President Bush “briefed” on cold fusion

In 1989, Dr. Glenn Seaborg was asked to brief President George H. W. 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.

Stephen Bannister on the Cold Fusion Now! podcast

Episode 22 of the Cold Fusion Now! podcast features Dr. Stephen C. Bannister, an Economist at University of Utah Salt Lake City. Dr. Bannister received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign and then spent a career in high technology, becoming Director of Novell in Provo, Utah.

He then returned for a PhD in Economics at University of Utah where most of his research centers around energy and economic activity and is strongly connected to climate change.

Listen to Dr. Stephen Bannister on the Cold Fusion Now! podcast with Ruby Carat on the podcast page here.

Approaching the 30th anniversary of the announcement of cold fusion by Drs. Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons on March 23, 1989, Ruby asked Dr. Bannister if there was any activity on the campus to commemorate the event.

“If you go to the chemistry department and bring up this topic – which I have done – they come back and say “Oh no no no, that’s pathological science, and we don’t want to talk about it much”, says Dr. Bannister, “and I’m not sure that anyone in the physics department has much of an interest in [cold fusion] today. I don’t know that, but I’ve talked to some of the grad students in physics and there’s no awareness of it at that level. However, there is some interest in the Department of Earth Sciences.”

Dr. Bannister learned that a former post-doc at Los Alamos National Lab, who had prepared a report on the LENR work of Dr. Edmund Storms, had subsequently become Dean at the College of Earth Sciences at University of Utah. He and Dr. Bannister are “now in communication thinking about how to begin to advance the rehabilitation of the reputations of Drs. Fleischmann and Pons, and do some other things, although its not very formal yet.”

The National Cold Fusion Institute, funded right after the 1989 announcement, has an archive housed in the UU Library, offering another chance to bring more material to light.

Listen to Dr. Stephen C. Bannister discuss the relationship between energy inputs and economic output, and how breakthrough energy fits in, on the Cold Fusion Now! podcast with Ruby Carat on our podcast page here.

The LANR/CF Colloquium happens this weekend!

Go to to register now!

Chase Peterson, Former President of University of Utah, Dies

This article was originally published in Infinite Energy Magazine here.


by Marianne Macy

Chase Nebeker Peterson, former President of University of Utah, died on September 14, 2014 from complications of pneumonia. His life story was traced in his 2012 autobiography, The Guardian Poplar: A Memoir of Deep Roots, Journey, and Rediscovery. The concept of roots were important to Chase Peterson. He never forgot his own from a family of Mormon pioneers, despite a life that would take him from his birthplace of Logan, Utah to elite eastern prep schools and Harvard University, from which he was an undergraduate and graduate of the medical school. In 2006, Peterson received the Harvard Medal, awarded at commencement by the Alumni Association for a “lifetime contribution to Harvard.” He had three official careers—Vice President of Harvard University, Vice President for Health Services at the University of Utah, and President of the University of Utah. He also practiced medicine and taught his last class in July of 2014. He was a public spokesperson for innovation at the institutions he was associated with, an innovator, administrator who instituted an open door policy with students, doctor, writer, and visionary.

Cornel West, philosopher, best-selling author, civil rights activist, saluted Chase Peterson for “his prophetic witness at Harvard in the turbulent 60s and 70s, his promotion of black priesthood in the Mormon church, his support of anti-apartheid protest in the 1980s, and his steadfast defense of academic freedom during the cold fusion controversy in the early 90s—all expressed his quiet and humble effort to be true to himself.”

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr. heard that Dr. Chase Peterson had died and put a moving tribute on air that saluted Peterson for his historically important actions at Harvard which included hiring the first African-American admissions staff member, instituting an enrollment strategy to embrace students less privileged than the typical Ivy League undergraduate—which, as it turned out, included O’Donnell himself, whose admissions entry interview was with Chase Peterson. The United States Supreme Court cited the measures Chase Peterson instituted as exemplary.

In 1978 Peterson had returned from Harvard to the University of Utah as Vice President in charge of health sciences and the university hospital program. There he found “a unique culture.” The University of Utah, he wrote, offered “an unfettered opportunity to restless young faculty members” who would not face the restraints imposed by more settled places. “Ambitious people—often mavericks held back by practices at other institutions—found comfort and support at the University of Utah.” In his book, Peterson mentioned Max Wintrobe, who in the 1940s was the leading hemotologist, texbook author and junior professor at John Hopkins, where he felt at the time he hit a glass ceiling of anti-Semitism at the otherwise excellent institution. Wintrobe, Peterson wrote, felt Utah, while lacking the research budgets of the institutions in the east, “nevertheless presented unlimited opportunity—a new Zion as it were—open to a Jew or anyone else smart and hard-working enough to take advantage of possibilities. As chief of the Department of Internal Medicine, he brought with him a critical mass of respected young medical investigators. Even more importantly, he brought a personal level of excellence that was infectious and launched Utah toward the upper ranks of medical schools and centers.” Peterson also pointed out that this receptive climate was historically illustrated in 1916, when Utah elected the second Jewish governor in the United States, Simon Bamberger, who was widely admired. He added that Bamberger had called the Utah Legislature into special session to ratify the national woman’s suffrage amendment.

Salt Lake City’s University of Utah is the “economic engine for the state,” a phrase coined by former University President David Gardner. Chase Peterson throughout his career valued his home state for its pioneering spirit and what to him was the epitome of American opportunity. Peterson worked to establish a nationally recognized center of medical research, with special contributions in genetic research and the high profile recognition for being the site of the first human heart implant based on research done by Dr. Willem Kolff. In 1982 Kolff’s results were approved by the FDA. In December 1982 the chief surgeon, Dr. William DeVries, operated on Barney Clark and implanted the artificial heart. Chase Peterson was the face of the University, giving twice a day reports to the assembled international media. In his memoir, Dr. Chase Peterson discussed the extraordinary events, but in a narrative twist completely his own finished his in-depth account of the medical breakthrough with the sort of question that Peterson attributed to the extraordinary world fascination with the story. Chase Peterson wrote that Barney Clark’s wife had told Chase right before surgery Barney had asked, “I wonder if I will still love you when I lose my heart?” Peterson wrote, “He answered that question a few days post-op when—still reduced whispering around a tracheotomy tube—he gestured to his wife and mouthed the words, ‘I love you.’ The scalpel had met its match. Love required a functional pump, but its home was elsewhere.”

Chase Peterson’s tenure and tributes are marked with mentions of his leadership, enthusiasm and generosity. Others remarked on his courage and support of academic freedom, freedom of inquiry and pursuit of ideas. To Peterson, this was a sacred trust he felt was his mission to uphold. His obituaries mentioned controversies of his tenure as University President, what he wrote of as the “perfect storm” on conflicting interests and opinions over Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons’ discovery and work on cold fusion at the University of Utah. The variety of descriptions reflected on the field now in Peterson’s obituary accounts illustrate the spectrum of those perspectives. Chase Peterson never stopped believing it was his job and responsibility to support the freedom of research, no matter the personal cost to himself and his family, no matter the warnings of no less an advisor than Nobel laureate Hans Bethe, who told him ahead of time, “They will only laugh at you.”

Peterson wrote in his memoir: “No president, dean or department chair at any research university can arbitrarily influence the publication or suppression of something against a faculty member’s will, whether that something is a chemical process, a better can opener, a concerto, a play, a piece of writing, or anything else. Neither can a faculty member’s right to publish or circulate something be prevented. Such action violates academic freedom in its most basic sense.”

If cold fusion could work, Chase Peterson said, it would be as important as the discovery of fire. The local NPR station in Salt Lake City rebroadcast a program on Peterson’s book this week that quoted him as saying this. More important was the right to pursue cold fusion, or any idea. Chase Peterson’s support of cold fusion was instrumental in costing him the presidency of the University of Utah. He often stated that he would do it all over again. Patrick Shea, who had served as counsel to Fleischmann and Pons, this week reflecting on Chase Peterson’s death commented, “No University of Utah president has ever done as much to support his faculty and their academic freedom.”

Chase Peterson is survived by his wife Grethe Ballif Peterson, his children Stuart and Edward Peterson, Erika Munson, and thirteen grandchildren. His memorial service will be held on September 27th at 10:00 am in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Monument Park North Stake.

Marianne Macy has been doing oral histories relating to the history of cold fusion since 2007 and is writing a book on cold fusion’s start to the present day. An excerpt from the book will run in Issue 118 of Infinite Energy.

Related Links

The Guardian Poplar: A Memoir of Deep Roots, Journey, and Rediscover by Chase Nebeker Peterson

Cold Fusion Now Cross-Country Tour Ruby Carat visits the University of Utah campus.

Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons In Their Own Words

Twenty-three years ago on March 23, 1989 Dr. Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons made an announcement of their astounding discovery of a new form of energy then dubbed cold fusion.

One of the first scientific discoveries born of the modern mass media, the world buzzed with fax machines and satellite TV as scientists dropped what they were doing to try to reproduce their results. A deceptively simple apparatus was more difficult to handle than thought, and very brilliant people became brilliantly emotional at their inability to accomplish the Fleischmann-Pons Effect FPE.

Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons were since abandoned by their universities and disowned by their colleagues. They have yet to be recognized for their work by mainstream science even as, more than two decades later, independent labs are close to developing a commercial technology that could change the future of humanity.

We honor these two Lions of Science who had the courage to face the unknown with honesty and integrity. Sirs, you have no peers!

These videos are from the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour of that day, when the pair were interview by journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. They come compliments of the New Energy Foundation which provides direct support to new energy researchers and was founded by Eugene Mallove, an early defender intellectual honesty and a champion for those scientists who were shut out from the community they so loved.

Thank-you Martin Fleischmann; Thank-you Stanley Pons

It’s officially 22 years since the announcement of your discovery – fusion-power from heavy water and a tiny piece of metal.

We’re grateful for your contribution. We’re grateful for your courage.

We know it wasn’t easy. You shouldn’t have had to go through such bullying from fellow scientists.

But you started a revolution.

And we’re so glad you did. This discovery will give the world a second chance at a technological future with peace and freedom.

You have been vindicated. A new generation knows your contribution and learn without prejudice.

The work isn’t finished.

And we’re not going to stop until we have the future this planet deserves.

Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons
Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons Heros of Tomorrow


With Love and Peace and Gratitude,

Our Home

PS Just look what you started!

Sterling Allan and Andrea Rossi on Coast to Coast AM on this anniversary of Drs. Fleischmann and Pons‘ announcement.