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Cold Fusion Scientist Exonerated 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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Cold Fusion Scientist Exonerated

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  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:02PM (#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:Odd. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BSAtHome ( 455370 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:20PM (#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.
  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by senatorpjt ( 709879 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:53PM (#18071102)
    The article says yes. Of course, low temperature fusion is already old hat anyway (Farnsworth Fusor [].) The article doesn't say whether the reaction produces more energy than it consumes, which is what would make it interesting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:02PM (#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?
  • by DogFacedJo ( 949100 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:24PM (#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.
  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:12PM (#18072330) Journal
    feed it to the 12 billion poor people
  • Missing Option (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:22PM (#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.
  • Perhaps... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by posterlogo ( 943853 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:45PM (#18074834)
    Perhaps he has been "vindicated", but I'm not at all sure that the results are valid. Just because he was cleared of misconduct by the investigative board, that does not mean there isn't still some caveat to his experiments that muddles a clear interpretation of the results. What is more promising, however, is the fact that another colleague managed to get similar results. The conditions are just too difficult to recreate however (and there was some debate as to whether Taleyarkhan actually helped the colleague out significantly, so as to make the second run not really an "independent" experiment), so until more truly independent labs can reproduce the results, I'll still be taking this with a grain of salt.
  • by Cassini2 ( 956052 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @10:20PM (#18076424)
    This is my list of 10 key discoveries that were initially rejected by scientific peers, or at least not easily accepted:

    1. Theory of Relativity wasn't well received at the time. In fact, Einstein didn't actually get a Nobel Prize for it. Instead, he received the prize for other work he did dealing with quanta. es/1921/press.html []

    2. Quantum Mechanics - Even Einstein didn't particularly like Quantum Mechanics and the search for the unified model. It was the home of the quote "God doesn't play dice with the universe."

    3. Darwin's Theory of Evolution - This was hotly debated at the time, and still is. On-going debates in school boards still occur.

    4. String Theory - Hotly contested, mostly because no one can show if it is actually correct.

    5. Newtonian Calculus - The notation sucked. Most of the calculus done today uses Leibniz's or Euler's notation, however all of Euler's, Newton's, Lagrange's and Leibniz's notations are still in use.

    6. Periodic Table - This was a key chemical discovery, and initially not accepted. It was a big change to the understanding at the time.

    7. Freud - The father of psychoanalysis. Many of his notions were not widely accepted, correctly perhaps. Nevertheless, he founded psychiatry.

    8. Armstrong and the FM Radio. He also designed the double-heterodyne tuner, which is the primary tuner type in use today. He died poor after leading a controversial life, and butting heads with Sarnoff at RCA.

    9. AC Power - Edison was firmly behind DC power. AC power can be sent long distances efficiently by using a transformer. DC power cannot. AC power is in use in almost all homes throughout the world, and Edison lost this technology debate.

    10. Transatlantic Radio - At first, it was not at all decided if transatlantic radio was technically feasible, and even then if it was commercially feasible. Times have changed.

    It turns out that most scientific discoveries are highly controversial initially. This controversy is a sign that they are new ground-breaking research.
  • Re:So... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:25PM (#18083434)
    I still find it funny that a scientist can be completely trashed [...] yet when someone like Tom Cruise insists [...] the world forgives, forgets and lets it slide

    There's an old saying: Never argue with an idiot, lest you look like one*. I suppose the corollary is: if you want to look smart, pick on a PhD.

    To wit, every time someone with half a brain has tried to spearhead Cruise on various points he's patently wrong about, they only get bombarded with more circular logic and half-baked ideas in retort. The only way to look intellegent (and possibly demonstrate how wrong he is), at that point, is to formulate a rebuttle to *everything* he keeps spewing out - that could take all day.


The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal