Infinite Energy Magazine
Cold Fusion Debate Reignited During March Meeting Madness
In my IE #72 editorial, “March Madness and March Meeting Madness,” I suggested that history would be made on March 5, 2007. It was. The setting was the 2007 March Meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) in Denver, Colorado, during the largest gathering of physicists in the world. Although the actual session appeared to be low-key, later I found out it wasn’t; truly great excitement occurred because during two consecutive sessions (Cold Fusion I and Cold Fusion II), held in Room 401 of the Colorado Convention Center, there were four talks that show the two big bugaboos no longer exist that have supposedly kept physicists from believing in Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (CMNS): 1) Not being able to reproduce the excess heat effect on demand (which is now possible), and 2) The lack of high energy particles and radiation (both phenomena can be created, now, on demand).
As I mentioned in Issue 72, the focus of each of these talks involved showing evidence that it is possible to reproduce the effects discovered by Stanislaw Szpak, Pamela Mosier-Boss, and Frank Gordon, from the Space Warfare Systems Center, San Diego (SWSCSD). These effects involve the emission of hard X-rays, energetic alpha particles, and the creation of excess heat, using the “SPAWAR co-deposition procedure” they have developed. In this procedure, palladium (Pd) and deuterium (D) are simultaneously deposited onto a substrate (wires and/or screens). Because Pd and D are deposited simultaneously, high loading (i.e., when amounts of D and Pd become comparable) takes place rapidly (almost instantly, as opposed to hours or days, which are the periods of time that are required in many of the more “traditional” electrolytic cold fusion procedures).
As a consequence, through the SPAWAR procedure, it is possible to create excess heat, reliably, on demand, in a short period of time. When the cells are subjected to externally-applied, static electric or magnetic fields, evidence of alpha particle tracks is found, in the form of residual “pits” (holes) near the surface of CR39 films—plastic films that are similar to the materials used in eyeglasses. Prior to the APS Cold Fusion II session, it had been thought that these pits appeared on the films only when the films were placed next to the substrate (wires or gratings) where the Pd and D are co-deposited, and it had been thought that the pits were only observed in significant numbers on the surface of the film that was closest to the substrate. During Cold Fusion II, Lawrence Forsley presented important new results: 1) Evidence that the pits are also found when the films are placed outside the cells (where potential chemical contamination from D-Cl/Pd-Cl2 solution is not possible) and 2) Evidence that neutrons (at low levels) were being emitted—more about this later.
The four talks were based on experiments that were funded by the New Energy Institute, through an effort referred to as The Galileo Project (TGP). An important point is that because of Steve Krivit’s efforts at directing this program, in a coordinated fashion, precisely the same kind of experiment was conducted at four different locations using the same protocol. In Issue 21 of New Energy Times, Steve has prepared a detailed report summarizing these talks.
That link includes additional links to copies of the slides that each speaker used and a video recording of each presentation. Stanislaw Szpak and Frank Gordon also provided material for this talk. The title of the talk is “Production of High Energy Particles Using the Pd/D Co-Deposition Process.” Lawrence P.G. Forsley made the presentation. (This talk included the evidence that I alluded to earlier, that neutrons were possibly being produced.) Gary Phillips, Jay Khim, Pamela Mosier-Boss, Stanislaw Szpak, and Frank Gordon also were involved with the work associated with the talk. The title of the talk is “Time Resolved, High Resolution, Gamma-Ray and Integrated Charge and Knock-on Particle Measurements of Pd:D Co-Deposition Cells.”
Winthrop Williams gave the presentation and prepared the third talk by himself. The title of the talk is “Search for Charged Particle Tracks Using CR-39 Detectors to Replicate the SPAWAR Pd/D External Field Co-Deposition Protocol.”
Ludwik Kowalski made the final presentation, “Our Galileo Project March 2007 Report.”
As I mentioned earlier, Pamela Mosier-Boss, Stanislaw Szpak, and Frank Gordon performed their experiments at SWCSD, in San Diego, California. Lawrence Forsley, Gary Phillips, and Jay Khim are employees of the JWK Technologies Corporation, located in Annandale, Virginia. Winthrop Williams is a member of the staff of the University of California, in Berkeley, California. Ludwik Kowalski is a retired physics professor from Montclair State College, in Montclair, New Jersey.
The first and second (as opposed to the third and fourth) talks related to TGP (presented, respectively, by Pamela Mosier-Boss and Lawrence Forsley) involved a collaboration between scientists who have had greater experience in dealing with problems associated with understanding subtleties in the interpretation of the pits on the CR39 films, as occurring from radioactivity and with alternative ways of detecting radioactivity in CMNS environments. For this reason, the final two talks focused more on questions related to precisely replicating what had been discovered by the SPAWAR group (in Winthrop Williams’ talk) and in questioning whether or not it might be necessary to question the particular procedures and diagnostics associated with using CR-39 films alone as a way to infer radioactivity is present (in Ludwik Kowalski’s talk), as a result of potential contamination from the D-Cl/Pd-Cl2 solution.
What was terrific is that the questions that Ludwik Kowalski raised about contamination were the same questions that Lawrence Forsley addressed from the outset in his talk and, because Lawrence Forsley has been collaborating with an expert (Gary Phillips) in using CR39 films for detecting radioactivity, these questions had already been addressed and, in a realistic sense, answered. Key questions, besides the possibility of contamination by the solution (a possibility that seems to have been eliminated in Lawrence Forsley’s observations of pits in CR39 films that had been placed outside the electrolytic cell), involved the shape and size of the “pits.” Ludwik Kowalski suggested the pits were too large. Lawrence Forsley pointed out that through secondary alpha+carbon reactions, multiple alphas could be produced that could account for the pits being so large.
Since Lawrence Forsley also found pits on the outer surface (facing away from the substrate), he found possible evidence for either neutron or extremely energetic (forty million electron volt) alpha particle emission. Because the first possibility (that the pits were the result of neutrons colliding with charged particles) is more probable, the large pits could also potentially have resulted from inelastic neutron+carbon scattering events, in which the carbon fissioned into multiple alpha particle fragments.
At a more basic level, there are other signs that what went on had a nuclear origin. An important indication of this is that through the SPAWAR protocol, it is possible to create X-ray images and then replace them with alpha particle pits by turning on external fields. Pamela Mosier-Boss said an image of a nickel screen appeared on a CR39 film, after Pd and D were co-deposited on the screen in the usual way (i.e., without applied, external fields). This could only occur, in conventional situations, from emissions of coherent X-rays. When an electric or magnetic field was applied, the image was replaced by alpha particle pits. The fact that the image disappeared and the pits appeared indicates a dynamical change involving a nuclear (as opposed to chemical) process. Lawrence Forsley also presented additional, new evidence for a nuclear effect: gamma ray emission. No obvious way exists to explain that rays of particles (photons or alpha particles) could possibly result from a conventional process, other than one that is nuclear in nature. The appearance of X-ray images, when there were no external fields, and pits when external fields were applied really is a spectacular result that provides strong evidence that Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) are taking place.
In the two sessions, there were 18 talks. The fact that Martin Fleischmann was an author of the third talk (as I learned later) attracted considerable attention, especially outside the meeting in the popular press. Information about the remaining talks is contained in the abstracts that are posted on the APS site (for Cold Fusion I and II):
As I said, although superficially the session appeared to be low-key, many in the audience of about 80 physicists were shocked. During a “Meet the Editors” reception the following day, I learned that a number of editors of Physical Review went to our two sessions and paid attention to what was presented. This fact became obvious in a conversation I had with Jack Sandweiss (a high energy, experimental physicist from Yale University), editor of one of the most prestigious APS journals, Physical Review Letters. Our discussion even became so specific and intense that I found myself debating with him about what might and might not be possible, theoretically, in novel forms of nuclear reactions.
Also, I sensed intense interest by other physicists when I went to re-introduce myself to the new editor-in-chief of all of the Physical Review journals, Dr. Gene Sprouse. (I actually met Dr. Sprouse when he was a professor and I was a graduate student 30 years ago at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.) By chance, before I said anything, he stared at my name badge and with an intense look in his eyes, he said, “I have heard a lot about you during this meeting.”
An important point is that information about CMNS has not appeared in mainstream physics journals because the editors of these journals, as well as most physicists, have not known whether the effects are real. This has created a Catch-22 situation in which, since information about CMNS has not appeared in the Physical Review (PR) journals, most of the potential reviewers of CMNS papers would reject them on the basis that these kinds of papers have little credibility since they have not appeared in PR publications. As a consequence, the fact that the editors of PR paid close attention to the two sessions indicates that significant progress is being made in ending the effective embargo of CMNS articles in PR journals. Several weeks later, Richard Van Noorden, a reporter from the Royal Society chemistry magazine, Chemistry World, contacted me about our session. In his article about cold fusion, which appeared on March 23, Richard Van Noorden wrote, “Chubb feels that Physical Review Letters, one of the top physics journals, may finally start accepting papers in the field.” The complete version of his article is available through the following link:
I would like to acknowledge that Steve Krivit’s article about the APS sessions in New Energy Times Issue 21 was extremely helpful to me while I was preparing this article. By placing videos of the sessions on the web, he does a real service to the APS and to our community.