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infinite energy
Issue


Issue 67
May/June 2006
Infinite Energy Magazine

An Afternoon to Remember:
Cold Fusion Session of APS Meeting (March 16, 2006)
Robert W. Bass

Everyone aware of the potential epochal importance of condensed matter nuclear science (CMNS) should be grateful to Scott Chubb for the arduous but thankless annual task, for the past six years, of keeping the subject alive at meetings of the American Physical Society (APS). (This year’s session took place in Baltimore, Maryland on March 16, from 2:30 to 5:06 p.m.)

As Jed Rothwell, founder of the invaluable website www.lenr-canr.org, has justly pointed out, the pioneers in the fields of cold fusion (CF) and related low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) are by now mostly aging veterans of the “seventeen years ‘Long March’ since 3/23/89” and unless younger people enter the field, we may experience the obverse of Max Planck’s cynical observation that “science advances funeral by funeral.” Indeed, the history of science is replete not only with happy tales of elder citizens experiencing “vindication before death,” but also with almost countless sad examples of deserving innovators who died frustrated after decades of being ignored. Accordingly, among my prayers is that Martin Fleischmann and Stan Pons will live long enough to receive the recognition (e.g., from the Swedish Royal Academy) that they so richly deserve as among mankind’s truly greatest benefactors.

Many of the younger physicists attending Session W41 (initially about 150 but gradually dwindling to a mere dozen) asked respectful questions, which (despite the expressed disappointment by some attendees that “too many” of the baker’s dozen of 12-minute presentations were not given in person but by proxy) leads one to hope: if indeed even only one young attendee then experienced sufficient intellectual curiosity to doubt the Establishment verdict of CF = “pathological science,” and to subsequently play a significant role in preventing the field from perishing from neglect, then Scott Chubb’s heroic labors in organizing these periodic occasions of light in the midst of darkness may not have been in vain.

Moreover, the 13 presenters or groups of presenters this year included a gratifyingly high percentage of the most stalwart contributors to this emerging field of revolutionary science.

I felt that this was an unusually opportune time for such a CF session, for two unrelated reasons:

(a) On the one hand, the younger generation not only has access to the thousands of important CF papers made available (or at least listed) at Jed’s website, but just the week before I had finally got in my hands the impressive two new volumes of CMNS papers (Proceedings of ICCF10, edited by Peter Hagelstein and Scott R. Chubb, World Scientific, 2006, 1,016 pp., and Proceedings of ICCF11, edited by Jean-Paul Biberian, World Scientific, 2006, 897 pp.), so that when Chairman Chubb or the presenters referred to them I was able, from my seat near the front, to hold aloft and display the tangible reality of these massive new volumes in hopes of encouraging some attendees to urge their own institutional libraries to acquire them and to study them with the seriousness which they truly deserve.

(b) For the first time in 17 years it had been possible for a public invitation to be given to one of the key players at the infamous Baltimore APS Meeting in 1989 at which he had vilified Fleischmann and Pons (F&P) as “incompetent” and “delusional” to attend a CF session in which the enormous amount of subsequent and ongoing independent corroborating confirmations of the validity of their epochal discovery might give him occasion for reconsideration. In fact, on the preceding evening, there had been two major after-dinner presentations on “The Future of Energy” (see p. 14). One of these was by Dr. Patricia Dehmer, Director, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy, available at www.sc.doe.gov/bes/ppt/BESpresentations.htm, along with significantly enlarged/updated versions presented more recently to the Office of Science & Technology Policy (formerly the Presidential Science Advisor). After her presentation I showed Pat Dehmer a shrink-wrapped copy of the second edition of Charles Beaudette’s invaluable book, Excess Heat: Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed (Oak Grove Press, 2002), containing a Foreword by champion futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke, CBE, together with a new copy of Steve Krivit’s [www.newenergytimes.com] powerful The Rebirth of Cold Fusion: Real Science, Real Hope, Real Energy (Pacific Oaks Press, 2004) which is endorsed on its back cover by Nobel Laureate physicist Brian Josephson of Cambridge University, and asked her if she was familiar with them. She indicated familiarity with Beaudette’s book, but seemed surprised and interested by the sight of Krivit’s book and so (since he had nobly given me several copies to donate ad hoc) I offered her a copy, which she seemed pleased to accept. The other major presentation was by former Caltech Provost [1995-2004] and noted theoretical physicist Dr. Steven E. Koonin, the Chairman of the influential behind-the-scenes elite JASON group in 2001 when they were fired by DARPA (but re-emerged under DDR&E sponsorship), and whose role in the tragic events of 1989 is well-known to the readers of Beaudette’s and Krivit’s books and to all readers of IE [e.g., Scott Chubb’s forceful Editorial on pp. 6-9 of Issue 66, March/April 2006]. Koonin is now Chief Scientist of British Petroleum in the UK, where his charter appears to include major efforts to exhaustively foresee and to advise action upon the relatively near-term issues, prospects, and opportunities in this enormous subject on behalf of the company whose new logo BP stands for “beyond petroleum.” In his AAAS guest editorial on biofuel [Science, January 27, 2006, Vol. 311, p. 435, www.sciencemag.org], Koonin openly provided his new email address Steve.Koonin@uk.bp.com so by giving it here I am not disclosing anything which he doesn’t already want everyone to know. In the question and answer sequel to his presentation, Scott Chubb, with reference to the Baltimore APS meeting in 1989 and Koonin’s fateful role therein, publicly invited him to attend the next day’s session on CF, but to no avail; see the transcript of this discussion following this article. Subsequently I discussed with Koonin his evident great interest in near-term solar-energy technology and offered to give his card to my friends Mario Rabinowitz and Mark Davidson, inventors of mind-bogglingly amazing revolutionary breakthroughs in cost-effectively concentrating diffuse sunlight, upon which they have both jointly and singly obtained a slew of pioneer patents with many more still pending. Koonin cheerfully supplied his BP card (for which Mario has thanked me greatly). On a later occasion that evening I showed Dr. Koonin a copy of the second edition of Beaudette’s book, and asked if he was familiar with it. He said that he was not, and then gladly received my donation of this thoroughly-documented book.

Those APS attendees, like Dehmer and Koonin, who missed Session W41, lost a wonderful opportunity to get up to speed in what has been happening “beneath the radar” of the conventionally-minded Establishment for the past nearly two decades.

I was expecting Mike McKubre and Fran Tanzella to present a masterful “17 Year Retrospective,” covering the subject with their usual authoritative and objective scrutiny, based upon vast personal experience with virtually every known CF approach that has been reported by serious and qualified researchers. Instead, on their behalf, Scott Chubb presented eight of the most important slides used in their superb presentation to the recent DOE reconsideration of CF, in a historic paper co-authored by Peter Hagelstein, David Nagel, Talbot Chubb, and Randall Hekman, which is, for anyone seriously interested, essential reading and available online at www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/Hagelsteinnewphysica.pdf.

Investigative reporter Steve Krivit has been diligently exploring every plausible development in the entire CF field, and surprised me by having persuaded Hyunik Yang and his former Russian collaborator Vysotskii to disclose at ICCF12 some of the formerly closely-held information regarding Innovative Energy Solutions Inc., where in June 2005 Fleischmann, McKubre, Hagelstein, Beaudette, Krivit, and myself were privileged to witness what purported to be the first large-scale (20 kilowatts!) CF power demonstration. (Steve has a continuing interest in following developments at www.iesiusa.com, which, sad to say, has lately become distracted by intellectual property ownership issues and from which their former chief scientific manager Yang has now departed.) However, Steve refrained from mentioning iESi in his well-illustrated current-activity-survey slideshow, which I hope he makes available on his website cited above.

Scott Chubb’s own paper appears to embody a very important theoretical breakthrough, but a critical judgment of this work awaits scrutiny by those with a more profound knowledge of solid-state theory than I am able to muster. He has submitted a non-explicitly CF paper to Proc. Roy Soc. Series A, and I look forward to its acceptance. Many of Scott’s statements sound convincing to a mathematician like me who is only at best an amateur in other subjects, but it makes sense to note that propositions which refer to the idealized theory of an infinitely-repeating perfectly periodic lattice are not necessarily directly applicable without change to the more realistic case of finite-sized crystals with actual boundaries. Using semi-classical band-state theory, in the light of many accepted deep results in solid-state physics, Scott has estimated that resonant tunneling times depend critically upon crystal size. (Shades of Ed Storms’ “nuclear active environment [NAE]” which can be formed via transient sporadic deposition of Pd “crud” on otherwise wholly unsuitable materials—www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/StormsEwhatcondit.pdf.) According to Scott’s continuation of the theory which he had started in his ICCF11 paper (Proceedings, p. 663), crystals smaller than about 6 nm are too small and crystals larger than about 60 microns have tunneling times longer than a month! This may explain why a finite triggering time is required after the near-full loading conditions, and reminds me of Robert Parmenter’s CF theory which I reviewed in IE (#21, August/September 1998, pp. 45-49). Parmenter’s paper predicts a tunneling time of three days, and was initially rejected by his earlier CF collaborator Nobel Laureate physicist Willis Lamb, who later relented and said that he now considers Parmenter’s resonant tunneling paper to be “important.” So forgive me for mentioning Parmenter’s acknowledgment (IE #21, p. 44), “I am greatly indebted to Robert W. Bass for renewing my interest in resonant tunneling.”

This leads me to confess one of my life’s greatest regrets: when the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton University, Jim Peebles (who had printed a “proof” of the impossibility of CF in the final pages of the first chapter of his otherwise admirable book on QM) was a sufficiently good sport to review Parmenter’s paper (for authorized attribution by me in IE), Jim quite justifiably balked at a point [Equation 32] where Parmenter had used hand-waving intuition to assume that a QM harmonic oscillator, when driven by a resonantly-periodic source, will experience unbounded “secular” growth in its complex wave-function’s amplitude that is linear in time (just as will a classical harmonic oscillator exhibit unbounded amplitude growth when resonantly forced). I then separately asked both Scott Chubb and Hal Puthoff’s colleague Michael Ibison if they could supply me with a proof of the missing lemma, done sufficiently rigorously to, hopefully, convince Peebles. My recollection is that Scott kindly sent me a succinct outline of a complete proof, which would be acceptable to any knowledgeable expert, while Michael actually sent me a detailed, publication-ready, completely polished proof seemingly ready to withstand critical peer review in having dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. But before backing up my e-mail attachments and getting ready to submit these invaluable “save the day” missives to Peebles, I suffered some kind of a computer mishap in 1990 in which they were irretrievably lost!  Neither Scott nor Michael has since been able to find his own copy, and until I can offer to reimburse them adequately for their genuinely pricelessly-valuable time, I cannot in good conscience ask them to redo such a giant loss which is solely my own reprehensible fault!

Talbot Chubb’s paper was even more “above my own pay grade” than his nephew Scott’s, although I gather that to cognoscenti of advanced solid-state theoretical physics it should prove enlightening. I have learned from it that what puzzles Nobel Laureate physicist Robert B. Laughlin (why in solid-state physics a sea of electrons can appear not to experience each other’s Coulombic repulsion?) doesn’t puzzle anyone who has sufficient mastery of very mind-bending theoretical concepts in wave mechanics. But the tangible phenomena of superconductivity and superfluidity show that these unimaginable wave-mechanical notions must have some relationship to physical reality! (I can understand that Mario Rabinowitz’s “phenomenological theory” of these strange subjects gets the right answer when the material density and temperature is such that the particles are sufficiently close that their mean separation distances are smaller than their de Broglie wavelengths, but I still “just don’t get it” as regards what causes the impotence of their Coulomb repulsions.) Anyway, I am deeply grateful to Talbot for calling Laughlin’s remarkable book to my attention, because its central thesis (“emergence”) supports my own claim that Planck’s constant is proportional to the mean charged-particle number density of the visible universe at the present epoch of cosmic time (which I have substantiated to my own satisfaction, by correct prediction of Hubble’s constant and passing of three other similar tests, in as-yet unpublished papers available on my own website, www.innoventek.com).

George Miley and Heinz Hora were internationally recognized experts on controlled thermonuclear fusion, or hot fusion, long before CF burst upon the scene. Their stature as true scientists is confirmed by their unwillingness to join the overwhelming majority of career hot fusioneers and high-energy physicists in condemning CF as a priori impossible. Unlike their earlier forays directly into the LENR field, some of their more recent research (as reported at ICCF10 and ICCF11) is of the type of basic nuclear physics and condensed matter physics leading to documentation of reproducible anomalous effects involving deuterated metals and such as to make it increasingly irresponsible for conventional thinkers to ignore the reality of LENR. The fifth presentation to Session W41 strikes me as of this type: it concerns experimental discovery that bombardment of (unspecified) hydride target cathodes by glow discharge plasma deuterons at 300 V leads to a delayed emission of 600 eV soft X-rays!  This nonlinear collective dynamics cannot be explained by any classical model. The authors hypothesize a coherent D-diffusion process near the cathode’s surface, which, combined with continuous high-current deuteron bombardment, causes penetration of recoil deuterons into the inner electron shells of the cathode material, resulting in X-ray emission. This is reminiscent of their earlier work concerning the possibility that adequate consideration of electron-screening by core electrons may render the standard “Coulomb barrier” objection to F&P’s 1989 aneutronic d + d --> 4He scenario irrelevant.

My reaction to Mitchell Swartz’s impressive 13-slide presentation was “sold!” I hope that he makes this slideshow available for downloading from his Cold Fusion Times website (www.std.com/~mica/cft.html) because in some respects Mitchell’s progress since his public demonstration of a working Phusor‰ at ICCF10 has been quite enviable. I agree with him that there are two separately measurable outputs (heat and 4He) and that one should not necessarily assume that optimizing one product automatically optimizes production of the other, although there is a “relatively narrow peak of the biphasic production curves.” I wholeheartedly endorse his discovery of Optimal Operating Points (OOPs), whose non-dimensionalized widths could be measured in “Malloves,” and which are all-important in that driving with electrical input power beyond the peak OOP does not improve the production of the desired product, but instead yields a falloff of the production rates despite increasing input power. Many “negative” results beloved of skeptical citation have occurred because of failure to operate a system at or near its OOP. And the skeptics ignore the spectacular discovery by F&P of heat after death (HAD), i.e. chemically unexplainable and long-continued excess heat after cessation of electrical power input! What Mitchell calls tardive thermal power (TTP) is a quantity which he measures whose time-integral is HAD. He has managed to gain a new degree of control over his Pt/D2O/Pd systems with peak excess power ratios of ~2.30 ±0.84 including TTP/HAD whose consideration increases effective excess power up to ~410% beyond that without TTP, using his dual ohmic control (DOC) calorimetry. As a trained pure mathematician, often employed in the aerospace industry as an (amateur) control systems engineer, I have had decades of frustrating experience with an all-important but imperfectly-resolved technology called the Empirical System Identification Problem (ESIP), which has been an essential part of every major national defense and space system R&D for the past half-century. Recently I received a small purchase order from DARPA to develop my own innovative approach to ESIP, in which records of multi-channel input signals are used in connection with records of all measured outputs and a MATLAB-implemented computer algorithm (analogous to “flight-test data reduction”) to produce a strictly empirical model of the “unknown dynamics” inside the “arbitrary black box” which are sufficiently good that an acceptable forecast of any future response to any as-yet untried suite of command signals can be predicted with precision. I am dying to perfect my Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO) approach to ESIP, via my Stochastic Generalization of the Ho-Kalman Algorithm, to the point where I can apply it to Mitchell’s MIMO input/output data-records and attempt to design an optimal multichannel feedback CF control system (based upon the strategy that I presented at ICCF1 in 1990, and which is now available on my website) to force the Phusor toward the Swartz OOP and maintain it there despite fluctuating external variables.

The seventh W41 presentation concerned a truly international collaboration between researchers in Italy, Israel, and the United States regarding use of HeNe laser irradiation during loading to enhance excess power reproducibility in deuterated palladium, namely the Letts-Cravens Effect which had been major news at ICCF10 in 2003. A preliminary correlation was found between excess energy and 4He concentration increasing above background, leading to the conclusion that laser triggering produces an “interesting” gain of reproducibility. I was mildly surprised that Victor Violante had been able to secure the cooperation not only of McKubre but of Irv Dardik and his colleagues at Energetics Ltd., because for the past three years Mike McKubre has been telling everyone that in his opinion the “superwave” excitation approach of Dardik, first disclosed at ICCF10, was “the most important experiment, in any field, on planet earth at this time” and yet the initial versions of Dardik’s Energetics approach did not require laser triggering.

Roger Stringham of Firstgate Energies presented a video regarding impressively improved capabilities of his innovative “sonofusion” device. A low mass, durable 1.6 MHz unit produces 40 watts of excess heat with an acoustic input power of 17 watts. Excess 4He commensurate with F&P’s 1989 aneutronic d + d--> 4He scenario has been found. The energy density of Roger’s reactor is of the order of commercial energy suppliers. It is a mystery to me why some large energy company has not yet offered to work on this project.

The ninth paper was an extremely important rebuttal of criticisms of their isoperibolic calorimetry by no less than Melvin Miles [the first to measure 4He commensurate with heat in F&P’s 1989 scenario] and Martin Fleischmann himself! Honesty requires me to report that when I asked Scott Chubb, who had presented a videotaped lecture submitted by Miles, to “remind me of the distinction between precision and accuracy” he gave what sounded like a waffling answer! [Though possibly Scott’s answer was quite accurate but my own comprehension was insufficiently precise.] Now, after having googled “accuracy vs. precision,” it appears that accuracy refers to the closeness to truth (however that may be determined!) whereas precision refers merely to the degree of repeatability of a measurement under identical conditions. For example, a chronometer may be precise to a microsecond but not having been set correctly can be inaccurate as regards the time. At any rate, these two genuine CF pioneers are satisfied that a detailed consideration of their protocols will convince any honest critic that the precision of their calorimetry is better than 99.99% while their accuracy is close to the same figure. As the saying goes, “that’s good enough for government work!”

To say that Fangel Gareev is an audacious thinker is an understatement. Reading his essay on “the universal resonance principle of synchronization” in the Proceedings of ICCF11 (pp. 469-473) motivated me to download and study the first reference in his Abstract (at arXiv Nucl-th/0511092) which is so thought-provoking that I am left mentally breathless. Following some published speculations of Schrödinger in his famous essay “What is Life?,” Gareev proposes that the radius of the lowest Bohr orbit is a universal length in nature and that everything in chemistry and even biochemistry can be understood in terms of integral multiples of said length and corresponding frequency harmonics. He claims to have published vast numbers of examples in Russian-language papers which are neither accessible nor readable by me, so it isn’t yet clear whether or not he is onto something or merely exploiting coincidences by generous rounding-off to get integers. Apparently he views particles as some kinds of standing waves in the visible universe, where the phase velocity is so great that contact is essentially globally instantaneous (and there are others who have seriously considered such a “purely waves-model” to resolve some of the perplexities remaining in the Copenhagen interpretation of QM). If this view has any merit then there are globally-collective explanations for LENR and many other aspects of reality. Since Gareev’s slideshow was presented by Scott Chubb, I think that the better part of valor would be for me to hide behind his Uncle Talbot and ask the elder Chubb to comment on this boldly “different” paper!

In contrast, I have no hesitation in expressing unbounded admiration for the achievements of Xing Zhong Li of Tsinghua University with his Selective Resonant Tunneling Model of CF, for several reasons enumerated below, and also gladly endorse his “nailing of the final nail in the coffin” of the destructive 1989 ERAB Report by accepting its call for more research regarding allegations of tritium production and, after a definitive review of the experimental facts, showing that his own model predicts a 5 keV recoil triton and no 14 MeV neutron! Independently of CF, Li’s theory predicted a discrepancy with published tables regarding hot fusion, which upon investigation proved to be seriously flawed, and Li’s a priori theory turns out to fit the experimental data better than the DOE’s five-parameter adjustable curves used in their purely empirical tabulation! (If this isn’t Nobel Prize caliber research, what is?) The resonant tunneling theory which I have advocated since ICCF4 in 1993 (a summary of which may be found in my MIT 2005 Cold Fusion Colloquium Slideshow, available on my website) is, echoing the language of Schwinger, admittedly “crude” since it concerns only energy levels (frequencies) of resonant transparency of the Coulomb barrier, and relies upon citation of separate arguments by Schwinger (e.g., relevant QM selection rules and crudely quantitative phonon-energy estimates) in order to address all three “miracles” required by arch-skeptic Huizenga. But Li’s theory, involving not only amplitude but phase of the wave function, pertains not only to energy level (frequency) but also the reaction rate (damping), and seems to me to be the first CF theory which hits a home run regarding all three of Huizenga’s puzzles! The theory which I have advocated as sufficient for a “first cut” at the problem gives only YES/NO answers (pertaining to the odd or even integer characterization of the “albeit crude” Schwinger Ratio), whereas Li’s theory predicts reaction rates and selects the slow reaction channel requiring no gammas and no neutrons! Moreover, he predicts the visible correlation between deuterium flux and excess heat flow in variable pumping-rate D2-pumping experiments. Accordingly, it is not surprising that Nobel Laureate physicist Brian Josephson cited Li’s “selective resonant tunneling model” twice in his 2004 talk to fellow Nobelists at their annual Lindau Meeting!

Finally, the nearly 200 members from 23 different countries of the new International Society for Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (ISCMNS) owe a great debt of gratitude to Bill Collis for taking on the responsibilities required to incorporate and maintain a new professional society. I hope that he makes his APS slideshow available on the ISCMNS website [www.iscmns.org] because I found it not only informative and inspiring but I got a kick out of his deliberate imitation of some of the famous language in the American Declaration of Independence in his opening proclamation to the Establishment about why the existing societies are not adequate for today’s realities.

The W41 session abstracts follow; they are also available online at:

http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR06/sessionindex2/?SessionEventID=45597)



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