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111) A political campaign using C.F. ?
Ludwik Kowalski (September 13, 2003)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043
Today I received an interesting e-mail message from Dr. Eugene Mallove, editor of Infinite Energy Magazine and author of a well known book Fire from Ice (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 1991). The message (see below) is a call for using the cold fusion issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. I do not think this is appropriate. Cold fusion research is still in its infancy and nobody claims that practical industrial applications are on the horizon. Cold fusion is no closer to practical applications than hot fusion was half a century ago. The path from recognizing the possibility of an application to a commercial success is highly unpredictable. Promising electric energy too cheap to meter was one of the mistakes of hot fusion promoters. That was in the late 1950s; and they were in a much more favorable situation than cold fusion researchers are today.
Like Eugene, whom I had pleasure to meet at the 10th International Conference on Cold Fusion, I think that a panel of experts should be appointed, for example, by the National Academy of Sciences, to investigate the validity of cold fusion claims formulated since the initial 1989 report. Physics teachers, like myself, need official evaluations in order to know how to answer questions about cold fusion. My recent letter to the editor of The Physics Teacher (published in June, 2003) is an appeal for a formal investigation of new cold fusion findings.
But I would be against politicizing this issue in a presidential campaign. Why should cold fusion, and not, for example, solar energy, be singled out? The first goal of the cold fusion community (if it were organized) would be to develop a reasonably reproducible device demonstrating nuclear phenomena at ordinary temperatures, for example, emission of protons, tritons or alpha particles, production of chemical elements with abnormal isotopic ratios, accumulation of helium (correlated with excess heat generated at the rate of 23.6 MeV per atom), etc. Such devices have been built in several countries, including the US, but they are not available to most of us. The second goal of an organized cold fusion community would be to develop a theory of cold fusion phenomena.
Attempts to build useful devices are not likely to succeed at the present level of our understanding of cold fusion. That is why it is too early to promise anything practical, especially in a political campaign. Yes, I am aware that the rapidly aging cold fusion community is highly dispersed and leaderless (see the footnote). Each scientist, or group of scientists, works as if cold fusion were just another officially recognized field of investigation. And each believes that his work will finally convince all honest skeptics. The total number of active cold fusion scientists, worldwide, is probably about the same as in the Manhattan Project. But in the last 13 years they have not been able to convince the rest of the scientific community that their claims are valid.
Performing beautiful experiments is not enough; something else is needed to convince the entire scientific community that cold fusion phenomena are either real or false. Eugene is right; a second national review of the cold fusion field could clarify the current, very unfortunate, situation. Ten years of dedicated research, done by hundreds of top scientists, worldwide, should not be ignored. It should be evaluated by an appointed panel of experts. Why should their labor of love, thousands of man-years of sophisticated research, be wasted? The panel should be created before the scientists, and the instruments they constructed, become too old to be useful. The question is how to make this happen?
The initiative, in my opinion, should come from honest mainstream scientists, teachers and engineers. They, not the general population, should be approached by cold fusion scientists and asked to examine recent findings. Professional conferences and journals provide an ideal ground for this kind of initiative. I am aware that some editors and conference organizers think that cold fusion is voodoo science and that society should be protected from it as from a dangerous disease. They place cold fusion researches in the same category as fraudulent market manipulators, believers in UFO and practitioners of copper bracelet therapy. A way of bypassing dogmatic officials must be found. My own interest in recent cold fusion findings was triggered, one year ago, at a technical conference at which cold fusion researchers were allowed to make presentations. I do not know what else can be done; a political campaign suggested by Eugene is not likely to result in the second national review of the cold fusion field. Here is what Eugene wrote to me, and probably to many other conference participants:
This will be my question to ALL presidential candidates that I happen to
encounter during the New Hampshire Presidential Primary season, which is
already well underway in September 2003:
Candidate X: Im Dr. Eugene Mallove of Infinite Energy Magazine in Concord.
Id like to ask what YOUR position is on an issue that transcends and yet
encompasses ALL the other issues that you and other candidates talk about
peace, freedom, the economy, healthcare, the environment, and - of course -
During your campaign will you ask for and DEMAND a review by the US
Department of Energy or by the National Academy of Sciences of the now
overwhelming body of scientific evidence that supports cold
fusion/low-energy nuclear reactions energy? This is clean, abundant energy
from water, a scientific discovery made in the United States and announced
in 1989 and then crushed, as it was being confirmed, by arrogant vested
academic and bureaucratic interests?
A Yes or No answer will do!
If anyone wishes to post this question elsewhere, or to ask it himself or
herself of any candidate -- in ANY primary state, I would be thrilled.
Please let me know if any responses are received from any of the
presidential candidates or their senior advisors. We will post responses on
our web site and elsewhere.
1) The only leader, as far as I know, is a person chosen to be the chairman of the next cold fusion conference. The responsibilities of that person are limited to conference-related tasks.
2) There is also a web site (www.lenr-canr.org) maintained by a dedicated individual, Jed Rothwell. Its function is to inform rather than to direct scientists. That web site became an excellent source of downloadable cold fusion papers.
3) A pier-reviewed electronic journal devoted to cold fusion research has just been created. Will the editor of that journal, professor P. Hegalstein from MIT, become a leader (as Oppenheimer or Grove were for the Manhattan Project)? I do not think so.
4) Those who reject cold fusion claims, on the other hand, are highly organized. That group consists not only of an army of active research scientists, for example, those working in national or industrial laboratories, but also of official managers of money available via institutions, such as NSF, DOE, APT, NAS, etc.
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