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“Cold fusion” redux?

20 years ago, in the wake of the cold fusion excitement-turned-debacle, I noticed an interesting fact. The people doing the experiments were divided into two classes: The electrochemists who believed that fusion was happening were doing their experiments in plastic tubs and glassware, whereas the physicists who believed that no fusion was really happening were doing theirs behind walls of lead bricks. (I mentioned this to several people at the first Foresight Conference on Nanotechnology late in 1989 and was bemused to have some of the same people repeat it to me in later years, having clearly forgotten where they’d heard it. Such is the nature of memetic success.)

Cold fusion is all over the science blogosphere and news today due in large part to this experiment from SPAWAR which shows believable (at least to Naturwissenschaften reviewers) evidence of energetic particle production.

What I know about nuclear physics could be written on a palladium nucleus with a blunt crayon, but the mechanism for the (cold) fusion of deuterium just never made sense. Perhaps a tiny bit more sense is that there might be some form of electron capture (the decay mode of 7Be) going on, but in hydrogen, as proposed in this paper. That would leave free thermal neutrons to wander around and get into all kinds of trouble (generating secondary decay reactions with energetic ionizing particles). Who knows? At least Widon/Larsen’s mechanism doesn’t have electrochemistry overcoming nuclear Coulomb barriers. And inter-lattice effects are known to put electrons into other interesting quantum states, e.g. Cooper pairs.

There may be some interesting physics ahead — but I wouldn’t sell my oil stocks just yet!

4 Responses to ““Cold fusion” redux?”

  1. Says:

    Cold fusion has been replicated thousands of times, and several hundred peer-reviewed papers about these replications have been published in mainstream journals. You can read hundreds of cold fusion papers here:

    http://lenr-canr.org/

  2. J. Storrs Hall Says:

    BTW, the paper Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces by Widom & Larsen can be read in its entirety at http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0505026

    It’s way beyond my level of expertise, but a physicist friend says it’s at least plausible.

  3. Says:

    Well Josh and all, I am convinced from much evidence that there is an interesting overlap and coorelation between nanoscale materials and structures and the Casimir Force, zero point field, and this may be the source of low energy input nuclear reactions, or at least part of it. I attended a conference on these matters and in the hallway I spoke with some scientists and engineers who were telling me about experiments along these lines, in which the best materials for “cold fusion” experiments are nano characterized materials. Something interesting happens at that level. Also look into the antenna structure arrays of certain insects and the UV wavelength.

    By the way, I gave a copy of your book “Nano Future” to an aspiring young student who is getting involved in molecular technologies, Josh. Do you plan on any more nanotech books in the near future?

  4. Says:

    Cold Fusion has its GOOD and its DANGER as well as Opportunity.

    Falling into the wrong hands it could turn into a nuclear bomb which is undetectable. You MUST READ here:

    http://tinyurl.com/ddfdvy

    or click here:
    http://tinyurl.com/ddfdvy

    Write to CONGRESS about it!

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