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20 Years After Cold Fusion Debut, Another Team Claims Success 373

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

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  • Bad headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhxBlue (562201) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:23PM (#27302365) Homepage Journal

    Twenty Years After Cold Fusion Debacle, Another Team Announces Success

    There, fixed that for ya.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:26PM (#27302395)

    It's better than string theory.

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:51PM (#27303533)

      One is testable, the other not.
       

      • by Anonymous Coward

        http://www.physorg.com/news10682.html

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:26PM (#27302399) Homepage
    As long as I can use this new cold fusion device to power my perpetual motion machine, I'm good.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

    • Agreed, TANSTAAFL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:33PM (#27302471) Journal

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

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

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

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

      • by VagaStorm (691999) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:40PM (#27302561) Homepage
        Cold fusion == Holy grail == $$$. The question is if its them or the media that's calling it cold fusion...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          The question is if its them or the media that's calling it cold fusion...

          I can't find their original presentation or press release anywhere online - but one of the authors of this paper previously authored on with Fleischmann and they explicitly link their work to the cold fusion work of Pons & Fleischmann... So it's not hard to make the inference.

      • by FesterDaFelcher (651853) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:50PM (#27302703)

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

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

    • by gnick (1211984)

      ...power my perpetual motion machine...

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

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by frieko (855745)
        A perpetual motion machine can have a power source as long as it's a perpetual power source ;)
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:33PM (#27302467)

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

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:34PM (#27302489)

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

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

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

    • by TheHawke (237817)

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

      Or in this case, rediscovery.

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

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by blueg3 (192743)

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

      Nearly all of these "cold fusion" projects are easy enough to write off as nonsense on objective scientific grounds. Nobody has suggested a mechanism for action that has any reasonable physical basi

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:58PM (#27302821) Homepage

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

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

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

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, they are basing their conclusion that cold fusion can not work based upon currently understood theory. Its always tough for new, unpredicted results to be accepted when they don't fit in with accepted theory. That's a good thing. The more fantastical the results differ from the accepted theory, the more proof their must be. And some one at some point will have to make an amendment to the theory, if this holds up. No one really wants to go down that path unless its absolutely certain that it is an unex
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)

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

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

      Scie

    • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:11PM (#27302979) Homepage

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

      Most cold fusion press releases sound like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      First, that may be the case but the fact remains that all claims, whether it be that cold fusion exists or anything else requires evidence to be taken seriously. Second, to the best of our knowledge, the physics simply isn't supportive of such a phenomenon under these conditions. That doesn't mean that it couldn't happen but it would require conditions not known to exis

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076)

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

      Historically, sometimes people in the field tend to have bias towards terminology especially if was related to pseudo science.

      On the topic of nuclear transmustation [wikipedia.org].

      It was first consciously applied to modern physics by Frederick Soddy when he, along with Ernest Rutherford, discovered that radioactive thorium was converti

  • Huzzah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:35PM (#27302503)
    Just when we thought that Orbo's outstanding success wouldn't be topped this century!
  • Odd (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:36PM (#27302515)

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

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

    • Re:Odd (Score:5, Informative)

      by celticryan (887773) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:50PM (#27302705)
      CR-39 is a very common detection method. It is by no means unusual. The article does make it seem that way, but that is not the case. It is just a passive detector and is fairly cheap. The plastic is typically etched after exposure and analysis is usually automated with some software that "reads" the tracks.
    • Re:Odd (Score:5, Informative)

      by momerath2003 (606823) * on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:54PM (#27302755) Journal

      According to the journal article:

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

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

  • by cybrpnk2 (579066) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:36PM (#27302521) Homepage
    Peter Hagelstein [mit.edu] has an interesting background in hi-visibility technology. In the 1980s he was at the heart of trying to create an X-ray laser [google.com] pumped by nukes that was to be a key component of the original Reagan Star Wars missile shield. See the writeup in the book Star Warriors [amazon.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PCM2 (4486)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:37PM (#27302529)

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

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

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

    • by Yetihehe (971185) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:00PM (#27302845)

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

      So it's more like alchemy than science.

      • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:30PM (#27303285)

        Not necessarily. Back in the day people had no idea how beer was made (and it wasn't always directly repeatable) but somehow the fermenting process started and beer was formed. Only later did scientists realize it was free flying yeast that got into the vats of mash that were out in the open.

        I'm not saying this new CF is real, but looking for the yeast is how discoveries are made.

      • by AJWM (19027) on Monday March 23, 2009 @05:37PM (#27304145) Homepage

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

        So it's more like alchemy than science.

        It just means we don't understand all the factors involved in repeating it. Semiconductor-based electronics have been around almost as long as vacuum tubes, but back in the pre-forties they didn't have a good grasp of, say, what made one galena crystal or copper-oxide rectifier work and another not. It took a while before the technology was up to making pure enough germanium or silicon to produce reliable components (and even now, there's something of an art to getting a fab up and running).

        It may be that cold fusion effects are dependent on the microcrystalline structure of the e.g. palladium, but without knowing exactly how to reproduce that (or what exactly to reproduce), lab results will differ from one lab to another. It's not at all uncommon for a lab attempting to "duplicate" a result to actually follow some different steps, depending on what equipment and materials they have handy, especially if nobody quite realizes yet how critical some of those steps might be.

  • by Wellington Grey (942717) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:38PM (#27302543) Homepage Journal
    New Scientist is reporting that twenty years to the day since the initial announcement of a cold fusion discovery another Utah-based team is trying again

    Sorry, but anyone can try to achieve cold fusion, just as you can try to build a perpetual motion machine. Call me when you've actually achieved something.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

      This may seem harsh, but:

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

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

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

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:41PM (#27302593) Journal
    There are lots of examples of people building tabletop fusors, but they all have one thing in common; they produce less energy than they consume. Cold fusion isn't the interesting bit, energy-positive fusion is.
    • by blincoln (592401)

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

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

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:13PM (#27303017) Journal

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

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

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

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

      Unlike nitroglycerine, nuclear fission bombs didn't start with a lab explosion. Simalarly, nuclear fission power plants didn't start with a

  • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:42PM (#27302605)

    Now Pamela Mosier-Boss and colleagues...

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

    QED.

  • by jopet (538074) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:47PM (#27302661) Journal

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

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

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      A few people have repeated variants of the original cold fusion experiments recently, and found results that didn't quite fit the models. They may well not be the cold fusion - or any kind of fusion - but any time a repeatable experiment contradicts established theory is interesting science.
  • They said that the rough surface of the palladium on the electrode focuses the energy into small pits, where it can be transferred to a single electron. The high-energy electron can then shoot into the nucleus of a nearby deuterium atom and combine with a proton to release a neutron and a neutrino (European Physical Journal C, DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s2006-02479-8).

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

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

  • Stupid Crazies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:53PM (#27302751)
    I remember a real idiot 20 years ago -- Jeremy Rifkin, if my memory hasn't failed me completely -- claiming that Cold Fusion would be the very worst thing possible. How would cheap clean abundant energy be the worst thing possible? Because it would allow for further population increases.

    I expect nothing less this time around if there's even a glimmer of a spark of something like that happening here again.
  • A lot of kooky stuff seems to come out of Utah, it might be worth looking at environmental causes.

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

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

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

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

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:14PM (#27303025)

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

  • by landtuna (18187) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:16PM (#27303071)

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

  • by butlerm (3112) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:19PM (#27303117)

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

  • Cold fusion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BudAaron (1231468) <bud&dotnetchecks,com> on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:27PM (#27303231)
    I spent the better part of a 17 year Navy career testing and working with atomic weapons and follow on technology. In 1941 the notion of an atomic bomb was science fiction. It took a war to make the thing work. I can't to this day discuss many of the things I know but when I left the service in 1963 I was inspecting little light 1 kiloton tank killers and rumors had an atomic rifle grenade... Lord only knows how far things have come in 40 plus years. My experience has been that is you can envision something it has a basis in fact. Can you even imagine how devastating cold fusion would be to the oil industry? I wouldn't be a bit surprised to discover that cold fusion is already a reality. It - like many other related things - never see the light of day for many reasons. Developing Fat Man and Little Boy took a war. So folks - don't write it off as a pipe dream/
    • Re:Cold fusion (Score:5, Informative)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Monday March 23, 2009 @05:37PM (#27304149) Homepage

      I spent the better part of a 17 year Navy career testing and working with atomic weapons and follow on technology. In 1941 the notion of an atomic bomb was science fiction. It took a war to make the thing work.

      It may have been science fiction to the general public (which includes all non physicists), but it did in fact have a sound theoretical basis. (Unlike cold fusion.) It didn't take a war to make them work, it took a war to spur their engineering development. They would have worked regardless.
       
       

      I can't to this day discuss many of the things I know but when I left the service in 1963 I was inspecting little light 1 kiloton tank killers and rumors had an atomic rifle grenade...

      You weren't inspecting any such things because they never existed. Nor can there be such a thing as an atomic rifle grenade - as the minimum mass for a practical fission explosion far exceeds what a rifle can project.
       
       

      Lord only knows how far things have come in 40 plus years.

      Not as far as you fantasize they were 45 years ago. (You don't seem to have kept up with the field, at lot has been declassified since 1963.) I invite you to check out Carey Sublette's excellent Nuclear Weapons FAQ [nuclearweaponarchive.org] and then join us on the Usenet group alt.war.nuclear for further discussion.
       
       

      My experience has been that is you can envision something it has a basis in fact.

      I can envision plaid polka dotted elephants - but their only basis in fact is the consumption of psychoactive chemicals.
       
       

      Can you even imagine how devastating cold fusion would be to the oil industry? I wouldn't be a bit surprised to discover that cold fusion is already a reality. It - like many other related things - never see the light of day for many reasons.

      Yeah, when all else fails - invoke a conspiracy theory. It relieves you of dealing with the really hard questions... Like the lack of a theoretical basis for cold fusion. Like the fact that despite twenty years of trying, the experiments cannot be replicated on a reliable basis. It's all Big Oil and their evil minions.

  • Yep still good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by w0mprat (1317953) on Monday March 23, 2009 @05:01PM (#27303657)
    Even if the answer they get from their experiments is 'NO' it's still useful science. Any investigation at the edges of our understanding is automaticly worthwhile. The lay-person does not get this.
  • I've seen a whole bunch of ignorance here with /. readers about what Cold Fusion actually can bring.

    Yeah, I suppose if the fundamental mechanism is discovered and perfected, it could used for some semi-useful devices. I guess the best example to compare this to is super-conduction that happens in materials at very cold temperatures. Even "high temperature super-conductors" are pretty damn cold for most practical application like a superconducting CPU in a home PC. Don't expect to see one soon.

    This is an interesting physical science phenomena and certainly deserves scientific research. Something is happening with cold fusion, and it certainly is producing some of the by-products (including neutron emission) of nuclear fusion.

    The oil companies have nothing to fear either, as just with the example of super-conductors (especially when they were first discovered), this doesn't produce quantities of energy large enough to be useful for practical energy production. If you want a "Mr. Fusion" device, it is likely to be more along the lines of an Internal Electrostatic Confinement (IEC... aka the "Farnsworth-Hurch Fusor" [wikipedia.org]) or the Polywell [wikipedia.org] approaches.

    The only practical application that I've heard that would be useful to operate a cold fusion reactor for is to have a neutron source that you can turn on and off with a standard household light switch. There certainly are some people interested in something like that, but the market is pretty small and already filled by commercial IEC devices anyway. This will very likely never amount to anything other than a whole bunch of scientific papers and an interesting Wikipedia article. That is even assuming it is "proven" to be a scientifically valid phenomena.

  • Better idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Monday March 23, 2009 @07:51PM (#27305759) Journal
    I'd like to propose a new term for all these "crackpot" science projects going on that don't make any sense at all. We need to collectively refer to them all as Sy Fy . After all, in a realistic definition of the word, some people are calling it "science", but it's really "fiction", just not very good fiction, so we have to really call it, "scyence fyction",... ;-)

    Along with cold fusion, we can throw intelligent design in there as well,... ;-)

    Plus, look at the bright side: If enough Slashdotters catch on to this, it'll dilute the term "Sy Fy" enough and ruin the trademark that the network is seeking,... ;-)

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