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No. 95: Sep-Oct 1994

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Cold fusion update: 1994

Cold fusion, though duly interred by mainstream science, still flourishes at the periphery of science. The recent Third International Conference on Cold Fusion, held in Nagoya, Japan, drew 350 participants, including 50 from U.S. corporations and government laboratories. Hardly a wake! But also hardly a confirmation. Even with new results frequently reported, the incontrovertible, reproducible proof of cold fusion demanded by the scientific community still is lacking.

A written confrontation between cold fusion protangonists and antagonists appeared in the March 1994 issue of Physics Today. The "pro" position was stated by E. Mallove, editor of the new journal: Cold Fusion :

"The cold fusion phenomenon, in the view of many active in the field, is a spectacular new form of lattice-induced nuclear energy whose mechanism is still poorly understood -- as the mechanism of low-temperature superconductivity was for decades. That the nuclear products that have been found so far are incommensurate (by conventional theory) with the non-chemical-magnitude excess energies simply means that the results have to be explained by new physical mechanisms."

Of opposite polarity were remarks by J.R. Huizenga, author of the debunking book: Cold Fusion: The Scientific Fiasco of the Century :

"In contrast to Mallove's declaration that cold fusion is a "spectacular new form of lattice-induced nuclear energy," I conclude that there is no persuasive evidence to support this far-out claim. Instead, cold fusion as a nuclear process producing watts of excess heat is more likely than not to be an example of pathological science."

Of historical interest in this collection of correspondence in Physics Today was S. Bashkin's mention of the 1926 experiments of F. Paneth. His results were essentially identical to those of S. Pons and M. Fleischmann that began the present cold fusion furor. Paneth detected helium after passing an electrical current through hydrogen-laden palladium! But he later retracted his conclusions.

(Mallove, Eugene, et al; "Cold Fusion: Still a Hot Research Topic," Physics Today, 47:93, March 1994.)

From Science Frontiers #95, SEP-OCT 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss