[extropy-chat] Elvis Sightings (was: cold fusion warms up)

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Jan 22 17:48:43 UTC 2007

At 01:50 AM 12/26/2006 -0500, John K Clark wrote:

>there is no big controversy
>over this matter, 99.9% of the scientific community think cold fusion
>(except Muon-catalyzed cold fusion) is utter crap. It would be neat if it
>worked but it doesn't and there are plenty of other neat things that do
>work; life is short, time to move on.

Elvis lives! Since we are in the post-"cold fusion"-claim crackdown 
era, apparently outlandish claims of this sort are either refused 
publication, or peer reviewed, published, and entirely ignored. At 
the risk of confirming John's probable estimate of my gullibility, I 
commend the following book, which I'm reading on the recommendation 
of my old mentor and friend Arthur Clarke:

EXCESS HEAT: Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed, by Charles G. 
Beaudette (an MIT-trained retired electrical engineer).

This fine book shook up my prejudiced concurrence with the prevailing 
view of CF, and helped explain how it's possible that so many sober 
technicians (more than 100 worldwide) persist in getting positive 
results from such apparatus even though no principled explanation is 
remotely forthcoming. (As it wasn't with superconductivity for 
decades.) The error Pons and Fleischman made, in my view, was largely 
one of bypassing some of the traditional filters to announcement (as 
Steorn, of course, are also doing), and in contaminating their 
earliest declared results with some errors on neutron counts. But it 
now seems clear that a huge amount of consolidated work has been done 
in the nearly 20 years since. The calorimetry looks good, the results 
moderately repeatable (more so than IVF pregnancies let alone routine 
animal cloning), the excess heat production anomalous and worthy of 
study. But the sociology and politics of the evolving situation has 
made that impossible for the moment. Have a look at Beaudette's book. 
It's also fun to read.

Damien Broderick

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