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Cold fusion colloquium at CERN

On Thursday, March 22nd, the CERN Colloquium between 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm will be dedicated to a very, very unusual topic: cold fusion. The title is

Overview of Theoretical and Experimental Progress in Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR): click for description
and the talk will be presented by two folks I've never heard about but they're probably focusing on cold fusion, Francesco Celani and Yogendra Srivastava. This will surely be an event that may elevate the blood pressure of the people in the audience and may be very attractive. And I think it's good that organizers – Antoniadis and Benedetti – have the right to occasionally choose speakers who stand beyond the boundaries of proper science, as understood by most of the active physicists in conventional particle physics.

Still, I think it is unfortunate that invalid claims are allowed to penetrate into official CERN's documents. What do I mean?

First of all, the title is dishonest because it tries to make the reader believe that there has been some progress in cold fusion. Obviously, there wasn't and couldn't have been any progress. It's been known that cold fusion is impossible for quite some time and decades ago, it's been also understood why some claims in the literature didn't actually contain any viable loophole. Nothing has changed about those matters so the "work" that the speakers will present is nothing else than random assorted motion of bodies of some people who simply have no clue.
Related news: Three days ago, Steven Krivit published "news" about Rossi's demonstrations in NASA whose results were "embargoed" until 2012. Just by a coincidence, the demonstration ended as failures. Sorry but if you're "embargoing" inconvenient results of experiments, you're not doing science: you're a scammer. And this is true for everyone who is involved with this scam in NASA, too.
I find it obvious that the very existence of this event will be abused by the cold fusion proponents. After all, there are already some glimpses how the journalist types think:
Physicists Meet at CERN to Discuss Progress Made on Cold Fusion (Oil Price.COM)
The article above may be classified as hype but it's still a balanced text relatively to what I expect will flourish after the talk.

Whether such events end up being harmful – coups to deliberately help bad scientists to suppress good scientists – depends on many other things, including the room that the proper physicists will have to explain the actual physics of all the "experiments" that will be discussed, and so on.

When I was organizing various Harvard seminars, of course that I liked to invite speakers who "didn't really belong" – who were doing things that would be considered wrong by a vast majority of the typical audience of the seminars. It is refreshing to force yourself and everyone else to "think different"; it's fun to be provoking. But I would have never done if I hadn't known that "the good prevails at the end".

Once the speaker would start to say manifestly wrong things, of course that I would behave as a protective host but I also made sure that the articulate people in the audience have all the room to explain to the speaker why he is misguided about very basic physics – so that everyone else hears that, too.

So the destruction of the speakers did take place at some points. For example, Kirill Krasnov – a loop quantum gravity type – would be giving a talk about some silly pseudoscientific model. I forgot what it exactly was but it was probably something like a loop-quantum-gravity-inspired model of the black hole horizon or something of this sort, or maybe some particle-like model claiming to be 3D gravity. I don't know. Andy Strominger gave him a tough lecture about why Krasnov is overlooking all the knowledge obtained from quantum field theory which is really what the 20th century physics was all about, and so on.

There were many such examples. But of course, the more "technical" type of a seminar we talk about, the more powerful people when it comes to their expertise may be found in the audience. Colloquia are at the bottom. Colloquia are often wonderful and broad and full of culture and the speakers are often leaders of their subdisciplines but I have seen a couple colloquia in which lots of manifestly wrong claims remained indisputed.

That's not a problem if no one cares but I kind of think that this won't be case of "cold fusion at CERN". So the colloquium will primarily be a tool for the cold fusion advocates to gain influence.

One thing should be justified: what I am irritated by isn't really the right of pseudoscientists such as cold fusion researchers to give talks. What I am bothered by is that the media etc. almost never discuss what the actual science says about all these hypothetical processes, possible magnitudes of energy that may be obtained in one way or another. There's a lot of wonderful physics – it's often basic enough physics that every cultural human being should know them.

In reality, almost no one knows. A reason is that people aren't really interested in physics – the truth about the Universe, the explanation of things that are actually happening or why they cannot be happening. People are interested in sensational claims, those that have some "societal implications", whether it's a change in the influence of some people or practical applications of some research. That's just very bad. And it's a key reason why there are thousands of crackpot articles about cold fusion written by the "science journalist" but almost none of them ever writes about the question how the nuclei etc. actually operate in the Universe around us.

It's sad and of course that the ultimate reason why it is so is that most of the writers and their readers don't care about the truth. Most of these people suck.

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reader Alain_Co said...

Dear sir,

It seems you miss many event since a few years.
Don't be surprised of that, since it is a similar mecanism to IPCC (Collective Delusion as explained by Roland Benabou in thoses papers and ).

the effect are proved, thermally, and about transmutation.
See Spawar conference and PR papers.

Focardi, Celani,... worked on the Ni+H variant, that seems more promising.

forget about Rossi which is too messy, and incompetent to convince unbelievers.

look at Defkalion Green Technology,
his board of director and his engineering answers give strong credibility, despite no test done today.
call for independent test seems a big success, and sould give results soone.

this predictable succes might explain the discrete spin tumble happening at CERN, NASA.

if you look for a theory, open your mind and look at that one that will be presented at CERN
This slide explain much, but they might look short for you

this theory have many advantage for conservative people. it use existing quantum mechanic, explain many strange results in cold fusion, but also since 19th century...
It is based on many independently observed facts (like coherents protons in graphene, B-O approximation breaking).

you should look at that WL theory index, citing many documents made by larsen.

not vodoo science.
it seems thather that MIT behavior in that domain was like Mann
as said Eugene Malove that was the FOIA of that time.

best regards.

PS: I don't believe in any conspiracy, except self rational delusion as modelized by benabou.

by the way, unable to connect with openid. catcha moan.

reader Anonymous said...

Lubos, it's funny how Mike Nelson states in his report that Rossi's degree in chemical engineering came from a diploma mill that was shut down for fraud. Says it all, really.

Thanks for the heads up, you da man.

reader Adi said...

Let see,
Some smart scientist want to gather and discuss about possibility and current progress in Cold Fusion area. And you say that they don't need to talk about it because it is impossible ? What gives you creditability to claim such thing? We need to talk about everything and question all the time, that is the science. What about proving and disproving, experiments. Only the inquisition forbid to question some topics.
I saw skeptics texts, and believers texts but this articles is so idiotic in essence. So many times in history the invention has came before the scientific theories and many times the experiments has conformed theories. At the end I must say that I am glad that scientist are not so short sighted as you are.

reader PlatoHagel said...

Hi Lubos,

I want to get to the bottom of this as well. There is much hope for a means for electricity production so of course many are interested.

Andrea Rossi's 'E-cat' nuclear reactor


reader Luboš Motl said...

Unknown, I don't understand your comment and the relationships to the IPCC (except that both topics are about a widely hyped pseudoscience).

Thanks, Plokos, for the info – although it's probably not too hard to get this kind of dirty laundry. ;-)

Adi, you've been lied to. There isn't any smart scientist on this planet who thinks that cold fusion is right.

Plato, good interest - and fun combination with the ancient logo of your blog.

reader Alain_Co said...

the begining of cold fusion is a miror of IPCC/mann story.
as explain the book and papers of eugeme mallove the mit frauded one of their experiment to fake a failure.
they used different adjustement to make an inconvenient truth disapear... a small, doubtfull difference, yet too inconvenient...

after that with the pretext that only 30% of experiments, done with very different protocols (spawar have proved the reason of many failures, because like cooking there are condition for good result), the said that all was fake...

once again the consensus, the administration of science, the leadership of few, killed an inconvenient fact...
it was funny, reading a thousand of papers on that subject in 93, to see how void were the excuse to negate the results of positive experiments... and the result to stay after the critics have been taen into account...

there have been many erreor on CF side, like focussin on DD fusion, which it is clear now, is not happening.
I can even see some papers that find very interestin results, but also try absolutely to find what they expect, finding few, and imagining bad reason for not happening...

you should really dig a litte deeper in that affair.

the denial mecanism that you see in IPCC with the hockey team, isn the same. consensus, menance on revie, on researchers, press influence to terrorize dissenters, verbal violence...

anyway, we will talk in 1-2 month, and you will be able to reread what I say...

CF in nor much more strange than superconduction, not even a revolution in physics... just one more collective effect.

Larsen cite even old experiment, that show unbelievable results befor F&P...
transmutation in arcing in oil, in x-ray tube with H2, and other found in strange place, like coke factory in south africa...
experiments or mesure done by serious people...
like us navy spawar is.

reader Tom Andersen said...

Unpredicted, ridiculed results:
High Tc superconductivity
Human Powered Flight
Continental Drift
germ theory of disease
quark theory
Dark Matter

Or the other way things 'known' and later found to be wrong:

Planet Vulcan
Martian Canals
Luminiferous Aether
Static Universe

Theoretical Physics has been especially vacant in the last few decades. It may be that the 'this time it's different' mentality of people like Lubos:

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” — Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

"In the middle 1800s, Newtonian mechanics was at its zenith. There seemed to be no phenomenon which could not be explained in terms of mechanical models. All mechanical models were subject to long-established principles. The chairman of the physics department at Harvard discouraged graduate study because so few important matters remained unsolved.
In a speech to the Royal Institution in 1900, Lord Kelvin reflected that there were only two "clouds" on the horizon of physics, the problem of black-body radiation and the Michel- son-Morley experiment.21 There was no doubt, said Kelvin, that they soon would be gone."

Cold Fusion perhaps works (or not) but there has been a lot of positive results posted in 'real' journals. Real people have done real work.

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