Cold fusion: this has nothing to do with Humboldt
[UPDATE 12/8/12: suggestions are circulating that Celani’s observations have now been independently replicated. The rumor mill is suggesting an announcement on or before December 15th. –Mitch]
(Truth in advertising — don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Those of us who were following science or current events 23 years ago can probably recall the staggering news that a new form of nuclear fusion had been discovered. Two well-respected but astonishingly unlucky electrochemists had gone public with a discovery that became named “cold fusion.”
Someday, someone will write a fascinating history of the quarter-century of work in the field since. But you probably “know” that the discovery, by Fleischmann and Pons, was a “fraud.” The physics community tried to replicate their results, and could not. The electrochemist community tried, and couldn’t. Replicability is what science is all about — if you can do it but no one else can, it’s not science, it’s magic.
Well, more and more, it’s looking like it’s not magic, it’s science. The problems in reproducibility seem to have revolved around the microstructure of the materials that were used, and the name “cold fusion” has given way to Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, or LENR. Most people in physics will still tell you it’s unlikely, but there’s more and more smoke turning up from reputable places. Places like SRI, an extremely respected research organization, NASA, the University of Missouri, etc… Mark Gibbs of Forbes Magazine has an interesting column, because people who like to make money like to follow a wide variety of things, “just in case.”
The gubmint and the physics establishment has spent huge sums on hot fusion, and essentially all the “big names” have committed to cold fusion being a fraud. That’s why this will make such interesting history — it will show what happens when an initially discredited report by highly reputable scientists turns out to be real, and just how big a hole you have to climb out of once you’ve pissed off or otherwise embarrassed yourself in front of the “experts.” I don’t think it’s conspiracy — as with so many things, I think it’s human nature playing out in all its natural complexity. Science likes to pretend personalities don’t matter, just facts. The history will demonstrate otherwise.
If it turns out that “cold fusion,” um, excuse me, LENR, is real, humanity will have been given a break on the global warming front that it probably doesn’t deserve. It’s a break that could have been taken advantage of a quarter century earlier, if it weren’t for the savants at MIT and CERN and NSF and…
Interesting stuff, but nothing to do with Humboldt. Well, I suppose you could power your grow without diesel. That would be great for the environment.