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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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  • Re:Odd. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @02:57PM (#18070228) Journal
    So, maybe he's just stupid, not guilty of misconduct. Not sure, as a scientist, which I'd rather be labeled with.
  • Re:Odd. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:11PM (#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. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:12PM (#18070484)
    Honest mistakes should be more tolerated than intentional lying. I'd take stupidity, we're all stupid about something necessarily.
  • by BSAtHome ( 455370 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:13PM (#18070512)
    Maybe they then can go back to their roots and produce food? Maybe a too obvious insight though...
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:29PM (#18070758) Journal
    This blurb SEEMS to clear him of accusations of purposeful contamination and just making up the existence of neutrons.

    A New York Times article [] 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.

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:14PM (#18072384) Journal
    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.

  • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:52PM (#18074098) Homepage
    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... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by beckerist ( 985855 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:04PM (#18074298) Homepage
    I still find it funny that a scientist can be completely trashed (and his career thrown into jeopardy) because he produces results that are difficult (though possible) to reproduce, yet when someone like Tom Cruise insists that Thetons are what makes us cranky, the world forgives, forgets and lets it slide...

    Woah wait, maybe the scientists are all just working for Xenu!!
  • by JourneyExpertApe ( 906162 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:57PM (#18075022)
    Why, do poor people taste better if they've been fattened on biofuel?
  • Re:So... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @08:52PM (#18075620)

    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.

    No, Rider quite clearly discusses IEC systems where the magnetic field is zero, and cites three papers. (For fun, calculate the Debye length for an ion-only plasma.)

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin