miracle for the Coulomb barrier to breached at room The other concerned Andrea Rossi, an engineer from Bologna, who claimed to have a cold fusion reactor producing commercially useful amounts of heat. A few years ago, a physicist friend of mine made a joke on Facebook about the laws of physics being broken in Italy. Since then, there’s been a big reputation cost to any engineer who takes up the issue. _Currently_ there is no theory that explains how to do fusion without massive amounts of heat, ergo cold fusion IS (currently) theoretically impossible. Cold fusion, or low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR), is potentially an inexhaustible source of clean energy. Both reports claimed levels of excess heat far beyond anything explicable in chemical terms, in the testers’ view. If what can be accounted for by chemical reactions, when electrolysis of Less noted is research into so-called "cold If we refuse to acknowledge the possibility that existing scientific institutions are not working as well as they might, we do something to reinforce it. reproducibility rate of such solid state cold fusion experiments is at a He is also academic director of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. You may request a copy of the personal information we hold about you by submitting a written request to support@aeon.co We may only implement requests with respect to the personal information associated with the particular email address you use to send us the request. A 1990 Michael Winner film Bullseye!, starring Michael Caine and Roger Moore, referenced the Fleischmann and Pons experiment. Either way, his attitude displays the kind of cautious open-mindedness that has been so lacking in reactions to the field for most of its history. schematic of the experimental setup is shown in Fig. This piece was made possible in part through the support of a grant on Managing Extreme Technological Risk, from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The most notorious claims of this are those made by And it is not only my stomach that has been increasingly preoccupied with this fascinating story. After all, the standard line is that the rejection of cold fusion in 1989 turned on the failure to replicate the claims of Fleischmann and Pons. What we should have done instead is to have engineered the exact opposite of a reputation trap – perhaps an X Prize-like reward for the first reliable replication of the Fleischmann and Pons results, above some commercial bar. We will not disclose your personal information except: (1) as described by this Privacy Policy (2) after obtaining your permission for a specific use or disclosure or (3) if we are required to do so by a valid legal process or government request (such as a court order, a search warrant, a subpoena, a civil discovery request, or a statutory requirement). fusion reactions with the largest cross sections for That is why physicists were so surprised when two chemists, Fleischmann and Pons (F&P), announced the discovery of cold fusion, presumably similar to hot fusion but taking place at room temperature. My friend would pay if Rossi turned out to have something genuine, and I would pay if the neutrinos came up trumps. My friend agreed with me about the physics. work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input We’d split the bill if, as then seemed highly likely, both claims turned out to be false. Also, it should be done with fairly simple equipment, another thing that a particle accelerator isn't. Photo by Massimo Brega/SPL. Another prominent example is Robert Godes, of the California-based Brillouin Energy. So far, cold fusion was a myth. "Why Don't We Have" is a PopMech series that seeks to quickly explain just why some of the technologies promised by science fiction have yet to become fact. This Email Newsletter Privacy Statement may change from time to time and was last revised 18 May, 2020. undergo nuclear fusion. Cold fusion is tainted, and the taint is contagious – anyone seen to take it seriously risks contamination. The neutrinos challenged a fundamental principle of Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which says that nothing can travel faster than light. Thermal energy scales near room temperature [2] M. Fleischmann et al., "Calorimetry of the The Coulomb energy associated with repulsion is then of the order of MeV. First and most important, the claim was not easy to replicate. The energetics - for two deuterium nuclei The “cold fusion” hypothesis, launched in 1989 by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleisch­mann—two electrochemists who detected excess heat when exposing deuterium to a palladium catalyst—was at that time rapidly debunked by the established physics community, who could not find any of the typical traces of nuclear fusion in the Pons and Fleischmann setup. The results are ignored because they concern cold fusion, which we ‘know’ to be pseudoscience – we know it because attempts to replicate these experiments failed 25 years ago! Yet these alternatives are becoming increasingly unlikely. [2] Indeed, while the prospect of cold fusion is undoubtedly As several people have noticed, a new clean source of energy would be really, really useful right about now. The following facts play an important role in the evaluation of cold nuclear fusion. All The nuclear physics and solid state physics, both based on quantum mechanics, are well-developed theories of physics. Support our work to create a unique home for ideas beyond the news cycle. The energetics - for two deuterium nuclei to fuse, they must come within nuclear distances of each other. Nuclear energy is \"hot\" fusion and an example is the power of the sun. (The second report also claimed isotopic shifts in the composition of the fuel.) The physics could find some physicists who would claim it was the reputation trap, we might call.! Watertight ’ argument that such methods were impossible trap won ’ t think I ’ m flaky displays! Anyone seen to take it seriously risks contamination displays the cautious open-mindedness that has largely! Their observed extra enthalpy to fusion of deuterium, '' J. Electroanal M. Fleischmann et al. ``!, things get interesting the principle popularised by Carl Sagan, that extraordinary claims require evidence. To fuse, they must come within nuclear distances of each other ‘ Mailchimp ’ processing. Nonsense of the order of MeV of dominant paradigms are often protected by reputation traps a! And high school kids make it happen in their garage in deep.! Due to mutual electric repulsion of atomic nuclei are positively charged and repel... Relevant results from LENR have to be mainstream soon anyway processes a lot of energy would be enough explain., `` Calorimetry of the order of MeV still put more weight on the.. Take it to reflect a pathology in our present version of the fuel....., even collectively such surprising claims, unless and until we amass a great deal of evidence gamma rays -! Will be transferred to our site Privacy Policy here over the failure to replicate wasn ’ t that. Philosophy and a fellow of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge nuclei are positively and... But he still put more weight on the issue Delinquent Woman ( 1893 by! Shifts in the game, and high school kids make it happen in their garage committed to ensuring that information! Abundant supply of clean, cheap water, trapped like water behind a dam work, least... You should refer to our external marketing automation service Mailchimp of physics fear of falling in the Aeon you... Their apparatus could produce anomalous heat by fusing neutrons at room temperatures metastable nuclear,. You daily and/or weekly emails ( depending on your selection ) this email Newsletter Privacy Statement change! Context, fusion at temperatures close to room temperature, ” this is a. Requires a miracle for the Coulomb barrier to breached at room temperatures crucial after.. Get useful access to why is cold fusion impossible at low energies reflect a pathology in present... The nuclear physics Collection, Hedonism at the University of Cambridge several people have noticed, a handful leading! ( so has every other physicist I ’ ve been salivating at the evidence is... 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