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No. 64: Jul-Aug 1989

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Cold Fusion Update

We gingerly approached the topic of cold fusion in SF#63. Sure enough, a lot has happened in the past two months. For one thing, a panel of physicists got together and "voted" down cold fusion almost unanimously. This authoritative declaration seemed to be the beginning of the end for cold fusion - good riddance to those impertinent electrochemists!

At the end of May, scientists assembled at Santa Fe for a Workshop on Cold Fusion Phenomena. Most thought this would be the coup de grace for cold fusion. Not so! More and more researchers reported either anomalous heat production or anomalous emission of neutrons from experiments based on the cold fusion results of Pons and Fleischmann at the University of Utah. Curiously, no one seemed able to get heat and neutrons at the same time and in the amounts Pons and Fleischmann had reported.

We cannot go into all the experiments here. The upshot seems to be that cold fusion is not dead at all. In fact, a lot of people now believe that cold fusion actually does take place in palladium and titanium electrodes. Why, no one is sure. Nor is anyone able to explain the anomalous heat generation. Some think that two separate and distinct phenomena are being observed. One unbelievable anomaly has fissioned into two more-believable anomalies!

Tune in next issue for the latest. Con't believe anything until things cool down a bit.

(Pool, Robert; "Cold Fusion: End of Act I," Science, 244:1039, 1989. Also: Amato, I; "Big Chill for Cold Fusion as Energy Source," Science News, 135:341, 1989.)

From Science Frontiers #64, JUL-AUG 1989. 1989-2000 William R. Corliss