A warning at the very beginning. The comment section below this blog post isn't meant to be a platform for believers in Rossi's fraud to promote their religion. I don't consider these people worthy to comment on this blog and I will blacklist them if they are try to do such a thing. This is a physics blog but cold fusion isn't physics. Deal.Andrea Rossi is not only a crackpot but a convicted crook who has so far spent four years in prison. His newest generation of "cold fusion" gadgets, E-Cat, has been hyped at least since 2011. This blog contains many articles with the name of Andrea Rossi.
Some of the previous blog posts were dedicated to the absurdity of the physical claims – about the possibility to ignite reactions at "room temperature" even though basic calculations imply that these reactions need tens of millions of kelvins to run (to overcome the Coulomb i.e. electrostatic potential energy barrier between the nuclei). I've discussed some elementary mistakes and tricks. Many of these suspicions were later proven to be true. For example, lots of water that was claimed to vaporize didn't vaporize at all – they misunderstood the actual boiling point.
The thermal radiation wasn't what it was claimed to do. More seriously, in the past, the folks around Rossi have already claimed that they could have dramatically changed the isotopic composition of the fuel. Those claims were later shown to be wrong. It is easy to find details about those events in the past.
I don't want to discuss all these technicalities again because it's absurd and pointless. Who is stupid enough not to understand how absurd these things are is either a crook himself or a moron of the highest caliber who must be banned and not to be discussed with.
In May 2013, Tommaso Dorigo, an experimental physicist of CMS, was stunningly impressed by an Italian-Swedish paper that claimed to have verified the fusion in the E-Cat.
Now it's 2014 and we were offered a new Italian-Swedish paper claiming to have independently verified that the gadget produces a huge amount of energy, perhaps one million times the energy from the same amount of gasoline. Deja vu, indeed. Rossi has claimed to possess a working power plant he quickly built with his own hands but now with the help of millions of dollars and many companies, he can't start to mass produce them for 4 years? How stupid do you have to be to believe such a story?
Once again, Tommaso Rodigo posted a text promoting the "independent test". It's of course not independent at all – almost all these men have been Rossi's pals for years and Rossi himself was allowed to execute some of the key procedures of this "independent test".
Thankfully, Dorigo is a bit less enthusiastic about this cold fusion stuff than he was 3 years ago and he realizes that the believers in the comment section of his blog look like idiots. Well, I would tell him that he is "somewhere in between them and myself" so he should try to understand that from my viewpoint, he looks as the same kind of an idiot as those über-idiots look from his viewpoint!
The new pro-Rossi report also contains some analysis of the isotopic composition that says that over 90% of lithium was lithium-7 at the beginning, but it was below 10% of lithium-7 after the reaction. That's despite the fact that they claim that the output was almost constant over time and they stopped it at a pretty much arbitrary moment. All these claims are ludicrous, of course. If the percentage of the usable fuel dropped that much, they would have to see a huge slowdown of the reaction.
Of course, any nuclear reaction that would convert macroscopic amounts of the material to different isotopes would produce a lethal amount of radiation and the temperature would have to be at least tens of millions of kelvins. To misunderstand why these propositions are true means to misunderstand the very basics of modern physics.
The believers are of course complete imbeciles who don't understand anything in science at all. But they still believe that it's possible for someone with a similar attitude to make a great scientific discovery. That's not possible, of course.
Quite often, I would quote Feynman's commencement speech "Cargo Cult Science", sentences such as
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.Many of those comments are important and relevant here, too.
However, here I choose a piece of the TV program with Feynman, "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out". Go to 42:53 in the video and you will hear him saying the following:
"Science Which Is Not a Science ..."The bold face fonts were added to the last paragraph by your humble correspondent. Feynman primarily mentioned some particular "marginal" pseudosciences such as the so-called "social sciences" and "sciences about healthy organic food products" but his comments are obviously much more general and apply much more directly to this cold fusion "science", too.
Because of the success of science, there is, I think, a kind of pseudoscience. Social science is an example of a science which is not a science; they don't do [things] scientifically, they follow the forms—or you gather data, you do so-and-so and so forth but they don't get any laws, they haven't found out anything. They haven't got anywhere yet—maybe someday they will, but it's not very well developed, but what happens is on an even more mundane level. We get experts on everything that sound like they're sort of scientific experts. They're not scientific, they sit at a typewriter and they make up something like, oh, food grown with, er, fertilizer that's organic is better for you than food grown with fertilizer that's inorganic—may be true, may not be true, but it hasn't been demonstrated one way or the other. But they'll sit there on the typewriter and make up all this stuff as if it's science and then become an expert on foods, organic foods and so on. There's all kinds of myths and pseudoscience all over the place.
I may be quite wrong, maybe they do know all these things, but I don't think I'm wrong. You see, I have the advantage of having found out how hard it is to get to really know something, how careful you have to be about checking the experiments, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself. I know what it means to know something, and therefore I see how they get their information and I can't believe that they know it, they haven't done the work necessary, haven't done the checks necessary, haven't done the care necessary. I have a great suspicion that they don't know, that this stuff is [wrong] and they're intimidating people. I think so. I don't know the world very well but that's what I think.
[Full transcript is here.]
All the believers try to intimidate people, Feynman says, and the cold fusion believers are also trying to harass you if you tell them that there are no effects in Nature that comparably hugely deviate from the laws of nuclear physics as science has learned them in the last 100 years. It's such a heresy to believe that science understand things! And it's also a heresy to mention that the most sensible explanation of all the remarkable claims in Rossi-related papers is that all of them are fraudulent. It's another heresy, isn't it? We should worship a prophet such as Rossi.
But the scientific evidence is really overwhelming that physics has understood the underlying laws beneath everything we have ever observed and if we want to find effects that may go beyond the laws we have found, we indeed have to build new high-energy colliders for $10 billion dollars or something like that. No gadget in Andrea Rossi's garage that looks just like immersion heater can do something miraculous. Everyone who is neither science-illiterate nor science-semi-illiterate (such as Tommaso Dorigo) knows that – and even Dorigo's intermediate category of semi-idiots semi-knows it.
It is easy to see that Rossi and others around him are almost certainly crooks. If I were a judge deciding about Rossi's life in prison, of course that I would consider the available evidence of his fraud to be irreversible.
His fanatic believers openly tell you that it is not a problem for them if some serious errors are found in the calculations or experimental steps. When semi-idiot Tommaso tells them that
the absolutely mandatory requirement for an independent test is the total absence of the interested party from the scene,they openly respond with:
It's ridiculous excuse... Instead making such silly excuses it would be better for academia to make some actual science in this area... yet another ridiculous complaining... anyway it's already irrelevant...I am not joking. This comment was written down by a full-fledged idiot named Stefan Banev on semi-idiot Tommaso Dorigo's blog. Great. So Rossi may execute much of the test and they still think it's just fine to call it an "independent test".
These extremely low standards – well, I think that even "šitty standards" is a striking euphemism – is something they not only embrace but boast about. They are literally proud to support careless and ultimately fraudulent activity and hype it as science – if not important science. And they want the whole world to do something similar.
Clearly, they don't understand science. Feynman's comments that he had the luck to learn "how hard it is to get to really know something" are the key to science that these people don't possess. If one is constructing a proof of the existence or absence of some phenomenon, or anything of the sort, he must really be careful and accurate about very many things.
There are very many requirements that are so essential that if one of them isn't obeyed or under full control, the piece of "scientific work" is almost guaranteed to be worthless noise. These believers are "generous" and they suggest that if one-third or one-half of the steps is just wrong or unverified, it's still OK! If one wants to deduce that (or whether) some cheaply looking "mysterious black box" really does some miraculous things from some available energy budgets, he must be extremely careful about all possible ways how energy (and fuel) may be getting in or out and how all the measuring devices and chemical labs may be compromised, and so on. A person who is doing these tests really scientifically just can't believe another human's claims. Scientifically illiterate people may consider this "distrust" to be unethical but it is really essential in the scientific method. Science can't be based on the trust in between the people; it's based on the a priori skepticism and the impersonal evidence and the other people present in the lab must be treated impartially just like any other physical objects. These objects may open their mouth and a scientist must of course remain open-minded and assume that what these objects say may be false or true.
The idea that "one should trust" people like Rossi – who have spent years in prison for previous, technologically unrelated claims about another "great discovery related to cheap energy" – is amusing by itself and reminds me of an episode of The Big Bang Theory (video) where Penny paid the fines for her ex-boyfriend Kurt who was pissing on cop cars.
Penny: Well, remember Kurt?But some people simply instinctively want to trust folks like Kurt or Rossi. ;-)
Leonard: Your ex-boyfriend?
Penny: Yeah. He got arrested for taking a whiz on a cop car.
Penny: He was drunk.
Leonard: I would hope so.
Penny: Anyway, he had a bunch of outstanding tickets and a bench warrant, so I, you know, I paid his fines.
Leonard: Did he pay you back?
Penny: No, but he will.
Leonard: And that’s based on the inherent credit-worthiness of people who get drunk and urinate on police vehicles? [Just like in Rossi's case.]
Back to the quality requirements in the scientific method.
Some requirements are more important than others. Some of them may be relatively unimportant. But if one deals with complex questions or contrived devices or experimental procedures, the number of essential requirements is still very high. These requirements are no formalities. They are really needed for the "scientific work" not to be a hopelessly stinking pile of šit. They can't be replaced by conspiracy theories about someone's being discriminated against by some powerful institutions, or something of the sort. These requirements are vital for everyone who wants to do serious science whether he is a member of an institution (or "establishment") or not. They're intrinsic requirements of the scientific method as such.
If you are a parent of a kid who wants to establish himself in science or engineering and he or she is deliberately trying to šit and piß on all these vital requirements of the scientific method, i.e. a kid who is beginning to resemble Andrea Rossi, you should ignore the "social science" pseudoscientists who are telling you that it's wrong to spank a child. Instead, you should spank and spank and spank so that the kid can't sit for several days. I hope it will help. There really can't be any "discussion" about these vital things and this is also why I am going to blacklist everyone who would dare to invent apologies for this fraud organized by Andrea Rossi and his accomplices.
Many of the society's institutions may be broken and hijacked so that allow tons of crooks similar to Andrea Rossi – and many others – to get very rich and control many things but I won't allow this blog to become broken in an analogous way.
By the way, the number of reactions to the latest "independent test" remained below a dozen or so. Fortunately. One of the reaction was a letter written by four Swedish professors (I count one emeritus professor) where they express their surprise that Elforsk was incredible gullible during these events. For a few extra comments on the latest release, see Stephan Pomp's blog. Among the mostly "positive" (gullible) responses, Extreme Tech offers you by far the most extensive discussion with over 1,072 comments. The people who realize or "tend to believe" that it's scam dominate there but the number of believers is still incredibly high.