The following is a further posting in a series of articles by David French, a patent attorney with 35 years experience, which will review issues of interest touching on the field of Cold Fusion.
This posting is about an event that occurred over the week of the Fourth of July celebrations. It is not an attempt to report on the science or physics presented on this occasion, but rather to remark on the special atmosphere that exists when proponents and researchers in the Cold Fusion field gather to address their favorite topic.
Over July 1-3, 2012, a group of some 40 to 50 Cold Fusion researchers and advocates assembled for a Symposium held at the University of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The title of the event was: International Low Energy New Nuclear Reactions Seminar, ILENRS-12. The object was to exchange experiences and knowledge in the Cold Fusion field. The list of attendees was impressive. Included were: Beverly Barnhart (DoD); Jean-Paul Biberian (CINaM, France); Dennis Bushnell (NASA, LRC): Peter Hagelstein (MIT); David Nagel (GWU); Mike McKubre (SRI International); George Miley (UIll) and Mahadeva Srinivasan (BARC- retired, India), as well as many other significant participants in the field.
I arrived early, driving down from Ottawa, Canada, and was therefore sufficiently rested to attend the Sunday night, July 1, opening event: registration combined with a cocktail reception on the William & Mary campus. This was an important initial gathering which was attended by almost everyone.
From the very beginning there was a feeling of camaraderie and egality in the air at this event. While not a Solvay Conference, the importance of the subject and the potential for imminent breakthroughs that might be shortly occurring was in the air. Everyone had a sense of anticipation that perhaps someone amongst the gathering might one day be a Nobel Prize winner.
These opening social exchanges are an important part of any conference event. With only 40 – 50 participants, 10 or so of whom were to be presenters, the atmosphere was very collegial. People assembled in groups of two, three and four, changing circles every 15 or 20 minutes. Everyone present was entitled to listen-in with a certainty that if you stood by for a minute or two you would be find yourself being introduced all round and accepted into the discussion. From that moment on you would be judged by your sharing of intelligent observations and your attentive listening. There was no expectation that you would be a serious expert in the field. Everyone was there to learn.
The next day opened with short introductory remarks followed immediately by presentations by Beverly Barnhart from the Department of Defense, essentially present as an observer, and then by Dr Peter Hagelstein of MIT. Peter is continuing to carry the torch for the original Pons & Fleischmann premise that deuterium atoms can be fused together in a condensed matter environment to form helium without producing high-energy particles or electromagnetic radiation. Peter reported that he is getting close to a mathematical model which would allow direct coupling of the energy from excited atomic nuclei to be transmitted to an adjacent crystal lattice. This could help explain the “miracle” of the absence of high-energy particles or electromagnetic radiation.
Further presentations followed from George Miley who reported on the detection of ultra-high-density hydrogen/deuterium nano-clusters in metal defects; Liviu Popa-Simil who reported on his concepts for a fusion-based battery; Denis Bushnell who summarized initiatives at NASA to study the LENR phenomenon; Mike McKubre commenting on the results of exploding fine nickel wires that have been loaded with hydrogen and deuterium and others who names will eventually be provided, as well as the content of their remarks, in the report on the Symposium.
It was clear by the end of the first day of presentations that there is still no clear theory yet to explain the phenomena of “unexplained excess energy – UEE”. There were no extensive references to the Widom & Larsen theory of electron capture, with the focus being more directed towards experimental data and alternate ideas rooted in a fusion phenomenon.
After the first day’s presentations, everyone was transported by bus to the site of Yorktown on the peninsula between the York and James Rivers where General Cornwallis surrendered his British Army to the encircling French and American armies commanded by George Washington. The noise level from talking in the bus on the way out was incredible. This evening dinner event by the river provided another social occasion for people to discuss face-to-face the questions that concerned them most, and share what they could contribute to answering other people’s questions. The noise level in the bus on the return was quieter, but lots of people were still talking.
The format for the second day was, after a few presentations, a series of moderated panels in which the panelists responded to questions put to them by the moderator, or raised by the audience. The effect was in keeping with the overall objective of the entire event, to address people’s concerns and help everyone better understand what has been achieved in closing-in on the mystery of Cold Fusion, or UEE.
The best part of an event of this character is that the contributions of speakers was generously given and warmly received even though the presentations may not have been perfect. Nobody provided a report that some great breakthrough had been achieved. Great leeway and forgiveness for imperfections can always be expected when the content has potentially great value. This is not to say that the presentations were deficient. The questioning was polite and an air of geniality, graciousness and polite behavior permeated the room in which an intense desire to understand was a commonly shared objective.
Some of the arcane information shared was that permeability of Palladium containing silver reaches a maximum at a silver content of 31% ; – would this be relevant to enhancing the prospects for precipitating an UEE event? And an even more arcane observation made was that the power output in the core of the Sun is less than 1 milliWatt per cubic centimeter. This observation invoked generous laughter when it was combined with the declaration that, by comparison, contemporary Cold Fusion researchers are achieving “stellar results”.
(Support for this reality can be found in this document: CPEP: Online Fusion Course , referenced in Wikipedia, here. This figure is also supported by NASA data on the energy output of the Sun obtainable from the Marshall Space Flight Center website on solar physics.)
The reality is that the Sun is not a perpetually exploding hydrogen bomb or even a furnace of unimaginable magnitude. It is a heat-containing body that has had 4.5 billion years exposure to a trickle of core-generated energy that will not stop but which takes a long time to work its way out through the 700,000 km trip to the Sun’s surface. There are many more cubic centimeters of volume in the core of the Sun than there are square centimeters of Sun surface area to radiate this energy. This explains the Sun’s apparently modest power output on a cubic centimeter basis. Cold Fusion researchers by comparison truly are achieving stellar performance.
I personally gave a short presentation on Patents and Cold Fusion, making the point that a patent will not be available for the person who eventually provides the theoretical explanation for this phenomenon. They may qualify for a Nobel Prize, but a patent requires the identification of an apparatus or arrangement which produces a useful result.
Many patents are being filed for Cold Fusion and the US PTO as a matter of policy is requiring applicants to demonstrate that the promised results can be produced by following the instructions provided in the patent applications. I was challenged to identify a case where such evidence was successfully presented, resulting in a patent issuing in this field. I could not answer the question directly and now have my homework set out for me. I will now have to read some several dozen of the patents that I have referred to in my earlier postings as being classified under “nuclear fusion”. When I find such a reference, I will definitely share the results with everyone.
David French is a retired patent attorney and the principal and CEO of Second Counsel Services. Second Counsel provides guidance for companies that wish to improve their management of Intellectual Property. For more information visit: www.secondcounsel.com.
David French is prepared to address questions included as commentaries to any of his postings or by direct email. In particular, he would like to learn what people need to know in order to better understand patents.