Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cold Fusion actually real?

You may recall the furor 20 years ago when Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons announced they had been able to generate more energy than was put into a tabletop nuclear fusion apparatus. If their experiment could be proven real, it would open the prospects for abundant, virtually free, and--almost more important than anything else (considering the fears that had arisen from the Three-Mile Island nuclear accident and the Chernobyl disaster only 10 and three years before, respectively.

If future such accidents could be avoided, it would be a great boon for civilization.

As it turned out, no other scientists who tried to duplicate their experiments were able to confirm similar effects. And so Fleishmann and Pons suffered the ridicule of the scientific establishment to the point where, as one commenter has put it, "cold fusion research [became] about as scientifically respectable as astrology." Or, as another person put it, "to some, [Department of Energy cold fusion discussions (that really did take place)] would seem no less outrageous than if the DOE honchos had convened for a séance to raise the dead."

And yet, just a week ago (last Monday),
analytical chemist Pamela Mosier-Boss of SPAWAR [the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center], . . . [s]peaking at the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City (the site of the infamous Pons/Fleischmann press conference) . . . described "The first scientific report of the production of highly energetic neutrons from a LENR device."

LENR means Low Energy Nuclear Reaction, a euphemism that has been adopted since the words "cold fusion" tend to provoke bouts of metaphorical heretic-burning.
Question is: Is it real?

Check out the stories at New Scientist, on a true believer's website, and at Wired.com.
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