March 2005. The March 2005 issue of Scientific American includes a one-page article describing the 2004 DoE Review of cold fusion. 1 The main section of the article is a reasonably accurate description of the conclusions reached in the DoE Review. However, the Scientific American added a sidebar, titled “Nuclear Doubts” that includes four statements which are incorrect and totally at odds with the literature. They are:
1. “Helium 4, a suggested cold fusion by-product, was detected at amounts close to background levels.”
Correction: In some experiments helium-4 has been close to the background, but in others it has been hundreds of times above background. And at least one case the concentration has been above atmospheric concentrations of helium. 2
2. “Expected gamma rays were not produced; experts doubted the explanation that all energy was generated as heat instead.”
Correction: gamma rays have been detected in many experiments although not in amounts commensurate with a conventional hot fusion reaction. Copious amounts of other nuclear products including tritium, x-rays charged particles and transmuted elements have also been detected, in the case of tritium at levels millions of times above background. 3, 4 It is a fact that the energy is generated mainly as heat; these unnamed experts cannot contradict facts established by replicated experiments.
3. “Not all chemical explanations for the excess heat were eliminated.”
Correction: The cold fusion effect has been replicated hundreds of times in laboratories around the world, and there is not a single instance in which significant chemical fuel was present in the solution. The minuscule amount of chemical energy that might be generated and stored in the cell has been carefully inventoried. 5, 6 The heat generated by a few cells has ranged from 100 to 10,000 times greater than the absolute maximum amount of energy that could be generated by an equivalent mass of chemical fuel.
4. “Excess power was only a few percent more than the power applied, suggesting that measurement errors could account for the purported net energy.”
Correction: Excess power has ranged up to 300% when input power was supplied. It has been measured at Sigma 90. 4 In gas loaded cells and heat after death events, there is no input power, so any detectable output heat comes from cold fusion. There are – as noted above – no chemical changes in the cells, no chemical fuel, no energy deficit during electrolysis that would indicate that energy is being stored up, and no possible way a chemical reaction could produce even a small fraction of energy released during heat after death events.
The article expresses bias in several other more subtle ways. For example, it repeats spurious claims made by some of the DoE reviewers that top-of-the-line instruments have not been used to measure cold fusion effects. The best instruments on earth have been used to measure excess heat, helium, tritium and transmutations, especially in the US, Italy and Japan. 7-9 Top-of-the-line instruments have rarely been available in the United States mainly because there is so much opposition to the research. Skeptics complain that instruments are inadequate, but they themselves are to blame for this.
Finally, it should be noted that the photograph caption says, “cold fusion allegedly occurs in a jar of heavy water with electrodes.” After 16 years, the Scientific American still cannot distinguish between a “jar” and a laboratory grade Dewar test tube.
The Scientific American has a long history of making ignorant, unscientific statements about cold fusion. The editor told us 10 he has not read the literature on cold fusion, and he does not intend to do so. He said: “We don’t claim to be authorities on physics or any other discipline (for all that there is quite a lot of real expertise built into our staff). For that reason, the scientific points of view we choose to publish are ones that have already been vetted in the technical, peer-reviewed literature and that generally seem to represent a consensus within the scientific community.” He ignored the fact that there are peer-reviewed papers about cold fusion. In any case, his statement is factually wrong: the Scientific American often reports on differences of opinion within science where there is no consensus, and even when there is a consensus, it often reports the minority point of view.
1. Choi, C., News Scan: Back to Square One, in Scientific American. 2005. p. 21.
2. Hagelstein, P.L., et al., New Physical Effects in Metal Deuterides. 2004, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Cambridge, MA. http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/Hagelsteinnewphysica
3. Storms, E., Review of experimental observations about the cold fusion effect. Fusion Technol., 1991. 20: p. 433.
4. Clarke, B.W., et al., Search for 3He and 4He in Arata-Style Palladium Cathodes II: Evidence for Tritium Production. Fusion Sci. & Technol., 2001. 40: p. 152.
5. McKubre, M.C.H., et al., Development of Advanced Concepts for Nuclear Processes in Deuterated Metals. 1994.
6. Bockris, J., G.H. Lin, and N.J.C. Packham, A review of the investigations of the Fleischmann-Pons phenomena. Fusion Technol., 1990. 18: p. 11.
7. Storms, E., Calorimetry 101 for Cold Fusion; Methods, Problems and Errors. 2004, LENR-CANR.org. http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/StormsEcalorimetr
8. De Ninno, A., et al., Experimental Evidence of 4He Production in a Cold Fusion Experiment. 2002, ENEA – Unita Tecnico Scientfica Fusione Centro Ricerche Frascati, Roma. http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/DeNinnoAexperiment.pdf
9. Iwamura, Y., M. Sakano, and T. Itoh, Elemental Analysis of Pd Complexes: Effects of D2 Gas Permeation.Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. A, 2002. 41: p. 4642. http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/IwamuraYelementalaa