John Dash: 1933 - 2016
Christy L. Frazier
John Dash in 2008 (photo by Charles Beaudette)
Our friend and colleague Prof. John Dash passed away on April 13, 2016 at the age of 82. He was born on June 29, 1933, the son of Ukrainian immigrants.
After receiving his BS in metallurgy from Pennsylvania State University in 1955, Dash worked for a time at Rem-Cru Titanium. He earned his MS in metallurgy from Northwestern University and worked for a short time at another company doing research on metals. In 1966, Dash received his Ph.D. in metallurgy from Pennsylvania State University and shortly thereafter began teaching in the Physics Department at Portland State University. Dash was a Professor Emeritus of Physics at Portland State University after his retirement in 1998.
John Dash and Martin Fleischmann at ICCF8 in 2000.
One of Dash’s greatest impacts in the cold fusion field was in his role as a teacher. Dash was a cold fusion mentor to numerous students at Portland State (undergraduate and graduate) and from area high schools through the Saturday Academy’s summer Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering program. His first cold fusion experiment, in April 1989, was conducted with a graduate student. To mark the tenth anniversary of the Pons-Fleischmann (P-F) 1989 announcement, in 1999 Infinite Energy published a comprehensive cold fusion issue (#24) that included surveys of numerous cold fusion researchers. In that issue, Dash wrote about this first experiment:
In April 1989, my department head asked me to try to reproduce the results reported a few weeks earlier by Fleischmann and Pons. We had previously studied the electrolysis of water with an acidic electrolyte, so we used the same composition, except that heavy water was substituted for light water in the electrolyte. Using a small (about 1 sq. cm), cold rolled palladium foil cathode about 25 μm thick, we observed macroscopic plastic deformation of the cathode soon after the start of electrolysis. I had never seen such behavior in my 30 years of research on electrolysis, so I was immediately intrigued and have remained so for the past exciting ten years.
Dash famously brought three summer intern students to the 10th International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF10) in 2003 to do a demonstration. Gene Mallove wrote in his Infinite Energy editorial in Issue 51 that Dash and his students:
...put on historic demonstrations of excess heat at Prof. Hagelstein’s lab. They used simple but effective calorimetric apparatus, which allowed observers to check the level of excess heat for themselves. This proves that even high school students can be more effective on the frontiers of science than the U.S. Department of Energy...
Jed Rothwell’s lenr-canr.org has a short write-up of the demonstration and numerous photos.
Our former New Energy Research Laboratory worked often on Dash-inspired experiments, which were reported on in our Device & Process Testing Updates in a number of issues. Lab technician Ed Wall visited Dash’s laboratory in December 1999 and wrote in Issue 29 of the experiments underway at the time. He said that, “Dr. Dash impressed me as a quiet and careful researcher, quite friendly and thoughtful, but stern, not allowing his students to wander, insisting on clear-minded effort to build consistent evidence.”
In the Infinite Energy coverage of the 2014 Cold Fusion/Lattice-Assisted Nuclear Reactions Colloquium (March 2014) at MIT, we reported on Dash’s presentation of his 25 years in cold fusion research. In all, Dash mentored two Ph.D. students, eight Master’s students and about 50 high school students. Bill Collis of the International Society for Condensed Matter Nuclear Science has archived Dash and student Abhay Ambadkar’s “recipe” for an electrolysis experiment, which Collis says has “been successfully replicated at schools in Italy and was demonstrated at ICCF11 in Marseilles, France in 2004.”
Dash was perhaps one of the most well-funded cold fusion researchers, in terms of consistent support and breadth of donors. He gave Infinite Energy an overview of his funding history in our 100th issue survey of cold fusioneers. After funding lapsed from the Portland State Physics Department, Dash received a three-year grant from the Army Research Office, followed by a three-year grant from the Drexler Foundation. He received funding from the New Energy Foundation and New York Community Trust. He said in Issue 100: “Funding from government and private sources is possible if you have compelling results. Attend conferences and give good presentations. Involve students as much as possible.”
With the support of a donor, in about 2006 Dash founded the Eugene Mallove Laboratory for New Energy Research at Portland State, in honor and memory of Infinite Energy’s founder Dr. Eugene Mallove.
Dash said at the 2014 colloquium at MIT, “It’s been a lot of fun for 25 years and we will keep going as long as we can. We’ve made extraordinary claims but we have to keep going to get irrefutable evidence for the proof that there’s no artifact.” Dash’s mentorship will likely have a very lasting impact on the field because he advised so many young scientists, including some still working in the field.
More detail about John Dash’s work and career are presented in the memorial contributions below that we have received from his colleagues, collaborators and students.
Notes on John Dash from Students & Colleagues
John Dash, Hideo Kozima and Irina Savvatimova in Portland, 2001 (courtesy of Irina Savvatimova).
***** Irina Savvatimova *****
Prof. John Dash was an amazing person. He was always friendly, modest, purposeful, self-possessed, correct.
I first met John at a conference on alternative energy in Minsk, Belarus in 1994. John was very active; he asked many questions of the speakers. And he looked very colorful. He was dressed in an embroidered Ukrainian shirt, probably donated by relatives. His father’s name was Dashevski, which was shortened to Dash when he arrived in the U.S.
My next meeting with John was at ICCF6 in Japan. The conference program was very intense, and the hotel at Lake Toya was enormous and beautiful. During the week of the conference participants did not go outside the hotel much. In the mountains it was cool. Prof. Dash and Prof. George Miley invited me for a walk. They discussed the process of transmutation.
At the ICCF8 meeting in 2000 in Italy (Lerici) John invited me to conduct research at Portland State University (PSU) with uranium in glow discharge using deuterium and hydrogen. John's proposal was for me to quickly conduct research and confirm the intensification of the processes of transmutation in the glow discharge as a result of low-energy impacts. John prepared my visit very energetically. After a few months I was able to start investigations on my own installation. Verification of the change in gamma and beta emission after ion irradiation in a glow discharge plasma was carried out at RID College by Steven Frantz (director of reactor). Since the deuterium was received only in the last week of my visit, John then had to finish the 500 hour experiment. Thanks to John, experiments were carried out on uranium confirming the possibility of the stimulation of decay process by low-energy impacts. It was shown that substantial change took place after irradiation by hydrogen and deuterium ions in alpha, beta and gamma emission. There was an increase in the ratio of Th234/Th232 to 18-28%. Especially significant increase was observed for the alpha emission—up to four times after a long experiment in deuterium. Prof. Dash reported these results at several conferences.1-2
John Dash with Irina Savvatimova’s experiment, 2001.
John was very considerate towards his students. For example, every day when Jon Warner left the lab, John said "be careful" since Jon used a motorcycle to drive in to PSU. A dictionary always lay open at the center of his lab, so that students of different nationalities could clarify the meaning of words.
John was a very friendly and humble person in all situations. He never spoke negatively about other scientists. Once I asked why universities prohibited research on cold fusion, but his laboratory was openly called the Laboratory of Cold Fusion. He said that he had a good reputation. When I asked why James Patterson’s interesting projects did not have enough financial support but John’s did, he said, “Patterson wanted a million, and I need only $100,000.”
1. Dash, J., Savvatimova, I., Frantz, S., Weis, E. and Kozima, H. 2002. “Effects of Glow Discharge with Hydrogen Isotope Plasmas on Radioactivity,” Proc. 11th Inter. Conf. on Emerging Nuclear Energy Systems, pp. 122-126.
2. Dash, J. and I Savvatimova, I. 2003. “Effects of Glow Discharge with Hydrogen Isotope Plasmas on Radioactivity of Uranium,” Proc. of American Nucl. Soc. Conf., June 6.
Hideo Kozima and John Dash in Portland, February 2001 (courtesy of Hideo Kozima).
***** Hideo Kozima *****
It was at the International Symposium on Cold Fusion and Advanced Energy Sources (Minsk, Belarus, May 25-26) in 1994 that I met John Dash and from then on had a best friend and had an intimate collaboration on the researches in the cold fusion phenomenon for about 20 years.
The reason that I have been a very good collaborator with him from the first may be our common understanding of this phenomenon. Our instinct and common sense in physics told us the necessity of neutrons to induce nuclear reactions in solids at near room temperature without any acceleration mechanisms. We published our papers telling this common sense simultaneously by chance.
He expressed his belief on this point in the paper presented at the Fourth International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF4) in Maui, Hawaii (December 6-9, 1993).1 He wrote: “The occurrence of gold and silver in these experiments seems unlikely to have been caused by impurities being deposited in the localized, high concentrations which were observed. On the other hand, these elements could have been produced by transmutation if slow neutrons were present.”
At this same conference, I presented my paper “Trapped Neutron Catalyzed Fusion of Deuterons and Protons in Inhomogeneous Solids.”2
Dash’s papers in the early days of his research in this field show clearly that he had been interested in the curiosity of the phenomenon occurring in systems composed of transition metals with not only deuterons but also with hydrogen, not confining his interest to the former that was popular at that time. Also, he was one of the first researchers who noticed nuclear transmutation and surface nature of the reactions in addition to generation of excess heat in cold fusion materials. These trends have grown up to be the main branches of this field, now.
After my retirement from Shizuoka University, Japan, in 1999, Dash invited me to Portland State University as a Visiting Professor supported by a gift from the New York Community Trust. I was at Portland State University as a Visiting Professor from September 2000 to August 2003 and also two months a year from 2004 to 2006. I gave a one semester lecture “Cold Fusion Phenomenon” to students in a graduate course in the Winter Term, 2003. Students included Jon Warner and Greg Goddard in the Doctoral course and Salas Cano Conrado in the Master course.
I published more than 20 papers during this period, including six papers3 co-authored with John and his students on the cold fusion phenomenon; they served as important materials to develop my theoretical model and also to establish the science of the cold fusion phenomenon. The collaboration with John Dash flourished in my book, The Science of the Cold Fusion Phenomena.4
It is necessary to add a few words on his participation in the student program “Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering” held every summer. While I was at Portland State University, I assisted his teaching two or three high school students a year in simple experiments on the cold fusion phenomenon. At ICCF10 held in Cambridge, Massachusetts (August 24-29, 2003), John presented a demonstration by high school students on excess heat production in an electrolytic system with Pd cathode and heavy water as an example of his participation in the student program.
The last picture postcard from John arrived on April 13 with a short sentence handwritten by him, “Takako + Hideo, thanks for the letter and pictures,” which my wife and I sent a month before. On the back of the card, there is a picture of the Odell Lake Lodge, Crescent Lake, Oregon in winter, which reminds us of the pleasant Christmas days at the Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon with John and his son Bill. The everlasting sweet and vivid memories with John in researches and daily life in Portland, Oregon are an inexhaustible source of my activity forever.
1. Dash, J., Noble, G. and Diman, D. 1994. “Surface Morphology and Microcomposition of Palladium Cathodes after Electrolysis in Acidified Light and Heavy Water: Correlation with Excess Heat,” Proc. ICCF4, pp. 25-10.
2. Kozima, H. 1994. “Trapped Neutron Catalyzed Fusion of Deuterons and Protons in Inhomogeneous Solids,” Proc. ICCF4, pp. 508-515.
3. (a) Kozima, H., Warner, J. and Goddard, G. 2001. “Cold Fusion Phenomenon and Atomic Processes in Transition-metal Hydrides and Deuterides,” Journal of New Energy, 6-2, pp. 126-139; (b) Dash, J., Savvatimova, I., Goddard, G., Frantz, S., Weis, E. and Kozima, H. 2002. “Effects of Hydrogen Isotope on Radioactivity of Uranium,” Proc. 11th International Conf. Emerging Nuclear Energy Systems, September 29-October 4, Albuquerque, NM, pp. 122-126; (c) Dash, J., Savvatimova, I., Frantz, S., Weis, E. and Kozima, H. 2003. “Effects of Glow Discharge with Hydrogen Isotope Plasmas on Radioactivity of Uranium,” Proc. ICCF9, pp. 77-81; (d) Kozima, H., Warner, J., Salas Cano, C. and Dash, J. 2003. “Consistent Explanation of Topography Change and Nuclear Transmutation in Surface Layers of Cathodes in Electrolytic Cold Fusion Experiments,” Proc. ICCF9, pp. 178-181; (e) Kozima, H., Warner, J., Salas Cano, C. and Dash, J. 2003. “TNCF Model Explanation of Cold Fusion Phenomenon in Surface Layers of Cathodes in Electrolytic Experiments,” Journal of New Energy, 7-1, pp. 81-95; (f) Kozima, H., Zhang, W.-S. and Dash, J. 2008. “Precision Measurement of Excess Energy in Electrolytic System Pd/D/H2SO4 and Inverse-power Distribution of Energy Pulses vs. Excess Energy,” Proc. ICCF13, pp. 348-358.
4. Kozima, H. 2006. The Science of the Cold Fusion Phenomenon, Elsevier Science.
***** Roger Stringham *****
In the spring of 1993 John took a number of SEM photos of a 2.5 cm2 Pd foil 100μ thick. The foil had been exposed to cavitating D2O for several hours in a steady-state temperature flow. The photos showed a spectrum of cavitation produced energetic events. One of the many exciting photos shows obvious heat released from the largest, a 10μ-crater. And the crater was stuffed with sub-micron Pd spheres followed by a recrystalization process as a result of the energy burst. This was not an uncommon observation. John Dash, pushing sonofusion into a higher orbit, initiated all this in his SEM photos.
The last time I saw John was at ICCF18. He was a quiet and persistent researcher. He was one of the few who brought youth into our community. He accomplished the very difficult task of persuading students to invest their time and energy into a dead end scientific future. Those graduates had to face an interviewer who asks the question “what was your science major?” But it is that instilled spirit that carries on in this community. His expertise in SEM analysis was important to many of us in the field.
***** Mathieu Valat *****
John was my Principal Investigator when I entered Portland State University as a physics graduate student in 2009. He taught me so much, especially how precious independent science is. My Master of Science in Physics thesis, “Elemental and Isotopic Measurements on Palladium After Heavy Water Electrolysis,” is available in the Portland State e-library: http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/open_access_etds/60/
I keep a vivid memory of John getting excited when it was time to turn on his SEM microscope, eagerly wanting to find evidence of cold fusion phenomenon. He was of a rare patience and he always wanted to promote youth in cold fusion research. It was truly his fight, and he performed it in excellence.
We shared good times, since he had a very good sense of humor and was such a generous man. I tried to call him many times in the last two years, without success.
Qiongshu Wang, John Dash and Wu-Shou Zhang in 2005 (courtesy of Qiongshu Wang).
***** Wu-Shou Zhang *****
I sadly learned that Prof. John Dash passed away. I knew his health was very bad earlier this year but never thought he would leave us so quickly! He was my experimental guide on cold fusion. I finished the transition from a theorist to experimenter in this field during my visit to Portland State University from September 2004 to November 2006. It was also his Low Energy Nuclear Laboratory where I found that temperature is the most important factor for excess heat production in palladium/heavy water electrolytic systems measured by Seebeck Calorimetry in September 2005. He was a practiced physicist and I learned a lot from him! John was a warm and caring man in our daily life in Portland, Oregon, especially at the beginning of my visit. I will miss him forever. May his soul rest in peace.
Qiongshu Wang, John Dash and a student at the 2009 ACS meeting (courtesy of Qiongshu Wang).
***** Qiongshu Wang *****
I worked with John Dash from September 29, 2003 to June 30, 2009. September 2003 seems like yesterday. Prof. Dash asked me how much I knew about cold fusion; I said a little. He said, “I will teach you everything.” Since that day, six years flew by. I learned a lot from Prof. Dash, and am left with many special memories. My husband always said, “You are lucky, John is so nice.” That is true. I would like to thank him for all his kindnesses over those six years. It has meant an awful lot to me.
***** David Nagel *****
My interactions with John Dash primarily occurred at ICCF meetings. But, despite such limited intersections, a couple of basic things about him were abundantly clear.
John was a real gentleman, courteous and interesting, who was also a very good scientist. John invariably presented a great deal of data, much of it pioneering in nature. His results on the production of craters, and on x-ray analyses of surprising elements on cathode surfaces, come to mind now. Put another way, even if John never worked with anyone else, he presented significant new results about LENR.
But, John was especially good at working with others, both students and visitors. He stood out as one of the few professors globally who consistently involved students in LENR research, both from high schools and his university. They performed relatively simple experiments, which was a strength of his research style. John also hosted a few very capable international LENR scientists, who got excellent results while working with him. I think of the data published by Kozima and Dash, which showed an inverse frequency dependence of the magnitude of bursts of LENR energy.
Our field is fortunate to have had several outstanding and experienced scientists, such as John Dash, who produced many good results. He is already missed.
***** Mitchell Swartz and Gayle Verner *****
We remember and will miss our dear cold fusion researcher and colleague, John Dash, Ph.D. who died April 13, 2016.
In 2003, as ICCF10 at MIT was about to begin, Prof. John Dash hauled in his equipment, cells, solutions, and set up his open demonstration of an active aqueous cold fusion system in Prof. Peter Hagelstein’s lab. He took the right-hand side, while we took the left and watched his group as we also set up our own open demonstration of a slightly different kind of working active aqueous cold fusion system. Would they work? Would they both work? Would they be reproducible enough to last through the crowd of a few hundred expected that Tuesday late summer afternoon?
It was a great Tuesday. John was assisted in his meticulously organized CF demo by his students, who had accompanied him from Portland State University, in Oregon. That afternoon, as the crowds entered, his group remained at the folding tables now laden with equipment, meters, and CF cells, poised and ready to explain their cold fusion system to visitors who filed by. There were hundreds of people passing through, some not even associated with ICCF10. Even Michio Kushi showed up to marvel at the two working cold fusion systems in a single room running over hours.
People asked questions, drawn in by John’s easy going manner, and found answers. John was clear and enjoyed teaching as he described his CF demonstration device. The only disappointment was the press. Another cold fusion warrior, the late Eugene Mallove, tirelessly kept calling the newspapers who refused to cover the unique event.
Imagine. Two actual working experimental upgrades on the original Fleischmann Pons (Hawkins) cell running actively at ICCF10 for one to several days openly, reproducibly. John Dash’s system, an acidified modification of the FPH system, produced excess heat of about 170% total output (~4 watts) compared to input. Our JET Energy system, a high impedance modification of the FPH system, that afternoon produced excess heat of about 230% total output (~3.4 watts) compared to input.
The successful performances of two simultaneous open cold fusion demonstrations strengthened the field for awhile. The experimenters who conducted the open CF demos were even more invigorated. John, also feeling encouraged, went on to fight for himself and the entire cold fusion field through his USPTO case in federal court. It is an issue well known to those who actually file for inventions in this field that the Examiner(s) often behave egregiously against cold fusion inventors (“Heavywatergate”), and so John took his patent application case to the Board of Patent Appeals, which tends to “rubber stamp” whatever is put in front of them, certainly for such a controversial subject. In fact, the Board did not even docket his response, purporting he had not submitted it, and thereafter, they called his case “ex parte.” That infuriated John, who at great cost and great effort, took the case to the federal appellate court and then the U.S. Supreme Court.
The following is a brief excerpt from John Dash’s Petition for a Writ Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. His “Reasons for Granting the Petition” are logical and clear:
…the inventors have presented substantial evidence clearly establishing that the invention reproducibly results in the production of heat energy. Evidence is presented that a U.S. Navy scientist at least partially reproduced the claims of the inventors in his first experiment, even though he substituted an inferior material for one of the main components of the experiment. … Other evidence is presented that the USPTO discriminated against scientists who suggested that their results are related to the cold fusion phenomenon. Because of this suggestion the results presented were deemed not to be credible, and a patent was not awarded. However, another scientist who obtained similar results without any suggestion to explain the origin of the results, was awarded a total of 12 U.S. patents. Clearly, the USPTO has hindered rather than promoted the progress of science, as suggested by the spirit of the US Constitution.
Groups of high school students in the U.S. and in Italy and university students in China have used our experimental protocol, and all were able to demonstrate anomalous heat. Clearly, our system has utility and is enabled. The USPTO did not comply with Title 35 of the U.S. Code.
With the benefit of a patent it may be possible to obtain the funds needed to prepare an affordable kit to perform cold fusion experiments safely and reproducibly, so that teachers, students, and others all over the world may be able to explore this complex phenomenon, which is still very poorly understood. Then, advances in understanding may make it possible to increase the scale to a practical size which could produce a product such as low cost hydrogen, a fuel which produces water when burned. This is much more desirable than carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by the combustion of fossil fuels.
The DoE recently concluded a review in which 18 scientists evaluated the cold fusion research performed world-wide during the past 15 years. Almost all of these scientists concluded that some aspects of cold fusion research should receive Federal support (Appendix K). Clearly, cold fusion does not belong in the same category as perpetual motion; Now that the stigma is lifting, scientists should be able to perform their research on cold fusion and be evaluated fairly by mainstream journals and by the USPTO. For the reasons above, the Petitioner respectfully requests that this Petition for Writ of Certiorari be granted.
Sadly, to his chagrin and unfortunately for the rest of us, the Supreme Court declined to hear his case, and his Petition for Certiorari was denied. As a result, the USPTO got another “green light” to continue the obstruction of justice known as Heavywatergate—the continuous USPTO discrimination against patent cases involving cold fusion in which the Examiners wrongly ignore, as John Dash’s Petition states, both submitted Evidence and the U.S. Constitution.
John Dash never gave up on cold fusion. Eleven years later, in 2014, at the 25 year anniversary of Cold Fusion/ Lattice Assisted Nuclear Reactions Colloquium at MIT, John Dash again travelled, for perhaps the last time, from the west coast to the east, to MIT, to talk in a public forum about CF. John gave a great review lecture on his work in the field.
Last year, John joined other colleagues in the field to co-write a paper on “Condensed matter nuclear reaction products observed in Pd/D co-deposition experiments.” His input was greatly appreciated by his colleagues.
John Dash was a true, quiet, but tirelessly-working-and-always-teaching, hero in this beleaguered field. He forged ahead into and developed acidic (low pH) and ordinary water cold fusion systems. He worked his way through the new material science/engineering lands called “cold fusion” for 27 years and managed working, reproducible CF demonstrations, and fought against the brick wall of discrimination against cold fusion researchers and their efforts.
When John Dash passed away recently, the cold fusion field irreversibly lost another of its key, veteran researchers and perhaps its most patient experimental science teacher.