Cold Fusion and Cocktails

I think the whole cold fusion community, scientists, researchers and advocates alike, were outraged by the cold fusion hit piece that was recently posted on Scientific American.  Believe me, I was as perturbed as many of the rest of you.  I had an article full of righteous indignation and anger but never posted it.  While I am still perturbed, a couple of days of reflection have allowed me to gain a bit of perspective.

Scientific American is the oldest continuously-published monthly magazine in the United States.  It has been in circulation for 167 years.  Many famous scientists, including Einstein, have contributed articles to the publication during it’s over century and half of existence.  However, its reputation has been in a slow and steady decline for the past half-century.  The decline in its once stellar reputation has been even steeper in the last decade, where its contributors have taken questionable stances on a variety of issues, including commentary on political matters like the Iraq War.  The publication also did not endear itself to anyone when it raised its college library subscription rate by 500% in 2009.  No, this is not your great grandfather’s Scientific American, any more than cold fusion is the kind of nuclear power your mother told you about.

Cold Fusion Now Bumper Sticker

It is in this environment that we find the quasi-scientific blog of Jennifer Ouellette’s, Cocktail Party Physics.  That name alone should tell us that this is not really an overly serious endeavor.  The author herself admits her forte is “finding quirky connections between physics, popular culture, and the world at large.”  She has written several books in this vein, one of which extols her bravery in overcoming her fear of calculus.  On the other hand, most serious about science overcome their fear of calculus by the time they graduate high school. Cold Fusion Now’s own Ruby Carat would think it immodest to call herself a serious scientist but has an academic background in physics and a graduate degree in mathematics.  She obviously overcame any “fear of calculus” many moons ago and didn’t think it was such a big deal that she had to write a book about it.   If Ouellette is gracious enough to accept Ruby’s invitation for a chat about her article over cocktails, I hope it is live streamed over the Internet.  That is one conversation I would like to be privy to.

Yet, Jennifer’s approach to science and its relation to the world at large would have made her a perfect candidate to give us a review of  “The Believers.”  It would have been right up her alley.  Instead, when someone mentioned the film to her, she inexplicably choose to write a 3000 word article espousing every myth and sophomoric joke about cold fusion perpetuated for the last 20 years, and never actually bothered to see the film.  A bit curious to say the least.

The question is why? What was the purpose and point of doing this as a response to the release of a film that won top honors at the Chicago Film Festival?  Well, there are some interesting theories about that.  For example, Dr. Michael McKubre suspects the article is a “concerted effort by several leading members of the opposition.” This according to comments made recently by Jed Rothwell on Vortex-l.  Some might dismiss that notion as a cock-eyed conspiracy theory but, upon further review, there might be something to that suspicion.

For example, Ouellette’s husband is Sean Carroll, a senior research associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, or CalTech.  Yes, that would be the same CalTech whose failed replication attempts were largely conducted before many details of the original experiments have been released (as was the case with many reported replication failures).  It was CalTech physicist Steven Koonin that infamously said that Fleishmann and Pons were “psychotic and delusional.”  Indeed, the anti-cold fusion bias runs deep at CalTech.  One can imagine that Jennifer has heard many cold fusion stories over the years from her CalTech physicist husband and his colleagues.

Steven Koonin

It should also be noted that Ouellette writes a column for a publication of the American Physical Society, the APS News, entitled “This Month in Physics History.”  In an interview on the  “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” this author describes the nexus and ongoing association with the mainstream physics establishment:

I was actually a freelance writer in New York City trying to make a living , and it turns out the physicists would pay me.  It is really as simple as that.  They needed someone who could put physics concepts into plain English that would be able to appeal to a broader audience.

As any student of literature knows, many of the earliest written stories in human history where myths handed down through generations via the oral tradition practiced by story tellers.  The individual who actually put these myths to paper did not have to vouch for their accuracy or truthfulness.  That was not their role.  It seems that our “recovering English major,” Jennifer Ouellette, is playing the role of modern scribe for the myths of the mainstream physics community regarding cold fusion.  This may explain why she shut down the comment section of her blog with the quickness.  She was not able to appropriately counter the evidence provided that contradicted the 20 year old myths she strung together  in her article.  As pointed out previously, and as reiterated in the interview above, we are talking about an individual who, basic calculus aside, is “terrified of math and physics.”   Having to talk about things in ways that require critical thought and examination of all the evidence probably sends her running for her cocktail shaker or the neighborhood pub.

As the saying goes, when considering praise or criticism, consider the source.  Yes, I know, it is easier said than done.  For those who have done their research, to hear old myths repeated with ignorant certainty as scientific truths is infuriating. But we must keep in mind that if a 20 year old myth, regurgitated by a writer who is “terrified of math and physics,” is all there is to worry about, we are in pretty good shape. So, sit back, enjoy a cocktail of your own, and try not to let scientific fundamentalists and the ignorant make you see red. I have an inkling that very shortly (within months), there will be a significant LENR disclosure and those who continue to cling to tired old myths will look as foolish as the cocktail party attendee who has had one too many and ends up donning a lamp shade on their head.

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!