Hey, "Cold fusion!"

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Abd
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Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by Abd » Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:41 pm

Thanks again to the Vagirunt for linking to this. I do not argue with trolls, but if anyone has any factual questions about what the runt claims, ask me (the claims do not match this post), which was originally as below.

Maybe it's time I confront this.

"Cold fusion" is a term that elicits knee-jerk responses. From a peer-reviewed review in 2015:
Occasionally, with decreasing regularity, one hears statements to the effect that ‘Cold fusion has been proven to not exist or to have been based on errors’. Almost always the words ‘long ago’ are appended. Never are examples of error given at any level of scientific sophistication. If pressed the authority of experts in the fields of nuclear or particle physics are invoked, or early publications of null results by ‘influential laboratories’ – Caltech, MIT, Bell Labs, Harwell. Almost to a man these experts have long ago retired or deceased, and the authors of these early publications of ‘influential laboratories’ have long since left the field and not returned. The issue of ‘long ago’ is important as it establishes a time window in which information was gathered sufficient for some to draw a permanent conclusion – some time between 23 March 1989 and ‘long ago’. Absurdly for a matter of this seeming importance, ‘long ago’ usually dates to the Spring Meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) on 1 May 1989. So the whole matter was reported and then comprehensively dismissed within 40 days (and, presumably, 40 nights). From what we now know is this sensible? Has pertinent new information and understanding developed over 25 years of further study been examined with the wisdom of hindsight? What is the status of these early null results?
So, some personal history. I had the background in physics to understand, in 1989, why "cold fusion" was radically implausible. I could explain it and often do.

But I also knew that there were gaps in our knowledge, and that "we cannot calculate the solid state" (Feynman, in his lectures, 1961-63, and I was there). The apparent impossibility was based on assuming that, for fusion, rates could be estimated by assuming plasma conditions, not condensed matter. So maybe something else was possible, and there were plenty of scientists that also considered this, including several Nobel Prize winners. (And I could easily write more about this, and why the idea that "cold fusion is impossible" was actually preposterous.)

By 2009, I had assumed, from lack of progress (as far as I knew), that it was all a mistake, same as nearly everyone else. And then I saw, on Wikipedia, a suspicious site blacklisting by JzG. I had no prior interaction with him, but I questioned this and was attacked in return. So I confronted that, eventually with ArbCom, my position was confirmed, he'd abused tools. And then I began to look at the WP article, and noticed obvious imbalance. I was not a "believer." I was a Wikipedia editor dedicated to neutrality. And, of course, I was attacked, and eventually, with a successful filing of another AC case against William M. Connolley, who was desysopped, I was banned from the topic (and the project for three months). Yes. They shoot the messenger, routinely.

So I continued to look into cold fusion. There was an experiment described in multiple peer-reviewed papers. I had been told that to run a successful demonstration of what is more neutrally called the Anomalous Heat Effect would take $10,000, minimum, with no guarantee of success. But this experiment was simple, by comparison. One of the papers, published in Naturwissenschaften in 2009 was Triple tracks in CR39 as the result of Pd–D Codeposition: evidence of energetic neutrons.

I looked at the materials and did the math. If I were to buy about $5000 worth of materials, I could sell a kit of materials for a single experiment at about $100 with a 50% margin. So I did it. That operation only had two sales. One was a kit sent to a student who was featured in the move "The Believers" -- terrible title. He ran the experiment, looked good, but something happened to the track detectors, they were badly damaged in etching, unknown cause. I also sold some LR-115 solid state nuclear track detector material to one experimenter. That was it. Total sales maybe $300. Now, I could have run the experiment myself, but by this time I was realizing that this wasn't what the field needed.

The triple track papers were strong evidence that something nuclear was happening in a palladium-deuterium co-deposition cell, and it hadn't budged mainstream opinion (and neither had many other published works showing similar effects).

Something much stronger was needed, and I knew what it was. I wrote a paper about it, which was published in that same journal. This is summarized as "the heat/helium correlation in the Anomalous Heat Effect," or "cold fusion." It's been multiply confirmed, but the error bars are maybe 10-20%. This could be replicated with increased precision, and most of my activity for the next few years was encouraging that to happen. It was funded. We know who funded it. Famous. (But is insisting on anonymity).

So what happened? I don't know. The team -- highly reputable! -- appears to have brokeg up, there were rumors of personality clashes. Nothing clear, and last I was told, it was on its way to publication. Soon. And I was told this more than a year ago, by a quite reputable person.

And that's the field, I've read easily more than a thousand papers, and there is one SNAFU after another.

Yet, overall, the evidence is clear. Something nuclear is happening, it's real, but very difficult to control.

There have been recent realizations as to why. It was known from very early on that the effect was incredibly sensitive to exact material conditions, and the same piece of material would show no effect, then show a clear effect, then show nothing more. All unreliable. (But in some experimental series, more than half the experiments show significant excess heat. Some show a lot of heat, though nothing approaching practical energy generation -- unless it could be done reliably.)

It is now known that there is a previously-unknown phase of palladium deuteride, normally found only in material that has been subjected to high pressure (5 GPa) and temperature (above about 500C). This material may form in small quantities under certain conditions, and the repeated electrolysis of a standard Fleischmann-Pons experiment, stressing the metal, might be adequate. If that is the nuclear-active material, it was only being made adventitiously. And this is untested and unproven. Toss hundred million dollars at it, maybe some results.

There has been much derision from the peanut gallery about the claim that failure to investigate this effect could be resulting in a lost opportunity cost of something like a trillion dollars per year.

The peanut gallery laughs, but billionaires invest.

Aside from the donor who funded heat/helium research, Industrial Heat spent over $50 million recently, about half of that merely to rule out the "Rossi effect." (And they had a commitment for another $150 million.) Google has funded an ongoing project, the story is about $10 million so far. See their first paper. No cigar yet, which is utterly unsurprising to those who know the field. There are some promising approaches. The Japanese are reporting significant heat, but none of this is a bombshell.

But the effect is real. (And the Google group has so far failed to create the effect.) Is it "cold fusion"? Well, what is "fusion"? The original idea isn't what is happening. It is not d-d fusion, i.e., two deuterium nuclei being smashed together. That reaction is well-known, and it results in not just a few neutrons, but copious neutrons. If that were the explanation of the reported heat, there would be the "dead graduate student effect," as the pseudoskeptics called it with glee. Tritium has also been found, but like the neutrons, the levels are far, far below what would be expected from the reported heat, about a million times down -- and the neutrons reported, instead of being about equal to tritium, from d-d fusion, are another million times down.

But helium production matches the heat, within experimental error. This was not discovered until about 1991. . . .

Because the effect is so cantankerous, there is no reliable protocol to create the anomalous heat. But when there is no excess heat measured in these experiments, there is no helium. When there is excess heat, there is proportionate helium. And that's been confirmed by many research groups.

This is extremely strong evidence, and my goal was to nail it, though measurement with increased precision. My home kits were useless for that, they were designed to measure neither heat nor helium. They were a one-trick pony: neutrons or not.

The levels of neutrons reported are extremely low. They tell us nothing about the main reaction.

So, yes, I abandoned that approach. I might still run some experiments, or not; it is far from a priority. Of late, there are reports of using the neutrons to fission uranium-238. So co-depositing some uranium (easy to do) on the cathode might produce some interesting effects, neutron amplification. Or not. That work is being done by members of the original SPAWAR team, commercially, with governmental support.

I have no confidence that practical applications will be seen in my lifetime. My interest has only been scientific and journalistic, but I do realize -- as have many -- the possible implications.

Questions?

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by Carrite » Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:32 am

Abd wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:41 pm
Questions?
Three questions:

(1) What does this have to do with Wikipedia criticism?

(2) Do you actually expect people to wade through 1600+ words on this topic?

(3) Do you not think that "Vagirunt" is an unfunny, sexist slur?

RfB

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by Strelnikov » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:35 am

Carrite wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:32 am
Abd wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:41 pm
Questions?
Three questions:

(1) What does this have to do with Wikipedia criticism?

(2) Do you actually expect people to wade through 1600+ words on this topic?

(3) Do you not think that "Vagirunt" is an unfunny, sexist slur?

RfB
Responses:

1. This is the war Abd has been having with Wikipedia's science people for a long time. The "Guerilla Skeptics" and their friends don't believe that cold fusion works or could ever work, Abd says no, it does work.

2. FRAM was a long complicated mess, why not this?

3. I defer to Abd.
Still "Globally Banned" on Wikipedia for the high crime of journalism.

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by ericbarbour » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:41 am

Strelnikov wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:35 am
Responses:

1. This is the war Abd has been having with Wikipedia's science people for a long time. The "Guerilla Skeptics" and their friends don't believe that cold fusion works or could ever work, Abd says no, it does work.

2. FRAM was a long complicated mess, why not this?

3. I defer to Abd.
4. lol, Tim. Are you gonna defer to JzG for the rest of your life? Free advice: don't.
#BbbGate

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by boredbird » Thu Feb 06, 2020 5:01 am

Strelnikov wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:35 am
1. This is the war Abd has been having with Wikipedia's science people for a long time. The "Guerilla Skeptics" and their friends don't believe that cold fusion works or could ever work, Abd says no, it does work.
I don't see how we're going to solve that here.

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by Abd » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:31 pm

Carrite wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:32 am
Abd wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:41 pm
Questions?
Three questions:

(1) What does this have to do with Wikipedia criticism?
A lot, as many know.
(2) Do you actually expect people to wade through 1600+ words on this topic?
Certainly not all people. Am I required to dumb everything down? If someone wants a summary, they can ask for it.
(3) Do you not think that "Vagirunt" is an unfunny, sexist slur?
Well, I thought Barbour's variation was sexist. As to "funny" that depends on perspective. It might help to pronounce it with a hard g. It's a play on vague and vagrant. But if you wanna associate it with the female anatomy, your privilege. I don't really care what trolls think.

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by Abd » Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:16 pm

Strelnikov wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:35 am
1. This is the war Abd has been having with Wikipedia's science people for a long time. The "Guerilla Skeptics" and their friends don't believe that cold fusion works or could ever work, Abd says no, it does work.
Actually, not quite. Rather, the evidence is that there is an anomaly, something not understood. It doesn't "work," which implies practical application -- or something ready to engineer for that. Not yet. It might, or it might never "work."

Those people are really "Guerilla Pseudoskeptics," too often. They are believers in "conventional wisdom," and my post addresses that widespread opinion with a quotation from a peer-reviewed review of the field.

When people with knowledge of some fringe field -- and cold fusion is reasonably defined as "fringe," -- try to put stuff in articles, sourcing it to inferior sources, they are commonly told: if you want to claim this in an article, convince a mainstream journal to publish it and you can do it. But if someone actually does that -- as I did -- they then will dismiss the journal articles as being written by "believers," therefore not to be used. They argue that the journal peer review was fooled, all synthesis and innuendo. The review mentioned was published by Current Science, dismissed by a Smith brother as a "shitty journal published in Bangalore," which is essentially racist. India has a strong nuclear physics research base, though "cold fusion" is actually a chemistry topic. The journal is multidisiplinary, and the anonymous reviewer for my article appears to have been a physicist, who was tough to convince, but in the end, they read the sources and then helped write the conclusion.

Trolls dismiss anything in the field as "woo," completely ignoring real science and going for the cargo cult variety. I referenced also an article from last year published in Nature. Woo?
2. FRAM was a long complicated mess, why not this?
Indeed. There is a reason why, for a time in 1989, half the US discretionary research budget was turned to cold fusion. (Mostly in clumsy and doomed replication efforts. Rushed.) There is a reason why many hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in such research, and why such investment continues. And, no, no cigar yet.
3. I defer to Abd.
On this topic, smart. But I do not ask for "belief." I do ask for recognition of fact, such as what has been published in mainstream peer-reviewed journals. (It has actually been published and anyone can verify that.) Or personal testimony, such as what I allege Feynman said in 1961-3. That is actually the only direct quote I remember from the lectures.

Vagurant is pushing knee-jerk buttons. That's what trolls do, and there are acolytes who lap it up.

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by Abd » Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:53 pm

And once again, Vagilant responds to a post here very rapidly, he's following closely. I certainly don't say that everyone is lying, only that he is (and that JzG did). What is below is verifiable, but how about the claim of an anonymous person that their graduate thesis was cited 200 times? Anonymous testimony is worthless unless verifiable. Below is the original content when linked:

To make it more clear that this is Wikipedia criticism, the Wikipedia article on cold fusion still contains crap from a decade ago, where the conclusions of the DoE panels (1989 and 2004) are presented in a way that makes the appearance of outright rejection stronger. Both reviews recommended further research, but against a massive federally-funding program.

I agree with that conclusion, it was correct for those times (especially the first review). What was -- and is -- needed were more basic, modest studies, what I recommended in my 2015 review of the helium results. The basic science should be nailed first!

So, for Wikipedia purposes, in science, peer-reviewed and academic publications, and especially peer-reviewed reviews, are supposed to be golden, and more recent reviews can trump older ones, because science moves on. The article implies that publication ceased.
Since articles about cold fusion are rarely published in peer-reviewed mainstream scientific journals any longer, they do not attract the level of scrutiny expected for mainstream scientific publications.[16]
[16]Goodstein 1994,Labinger & Weininger 2005, p. 1919. Goodstein was quite friendly to cold fusion research. Was this a peer-reviewed review? No. It is, in fact a very interesting article, a largely personal account. The text quoted is from the introduction, and Goodstein was describing the situation in 1994, it became very difficult to publish for a time.

But this is being used as if it describes the present situation. Instead of "In 1994, David Goodstein wrote," it's stated as if a present fact, implying continuity.

And then Labinger and Weininger. 2005. A chunk of that source is quoted in a note:
Labinger, JA; Weininger, SJ (2005), "Controversy in chemistry: how do you prove a negative?—the cases of phlogiston and cold fusion", Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 44 (13): 1916–22, doi:10.1002/anie.200462084, PMID 15770617, So there matters stand: no cold fusion researcher has been able to dispel the stigma of 'pathological science' by rigorously and reproducibly demonstrating effects sufficiently large to exclude the possibility of error (for example, by constructing a working power generator), nor does it seem possible to conclude unequivocally that all the apparently anomalous behavior can be attributed to error.
That was their conclusion, but it was shallow. It does, at least, present the issue as not closed. But there is much more, that existed by then, which Labinger and Weininger do not seem to have been be aware of. There is consistent anomalous behavior, overlooked by too many, and thus my 2015 review, directly confronting this. Peer-reviewed review!

There are studies of publication rates, and 2005 was about the nadir. After then, publication increased. In a study on Wikiversity -- deleted at the demand of Wikipedian pseudoskeptics, but rescued -- I collected sources, and count 19 peer-reviewed reviews since 2005. (This page has not been updated, and does not include many reviews in Current Science in 2015.)

The strongest review available when I was still editing was Storms, "Status of Cold-Fusion (2010)" in Naturwissenschaften (convenience preprint). That was an invited review, featured in Springer-Verlag's "flagship multidisciplinary journal." For a time, it was at least linked from the article. Removed. Why? How is it that very old passing comments are being used, but much more recent peer-reviewed reviews are ignored?

It's obvious. Certain editors took a position, years ago, and defend it tooth and claw. Looking for an example, my, my my!

JzG removed a link to a preprint of a Naturwissenschaften paper by Hagelstein. JzG lied. There is no copyvio there. He lied before about all this, was confronted, and his position was rejected. But nobody watches. (Springer-Verlag in general allows authors to put up preprints like this.)

and then I see more. In the ArbCom case I presented over JzG's abusive blacklisting of lenr-canr.org -- the site he's referring to, which is quite careful about copyright -- he was found to be "involved" with cold fusion and therefore his use of tools was a violation of policy. And he used his tools again with the article. Naughty.

Everyone who might have been knowledgeable enough to confront this was banned. JzG has lied about all this many times.

That Hagelstein paper is also a major review, and of high interest. It treats the helium results as a given. And then points to a paradox. Cold fusion is a mystery, that's my "theory." We do not know what is happening. While it appears to be some kind of fusion, it certainly isn't ordinary!

JzG consistently acted to obscure papers, to prevent readers from being able to access them. He lied about copyright and other aspects of this. And he got away with it, because . . . .

Fill in the blank.

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by ericbarbour » Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:42 am

Abd wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:53 pm
JzG consistently acted to obscure papers, to prevent readers from being able to access them. He lied about copyright and other aspects of this. And he got away with it, because . . . .

Fill in the blank.
I sent you the book wiki material. The Chapman article in there is only a small taste of his incredible, irrational arrogance/stupidity. He's "one of a kind"--a kind the world really doesn't need. I said years ago that if Wikipedia wanted to prevent the veneration of pseudoscience, they should make an outright statement and a firm policy that Wikipedia is a creation of science and respects peer-reviewed science firmly, or something to that effect. Instead the bastards left the whole question open and unresolved. So shitheads like the Guerilla Skeptics, Mathsci, and Chapman could fuck with people for "entertainment".
#BbbGate

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Re: Hey, "Cold fusion!"

Post by Strelnikov » Sat Feb 08, 2020 6:36 pm

ericbarbour wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:42 am
Abd wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:53 pm
JzG consistently acted to obscure papers, to prevent readers from being able to access them. He lied about copyright and other aspects of this. And he got away with it, because . . . .

Fill in the blank.
I sent you the book wiki material. The Chapman article in there is only a small taste of his incredible, irrational arrogance/stupidity. He's "one of a kind"--a kind the world really doesn't need. I said years ago that if Wikipedia wanted to prevent the veneration of pseudoscience, they should make an outright statement and a firm policy that Wikipedia is a creation of science and respects peer-reviewed science firmly, or something to that effect. Instead the bastards left the whole question open and unresolved. So shitheads like the Guerilla Skeptics, Mathsci, and Chapman could fuck with people for "entertainment".
Good point about not issuing a statement, but possibly Jimbo or the Higher Powers wanted to leave things as they were because they didn't want to seem biased one way or the other.

The problem really lies with the promoters-investigators of ESP-psychic phenomena/UFOs/Fortean phenomena/etc. - they are wedded to writing books and running magazines and blogging, also podcasting. There should be a Weird Phenomena wiki to counterbalance RationalWiki and Wikipedia, but they aren't interested in doing it, probably because they were quietly watching what happened to Conservapedia and the idiot war that went on between RationalWiki and CP during the Bush II years. Why waste time fighting half-educated teenagers and college students (the bulk of RationalWiki's editorbase) who will show up to vandalize the site when the books bring in money and podcasters can get on the Patreon train? I mean people tried to run messageboards critical of CSICOP (Winston Wu* comes to mind) and the skeptics poured out of the woodwork to challenge everything and anything - they were "running" Wu's Skepcop board within a year or so. This is a very ugly war of non-scientists bullying the internet to be mindlessly pro-science, with anybody saying "you have no proof to this assertion or that" being trounced and danced on - this is the revenge of Logical Positivism on the (electronic) public square.
___________

* Wu is his own odd kettle of fish - the story was that he was a schizophrenic who hated how the drugs made him feel, so he stopped using them and faced the hallucinations head-on like John Nash the mathematician. He was a "9/11 truther" (remember those?) and wrote weirdly.

Stephen Bond on why he dropped out of skeptic circles and why it is just LP under a new name: https://web.archive.org/web/20120225010 ... positivism

"....As a skeptic, I was not shoring up the revolutionary barricades: instead, I was cheering on the Tsar's cavalry." - Bond.

The "non-scientist" bit has always been there with skepticism as can be seen in the career of James Randi: http://badskeptic.blogspot.com/2016/05/ ... -liar.html

Nobody ever actually asks the scientists what they think of organized skepticism. I'm sure the answers would be fascinating.
Still "Globally Banned" on Wikipedia for the high crime of journalism.

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