Do you have any questions for the cold fusion folks?

Turns out that they read ClimateProgress.  Two leading experts including McKubre (featured on 60 Minutes) happen to be in DC Wednesday and want to meet.

I welcome suggestions for any questions to ask.

21 Responses to Do you have any questions for the cold fusion folks?

  1. Leland Palmer says:

    Philo Farnsworth produced lots of neutrons with his inertial electrostatic confinement reactors in the 1960’s. Producing neutrons would seem to be a basic requirement, and should be easily detectable. Farnsworth’s IECs routinely produce large numbers of neutrons, but are often dismissed as a dead end, perhaps unjustly, in my opinon.

    Here is a link to the IEC fusion University of Wisconsin website:

    Can they routinely and reliably and repeatably produce easily detectable numbers of neutrons or not?

    Or are they still back where Farnsworth was before 1960?

  2. Brewster says:

    How many groups that they would consider reputable are working around the world?

    It has been my impression that a lot of work seems to be going in circles – many experiments, but little forward progress. Do they feel that they are progressing, in either empirical or theoretical knowledge?

  3. Please ask for benchmark definitions.

    What are some of the short term goals that will better validate feasibility?

  4. David B. Benson says:

    You are actually going to waste your time with this? Err, bother to meet with them?

    Oh well.

    [JR: They asked nicely. And the experts are serious people. Seems the least I could do.]

  5. Pangolin says:

    Assuming the reports of excess neutrino emissions are valid; what evidence is there that cold fusion would be scalable to produce a usable net power gain. Or, why is this not a parlor trick?

  6. Sasparilla says:

    Maybe read through what you can find on the US Navy’s announcement a short time back on the science (supposedly they had an explanation that didn’t defy or require new ways of physics to be concieved – i.e. they could explain the observed behaviors) and see where your brain leads you in the interview.

    Looking forward to what you hear and see. Nice to see that their “reading”.

  7. James Newberry says:

    My question would be “Why don’t you want to scale up clean energy and efficiency technologies during the next ten years, like many developed nations and American industries are doing, so we can have affordable costs for distributed clean energy solutions instead of your answer that does not address the problem and is many years from demonstration?”

  8. Rick Covert says:


    here’s my 2 part question for the panel. 1 (a) Has the energy yield using a deuterized solution been compared with non-deuterized solution to see if, in fact, what is going on is cold fusion? If non-deuterized water yielded the same result as a deuterized solution then clearly it can’t be cold fusion. 1 (b) Fusion would yield a very strong neutron emission of 14.1 MeV so why still call it cold fusion?

  9. Lewis says:

    This from Pangolin : “what evidence is there that cold fusion would be scalable to produce a usable net power gain. Or, why is this not a parlor trick?”

    And this from Pauli: “Please ask for benchmark definitions.

    What are some of the short term goals that will better validate feasibility?”

    Seem like questions getting right to the heart of the matter.

  10. Chris says:

    Good questions so far. Here are some more:

    (1) What’s the time-averaged excess power, expressed as a percent of the input power? (E.g., if 1 W is going in, what’s the average output power?) Also: what time are you averaging over?

    (2) What percentage of the time does a given cell produce excess power?

  11. Bob Wright says:

    Ask them if they have ever tried to collect and analyze the air above the reactor for Helium. There should be a researcher some place looking for trace amounts. Air is 0.17% He??

    I saw something about He measured during deuterium hydrolysis on the web, but I can’t find it now.

    Is the Pd absorbing Deuterium ions and then something causes a surge of Deuterium atoms to form? Are they just measuring a cyclical chemical activity?

  12. I haven’t done enough background reading to ask skeptical questions about their experiments. The obvious questions to me are: What role do they see cold fusion filling in the future? What work needs to be done to get there? What is a reasonable timeline?

  13. onymous says:

    Wikipedia has a decent short summary of why cold fusion would be in conflict with understood physics. (Maybe you already know all of this.) I think they would need a clear way of explaining how they get around these problems, to have any hope of convincing people what they’re doing is real. I haven’t looked into it much, but the attempted explanations I’ve seen a few places on the web have in common with climate denialists that they misunderstand basic physics and seem to have no sense of relative orders of magnitude of different effects.

  14. Dill Weed says:

    How about having them demonstrate they can do it?

    Rage against the power! Or, at least mumble under your breath.

    Dill Weed

  15. Bob Wright says:

    Oops! Meant heavy water hydrolysis, not deuterium – and Deuterium molecules, not atoms.

  16. Open Mind says:

    Understand first Joe that Fleishmann and Pons were very credible scientists who’s reputations were destroyed by a knee-jerk and possibly coordinated campaign. The MIT study which was initially used to discredit their findings has itself been discredited. This is a scientific anomoly which has been replicated by many different scientists but cannot presently be explained. Calorimetry is notoriously tempermental and the types of materials used in various experiments are two critical problems which have led to the difficultly of replicating the effect of LENRs.

    Can’t be explained by our Physics? Get in line! Why do you think we’re looking for a unified theory?

    As Hamlet said: “there are more things under heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy Horatio” – this may be one of them.

  17. Chaz says:

    Who specifically has reproduced Pons & Fleischmann’s results???? They could not reproduce it either. It is a basic tenant of science that results can be reproduced by others.

  18. Open Mind says:

    Well, for one, the Navy recently did, including excess heat and evidence of nuclear reactions in the form of streaking. Many other labs have reproduced the heating effect – do the reading.

  19. Recommended reading is Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion, by Gary Taubes (1993). No wonder the term “cold fusion” evokes such hostility.

    One question I have: for the cases where excess heat was detected, was there any pitting on the Pd electrode?

  20. Open Mind says:

    The streaking or pitting was on CR-39, a plastic specifically used to test for neutrons, I believe. Nothing in the articles I read about the palladium, you’ll have to get the Navy SPAWAR lab’s report to see about that.

  21. Open Mind —

    Here is a study you may find interesting, concerning excess heat and He detection from cavitation in a Pd/deuterium system.