My earlier blog on cold fusion stirred up a hornets' nest of anonymous bloggers. Contrary to some of their allegations, I have no financial interest in “hot” fusion, nor do I work for an oil company. Indeed, I am retired and, unlike the cold fusion proponents on 60-Minutes, I have no financial interest in any specific company or technology in this field. Nor am I “merely” an academic. While I have physics degrees from Caltech and Stanford and was on the faculty of Harvard, I spent most of my career developing practical applications of advanced technologies, such as medical equipment that has dramatically improved patient care. I am sincere in wanting the best for our society, which is why I blog using my real name rather than hiding behind an alias.
I would be thrilled if someone developed a real “silver bullet” that instantly solved our critical energy and environmental challenges. I would also be thrilled if someone cured cancer, but I’m not rushing to buy snake oil from those eager to cash in on an unsuspecting public desperate for an easy cure.
If cold deuterium fusion were real it would be easy to provide definitive scientific proof, and that technology would be rapidly adopted. What will stop these people is not what I or anyone else says but rather they will fail because what they claim is simply not true.
I’ve read their statements and do not doubt that heat is released by their chemical reactions – there is nothing remarkable about that; matches do that also. Nowhere do they address the fundamental scientific issue that the energies required to fuse nuclei are vastly greater than those in any chemical reaction. They provide no evidence that helium is produced by the deuterium fusion they claim to achieve. There is no confirmation by an independent group that doesn’t stand to make money on cold fusion. As an old TV commercial once said: “Where’s the beef?”
Very promising, real solutions to our energy and environmental challenges exist, including solar, wind, and true fusion. All of these need major investments and decades to develop and implement. Let’s not let false hope and self-promoters divert us from investing our resources to achieve real progress – conservation, pollution-reduction, and new scientifically sensible energy generation.