President Bush “briefed” on cold fusion

In 1989, Dr. Glenn Seaborg was asked to brief President George A. Bush on the “cold fusion” phenomenon. On April 14 of that year he did so.

April 14, 1989 Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg talks to President Bush about cold fusion. Photo from Reflections on the Legacy of a Legend Glenn T. Seaborg 1912–1999 by David L. Clark and David E. Hobart

Eugene F. Mallove wrote in Intimations of Disaster: Glenn Seaborg, the Scientific Process, and the Origin of the “Cold Fusion War” [.pdf]:

Even though the jury was certainly still out on the evidence for
or against “cold fusion,” Seaborg, through some as-yet-to-be-revealed process (though he certainly had conducted no experiments), had determined that cold fusion was not what it was claimed to be. On April 14, 1989 Seaborg told President Bush that “it is not due to nuclear fusion.”

We discovered this extremely revealing account of Glenn Seaborg’s actions in the spring of 1989, which appeared in an issue of Skeptical Inquirer, November/December 1997, as part of “The Elemental Man: An Interview with Glenn T. Seaborg”.

SI: During the early stages of the cold fusion furor, President Bush asked you to come to the White House and give him your views on the matter. What happened? What did you tell him?

Seaborg: In April 1989, I was called back to Washington to brief George Bush on “cold fusion,” the totally unexpected phenomenon that University of Utah scientists announced they had discovered by the simple process of electrolysis of heavy water. A couple of days earlier, the purported co-discoverer of “cold fusion,” University of Utah electrochemist Stanley Pons, spoke to an enthusiastic standingroom-only audience of chemists at the semi-annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas. His talk had attracted so much attention that, apparently, the news had reached the White House. After briefing White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, I went into the Oval Office to brief President Bush on April 14, 1989. I told him about my role in the discovery of the radioactive iodine that had been used a couple of days earlier to treat his wife, Barbara, and said that a similar treatment with radioactive iodine had effected a miraculous cure for my mother, who was suffering from the same condition as Barbara. The president facetiously said that Barbara is now radioactive and she is not allowed to kiss their dog as long as this condition prevails, but he implied that it didn’t seem that this prohibition included himself—the president. I then went on and described briefly the situation with respect to cold fusion. I indicated that this is not a valid observation—that is, that it is not due to nuclear fusion—but, on the other hand, it must be investigated. The president seemed very interested and convinced by my assessment, and encouraged us very much to go ahead with an investigation. [Infinite Energy’s emphasis]

I might add that the panel I recommended to study the purported “cold fusion” process was created and about six months later came out with a report disputing the validity of the observation, pretty much in line with the view I adopted in my briefing of the president. Also it is interesting to note that President Bush himself, two years later, in May 1991, benefitted from treatment with the same radioactive iodine (iodine-131).
—(End of the Skeptical Inquirer interview section)—

–From Eugene Mallove’s Intimations of Disaster: Glenn Seaborg, the Scientific Process, and the Origin of the “Cold Fusion War” [.pdf]:

Dr. Seaborg received the Presidential National Medal of Science from President Bush in 1991.

One Reply to “President Bush “briefed” on cold fusion”

  1. The source of the statement can be found in Seaborg lecture”My Service with Ten Presidents”…
    My URL are dead, but waybackmachine have some pages

    I’ve found this biography with similar data quoted

    It reminds me the work of Linus Pauling on Quasicristals

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