[extropy-chat] Cold fusion research

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Feb 11 20:04:21 UTC 2007

On Sun, Feb 11, 2007 at 01:47:27PM -0500, Ben Goertzel wrote:

> I'm not an experimental scientist but I do have a bunch of experience 
> analyzing very noisy data gathered by experimental scientists, sometimes 
> using bad experimental designs, so I do have some idea of the variety of 
> things that can go wrong.  But this has been in the biology domain, not 
> chemistry.

Analyzing data is not the same as planning and conducting experiments.
For whatever reasons you're unsuitable as an experimenter, at least given
what you've said so far. This doesn't mean you're unreformable (people
can and do learn), just I wouldn't trust any experiment you yourself 
would conduct.
> BTW my original training was in math, not CS.

Neither are experimental sciences. Believe me, there's a world of difference
practical science and theory. (Btw, I scoff at software "engineers", 
too. There's a lot of inflation in who feels qualified to call themselves 
engineers these days. But that's strictly aside).
> And, you have not explained to me why you think McKubre (the guy from 
> SRI) did his work incorrectly or sloppily.  You have pointed out why 

I will when I get down to it, assuming I can say anything about 
the experimental setup. Notice that I'm a lousy experimental scientist,
not a physisicst neither an electrochemist, and just because the experiment
planning and reported execution appear good it doesn't mean the data
is not freely invented. If the paper looks good, it's time to get to replicate
the results. If an experiment is difficult to replicate, then one
has to visit the claimant's lab, and absorb enough expertise there in
order to replicate data on-site, and then elsewhere. This is how
science works. Deviate from that route by one inch, and there be dragons.

> some other researchers did not use the kind of controls you think they 
> should have; and you are probably right about the kinds of controls they 
> should have used, but this does not invalidate the results of other 
> researchers such as McKubre who did use the kind of controls that you 
> suggested (light water controls).

Do you now understand why I said why LENR-CANR are blowing their chances,
because they're not instituting peer review, however informal? Why are they so stupid?
> Sorry, this is just not true.  I have participated in experimental 
> design in the biology domain, and I do understand the role of controls 
> in experimentation.

I do not deny this, but for whatever reason you're missing basic
common sense of what constitutes a simple experiment in electrochemistry.
It's not personal. I can't do formal math worth shit, I barely survived
quantum chemistry. Many great theorists were completely lost in the 
> One thing I find interesting in this dialogue is the high level of ad 
> hominem attacks involved.  Mostly leveled by John Clark, but now you 
> seem to be getting into the game too.   Too bad.

It's not ad hominem if it's actually correct. To recap, you have shown
a history of being extremely gullible, yet at the same time extremely
naive in what constitutes experimentation 101. Now you're claiming people
are attacking you, instead of the actual bad science you represent.

You know what? It's another earmark of bad science. The big bad establishment
is out to get us. We would publish, if only the major journals would accept
it, but they're biased, so they don't. Nobody would replicate our (frankly,
trivial; I've personally seen a person destroying 8 months worth of work by
one careless gesture, calling physicists who do calorimetry on single particle
absorption incapable of evaluating an electrochemists' (very low animal on
the totem pole, smart people don't go into electrochemistry) frankly takes
the cake) experiments. Etc.

It's too bad you're now claiming protection by ad hominem. I expected better from you.
> > In fact, if you believe all the claims
> > on LENR-CANR -- and there is no reason to be picky here -- 
> Why would you say that?  Of course there is reason to be picky: some 

Because science doesn't work by cherry-picking results which are
opportune for your side. If you want to bring in reputation, why
does LENR-CANR treat everyone the same way? WHY ARE THEY SO STUPID? 

> effects have been reported by a large number of researchers, some 
> apparently quite reliable like McKubre.  Others have been reported only 
> by a single researchers whose reputation is not as easy to gather 
> information about.

Allright, I'll look at the URL you posted, and if I can't find anything
fishy it's being to upgraded "let's replicate it" status.
> I did not survey all experiments, I read Beaudette's book and some 
> papers by McKubre and a few others who appeared to be reliable.
> It seemed possible to Schwinger, who knew more physics than you (let 

In case you haven't noticed, science (and myself) are completely 
immune to appeals from authority.

> alone me), that the phenomenon might work in some circumstances using 
> light water.

And gold, and titanium, and in plasma, and aqueous solutions. Rather
versatile phenomenon, that. Makes one wonder what makes it so difficult to
replicate, if even finding a negative outcome is so complicated.
So elusive, and so ubiquitous.
> Sorry but I will accept the intuitions of Julian Schwinger, and 
> Haseltine (an MIT faculty) over yours.

It doesn't take any intuition, just tell me how a crystal
lattice is supposed to contain MeV particles (as opposed to 
Moessbauer's mere keV). This is not intution, this is undergrad physics 
(and even chemistry) material. Tell me.

If it's not fusion, how does it do element transmutations?
He-4 is claimed to be observed. You can't have it both ways.
Either there is transmutation, and mass defect, and high-energy
products, or there is not. (That assumes the experiments are
not freely invented). 
> I am not a physicist, and my knowledge of physics is pretty much 
> entirely from studying mathematical and theoretical physics.

I'm not a physicist either, I just had physical chemistry and
what little I know from literature. From what little I know CF
> However, you are making highly confident statements that contradict what 
> Schwinger, Haseltine and others with more track record in physics than 

trumps yours, because, I've got more Ph.D.'s in from of my name, nyah-nyah.

> you have stated.  So I don't see why I should accept your theoretical 
> intuitions over theirs, sorry...

Yes, science is a belief system. Not. I'm not sure there's any need
follow up this thread. You just want to believe, and keep an open mind,
regardless of experimental results and the whole body of science
it claims to topple. 
> IMO, that is not a very good metaphor.  Julian Schwinger disagreed with 
> you, along with a number
> of other good physicists.  Whereas you will not find a single Nobel 

How do you know they're good physicists? How can they explain that
a metal lattice -- just metal *surface*, a 2D system, in fact, is
capable of absorbing fusion products recoil, and prevent gamma emission?

Ask this any physicist you come across on the campus. Even undergrads.

> >> deuterium loading, and the CF results violate this analytical theory.
> >> Rather, this is a complex physical situation for which the laws of
> >> physics yield no analytical solution by any known means.  CF violates
> >> nuclear physicists' hand-wavy analyses of the physics of these
> >> lattices, but, so what?
> >>     
> >
> > So E=mc^2 is incorrect, but, so what? And white is black,
> I really don't think E=mc^2 would need to be revised to account for CF, 
> sorry.

But that's what you claimed. If you have element transmutation, you
have mass defect, which is freed as E=mc^2. That's a lot of energy.
If you have fusion, you need to get nuclei past the Coulomb barrier,
which is why all observed fusion processes, whether Farnsworth fusors,
laser fusion or Tokamak or (controversial) sonoluminiscence fusion,
or plain thermonuclear nuke are based on getting the nuclei fast 
enough at enough encounter rate so they can penetrate the barrier 
close enough to fuse so you can detect the products and now it's happening
(not really a problem with a nuke, agreed).
> I was tempted to say "I wonder what is wrong with YOUR head, and John 
> Clark's, that you find it necessary
> to make ad hominem attacks against people who disagree with you!!!"
> But I don't really wonder.  It's an age-old phenomenon with well-known 
> explanations in evolutionary psychology.

I am utterly demolished. My scientific arguments are completely trumped
by resorting to monkey psychology, of all things (and nevermind that you're resorting
to the cheap ad hominem when confronted with crititique against your facts,
not your person). This hurts  s o  much.
> If you think your definitive know-it-all tone makes you in any way 
> convincing to me, you're wrong.  Rather, the opposite.  It tells me that 

If you think I care about what you believe, you're wrong. I was just
doing the song and dance for the benefit of others who might not have
made up their mind up yet. If you prefer to be a believer, be my guest.
End of thread, then.

> you are sufficiently closed-minded and emotional that your opinions are 
> probably not worth listening to, except in areas where you have a really 
> extreme amount of personal experience and expertise, which this 
> obviously is not.

> Well but that's not just true that it hasn't produced anything...

How do you know? Apart from paper and web pages, I mean? Have you 
visited any of the labs, and participated in the experiments?  
> Anyway, I am now sick of discussing this with you, just as I got sick of 
> discussing it with John Clark.

That's a pity, but it's your head, and you're free to do with it
whatever you want.
> Your arguments were certainly at a much higher level than Clark's; but, 
> in the end you provided no convincing refutation of the phenomenon, only 
> a critical analysis of a small subset of the experiments (and, notably, 
> NOT the ones I pointed out to you as apparently most convincing, which 
> did involve the kinds of controls you suggested).

Hmm, I will give you one: I'll take a look. 
> My biggest lesson from this dialogue is the strong emotion that it 
> elicited from both John Clark and yourself.  Wow.  I think the 

Have you for a moment ever considered that your complete lack of 
reactions to very valid critique might have been the culprit?
We both are only human. In fact, I'm not known for suffering fools gladly,
and the length of the thread is sufficient evidence that I 
don't consider you such.

> closed-minded, emotionally-hostile attitude you two display is every bit 
> as damaging to science as the opposite emotional/cognitive error, in 
> which people blindly accept whatever bullshit they want to believe. 
> I do have a lot of respect for the overall scientific process, which 
> allows progress to keep going in spite of closed-mindedness, hostility, 
> gullibility, wishful-thinking, and all the other human weaknesses.  The 
> scientific process is not optimal but it ultimately does work, which is 
> why I predict that within 20 years from now CF will be mainstream science.

I would gladly take up that bet, but nobody will remember this in 20 years,
ourselves included. And bets don't resolve truth, they're just visible
display of personal commitment.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
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