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30+ Years since Cold Fusion Fiasco


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Seems like it was yesterday. Promise of jobs for physicists, a new era of almost limitless energy, and what not.

The goose that laid the golden eggs died without a bang, and after months-long whimpers. And the world never recovered from it. Or did it? We lost a lot of our former innocence anyway. I did.

Very interesting Nature article on it:

Lessons from cold fusion, 30 years on

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01673-x

Reflections welcome.

Sorry that the topic is a bit old. It's not the anniversary that I'm interested in.

Edited by joigus
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  • joigus changed the title to 30+ Years since Cold Fusion Fiasco

Question for researchers.
Do you jump to conclusions, and possibly ruin your reputation ?
Or do you wait for independent confirmation, get 'scooped', and never get a reputation ?

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1 hour ago, MigL said:

Question for researchers.
Do you jump to conclusions, and possibly ruin your reputation ?
Or do you wait for independent confirmation, get 'scooped', and never get a reputation ?

Now, that's a very good question. And the kind of discussion that I wanted to entice here.

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3 hours ago, joigus said:

Seems like it was yesterday. Promise of jobs for physicists, a new era of almost limitless energy, and what not.

The goose that laid the golden eggs died without a bang, and after months-long whimpers. And the world never recovered from it. Or did it? We lost a lot of our former innocence anyway. I did.

Very interesting Nature article on it:

Lessons from cold fusion, 30 years on

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01673-x

Reflections welcome.

Sorry that the topic is a bit old. It's not the anniversary that I'm interested in.

What the article does not touch on is that cold fusion has spawned a "zombie science" that continues to this day.

If you google LENR (for low energy nuclear reaction), you will get pages of references to groups, self-published papers and even conferences that continue to tend the flame of Fleischmann and Pons, in the hope of limitless cheap energy. It seems impossible to kill this off - and I suppose we should not worry too much. Time will eventually do that if, as seems certain, there is nothing in the idea. But I find myself wondering if it was always like this with dead ends in science, or whether the internet somehow artificially prolongs the life of dud ideas nowadays.

P.S. I enjoyed the mixed metaphor about the exploding or, rather, not exploding, goose. 😊

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Cheap energy is a strong enticement.
you still see stuff on the internet about the auto engine carburator that runs on water.
And people still claim it was hushed up by Big Oil.

Even Physics has its conspiracy theorists.

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11 hours ago, exchemist said:

What the article does not touch on is that cold fusion has spawned a "zombie science" that continues to this day.

If you google LENR (for low energy nuclear reaction), you will get pages of references to groups, self-published papers and even conferences that continue to tend the flame of Fleischmann and Pons, in the hope of limitless cheap energy. It seems impossible to kill this off - and I suppose we should not worry too much. Time will eventually do that if, as seems certain, there is nothing in the idea. But I find myself wondering if it was always like this with dead ends in science, or whether the internet somehow artificially prolongs the life of dud ideas nowadays.

P.S. I enjoyed the mixed metaphor about the exploding or, rather, not exploding, goose. 😊

Very interesting googling suggestion! I wasn't aware of this "extra dimension." The dream of cheap energy is too attractive, and it's bound to die hard. But I also agree with you that the internet plays an important part in keeping the dream alive --zombie-like.

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16 hours ago, MigL said:

Question for researchers.
Do you jump to conclusions, and possibly ruin your reputation ?
Or do you wait for independent confirmation, get 'scooped', and never get a reputation ?

If you jump in and recreate the experiment, like a few dozen labs did, you either confirm or refute the experiment, and your reputation isn't really on the line. I don't think anyone remembers any names other than Pons and Fleischmann.

Similar with theory. There were people who leapt in with theoretical explanations of superluminal neutrinos (which may be a good example to contrast with cold fusion). Did they suffer any harm to their reputation? Probably not, because they didn't go public with their results, they went through the proper channels. I think perhaps being wrong isn't punished much as long as you do that.

13 hours ago, MigL said:

Even Physics has its conspiracy theorists.

Or, conspiracy theorists even try and exploit physics. I don't think it's physics, per se, that owns the conspiracy; it's a rejection of mainstream physics that's involved. Perpetual motion has been around for a long time. Physics wants no part of it.

13 hours ago, exchemist said:

What the article does not touch on is that cold fusion has spawned a "zombie science" that continues to this day.

As with my comment above, I think it didn't spawn this as much as gave it a new outlet to express itself. Like some other perpetual motion gambits, it's something an isolated crackpot can work on without being outrageously expensive.

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4 hours ago, swansont said:

If you jump in and recreate the experiment, like a few dozen labs did, you either confirm or refute the experiment, and your reputation isn't really on the line. I don't think anyone remembers any names other than Pons and Fleischmann.

Similar with theory. There were people who leapt in with theoretical explanations of superluminal neutrinos (which may be a good example to contrast with cold fusion). Did they suffer any harm to their reputation? Probably not, because they didn't go public with their results, they went through the proper channels. I think perhaps being wrong isn't punished much as long as you do that.

Or, conspiracy theorists even try and exploit physics. I don't think it's physics, per se, that owns the conspiracy; it's a rejection of mainstream physics that's involved. Perpetual motion has been around for a long time. Physics wants no part of it.

As with my comment above, I think it didn't spawn this as much as gave it a new outlet to express itself. Like some other perpetual motion gambits, it's something an isolated crackpot can work on without being outrageously expensive.

Something in that. I recall reading an article about the psychology of conspiracy theorists which said it was a general mindset rather than a fixation on one topic. Believers in one thus tend to go in for many.

It may the same with cold fusion: people who just want conventional science to be wrong, for reasons of their own, or who want there to be an easy source of energy - and they latch onto cold fusion. But it seems to be quite a little cottage industry, with groups all over the place, conferences, and even this "E-CAT" bloke Andrea Rossi (who I think may have actually done time for fraud) who has claimed for years to have a machine that exploits "LENR", and somehow dodges ever having to pony up and show the world it works.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Rossi_(entrepreneur)

 

 

 

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