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Cold Fusion

Since the announcement of a successful cold fusion reaction by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, two scientists at the University of Utah , in March 1989, the scientific community has been astir over the meaning of their experiments. Cold fusion would overcome the hurdle currently standing in the way of the use of nuclear fusion as a technology for the generation of electricity; namely, the incredibly complex and demanding requirements necessary for the use of hot fusion.

There is a great deal of controversy over how such a reaction occurs, or how it can be duplicated consistently. After the initial announcement by Pons and Fleischmann in 1989, scientists the world over tried to duplicate their results and a hasty consensus emerged from the scientific establishment that cold fusion couldn't be demonstrated. In fact, the "conventional" scientific establishment (in some cases) still regards it as a complete hoax or at the very least badly performed science. How this occurred is an interesting study of a weakness of the scientific system. For a scientist to survive and thrive, he or she must have research funding. In fact, often academic and professional success is most commonly measured in "publish or perish" terms. Established and respected scientists populate the committees that determine who does and who does not receive research grants and/or funding. It is difficult for these committees to grant funding for work in areas where there is no accepted track record.

It is true that "claims of scientific discovery require independent verification to establish a basis for understanding the underlying scientific phenomena and to explore the prospects for technology development." It is also true that radical new discoveries and theories more often than not exhibit the characteristic of not being immediately understood. The history of science is full of examples of theories dismissed as preposterous or unscientific that are now held to be absolutely true. An example of this is the theory of plate tectonics, which describes how heat flow inside the Earth creates all of the surface geologic features including volcanoes and earthquakes. Using existing theory in the early 20 th century, geologists argued that the proponents of the new theory obviously did not have a deep understanding of the fundamentals of geology. Initially dismissed as naivete, 50 years later plate tectonics is now thought of as conclusively proven in the scientific community.

Reports of the successful generation of more heat energy (excess heat) out than electrical and other energy into the experiment continue to grow despite the failure of many mainstream scientists to duplicate the initial experiments. Dr. Edmund Storms, retired Los Alamos scientist, points out that more than 50 examples of excess heat production have been reported and have passed the process of peer review confirmation. Dr. Storms participated in the First International Conference on Future Energy and presented the latest information on cold fusion.

The reasons for the animosity toward the field of cold fusion research are partly extra-scientific. Many proponents of cold fusion research believe that the passionate resistance is a reaction to the manner in which the initial announcement of a "cold fusion breakthrough" was made through popular media rather than traditional scientific journals. After the initial stir of excitement, it appeared that the announcement by Pons and Fleischmann was premature the result of academic pressure to achieve prestige and the apparent withholding of some critical information to preserve their potential patent rights. This demonstrates the conflict any new energy investigator will experience full disclosure may allow the scientific community to duplicate and therefore verify the experiment, but this same disclosure compromises the investigator's ability to obtain a patent. It is important to note that no one has claimed to have disproved the experiments merely to have been unable to reproduce the same results.

So what are we to make of the growing claims that "excess heat" is being generated by this research? One thing worth considering is that the theories behind these results are not as yet fully understood. Some researchers point out that the processes that are producing this excess heat are looking less and less like fusion at all, and this may be leading to some misunderstanding about what is truly going on in the experiments. Production of "excess heat" holds great promise for the production of world energy. Some of the scientists involved are claiming up to three times the energy output in heat compared to the energy put into the experiment through electrical current. It is possible that this power gain could be the answer to the world's energy problems for centuries to come. The potential is well understood in Japan where energy resources are scarce. Japanese investors from Toyota have funded a $9,000,000 research facility in Monaco for Pons and Fleischmann to pursue the development of cold fusion as a power source.

Although not yet brought to the level of development where it is understood well enough to be widely reproduced, excess heat has apparently been produced and independently verified. One technology has already been granted a patent for a cold fusion process. This US patent is owned by the CETI Corporation in Texas . The CETI Corporation and many other researchers in the field of cold fusion research will be the subjects of this section of the website.

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