Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lure of cold fusion backfires

Today's Australian ran this amusing item: Lure of cold fusion backfires. Particularly the bit about suing Dick Smith for $100,000,000! The Age's article Mullumbimby, helping to save world gives some more background:
If Mr Bryce, who as a member of the Australian Skeptics has experience testing the scientific veracity of all sorts of weird and wacky things, gives the technology the thumbs-up, Dick Smith will give the group $200,000. 
Dr Rossi, who works for the US based Leonardo Corporation, claims his E-cat machine can take a small amount of energy and drive a reaction between atoms of hydrogen and nickel which can, through an unknown process, produce a large amount of energy, far exceeding the initial energy input.
So far, Mr Rossi's invention has been greeted with much cynicism by the scientific community. Mr Bryce is sceptical too, but says the machine has the support of six physicists, including two Swedish professors. ''I'll need to see some more evidence before committing the money,'' he said.
Not sure who the "six physicists" are, but I'm certainly glad to hear that Bryce is skeptical.

Rossi is working with Focardi, a physicist at the University of Bologna. The preliminary report on the Rossi and Focardi patent application notes that
As the invention seems, at least at first, to offend against the generally accepted laws of physics and established theories, the disclosure should be detailed enough to prove to a skilled person conversant with mainstream science and technology that the invention is indeed feasible. … In the present case, the invention does not provide experimental evidence (nor any firm theoretical basis) which would enable the skilled person to assess the viability of the invention. The description is essentially based on general statement and speculations which are not apt to provide a clear and exhaustive technical teaching.
which, to me, seems like a pretty intelligent assessment. This appears to contradict an earlier comment that patent offices do not care for the truth of the claims made by the applicants; it would be interesting to know the real postion on "truth" in patent applications.

Related to this topic—and to related issues like climate change and global warming—there is a very interesting quote from Ugo Bardi, a professor of chemistry at the University of Florence, in the The E-Cat Tribe blog post by Steven B. Krivit:
There is a phenomenon of ‘tribalization’ that is now taking over the whole internet. People tend to form virtual tribes in which they repeat to each other always the same thing, until it becomes self-evident that the ‘thing’ is true. People who deny the ‘thing’ are enemies, the tribes assert, because of their internal evilness or because they are paid by the dark forces of Sauron.

1 comment:

  1. This made it onto Jo Nova's blog, where some of the residents weren't sure whether they were supposed to cheer or sneer...