Scientific American Attacks Cold Fusion Research with Twenty-Year-Old Claims

Scientific American has published a piece of typing on cold fusion that would have founder Rufus Porter rolling in his grave with its glaring, unsagacious bias.

After twenty-three years of research confirming the phenomenon, in-the-dark and over-40-somethings continue to type the same old myths they once heard about twenty-years ago, and this author from a Scientific American-sponsored blog is no exception.

Jennifer Ouelette‘s assemblage Genie in a Bottle: The Case Against Cold Fusion is a sad collision of two-decades old gossip, Hollywood scripts, and misinformation, which she has casually repeated without batting a false eyelash. She claims to “well remember the controversy” when it first erupted, and has “followed it on and off” since then.

Or, perhaps it was from her CalTech physicist husband Sean Carroll‘s colleagues that she obtained such errant perspective. (This is innuendo with intent to gossip.)

CalTech was one of the labs to emotionally denounce the discovery, and the persons, after they failed to reproduce the effect. (This isn’t gossip.)

The article claims recycled twenty-year-old statements, twenty-years-ago refuted. None of the last two decades of increasingly advanced results were considered.

Who doesn’t like fun, light science? But this is no ordinary “Bad Moon Rising: The Science of Werewolves”, her next follow-up post for Halloween night. This is representing Scientific American on one of the greatest discoveries since fire.

Ouelette types “.. wanting something to be true isn’t the same as something actually being true in the rigorous experimental sense of the word.” We suggest Ouelette, whose avatar shows a woman having a cocktail, imbibe a few more before pontificating on this topic again. Seeing straight, she might encounter the catalog of scientists in the field speaking about their research.

Remove Institutional Blocks at MIT and CalTech; Fund cold fusion programs now by Ruby Carat

How Nature Refused to Look at the CalTech Calorimetry by Jed Rothwell [.pdf]

MIT Special Report by Eugene Mallove [.pdf]

U.S. Naval researcher Melvin Miles has spent twenty years successfully reproducing the experiments and analyzing early flawed data from CalTech and MIT showing clear mistakes in their hasty attempts to emulate the effect.

Critical comments to the article were deleted, including those by former Los Alamos National Lab nuclear chemist Edmund Storms, who has been researching cold fusion, also called low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), lattice-assisted nuclear reactions (LANR), and quantum fusion for two decades.

Jed Rothwell, longtime researcher and writer wrote a response on his science archive site and we reproduce that here.

Scientific American censors discussion of cold fusion, including statements by its own editors
–October 31, 2012 by Jed Rothwell

The Scientific American published another attack on cold fusion, Ouellette, J., Genie in a Bottle: The Case Against Cold Fusion, in Scientific American 2012. The author ignores the scientific literature and looks instead at movies, popular culture and mythology surrounding the 1989 announcement. She concludes that cold fusion does not exist.

In the on-line discussion of this article, the author allowed only skeptical arguments against cold fusion. She erased all rebuttals, and all messages supporting it, including: proof that many scientists support the research; that the effect has been widely replicated; and that over a thousand peer-reviewed papers on the subject have been published in mainstream journals. Finally, she erased messages quoting the editors of the Scientific American, and a message saying that peer-reviewed replicated experiments are the standard of truth in experimental science, which cited the Chairman of the Indian AEC and other distinguished scientists.

To paraphrase Marx, the opposition to cold fusion began as a tragedy and it is ending as a farce.

Edmund Storms
wrote this response to this column:

The scientific proof supporting the claims made by Fleischmann and Pons is now overwhelming. This is not the opinion of a “handful of diehard supporters” but of several major universities and corporations. The information is easily obtained at and in many books written about the history and the science. We are no longer in 1990 when the claims were in doubt and many people attempted to replicate them, some with success. Many of the reasons for success and failure are now known. An explanation for the phenomenon is being developed and claims are being demonstrated for commercial-level power. Surely a writer for a magazine as important as Scientific American would know these facts and not continue using the myth that was created before the facts were known.

The author first erased it, but later restored it, adding, “With all due respect to Dr. Storms, I stand by my post.” She erased several messages from many different contributors. Here are two by Jed Rothwell:

If you are going to quote Robert Park, it seems to me you owe it to your audience to quote him when he brags publicly that he has never read a single paper. That is what he has said, repeatedly. He said it to a large crowd of people at the APS. If you do not believe me, ask him yourself. It is misleading to quote him as some sort of expert when he brags about the fact that he knows nothing.

The editors of the Scientific American also told me that they have read no papers on this subject, because ‘reading papers is not our job.’ Their assertions about cold fusion are also technically wrong. I published their comments here:

Further quoting Rothwell:

[Quoting a skeptical attack] Cude wrote: “I’m not aware of a single major university that has expressed the opinion that evidence for the claims of P&F is overwhelming.”

Professors at universities and at other institutions express that opinion. For example, the Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission said that, as did the world’s top expert in tritium at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (NSF p. 13-3). In 1991, The Director of the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Berlin wrote: “. . . there is now undoubtedly overwhelming indications that nuclear processes take place in the metal alloys.”

Hundreds of other distinguished experts in nuclear physics and other related disciplines have said they are certain cold fusion is real. They know this because they have conducted experiments and detected the reaction at high signal to noise ratios, and their experiments have survived rigorous peer-review. That is the only way anyone ever knows anything for sure in science. Replicated, high sigma experiments are the only standard of truth.

Original article by Jed Rothwell here.

Jennifer Ouelette, you might never have dreamed repeating someone else’s twenty-year-old claims would hurt so much!

As our planet careens towards resource wars, ecocide, and economic collapse, the stakes for a clean, powerful, new source of energy are as high as they can be. Cold fusion offers a solution, so total, it’s hard to imagine.

Contact me! Let’s go for a cocktail, and you will be surprised at what has transpired over the last two-decades, and why the cold fusion myth persists today. I’ll meet you at your favorite haunt.

Till then, here’s Dr. Edmund Storms discussing how the myth got started.

WATCH What is Cold Fusion and Why Should You Care? by Edmund Storms.

Cold Fusion Now!

18 Replies to “Scientific American Attacks Cold Fusion Research with Twenty-Year-Old Claims”

  1. Just another *Bleep*ing Troll.
    Still, any contoversy shines a spotlight on the issue.
    I do hope she signed the artice in her own name, so her Grandchildren will know how famous she was.

  2. Scientific America has fallen so far…they don’t even allow any more comments on the threat to counteract this anti-LENR propaganda piece. Sick.

    1. Cocktail Party Physics is fun, but doesn’t prepare you cold fusion. Too bad she just picked the wrong side!

      1. Ruby,

        That picture at the top…. crazy image… love it!

        No stick ham can… had me laughing…

        ‘Cocktail Physics Lady’

        Watta moniker…

        1. Yeah, a lucky find on that classic ad.

          If the cold fusion myth is the ham, the digital chip body could be the new can feature that allow it to slip right out!

          Science was born of visual space literacy, the old can.
          Now it’s engulfed by a new can, a digital chip space that knows no boundaries and is instantaneous.

          Learning to adapt our ways of “knowing” can be done, and it’s tied in with our ways of communicating. The instant communication of the Internet provides a virtual communal telepathy we are only beginning to acknowledge . Compiling all of the voices fairly will take some learning how to do.

          Otherwise, we could be that juicy piece of ham to “distract the dog while the house is robbed”!

      2. Ruby, it might interest you to know that Ms. Ouelette neglects to tell us she is a former operative for the American Physical Association where she functioned as an Associate Editor. This article in the cartoonish SciAmerican is merely the official APS howl of anguish as they lie twitching in death throes. APS was one of the first to deny CF as a verified effect, and were instrumental in destroying F&P.

        APS already looks puny, and unfortunately out of touch with the new world, and new fire. The louder the howls of denialists, the more cold fusion takes control.

  3. Here’s what Edmund Storms has written:

    For those of you who do not read Vortex or Scientific, I would like to describe a recent exchange that reveals important insights about the nature of skepticism toward LENR. On Oct 29, Jennifer Ouellette published an article entitled “Genie in a Bottle: The Case Against Cold Fusion“.

    This is a entertaining description of the movie “The Believers“, which she had not seen but felt a need to describe. Her approach involved using the well worn myth about LENR, which she summarized as follows:

    Cold fusion has a handful of diehard supporters (many of whom are featured in The Believers), but the field boasts a far greater number of crackpots who inevitably undermine the rare occasions when a bona fide result is obtained in such experiments. Prevailing opinion is that the vast majority of cold fusion research falls under the rubric of “pathological science“: the results are always on the verge of a stunning validation, and whenever said validation fails (again) to materialize, there is always a handy rationale for why it isn’t really a definitive failure.

    As if this attitude where not bad enough, she dealt with the comments in a very clumsy way, which made the situation worse.

    As expected, several uninformed comments by skeptics were made. However, when Jed and I tried to add comments that supported LENR, these were deleted with the explanation.

    “UPDATE: Despite clearly stating above that I would be moderating the comment thread, and explaining why, several would-be commenters from the pro-cold fusion community — a.k.a. “the usual suspects” — were shocked, shocked! I tell you, to find that (a) I followed through on this, and (b) this policy actually applied to them. The predictable cries of “Censorship!” were heard around the Internet — which ably demonstrates why moderation is not censorship. There is an entire Internet out there for people to rail against the unfairness of it all, write lengthy point-by-point “rebuttals” that detail my many perceived bloggy sins, call me an idiot, and generally trash my character if they so choose. This blog? This is my space. And I like to keep it tidy. Comments are now closed on this post.”

    My comment was as follows:

    “The scientific proof supporting the claims made by Fleischmann and Pons is now overwhelming. This is not the opinion of a “handful of diehard supporters” but of several major universities and corporations. The information is easily obtained at and in many books written about the history and the science. We are no longer in 1990 when the claims were in doubt and many people attempted to replicate them, some with success. Many of the reasons for success and failure are now known. An explanation for the phenomenon is being developed and claims are being demonstrated for commercial-level power. Surely a writer for a magazine as important as Scientific American would know these facts and not continue using the myth that was created before the facts were known.”

    This comment was made public long enough to allow Mary Yugo and Joshua Cude, two persistent skeptics, to make critical rebuttals. Any effort to correct the mistakes made in their comments by Jed was blocked, yet their comments remain on the site without correction. Jed posted the history of the exchange at:

    This exchange reveals an effort by a major source of scientific information for the general public to discredit LENR and all the work we have been doing. The organization allowed the character of those persons trying to educate the public about LENR to be questioned and actively prevented factual information from being made available. I suggest you write to the editor of Scientific American to obtain an explanation why this approach to describing LENR is allowed.

  4. Clearly overwhelmed, tail caught between legs, Jennifer Ouelette closed the comments to her 1990’s titled article “Genie in a Bottle: The Case Against Cold Fusion.”

    This came after she was caught censoring, er “moderating”, er was it the alleged comment posting technicalities, in any event caught not allowing legitimate comments to go through, citing that it was her space; and rebuttals, cited criticisms and correction were just not allowed. In fact she is writing under Scientific American’s space, and not her own personal blogspace.

    Hopefully this now net wide cocktail party criticism she’s being drenched in will be an example for would be heads in sand writers, on what not to do as far as structuring an article around a movie one hasn’t even seen, using clear “crackpot” labeling bias with disinformation laced throughout, while curating the replies to the article in a blatant one sided manner, to the point of having to throw in the towel altogether after caught cooking the commentary…

  5. I have had time to calm down and reflect. Why am I outraged?

    I have to provide a little background. We are at the Great Turning.
    “What ‘Great Turning’, you religious nutcase?”
    The Great Turning of exponential curves. Where they go from Exponential Growth to Exponential Decay.
    Watch Professor Bartlett explain to you exactly the implications of the Exponential Function.

    But wait, there is more. The Limits to Growth Report is quite adamant. We are going to starve. Do you understand that woman? Is there anything there that is unclear to you?

    And then God Himself reaches down and offers us his hand. “Here, take my hand” He says.
    And she spits in it.

    That is nothing other than Blasphemy.
    Compound your error woman. Laugh at me.

  6. Sci-Am jumped the shark years ago.

    They are not even a shadow of their lost origins- they are a parody.

    That being said- most alternative energy sites do indeed attract a very high share of crackpots.

    I’ll just leave you with that.

  7. This morning I had my tea and sent this to a bunch of folks… The parent corporation and a bunch of its’ subsidiaries. I also sent it to a bunch of its competitors… like Discovery and Popular Science.

    A whole lot of excecutives, secretaries, editors… and other folks (I even sent it to the I.T. guys and accounting folks) are reading, comparing articles, and talking about it. The ‘Cocktail Physics’ lady should be leery about reading her email soon… how embarrassing.

    Hello Scientific American,

    A recent article in Scientific American, “Genie in a Bottle: The Case Against Cold Fusion”, by Jennifer Ouellette, is a shoddy piece of journalism. A writer for your magazine should research a subject before writing about it.

    Compare your article with two of your competitors’ and you will see what a sad job your organization has done.

    Popular Science “Andrea Rossi’s Black Box”, by Steve Featherstone

    Discover Magazine “Big Idea: Bring Back the “Cold Fusion” Dream”, by Mark Anderson

    Also consider contacting NASA about this subject. First read “Low Energy Nuclear Reaction: The Realism and Outlook” by Dennis Bushnell Chief Scientist at NASA Langley.

    I don’t know how this article got through the editor approval process of your magazine; it seems to me, and many others, that your organization is incompetent in regards to presenting this subject.

    As the art of this science is in the engineering phase with devices entering the marketplace soon, this article will prove to be a major embarrassment for your organization. You will regret the day it was published.

    Please contact me. I would like to know if, after your review of the article, you think “Genie in a Bottle: The Case Against Cold Fusion” by Jennifer Ouellette is a shoddy piece of journalism or a piece you are proud of.

    Greg Goble

  8. We have to turn this into a positive. I bet she is sorry about slappin a post together quick on cold fusion, deadlines come up so fast.

    I have invited her out for a cocktail and some girl talk!

    An ultra-clean fuel of hydrogen, estimated 3000 to 1 energy return, developed over the last two-decades by small independent labs is nearing commercial potential to provide fusion-sized, off-the-grid steam power from a small, portable, generator the size of a microwave.

    The first products are steam heaters and hot water boilers for hot and clean water.

    We cannot afford to ignore it.
    Peace in this world depends upon our choices at every moment.

    1. Hi Ruby, you have my respect for back-stopping this. Socioeconomic spin-offs would be inevitable should Lenr become a technology. However, it is very problematic to introduce these ideas at this stage. This science must develop not because it **has** to fulfill a socioeconomic need. It must develop for only the science. It is extremely problematic to have to deal with scientific a priori. For example, perhaps vested interests in Hot Fusion comes with a latent hostility a priori. Also in example university prestige is at stake; budgets; careers; pride and folly. All of this baggage does little to advance the science. How much worse is it to add other potential influences? Is a scientist going to make a discovery because the poor need it? Because it will be good for the world climate? This is ridiculous.

      If LENR was established, then taken as a given, all sorts of sociological ramifications would be spin offs. But it isn’t there yet. Worse, if the science becomes polluted by this a priori, then, whatever was horrid about the Scientific America criticism, becomes amplified in reaction to it. Please Please Please let the science alone to keep it pure (if that is ever possible).

      The topic is worthy, but surely it should be taken up in another forum.

      1. I somewhat second the “what?” from Ben..
        But will add that the poster chooses not to recognize the stage we are currently in… “Socioeconomic need” is not why the science needs to develop, it has a bit more to do with survival of the human race. We are well past issues of “university prestige, pride and folly”. We’re collapsing on all levels while being tossed such events as recent, where an East Coast is severely altered, permanently, while temporarily we’re close to all hell breaking loose.
        The paradigm has changed, and yes now the discovery drive will absolutely be because “the poor need it”, as that label is more and more defining the entire populace.

  9. What I find most annoying is that the stated biggest case against Cold Fusion is the lack of reproducibility. I can not understand this reasoning. Even the invention of the lightbulb had hundreds of failures before they hit on the right method. Even if only one in a hundred experiments yielded excess heat or radiation, and some certainty that the experiment was without errors, I would think that this would deserve all the research money it wanted.

  10. Jennifer Ouelette did not see “The Believers” but wrote long blog about it.She is a genius in lala land.I have seen this movie & it was very good movie.Myself ,former movie maker, machanical engineer by profession, congratulate movie makers for job well done.

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