Return to the clickable list of items

57) Hydrinos: are they really predicted by Mills’ theory?


Ludwik Kowalski, <kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu>
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043, (4/25/03)

What should one think about BLP (Black Light Power Inc.), a company headed by Randell Mills? Unlike cold fusion, which is still a purely empirical field of investigation, his claims seem to be based on theories. And unlike the secretive company, Genesis World Energy (see item 56 on my cold fusion list), Mills does provide information about his scientists, the location of his laboratory, etc. I would very much like to know what a theoretical physicist would say about Mills' theory. With this in mind the following message was posted on Phys-L, an Internet discussion list of physics teachers:

On 4/22/2003 Ludwik Kowalski wrote:
> Randell Mills claims that the ground state of hydrogen
> (ionization energy 13.6 eV) is not the lowest possible
> energy state of the atom? How can it be that such a thing
> was never discovered by spectroscopists?
>
> Hydrogen atoms below the ground state were named
> hydrinos. Mills justifies their existence on theoretical
> grounds. A short summary of his work can be found at:
>
> http://www.blacklightpower.com/theory.shtml
>
> The underlined title is actually a link to his March 3, 2003
> conference presentation. I clicked on it and an impressive
> 1.2 Mb file (157 slides) appeared on my desktop. Unfortunately,
> I am not very familiar with most of what he refers to. Are Mills'
> theoretical claims valid or are they used to impress those of
> us whose familiarity with modern theories is very limited? I
> saw a mixture of familiar concepts and concepts too advanced
> for me. Do Mills' equations justify existence of hydrinos? Are
> his arguments real or are they only a camouflage for nonsense?

On 4/23/2003 XXX replied:
> As best as I can tell there is absolutely nothing to his
> claims. The people at the www.csicop.org have a short blurb
> about it written 6 years ago. Mills (who is an MD not a
> physicist) has not built any such device and is still trying
> to raise capital for his idea. Let's just look at the obvious.
> There is no solution to the basic Schroedinger equations that
> have "fractional" quantum numbers. If he is right Quantum
> Mechanics is sunk and transistors do not work.

Unfortunately, this has been the only reply. In my mind neither the Edison engine nor technologies based on hydrinos have anything to do with cold fusion. These technological claims are based on theoretical predictions unconfirmed by experiments. The cold fusion claims, on the other hand, are just the opposite; strange phenomena have been observed but they have not been explained by an accepted theory. Referring to hydrinos, Steven Weinberg, a 1979 Nobel laureate in physics, wrote that the idea of the ground state "is a fabulously well-tested mathematical theorem. I would bet my life on it." Then he added: "of course a theory can be wrong; we don't turn a blind eye to anomalies...you don't throw away 75 years because of an anomaly you don't understand. As far as we know, quantum theory is rigorously valid. I have no idea what would replace it." These quotations were found at

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/blacklight_power_000522.html

together with interesting comments about Mills’ theory. Addressing the same subject Robert Park, (the author of “Voodoo Science; the Road from Foolishness to Fraud,” Oxford University Press, New York, 2000), wrote: His 'theory' reminded me of my thesis advisor's comment when I referred to my first scientific paper as 'a theory'. 'It's a theory,' he said gently, 'to the extent that it was done with a pencil.’ Nor had Mills offered any experimental evidence for his claim.” Park’s book was written for general public. As a physics teacher I would like to know about specific errors, unjustified assumptions, etc. in theoretical papers of Mills and his coworkers. More specifically, I would like some help in finding out what makes the theory ridiculous.

One more aspect of this subject is worth mentioning. It has to do with the role of authority in science. Many think that scientists do not need authorities to validate experimental or theoretical proclamations. This is not always true. A scientist may not have equipment, and training, to perform a sophisticated experiment. Or s/he may have only a limited theoretical background to distinguish valid theoretical arguments from those that are not valid. It is practically impossible to be an expert in everything and, except in his or her own specialty, a scientist is essentially in the same situation as a layman. Many claims are accepted by us when several experts agree that statements are valid. Teachers of introductory courses know how to verify claims made in textbooks. But claims made outside familiar areas are often accepted on the basis of authoritative statements. Recognizing this fact professional journals often publish review articles for their readers. A serious review devoted to the last ten years of research in the area of cold fusion is needed.

P.S. Here are two pieces about R. Mills found on the Internet:

http://csf.colorado.edu/archive/sustain-l/msg00367.html
1) “ . . . Dr. Randell Mills, the founder and President of BlackLight Power Company, has a prestigious academic and professional record as a scientist and inventor. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1982 with a degree in chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and went on to Harvard Medical School, where he earned the MD. degree in 1986, conducted applied research, and filed patents on several revolutionary medical technologies. Dr. Mills' graduate education also included classes in electrical engineering at MIT, which influenced him to examine certain problems with current atomic theory. . . . Since 1989, however, he has devoted nearly all his energies to the development of what he has dubbed the HydroCatalysis process of liberating energy from hydrogen atoms. . . . (5/29/97)“

http://www.njo.com/business/ledger/d8b23a.html
2) Kevin Coughlin (Star Ledger (10/10/99), wrote that Mills is “misguided at best, a sci-fi con man at worst. P.T. Barnum with an F in physics, a perpetual motion machine of ego. If Mills is right, they say, then a century of quantum mechanics -- the bedrock of modern physics that has produced transistors, lasers, telecommunications -- is wrong. ‘His theory is totally groundless,’ says Paul Grant, a former IBM scientist now with the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. But the brickbats haven't kept private investors – including two power companies and a former federal energy official – from pumping $20 million (the company's figure) into Mills' BlackLight Power Co. Inc. They're betting he's the next Einstein, even though some admit they can't understand a word of "The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Quantum Mechanics," Mills' self- published tome. (A thousand pages for $100, at Amazon.com.) If Mills is right, they say, he will transform the world and make them all very, very rich. . . .

Mills says he's found the answer and it's chemical, not nuclear. . . . And no room-temperature fusion in a jar. The concept of "cold fusion" caused a sensation 10 years ago, but its promise of limitless energy hasn't panned out.“ Is the author aware that many scientists continue working on cold fusion phenomena? Is he aware that accumulation of helium, missing ten years ago, has been observed by several teams of researchers? Cold fusion, as I wrote above, is a set of experimental claims without an accepted theory, it is not a theory without experimental confirmations.

Scientific theories are justified by their mathematical correctness, and validated by experimental data. And what validates experimental data? Some say that laboratory data must be reproducible, and I agree with this. Others say that reproducibility alone is not sufficient, experimental data must be consistent with other data via theoretical models. I agree that consistency with other data is a desired end product of a research project. But I do not think that consistency is necessary at initial stages of investigations. Comments on reproducibility, in the area of cold fusion, can be found in items 54 and 52 on my list.

< http://blake.montclair.edu/~kowalskil/cf/ >

Experimental facts, not consistent with existing theories, should be suspected to be wrong but they should not be rejected on that basis.

Another P.S. On August2, 2003 I received the e-mail from Norm Winningstad

Dear Dr. Kowalski,
You should know that the self-proclaimed physics gurus [such as the APS spokesman, Dr. R. Park, who claims that no spectral lines of hydrogen atoms exist below 80-nm] are now in serious trouble. . . . If you simply substitute 1/p for "n", [in the Rydberg equations] the positive integer number of the hydrogen orbit, and let "p" be any positive integer, you get the location of the spectral lines of the hydrino.  The reason the spectra of the hydrino was not see before is that it is not commonly found on earth (before Mills.)  BUT it WAS seen before, but not recognized. . . . .The below 80-nm spectra is now peer-reviewed and published, it was done at another lab from Dr. Mills' lab (it was done in the Netherlands.)  Dr. Park now needs to shut up, and other skeptics need to have the courtesy of examining the experimental results; they will all learn something new.

                                          *******
I replied: Dear Norm:
1) Who are you and how did you find out that I am interested in hydrinos?
2) I agree with you that experimental results are essential. And that R. Park's should examine them before making strong negative pronouncements.
3) Please supply references for the peer-reviewed publications of experimental results.
4) What would be more convincing than experimental results properly interpreted by experts? (a) Confirmation of such results by experts from other laboratories and (b) personal participation in the validation process.
5) Are you one of those who had a chance to participate? I am a physics teacher who was not able to penetrate the depth of theoretical arguments of Mills.
                                         ******
“Dear Ludwik:
. . . I am C. Norman Winningstad, BSEE, MBA, LL.D, and I worked for the Lawerance Berkeley Laboratories early in my career, . . . The references are now on the BLP home page. The probem is (I have asked them to correct it) the papers are not marked as to what journal they are published in, which complicates the search. . . . I am a techweenie by education, and I understood what Mills was talking about. I went back to his lab, and watched it happen (^_^) But Park and Zimmerman were invited, but it was beneath their dignity, I guess, so they didn't go. But just lately, Pirelli in Italy duplicated the plasma generation tests, and they are hot-to-trot. . . . I did a little digging, and I would recommend you go to the BLP web site, and click on the left on Technical Papers. Then at 2nd from the top, click on Abstracts. Then go to #1, about the NASA report. Go to # 45, which has a Journal of Applied Physics peer-reviewed article (2002) Vol. 92, No. 12, pgs. 7008-7022. #49, Journal of Molecular Structure. #62, IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 30, No. 2 (2002) Pgs. 639-653.

I will be the first to admit that it is frustrating to have most of the new articles listed as "Submitted" or "In Press." I assume the first means it is not peer-reviewed yet, and the second, that it is peer-reviewed, but not yet printed (*_*) You will note the list is long, largely because of the crescendo of writing lately at BLP as a result of their experimental work being fruitful, due to years of optimizing. I suspect the reason that they do not name the journals where the papers were Submitted, or where they are In Press, is because BLP experienced having papers through the peer-review process, only to have the editor over-rule his own peer-review panel, just before printing, because it was leaked to Park and/or Zimmerman, who blew into the editor's ear about how foolish he will look, if he publishes some thing contrary to Schroedinger's Equations (^_~)”

If I had time I would ask Randell Mills, whose labs are in New Jersey, to invite me for a demo. But my priorities are about to shift toward teaching. I will keep this possibility in mind. This fellow, Norm, seems to be overexited, especially in long parts of his messages that were skipped above. He was mostly a businessman. Now he is a writer and a consultant (at $500 per hour). Did he invest his own money in Mills’es company?

Return to the clickable list of items