low temperatures I take it?

Cold fusion is fusion that takes place when the fusing nuclei are at temperatures significantly below those required to overcome the Coulomb barrier. It has nothing to do with the temperature of the laboratory that the experiment takes place in, or the temperature of the majority of the mass of the apparatus. For example, we do not call tokomak's "cold fusion" because despite the fact that they sometimes use superconducting magnets and therefore are not just "cold" but positively cryogenic, the nuclei that do the fusing are HOT.

Any other use of the term "cold fusion" is terribly mis-leading for two reasons. One is that it invokes a completely arbitrary and unphysical division between various kinds of hot fusion, calling some kinds of hot fusion "cold" because someone happens to feel that it is important that some part of the apparatus that is not undergoing a fusion reaction is cold. The second reason is that it fails to distinguish between pressure-driven fusion of the kind claimed by Pons and Fleishman, and temperature-driven fusion which has actually been observed.

People who use "cold fusion" when they mean "sonofusion" are either honestly ignorant of the differences between hot fusion and cold fusion, or are being wilfully dishonest.

Despite the fact that neither Pons and Fleishman nor anyone else has ever been able to provide convincing evidence that pressure-driven fusion occurs between room-temperature nuclei, it is still the case that if anyone could figure out how to exert sufficient pressure, then the atoms would fuse, regardless of the amount of kinetic energy (that is, even at low temperatures.)

So there is a real distinction in the physics of "hot" and "cold" fusion, and in terms of that unambiguous and physically interesting distinction, sonofusion, if it happens at all, is almost certainly hot. Although if the centre of the bubbles really is as hot as they seem, it is a mystery as to why we don't see any neutron production in water, but only in more complex organic molecules--the phenomenon remains mysterious and there is still a lot of work to be done to reveal its secrets.

Re:Odd. (1)

SilentOneNCW (943611) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071578)

What do you mean by Cryogenic?

Re:Odd. (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18074086)

Cryogenics has to do with how stuff behaves at low temperatures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryogenic [wikipedia.org]
I would venture a guess that he uses the term to describe that the coils used to create the magnetic containment-field are cooled until they become super conductive.

Re:Odd. (2, Informative)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070290)

The physicist in question didn't call it cold fusion, nor, I think, did anyone else besides the /. submitter.

Re:Odd. (3, Informative)

yoder (178161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070296)

This article seems to be a teaser. No real information available.

Re:Odd. (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071014)

In this article [sciencemag.org] , apparently even Mr. Taleyarkhan is frustrated by the secret panel that exonerated him. And this article [nature.com] says about the panel, "Purdue's finding is as mysterious as bubble fusion itself".

Re:Odd. (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071116)

Correction: It was Seth Putterman who tried to replicate Taleyarkhan's work who was "frustrated" (first article). In the second article, Mr. Taleyarkhan defends Purdue's process. Well, anyway, these two articles shed some light for me.

And this means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070222)

Interesting 2 paragraph article... but really.. this is a "so what?" post.. is it this slow of a news day?

Good News Everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070248)

The lead in this story should be that the "cold" fusion results were verified.

Let them be verified again!

"accusser" was once on his staff (5, Informative)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070274)

The person accusing Taleyarkhan of misinterpreting data was one of his own post-docs. I wonder what that person has to say now? I think it's easy to make allegations and its difficult to shake the effects of false allegations.

Re:"accusser" was once on his staff (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070304)

The person accusing Taleyarkhan of misinterpreting data was one of his own post-docs. I wonder what that person has to say now?

PLEASE DON'T FIRE ME!!!!

false accusations: quite rare actually. (3, Insightful)

DogFacedJo (949100) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071492)


    So - the question of 'reputation': 'Hard to shake' the reports of a former team-mate? This is primary research, and the results are bloody testable. Screw reputation. This is cricism is expected, required and to be commended. Taleyarkhan is surely not surprised that folks are jumping on every issue that they can find. If his sonofusion is replicated then he will be a hero.
In life in general: *every* accuser of corruption is attacked as a liar. This is not fun - folks don't do this normally unless they really saw something worrisome. The accusation invariably gets themselves investigated as well, and usually by folks sympathetic to the accused. It is *not* easy to make allegations, and folks with even a hair of power constantly bury any and all criticism. Seriously, whistleblowing is not fun - not in academia, not in industry, not in public service, not in religious institutions... nowhere.
    His research has been published and folks are replicating (and, of course, mostly failing to replicate) his results. Discussions of the results (and non-results) are ensuing. This is satisfactory science. He was mocked for leaving his name off of a couple of papers that were by *very* close colleagues, which is fair too.

Doesn't mean he's *right* (5, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070318)

First, the article title is VERY misleading. As others have pointed out, the question at hand is whether sonoluminescence can lead to fusion. In some peoples' minds, this is "cold" fusion, because the whole damned apparatus doesn't have to be a plasma. However, where the fusion is claimed to be taking place (in the middle of tremendously cavitating bubbles) *IS* in a plasma state (at least for part of an acoustic cycle). Thus, this might be better termed "locally hot" fusion or something. Or just "sonofusion", which everyone in the field seems to understand.

    Second, the New Scientist blurb is interesting in that Rusi seems to have been cleared of scientific fraud. The question, if I remember correctly, was whether the neutrons he was seeing were due to poor experimental techniques, contamination (accidental or purposeful), or simply weren't there in the first place. This blurb SEEMS to clear him of accusations of purposeful contamination and just making up the existence of neutrons. However, it doesn't mean that they were really there, and certainly not that he's really found thermal neutrons from fusion in his experiments. THAT will take a whole lot more "confirmation".

      (IAAP, but haven't been following this conflict closely. The last I paid attention was at the ASA meeting last December in Hawai'i. So I'm sure someone will correct my--- inadvertent---mistakes. This is, after all, Slashdot.)

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070598)

Or just "sonofusion", which everyone in the field seems to understand.

So, "Son of Fusion", is that like "Mr. Fusion's" son? I for one welcome our banana peel and beer guzzling overlords.

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (4, Informative)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070628)

IAAPC and yeah I think the controversy was actually about whether the associated gamma rays, and not just the high energy neutrons, were from the deuterated acetone and not some other source sitting around the lab that was radioactive.

Taleyarkhan, R.P., Cho, J.S. et.al. Physical Review E. vol 69 pg 36109-1. The title is: 'Additional Evidence of Nuclear Emissions During Acoustic Cavitation.'

See also this blurb [aip.org]

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070662)

Some context:
  • The slashdot editors have always loved posting credulous articles about cold fusion.
  • The original cold fusion experiments by Pons and Fleischman (using electrochemistry) didn't have any detectors in place to detect neutrons. In fact, if the experiment had been producing the level of power they were claiming, they'd have been dead from the neutrons.
  • In the '90's, Gai et al. at Yale redid the Pons and Fleischman experiments with an array of neutron detectors, and found no excess neutrons.
  • There are really only two ways of interpreting the electrochemistry experiments at this point: (1) they didn't produce fusion; or (2) there are huge, fundamental mistakes in our understanding of the hydrogen atom (e.g., there's another state whose energy is lower than the normal ground state's).

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071462)

Making no claim to an understanding of the result, I would just point out that they were working with deuterium, a nuclear boson rather than hydrogen, a fermion. In fact, hydrogen was used as a control. Theoretical work that I know of concentrates on direct to helium fusion without any neutron production. The ideas that I am aware of, expressed by Scott Chubb, center on coherent boosting of a low branching ratio D-D->He4 reaction.

With the bubble fusion, the idea is that it is conventional hot fusion on a small scale so D+D->He3+n would be more conventionally represented and neutrons would be expected.

Both ideas are pretty facinating and with the claimed replication of bubble fusion, perhaps the numerous claimed replications of cold fusion http://www.lenr-canr.org/ [lenr-canr.org] , will receive closer attention.
--
D fusion hot, D fusion cold, H fusion in the pot eight minutes old: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (4, Interesting)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072384)

You are repeating urban legends:

  • The original cold fusion experiments by Pons and Fleischman (using electrochemistry) didn't have any detectors in place to detect neutrons. In fact, if the experiment had been producing the level of power they were claiming, they'd have been dead from the neutrons


You don't die from a few hundret neutrons ... and also not all fusion reactions create neutrons.

There are really only two ways of interpreting the electrochemistry experiments at this point: (1) they didn't produce fusion; or (2) there are huge, fundamental mistakes in our understanding of the hydrogen atom (e.g., there's another state whose energy is lower than the normal ground state's).

Regarding (2): I don't think our understanding is fundamentally wrong. However I believe there are options no one really payed attention to. After all our first ideas about fusion comes from watching the sun. Our first attempt on fusion likely was the H-Bomb. Both are pretty hot fusion processes. They both are explainable with fusion reaction formulas, so we gain confidence that our formulas and our understanding of fusion and fission processes are viable. OTOH in such a fusion experiment we could imagine that 3 or 4 protons fuse etc.

Well, 40 years ago "high temperature" super conduction was physically impossible. If a scientist had claimed super conduction does exist on high temperatures as well, his colleagues had declared him mad. I think that fusion processes in analogous ways like super conduction might be possible, or in other words that the underlying principles might be similar.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (4, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18073510)

... and also not all fusion reactions create neutrons.

This is not quite correct, especially in the context of fusion in the solid state.

It is true that considered in complete isolation from everything else, the reaction d + d -> 4He is neutron free. But considered in complete isolation from everything else a great many things are true. For example, it is true that considered in complete isolation from everything else, you can drive your car the wrong way down a one-way street and not suffer any collisions. But I doubt that would stand up in court as a justification for claiming that driving your car the wrong way down a one-way street is perfectly safe.

In the case of fusion, for d + d -> 4He to occur, d + d -> 3He + n must also occur. And when d + d -> 4He occurs, the alpha particle carries off about 23 MeV, if memory serves. This is quite far above the neutron binding energy of most nuclei, which means that nuclear collisions as the alpha particle slows down can knock neutrons free. And such collisions produce a lot of gamma rays, too.

Believers in cold fusion are required to make up phenomena that might suppress these and other neutron and gamma production processes. Unfortunately, those phenomena always contradict what we know about solid state and nuclear physics. And by "know" I don't mean just "what we have a good theoretical understanding of" but also "what we are empirically certain of."

Finally, I'd like to point out a trivial falsehood in your post:

Well, 40 years ago "high temperature" super conduction was physically impossible. If a scientist had claimed super conduction does exist on high temperatures as well, his colleagues had declared him mad.

On the contrary, when a scientist actually did claim that super conduction exists at high temperatures his colleagues first reproduced the results and then gave him a Nobel Prize. That's what scientists do when people find the unexpected--try to reproduce the results, and if they do, reward the discoverer. No matter how astonishing and unexpected the results are. It is only when people make improbable claims with insufficient evidence that the question of their sanity is raised.

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (4, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070758)

This blurb SEEMS to clear him of accusations of purposeful contamination and just making up the existence of neutrons.

A New York Times article [nytimes.com] with more detail suggests they didn't even clear him of that, just of passing off his own work as independent replication. It sounds like no one's interests have been especially well-served here.

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071754)

A New York Times article [nytimes.com] with more detail suggests they didn't even clear him of that, just of passing off his own work as independent replication.

And strangely enough, the NY Times article seems to ignore the November independent replication of the experiment mentioned in the New Scientist article. It sounds to me like NOBODY has the full story, and therefore both sources of information are rather suspect.

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (1)

scardina (813194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070814)

How is the article misleading? 1) It says "table top fusion" not "cold fusion" (although by your definition I wonder if any fusion could be cold fusion). 2) The report says that reports that the research was bogus "may have been premature".

Re:Doesn't mean he's *right* (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071284)

The impression that I got was that the original cold fusion wasn't repeatable anywhere and the original pair that made the claims wouldn't let anyone else touch the apparatus that they had used. Any further inquiry was basically evaded and really looked very suspicious in their behavior, and it was time to just move on.

The Saint II (2, Funny)

molecularaz (1066042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070432)

Quick Lets get Val Kilmer to reprise his role as "The Saint". In " The Saint II: Electric Bugaloo- The real cold fusion"

I'm NOT mad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18070560)

I knew there was an electric bugaloo film! So it wasn't some fiction of my imagination. Did some fella dance with a broom and break his neck.

Re:The Saint II (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18073054)

More like his role in "Real Genius" I think.

verification of his results by another scientist (1)

juan2074 (312848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070478)

Of course I didn't read the article. Who does?

Shouldn't his results be verified by more than one other scientist?
How about at least five other scientists test his methods?

What went on behind the closed doors? (5, Informative)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070564)

Apparently, Purdue refused to state what the exact allegations investigated were, how many inquiries it conducted, or what its conclusions were based on. Hard to tell if the investigation's conclusions were arrived at fairly or were politically motivated. More details in this NYT article [nytimes.com] which I found from this blog entry [scienceblogs.com] .

Anything in it though (1)

Philomathie (937829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070764)

His vindication is all well and good, but does it mean that their may still be some merit in pursueing his research further, now that it has been established that it wasn't fake?

Pressure and Heat (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070920)

Most people seem to think that hydrogen atoms can only get together under extreme pressures and heat. The ones that disagree seem to think that some tricky apparatus is required to get two hydrogen atoms to unite. I want to know: has anybody tried just asking them if they wouldn't mind merging their nuclei? It might just work.

Good thing it's not that easy! (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071016)

... has anybody tried just asking them if they wouldn't mind merging their nuclei? It might just work.

Gosh, I hope not.

Just think what would happen if the hydrogen in the ocean water overheard and even a small percentage of them decided to go along...

Re:Pressure and Heat (1)

saethone (1032546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071084)

"Mr Hydrogen, I'd like you to meet Ms. Hydrogen". That should do it :).

With some work, ergs in out (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18070992)

Capturing and making the energy useful will be tricky, launching a whole new school of (hopefully) lightweight (and safe) efficient power units. Imagine using the thumpa-thumpa woofers in your trunk to scoot your car down the street.

Good (2, Funny)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18071246)

he ought to publicise the names and email addresses of his accusers.

But the consensus says. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18071636)

But the consensus says they were wrong. It has already been reviewed and talked about. Why are we allowing further discusion about it?

This is a responce I read from another post on evolution or was it Global warming. I just want to take the Time to say, "This is why!" The process let us look at it and come to adifferent conclusion and this should be used as often as possible.

If this had been treated like other topics, no one would have taken the trouble to see if it works or not. They would have just asumed the consensus was always right.

gPnaa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18071746)

WouUlD mar BSD's

What about electric fusion!?! Proton 21 (3, Informative)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072102)

http://www.proton21.com.ua/index_en.html [proton21.com.ua]

The first successful experiment was performed on February 24, 2000 in a specially created and proprietary set up. In fact, the 5,000+ successful experiments in controlled nuclei-synthesis performed since 1999, using various targets made of light, medium, or heavy elements; have allowed the research team at EDL to comprehend and evaluate this unique scientific breakthrough.
The discovered process has been noted for its practical, environmentally friendly and extraordinary energy efficient attributes.

Two major outcomes have emerged from this process:

        * First, the creation of an energy output far exceeding the initial impact.
        * Second, the creation of an array of unique nuclei-synthesis elements. These new elements were tested by leading scientific laboratories in Ukraine, Russia, USA, etc, and their artificial origin was confirmed.

Re:What about electric fusion!?! Proton 21 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18073878)

And then there is this line of research, which Dr. Bussard is trying to pursue [blogspot.com] .

The first break even was achieved back in 1959!

I knew it was real (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072272)

Most scientists are snobs. They are just shrouded in politics and beliefs. There are a whole slew of topics that if you even mention you want to just consider the possibility of they want to revoke any credibility you may have and label you gypsy. Cold fusion is one of those topics. Fusion is nothing all that magical. It happens all around us. It's the black box that produces the same amount of energy as a traditional coal plant through fusion that is so dubious.

Myself I'm a big fan of the idea that the earth generates some of it's internal heat from cold fusion.

Let me get this straight (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072706)

So you conduct some experiments and report the results and what you believe to be the reason behind the results. Normally, if you are wrong, someone else writes a paper and points out holes in your reasoning or flaws in your experiment, etc. So then you, a little wiser, go back and try again etc.

But, if you should have the temerity to publish something that goes against the scientific orthodoxy, then instead of refuting you they investigate you as a fraud and a charlatan. Hmmm...it's a good thing he didn't publish something that disputes any aspect of global warming...excuse me...climate change.

Finally... (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#18072958)

It's an encouraging first step.

Now all we need is for the pseudo-empiricist bigots to stop posthumously calling Stanley Meyer a charlatan as well, especially considering that he was poisoned in order to get him to stop engaging in his research.

There are a lot of things going on at the moment, research wise, which are outside the orthodoxy...and that doesn't mean they're not possible.

One of Einstein's most redeeming characteristics was his degree of humility. There are a lot of scientists who would do well to follow his example in that regard, and to acknowledge that there is still so much that they do not know.

Highly persuasive evidence FOR 'real' cold fusion (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18073680)

On a slightly off-topic note, for those who have not been following the details in the cold fusion field, some very persuasive evidence has emerged FOR the original cold fusion experiments (the Pons-Fleischmann style cold fusion using Palladium and Deuterium). The evidence was presented by researchers at the US Navy's SPAWAR labs late in 2006. The reserchers are highly experienced scientists who have taken their time and performed the experiments thoroughly. A description of the evidence is at http://www.newenergytimes.com/news/2006/NET19.htm# ee [newenergytimes.com] .

Some of the biggest problems in cold fusion experiments has been long incubation periods, perhaps weeks/months, difficulty in calorimetry experiments for determining if heat was being generated, and replication.

Two techniques have been detailed by SPAWAR. The first is the using chemical co-deposition methods to combine Palladium and Deuterium, allowing a solid Palladium structure to form with Deuterium already 'mixed' in with it. Previously, weeks were often needed to allow absorption of Deuterium into the Palladium. Using the co-deposition technique, cold fusion effects become apparent within minutes, such as anomalous amounts of tritium, low-intensity x-ray radiation, and increased heat. This happens on a highly repeatable basis.

The second, highly outstanding experimental result is the use of nuclear industry standard CR-39 nuclear track detectors, which look like small pieces of plastic and are permently etched with tiny impact craters whenever a high energy nuclear particle hits them. Chemical reactions cannot produce the craters or tracks. The experiment involved placing a CR-39 track detector physically next to the Palladium-Deuterium electrode.

What resulted was the detection of some of the highest density counts ever seen on the detectors of high energy nuclear particles. Independent nuclear experts who have examined the CR-39 detectors recognized the signature tracks of protons and alpha particles, which, to be ejected from the atoms where they reside, require millions of volts - at least 1,000,000 times more energy than can be produced by any known chemical reaction. As a control experiment, exposed CR-39 detectors in a lithium solution without palladium in it resulted in only a sprinkling of tracks, randomly distributed and so few in number that they could be accounted for by background radiation.

The only surrounding energy sources were a few volts from the current applied through electrolysis; the second is an applied external electric field of about 6,000 volts. The particle tracks look identical to tracks made by nuclear particles that have at least 2 million electron-volts.

The really nice thing is is that you can almost see the tracks with your naked eye. Take the detectors elsewhere, to conferences etc, show others later; the tracks are permently etched evidence of nuclear reactions occuring in a Palladium-Deuterium benchtop setup.

The evidence here for Pons-Fleischmann cold fusion is now getting to the point where the scientific community has to seriously consider that Pons-Fleischmann cold fusion DOES exist under the right conditions, whether people want to accept it or not. Hard to replicate is not the same as impossible to replicate.

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