[extropy-chat] Elvis Sightings

Ben Goertzel ben at goertzel.org
Tue Jan 30 04:02:36 UTC 2007

I agree with Damien.

I have just read Baudette's book and followed up some of the  
references, and I am 90% confident there is a real phenomenon  
underlying the claims of "cold fusion".   I don't presume to know  
what the explanation underlying the phenomenon is, but the pattern of  
data does not look like bullshit, let along mega-bullshit...

I find it amusing that so much attention and $$ is going into things  
like string theory (which tries to unify quantum theory and  
gravitation), which are fascinating but quite far-removed from  
empirical reality, when there are empirical puzzles like cold fusion  
about, which have nontrivial probability of necessitating drastic  
revisions in the theories that string theory and its ilk are trying  
to unify...

-- Ben

On Jan 29, 2007, at 6:36 PM, Damien Broderick wrote:

> 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.
> Damien Broderick
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