[extropy-chat] Elvis Sightings
thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Jan 29 23:36:50 UTC 2007
At 05:53 PM 1/29/2007 -0500, Gary Miller wrote:
>It may be possible that impurities in the test materials or water are what
>makes the experiment irreproducible.
>One would expect the more professional the lab the purer the ingredients so
>the tighter tolerances on the materials could be preventing the reaction
>from taking place.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this debacle is that Martin
Fleischmann was one of the world's leading experts in precisely the
relevant discipline, electrochemistry, with a renowned lab in the UK.
He was not a truck driver working on his toy chemistry kit in his
garage, he was an elected fellow of the Royal Society at the top of
his profession. This does not mean he is right, obviously; plenty of
notable specialists have made foolish errors, but been so bullheaded
they stuck by them in the face of scathing critique. But it does mean
he's not a homebrew nitwit.
However, neither he nor Pons was a nuclear physicist and, since the
only apparent source of their anomalous heat output was some unknown
nuclear reaction, they made blunders in their attempts to track down
this source, and the term "cold fusion" only made matters worse. Had
the discovery been made in 1890, and they and everyone else had
fashionably conjectured that the effect was caused by Pasteurian
bacteria in the water, it might have been dubbed "cold buggery" and
all the disease experts would have been mocking them instead. These
peripheral mistakes help explain why the response of the nuclear
physics community was so hostile, and absurdly quickly led to their
pariah status. But the record also clearly shows that in the last
nearly two decades, solid credentialed scientists have indeed
replicated the early results (intermittently, and after long learning
curves). It's not difficult to find their names.
I, too, had assumed for years that this was all nonsense and
credulous crap, until I read Beaudette's book and started tracking
the history. I'm now quite sure that it's not MEGA-BULLSHIT, although
it still might turn out to be mistaken.
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