When you come to a fork in the road, take it! – Yogi Berra
Being able to replicate a scientific discovery is one of the mainstays of the scientific method. Difficulty in replicating the Fleischmann and Pons experiment in 1989 has given rise to the widely held myth that cold fusion in fact has never been replicated. Of course this is not true. The number of documented replications runs in the thousands. Yet, even a number in the 1000s is small in the grand scheme of things. The reasons for this are myriad, including the lack of a clear theoretical understanding of the phenomenon, poor funding, the complicated nature of the calorimetry setup, etc. Aside from those things, there is often the desire to keep important parts of replication process out of the public domain because of lack of patent protection. Because cold fusion has been forced to fly commercial because of a lack of access to funding and support through traditional scientific channels, the technology is being developed under a different model than most scientific discoveries of this significance. Cold fusion is now being developed like a business, including reluctance to share information to potential competitors and closely guarded trade secrets and, concomitantly, absolutely no obligation to the public at large to share findings or methods.
However, things have begun to change in this regard with the emergence of Francesco Celani’s cold fusion wires, and the continuing development of the Athanor/Hydrobetatron of Ugo Abundo and his students and colleagues at the Pirelli High School in Rome. Although these cells may never prove to be commercially viable, both may provide a replication pathway that serves to provide answers as to how and why, and subsequently disseminate that knowledge widely. When this happens, widespread replication can truly begin.
The recent 8-page article in Popular Science may serve to plant the seed of interest in the general public. While the article did not endorse the technology per se, it did lend it a sense of credibility that has been sorely lacking for 2 decades. Popular Science has been a publication read by the educated layman since its inception in 1873. The importance of establishing some degree of credibility with that demographic cannot be understated. It was this demographic that brought us the personal computer. It was after reading an article in a similar publication, Popular Electronics, in 1975 about the Altair 8800, that set Bill Gates out to start a company that would eventually become Microsoft. In addition, the co-founders of both Microsoft and Apple (Gates/Allen & Job/Wozniak) were members of Homebrew Computer Clubs, which were bands of computer hobbyists and enthusiasts who met regularly to exchange information, parts and ideas. In essence, Homebrew Clubs were an early form of crowdsourcing, wherein small groups of technically savvy people worked independently, but in a collaborative fashion, to solve problems and overcome technical difficulties as related to early manifestations of the PC.
With the recent release of the “The Believers” and several balanced articles in mainstream magazines including Popular Science (Scientific American notwithstanding), the seeds of credible interest are being sewn to a wider audience. As more people become aware that there is something to cold fusion, interest will surely grow and the desire to replicate will surely follow. We saw a wave of replication efforts of the e-Cat last year as word of Rossi spread across the web. However, these efforts were mostly shots in the dark because Rossi provided so few details. The next wave of replication attempts will be among people with much more information, as both Abundo and Celani have made a concerted effort to provide a great deal of detail with the precise goal of enabling widespread replication.
The Martin Fleishmann Memorial Project is currently sponsoring three groups attempting to replicate the Celani cell. The slide show below outlines the rationale and plan for sponsoring replications.
The three groups enlisted in this replication effort so far are working separately but will be collaborating, sharing information and discussing technical issues. These are the seeds of cold fusion crowdsourcing. In the video below, a member of the EU replication team receives a shipment prepared by another team, the Hunt Utilities Group. The shipment includes all the necessary equipment to set up a replication, including the cell itself and a PC with custom software to monitor experimental results. Per the video description:
“This is a trial run for when we are ready to ship second generation reactors around the globe in the event of successful internal Celani replications”.
As you watch Matthew of the EU team unbox the cold fusion kit from HUG, he looks like a youngster at Christmas opening up one of his presents. Now imagine, if you will, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others being able to purchase a similar setup for their own replication attempts. Per quantumheat.org:
“We will be setting up a Crowd-sourcing initiative soon. It will be listed right here and elsewhere when we do. The idea of a global, grass roots effort overcoming the institutional biases and bringing this to the attention of mainstream science and industry is so cool. Of course, a visionary philanthropist who recognizes the potential of this and funds the whole historic initiative also makes a good story.”
One of the groups involved in this replication attempt is, as mentioned, the Hunt Utilities Group of Pine River, MN. This group is dedicated to fostering sustainable living, and has been involved in different alternative energy technologies for at least a decade. On the HUG site there is a section that describes how the group became interested in LENR. Members of this group became aware of Rossi in January of 2011 and have been following the developments regarding the e-Cat ever since. Eventually, it became obvious that something very real and significant was happening and members of HUG decided to transition from watching on the sidelines to active participation.
“So, we started studying, built a safety lab to handle hydrogen and nano-powder safely, built a clean room (relative to the rest of the shop) and started gathering and building test equipment. The fun part is that the learning curve is so steep, we need mountain climbing gear. Our shop staff quickly evolved from a loose bunch of individuals into a focused team. We feel lucky. We also feel a sense of destiny that we happen to have the right team with the right tools at the right time.”
Furthermore, the Hunt Utilities Group embraces the collaborative, crowdsourcing model:
“HUG envisions a unique approach to collaboration in the LENR field that would ideally catalyze progress for the encumbered information sharing process. With open information sharing via crowdsourced blogging, ideas can be traded quickly without delay. Live data could be posted for review, criticisms, interpretation, and suggestions from peers and collaborators. At the expense of immediate intellectual property rights, the accelerating benefits could prove an invaluable asset leading to certified patents.” Source.
To help those attempting to replicate Celani, Earthtech.org of Austin, TX (home of NI), has set up a cold fusion device verification service. Per a recent comment on E-Cat World, the service works thusly:
“Harold Puthoff, the CEO, would pass the making of the Celani device to Scott Little, for lab replication and testing, if asked, and have the costs absorbed by the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin.
Any cold fusion device that passes their testing would be immediately recognized world-wide as “officially” verified.”
In addition to the replication of Celani, replication attempts of the Athanor/Hydrobetatron cell of Ugo Abundo of the Pirelli High School in Rome have spread to North America. There is now a replication attempt of that cell being undertaken at the Gladstone Secondary School, in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is of course the same city where Defkalion Green Technologies is making its new home.
In a comment posted a couple of weeks ago on the Defkalion Forum, a user with the screen name “HappyRocker,” announced the school’s involvement in an Athanor replication attempt. A member of the faculty of that school posted a comment on the DGT Forum and requested a visit to the new Defkalion offices in Vancouver. Short of that, this commenter requested a visit by a Defkalion representative to the school to explain the basics and/or lend a hand with the calorimetry setup of their replication attempt. It should be noted, aside from any support from Defkalion with issues regarding calorimetry, the Vancouver school has enlisted the services of an expert in calorimetry from Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University to assist them with this important aspect of the experiment.
Since the original posting, more details have emerged about this work. The school has named their project the EC2, or EC squared (short for electro-chemistry electron capture). They have setup a project blog for students involved with the work, which can be viewed here. In the future they also plan to set up a fundraising effort through Kickerstarter.com, and they hope to sell coffee mugs, T-shirts and quite possibly even replication kits. Preliminary testing in regards to the EC2 project is to begin very shortly.
I think the promise of widespread, crowdsourced replications of some cold fusion cell were summarized recently by Jed Rothwell on Vortex-l. His comments were primarily in regards to the Celani cell but the same could be said of the Athanor, or any other potential cold fusion replication kit meant for a more general audience.
We can hope that the Celani device, replicated by 5 or 10 labs, will convince hundreds more researchers than we now have.
Many of them will replicate, triggering thousands more. Once you get up to a million people who believe it, money starts pouring in, and thousands get to work frantically developing the technology.
At that point it does not matter how many people still do not believe the technology is real.