Talk:Cold fusion/Skeptical arguments/Shanahan

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This material was copied from Wikipedia, Talk:Cold fusion, and was written, as it stands at this moment, entirely by Kirk Shanahan. However, he has been invited to participate here, and any of us may refactor or alter this, and, of course, he is not responsible for what others subsequently do with it. As a learning resource here, we may study and analyze each section or statement in this coverage of the topic, finding sources, appending analysis. I'll ask that changes to the resource page be aimed at moving toward a neutral analysis. We may wish to refactor the page to show quotation from Shanahan, and then analysis would be attributed t sources, or to one or more of us. The resource page should be ultimately covered by NPOV policy. At this point, that cannot be the case, there are far too many controversial opinions asserted as if they were fact. --Abd 01:16, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Response to LENR Researchers Deal Decisive Blow to Shanahan[edit]

The following comment, submitted December 21, 2010 at 14:32, is awaiting moderation on Steven B. Krivit's blog, New Energy Times.

In a forthcoming paper, Storms analyses calorimetry calibration errors that can arise if the atmosphere in a cell varies from the atmosphere under which the cell was calibrated. Different atmospheres have different thermal conductivities; in a cell with higher thermal conductivity, heat generated in the interior of the cell is transmitted more efficiently to the walls of the Dewar flask. As a rule of thumb, the denser the atmosphere, the higher its thermal conductivity.

Once a cell is fully loaded, D2 begins to bubble off the cathode, where it mixes with the D2O water vapor and the O2 that has been bubbling off the anode. If there is a catalytic recombiner in operation, the mix of D2 and O2 also produce additional D2O water vapor in the atmosphere, which then condenses back to the liquid phase, either as dew on the walls of the Dewar flask or as fog droplets in the head space above the surface of the electrolyte.

The deviation of the atmosphere from that used during calibration would be maximized when the current is maximized, because that’s when the D2 and D2O components of the atmosphere are maximized. In particular wouldn’t introducing D2 into the atmosphere of mostly O2 and D2O reduce the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere, thus improving the insulating properties of the atmosphere so that a greater fraction of the heat now flows through the calorimeter?

Wouldn’t one thus expect calorimetry calibration errors to be most manifest when the cell is operating at peak current and peak temperature, when the atmosphere is at peak deviation from the atmosphere under which the cell was calibrated?

Barry Kort 14:46, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

An alternate theory[edit]

A student here proposed an alternate theory, of heat released by deuterium forming deuterium molecules, D2. This has been moved to this page as it is only marginally relevant discussion. (The original section here can be seen in history at [1]. --Abd 18:53, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

  • In those "mini-explosions" imaged in the infrared video, how did Shanahan (or Mosier-Boss and Szpak) rule out the hypothesis that these events were from the Heat of Formation as Deuterium atoms combined chemically to form molecular D2? If I'm reading the table correctly, the Heat of Formation when two Deuteriums bind into D2 is about 400 K-Cal/mol (1680 KJ/mol) which is 100 K-Cal/gram (420 KJ/gram). The specific heat of D2 is 5.2 J/(gram-°C), so that works out to a temperature of 80,000 °C if the D2 were the only species present. If the D2 were surrounded by a gang of 5 water molecules to absorb the blow, that would increase the mass by a factor of 26, dropping the temperature to about 3000 °C at the site of a "mini-explosion" from the formation of a bubble of D2 gas from the chemical binding of atomic Deuterium. It occurs to me that the Heat of Formation of D2 gas from atomic Deuterium could account for the infrared radiation of the "mini-explosions." If so, they should immediately cease when the battery charger is switched off. —Caprice 18:06, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Ah, Caprice, "battery charger" is polemic here. No, I don't know what happens to the "mini-explosions" when the power is turned off, but it would demonstrate little if they do stop -- or if they don't. There is very little oxygen present at the cathode; Shanahan posits that bubbles of oxygen circulate. Okay, suppose some do (most would rise promptly to the surface and become part of the atmosphere). "Atomic deuterium" would be reactive and would burn if it comes into contact with the oxygen, but the presence of an oxygen bubble would inhibit the formation of atomic deuterium, which will only exist, I think, as a very thin layer with some such concentration. Could hot spots be from such recombination? Sure, sounds plausible on the surface. Could this explain melted holes around ten microns in diameter? Almost certainly not. This would be combustion underwater, and in contact with a lovely heat sink, the cathode, Caprice. The oxygen bubble would not be able to cause immediate combustion of an entire D2 bubble, because it would not be pre-mixed with it (usually). So the heat release would be relatively slow, not fast enough to concentrate the necessary energy before the heat is conducted away by the cathode, by the heavy water, and, most importantly, I think, by vaporization of D2O if it gets hot enough to do that..
  • Caprice, do you imagine that you could get a temperature of 80,000 degrees C by burning deuterium? Sure, that's what the numbers might show, but that would require an instantaneous reaction, or no radiation or conduction of heat while the process completes. You did not consider the size of the bubble, which is an oxygen bubble as posited by Shanahan, and a monoatomic bubble would not form, monotatomic hydrogen would only exist at the cathode-electrolyte interface, in low numbers at any time. You are supposing that deuterium spontaneously combines with itself, releasing that huge amount of heat? (It does, of course, but it doesn't have the effect you imagine.) Wouldn't this affect other kinds of cathodes besides palladium? Such combination is normal at an electrolytic cathode.
  • To examine the SPAWAR work in detail, I'd need much more data. There is other work showing the melted spots in the cathode, but these are all comparatively isolated results, vs the broadly tested excess heat, plus the important heat/helium work.
  • In any case, at any electrolytic production of hydrogen, there is the combination of monoatomic hydrogen to form the molecular form. This happens instantly when monoatomic hydrogen leaves the lattice, because that species is highly reactive. This stuff doesn't stick around long enough to form an accumulation that could raise the temperature. You left out, in your calculations, the size of the bubble or accumulation. Sure, if a single hydrogen atom is released from the lattice, and combines with another, it will release the kind of energy you are talking about, but that is only a single molecule with that energy, it will be immediately shared with its neighbors. The flashes would be seen with any electrolytic cathode if they are resulting from this. I don't think they are, but ... I haven't looked! Have you! Has anyone? I suspect so. Electrolysis of water into hydrogen has been studied for a long time!
  • In any case, it's fairly simple to test this, if one has the equipment. If the flashes of infrared are due to D2-O2 combination, or D-D combination, for that matter, and if these spots get hot enough to melt palladium, this would produce visible light emissions with characteristic spectra, as well as the observed infrared, if it's getting as hot as you think (necessary to melt palladium!), Now, in my study, I looked for evidence that people had watched an active CF cathode in visible light, under a microscope. Nobody reported it when I asked. Storms tells me that the Japanese did it, but I don't have any references and he didn't know or didn't recall what they had seen. So, guess what I'll be doing?
  • Lucky guess, probably. I have a microscope and I've designed my cells so that the cathode can be observed by a microscope during the experiment. It's a cheap microscope, that's all I could afford, but I'll be able to take video at 30 fps if I need to, and I should be able to readily observe 10 micron features. I'll also have a piezo microphone on the cell (and on the control cell with light water), so I might observe the reported shock waves. I won't have the very sensitive piezo cathode that SPAWAR constructed. What I'd like to get is video of an active cathode with sound track; because the shock waves may be above audible range, I'd have to process the high-frequency data, which will be recorded by a digital storage oscilloscope. It's possible that the image chip in the microscope will detect infrared, I don't know yet, I have no specifications, and SPAWAR used a very expensive IR imaging device for their work.
  • These efforts are pure investigation, they will prove little or nothing, they will only be indicators for further research (which is what a lot of cold fusion papers are about, reports of phenomena observed). However, if I can, through controlled experiments, associate NAE with some other measurable effect, such as sound or light, I'll have developed an independent method of estimating NAE, at least in this class of experiment, which would speed up investigation. This is engineering, in fact. I'm an engineer, and have only recently returned to "science," per se. For me, perhaps you can see, trying to "prove cold fusion is real" would be a distraction, as it would for most researchers, including Storms. --Abd 02:09, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't yet have a method of looking for characteristic spectra from emissions; first I want to see if I can detect any! --Abd 02:09, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
Abd, you gave me a very long answer to a question I didn't ask. My question was simple. How did Shanahan (or Mosier-Boss and Szpak) rule out the hypothesis that these "mini-explosion" events were from the Heat of Formation as Deuterium atoms combined chemically to form molecular D2? Note that the Heat of Formation of molecular D2 from atomic Deuterium does not involve any Oxygen or any burning of D2 gas. It involves the formation of molecular D2 gas from individual Deuterium atoms (or ions). There is a covalent bond in molecular D2 gas, for which the Heat of Formation is given as 400 K-Cal/mol (1680 KJ/mol) which is 100 K-Cal/gram (420 KJ/gram). The chemical reaction in which atomic Deuterium reacts with itself to form the D2 molecule presumably takes place at the surface of the cathode where the Deuterium cations are receiving electrons from the cathode. Where is the analytical model for this reaction in terms of the granularity and release of exothermic heat of this reaction? —Caprice 06:58, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
Are you a student or teacher? Questions reveal ignorance, which can prompt consideration of issues not part of the intention of the questioner. I have never seen heat from the heat of formation of deuterium gas included in calculations, but that doesn't mean that it is not considered. As you have perhaps noticed, Shanahan, who is eager, apparently, to find any possible defect to assert in CF calorimetry (and he's been doing this since the early 1990s), doesn't raise this issue, he's claiming unexpected D2-O2 recombination. Yes, that recombination takes place at the surface of the cathode. It cannot take place (except perhaps in voids) inside the lattice, except transiently, if at all. It cannot take place in the electrolyte except in equilibrium as H+ ions gain an electron. Water does not spontaneously evolve hydrogen gas! Electrolysis is taking place all over the cathode surface, it's spread thoroughly. This is standard water electrolyis, one of the most widely studied reactions. How about looking it up?
I'm pretty much a fish out of water, even though I was actually a chemistry major (well, biochemistry was my intention by that time), reading about water electrolysis. H+ exists in the water and in the cathode. When it takes up an electron, it becomes H, which is very reactive, and the closest thing it can react to is another H formed in the same place. I was going to write that this process will occur all over the cathode, but that may not be true. Oxides form which are non-conductive, I think, so the surface of a cathode may not be uniformly conductive. D2 gas is observed to bubble preferentially from particular sites. The phenomena are extraordinarily complex, if you want to get into details. Could the flashes be this H+ recombination concentrated in particular sites due to a resistive coating that has formed on the cathode? Sounds like a stretch to me, but, again, this would show characteristic spectra, I believe. Remember the little "volcanos," the melted holes in the palladium, which also need explanation (and higher temperatures than merely enough to show elevated temperature in an IR camera). Pretty much to ask for what could not be more than a monoatomic layer, transiently.
In any case, this would be a generic electrolytic phenomenon, and since regular electrolysis has been so much studied, it should be pretty easy to find out if this is going on. Whatever the heat released is, it must be immediately released, there isn't any way to store the H in quantity, it will promptly and spontaneously combine with itself to form H2. How that energy balance works, I don't know. I can't imagine why this would generate sparkles or flashes, though. That requires some kind of storage mechanism, some state where the reactive material builds up. --18:05, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • How about looking it up?
I did look it up. That's how I found the Heat of Formation from H+ + H- → H². What I couldn't find was the granularity of this reaction in the case of electrolysis. But if Shanahan thinks that recombination of D²+O² has the right amount of energy, then formation of molecular D² from atomic (or ionic) Deuterium would be comparable in terms of the reaction model. What I looked for (and couldn't find) is whether H+ goes to H at the cathode, or if it goes to H-. In any event, what surprised me was just how exothermic that reaction is, when covalent H² (or D²) is formed from the atomic (or ionic) species. —Caprice 18:41, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
No, I mean "look up" the whole topic of electrolysis and what happens at the cathode. The calorimetry on this has generally been done by electrochemists, who are experts precisely on that topic. I've read a little in this area, and there are various approaches to describing the process. I'm not going to read extensively here, because it's not on point for the work I'm doing, not directly. I'm replicating a very precise protocol, not designing that, in itself, what I'm designing is certain experimental details that should not have any effect on whether or not the effect is set up. I'm using a different SSNTD material that I believe will provide independent -- and clearer -- confirmation of earlier results by SPAWAR. I won't be doing careful calorimetry, only a most gross kind that might or might not show anything. I don't have any published calorimentric results from this protocol to be able to predict that, I'm just doing it because it's easy to measure temperature! And it's also easy to toss a calibration resistor into the cell, something that all this discussion has led me to consider. My calorimetric results will be secondary, just indications. I won't be nearly as accurate as common work in the field.
To form H (non-ionized) takes energy, apparently, otherwise there would not be a voltage threshold to allow it. Some of this energy is recovered when the H recombines with other H to form H2. The remainder is recovered when H2 if recombined with oxygen. There is, indeed, a battery effect here, if we consider the overall system. Imagine, in fact, that the recombiner is a fuel cell. I've considered buying a toy fuel cell to use as a recombiner ... this would give me a current as an indication of recombination. I'm not doing it this time, because I'm not doing recombination, discussions with Dr. Storms left me with an impression of more complexity than I want to take on yet.
From the fact that "excess power," in an inactive CF cell, generally remains near zero, and goes very little negative, if at all, I've assumed that the calculations of excess power include the normal factor of heat released at the cathode from H combination to form H2. I've described the energy balance: there are four terms adding heat, then, in a CF cell, though I think I neglected the first one, which I'll now make explicit:
  1. heat released from H combination at the cathode, previously combined in my statement with the following:
  2. Other heat from Joule heating at the cathode surface.
  3. recombiner heat.
  4. Joule heating in the electrolyte, normal IR heating.
H formation and combination at the surface, prompt processes by nature (if a region of H were to start to form, it would immediately combine with itself; in fact, H combines with H as soon as there are two atoms formed close enough to each other, so the formation of an H "region" consisting of only atomic hydrogen is impossible, they would have to be kept separated from each other, and, then, if they were separated, something would have to remove the separation en masse, immediately, in order to see more than single-atomic combination heat, i.e., the IR flashes of heat. I don't think this happens. Those flashes are almost certainly from one or two effects: NAE with some focus, possibly in regions with high local loading (which will spread, i.e., deuterium will diffuse rapidly through the lattice to even out pressure from overloading; but shock waves or other temporary conditions could, and probably do, increase local loading above average, i.e., NAE, it's quite possible, requires local loading above 1.0.) Or unexpected oxygen-hydrogen recombination at the cathode. Near the cathode is an oxygen-deficient environment, but it is not implausible that circulation of the electrolyte would bring tiny oxygen bubbles to the cathode; oxyhydrogen recombination is, then, a plausible first start at an alternate hypothesis to fusion as an explanation; however, it is not necessarily so as an explanation from the very high local heating shown by apparent melted regions on the cathode. That requires massive and fast, relatively speaking, oxyhydrogen recombination, which won't happen when a stray oxygen bubble hits the cathode. Rather, that bubble will "burn." My guess is that the atomic hydrogen at the surface will provide ignition if there is contact, and that, then, hydrogen gas contacting the bubble, being constantly evolved at the cathode, will burn. Not explode. It's not an explosive mixture. The rate of evolution of heat will be too low to raise local temperature to the melting point of platinum.
Essentially, H recombination is already considered in understanding the heat balance, it's heat evolved at the cathode in normal electrolysis. The source of that energy is electrolytic power that has created the monoatomic hydrogen.
This discussion applies to both deuterium and hydrogen, the voltage required for release of the gas is slightly different. Hydrogen, to my knowledge, does not form the apparent melted regions, which is evidence contrary to the hypothesis that the heat is coming from H or D combination to form H2 or D2.
Barry, I see you forming hypothesis after hypothesis without making your own attempt to falsify them from known evidence. Now, of course, you aren't familiar with the "known evidence," so that you may propose hypotheses that will be immediately rejected by anyone who knows the evidence isn't surprising. But, then, is it reasonable for you to conclude that someone who does so reject them isn't "falsifying the null hypothesis"? Your willingness to ask questions is laudable. Your assumption that someone refusing to answer the questions in explicit detail is based on some faulty interpretation of the scientific method is not. You were asked, essentially, to do your homework, and you have a handy "class" or "seminar" here that will help you with this.
You are asking for specific information about electrolytic process where someone familiar with the field might not have an immediate answer, it would take research, but the questions are based on a hypothesis that is immediately and easily rejected, so an expert is not going to bother to do that research for you. By all means, do it, and post the results here. This is Wikiversity, and we can build deep resources. Look at it this way:
If you have an "ignorant question" to ask, about something that could be an obstacle to your acceptance of the conclusions of experts in the field, and you ask it, we will, in fact, develop responses to it here. If we cannot find our way through this, I have access to, not only Dr. Storms, but the entire cold fusion research community, where I'm generally respected. I'm not going to bother them with what I consider a bonehead question, so to speak. But I am here for educational purpose, and there is nothing wrong with "boneheads," unless they imagine and aggressively assert themselves as knowledgeable. If you ask a "bonehead question," my guess, lots of other people will think it. And that will be an obstacle for them, but most people won't ask such questions out of fear of looking "stupid." I've learned rapidly in many fields by discarding that fear. I don't care how I look. I'll ask it if I think it. But if I become attached to not being "stupid," I lose the opportunity and become just another crank. I prefer to be stupid, because stupidity is remediable, attachment isn't, until it's recognized and dropped.
"Don't fool yourselves," Feynman's advice, is about avoiding attachment, which blinds us. An ancient teaching. Agreed? --Abd 21:04, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
  • The whole point of the Pd lattice is to array the Deuterium in the lattice, to bring the atoms as close together as possible without them turning into gaseous D2 and bubbling away. If an imperfection arises in the perfect regularity of the Pd lattice, a whole slew of those Deuterium atoms are going to be dumped out of their seats, kind of like a tiny earthquake, and they will quickly react to form gaseous D2. What you'd expect to see is the wreckage from the Pd-quake and the ensuing D2 micro-explosion at the site of the fault in the Pd lattice. —Caprice 21:28, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Hey, nice theory! Now, how would we attempt to falsify this? But first let's develop it, make it as plausible as possible.
  • How does the imperfection arise such that it "shoves" deuterium out of the lattice? Cracks will appear, and may propagate, but that won't shove deuterium; rather, it will expose surface and would expose a single layer of monoatomic deuterium. Thus the maximum reaction that would immediately take place would be from the lattice cells that were opened by the crack, Single layers don't contain a lot of material. How rapidly can a crack propagate, my impression has been that the strain of loading would slowly expand cracks, but I suppose that stress relief might occur chaotically and rapidly, but how rapidly. What would happen if a certain area of monoatomic deuterium were to be created, one atom thick. How much heat would be generated, how high would the temperature of that surface rise; we know its mass per unit area. My sense is that a single layer could not possibly generate enough heat to melt the surrounding palladium, but ... what are the numbers?
  • Deuterium is evolved from highly loaded palladium spontaneously, it is like evaporation. Consider this: the loading of deuterium into palladium is exothermic. Is it not then implicit that deloading is endothermic, that the materials cool when deuterium leaves the lattice? So, yes, there is the heat of formation of D2, but it's minus the heat of formation of PdD. Because Pd must split the deuterium molecules to allow them to enter, it's obvious that the lattice is hungrier for deuterium than the deuterium atoms are for each other. Thus the heat released from formation of D2 is less than the heat of formation of PdD, and so, if such a crack forms, and deuterium is released from the lattice, it will cool the region, if anything, not heat it. Something wrong with this picture? --Abd 01:58, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Run the numbers for the analytical chemistry. You know the dimensions of the volcanic craters that were observed on the surface of the Pd. From that you can estimate the number of moles of Pd that blew away. You know the stoichiometric ratio of D+ to Pd in the lattice. You have the Heat of Formation of D² and anything else being formed or dissociated per unit time. You know from the videos the approximate duration of the sparkles. Work out the calculations for the amount of heat released per sparkle, under the working hypothesis that it's D+ + D → D². See what you get. —Caprice 02:49, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Ugh! looks pretty bad for the theory, unless I'm all wet about the heat generated. The PdH cigarette lighter worked from contact with oxygen; in the presence of oxygen, even a little monoatomic hydrogen will ignite the hydrogen gas being released and thus deliver more heat than is absorbed by the breakdown of hydride, and the heat causes more hydrogen to be evolved. I think the thing didn't need a flint. However, this is not an explosive reaction, the gas burns as any gas flame. There is too little oxygen underwater, as our common experience might suggest, try lighting a match underwater.... If there were enough oxygen, every CF cell would ignite when the current is turned off. I think that steps are taken to keep the cathodes immersed, but Fleischmann did, later, allow cells to boil dry to get the heat after death phenomenon; I don't know details. My cathodes will be created well underwater by deposition of palladium, no palladium will be exposed to air. Obviously, if oxygen is allowed to enter or exist in the cell near the cathode, recombination would be an issue: "recombiners" are made from ... palladium. (Thin plated layer, keeping the cost down).
  • What if I terminate my run by pulling the cathode out? Mmmm. I don't know. Never heard of anyone doing it. And I don't necessarily want to find out the hard way, i.e., my cat knocks the apparatus over, the heavy water runs out from leakage around the cap, it will not be fully airtight, and the cathode is exposed to air. I'm told, by Storms, that the cell won't explode from the small amount of gas in the cell, for when hydrogen and oxygen combine, the gases don't produce much overpressure, but just burning would be bad enough. (He said the thing would "pop", the cap would blow off. When I was originally designing this experiment, I thought I'd have it in a box packed with material that would confine flying fragments. probably way overkill. Probably, the rate at which oxygen would enter the cell would be too low to sustain much "burning," and the volume of material on the cathode wire is quite small, we are looking at 270 milligrams of PdCl to start, the Pd ends up almost entirely on the cathode, not much of a fire, I suspect. Might stink from burning plastic where the cathode wire is in contact with the acrylic cell wall and supports.
  • Isn't chemistry fun? Barry, I'm certain I'm having more fun than you! This writing is a distraction from the fun, in fact. Watch for me to disappear for periods of time, soon. --Abd 02:26, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Good. Stop wasting your time writing mind-numbing walls of text and go do some authentic analytical chemistry. Work out the stoichiometry and run the numbers. Then there will be something worth talking about. —Caprice 02:49, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
No, I never liked analytic chemistry, most boring aspect of the subject. I'm not doing any stoichiometry, Barry would know that if he'd been reading, but he doesn't read, so I suppose he can't be blamed for his ignorance. What I liked about chemistry at CalTech, besides that white-haired guy teaching it, with the same first name as the cartoon character, was identifying my first unknown in the lab test by smelling it, when I added a little acid, and the other one by nailing the NMR spectrogram. Qualitative stuff. Before that, in high school, I liked explosions and smoke and the like. Math, I was very good at math, but detested arithmetic, way, way too boring. I depend on experts for the math of calorimetry, I'm not about to follow their trail and verify all their calculations. I'm looking for neutron tracks, pretty pictures, in places where they aren't supposed to be found. Yeah, I'll probably wade into a little math to try to estimate the energies involved, or maybe I'll leave that to someone else. I don't mind co-authors!
As to "walls of text that nobody reads," I've heard this canard for years. My answer is three-fold:
  • Writing is how I learn. If Caprice actually understood pedagogy, he'd get it, I'm not uncommon in this respect. I become expert on topics I write about; once I'm expert, truly expert, my writing declines greatly and becomes far more succinct. But it still can come out when new aspects arise, or under certain other conditions, a special purpose, which is, in fact, what's happening here. I want to develop material on the skeptical approach to cold fusion, and having an example of what might be called a "virgin skeptic" is useful. (Other material, perhaps even more important, will collect all the major published skeptical arguments.) We ask students to write a lot, in university-level courses. I would, in fact, assign students to go out and debate topics on the internet; if there are knowledgeable people participating you can learn a lot, very quickly, that way. If you are willing to admit error. I'd grade my students on the readiness with which they were able to recognize their own errors and move on, or, alternatively, to present cogent arguments that show knowledge of the subject, and, as well, to maintain civility without lying down and playing dead.
  • People tell me they appreciate what I write, and I've often been told this about a piece that someone else dismissed with "TL/DR." It's obvious to me that what I wrote was not for the second person. In some case I'm writing for people who aren't even around yet, some of what I've written, in some places, might not be understood by anyone coming across it, for years. Maybe never. If never, though, I still have the first reason for writing.
  • I do have experience with people who consistently complain about the length, but who insist on remaining connected with the topic and who don't ignore what I write, but attempt to ridicule it. Long experience. Barry, I'm not sure you want to be stuck in that company, it's not a pretty picture, and they tend not to do well in the long run. Almost everyone ignores what I write, eh? That's no problem at all. But people who want me to stop have some motive for that. What could it be?
Note: this material and exchange are not appropriate for this page. Thus, you can expect me to move them, eventually, if someone else doesn't. They can go, first, to the attached Talk page, but I've got Other Stuff to do tonight, still. --Abd 03:20, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
extended comment not so relevant to unexpected recombination --Abd 02:09, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I want to emphasize this: I'm not attempting to prove "cold fusion." Rather, the phenomena are being explored. The work to demonstrate fusion has already been done; it takes very good calorimetry for the best work, and it takes very expensive helium analysis. Unless the existing heat/helium work is seriously impeached, it's a waste of time, the field has moved on.
  • Once we know that fusion is happening, phenomena like melted palladium are no longer so surprising, but it's still possible that this effect is from unexpected recombination. One more piece of the puzzle, and there are many.
  • To give you an example of what I think is a legitimate skeptical approach. SPAWAR has long been reporting evidence for charged particle emission. Some of this evidence is from X-ray film, which is interesting (and which confirms other work). However, as to direct measurement of charged particle radiation, they have depended on CR-39. CR-39 is a bulk material that is weakened by charged particle radiation, so tracks can be seen in it if the material is etched by hot lye. Others have attempted to replicate the SPAWAR work on this, and most report similar results, but there are some aspects of these reports that are troubling. Scott Little of Earthtech, for example, noticed that the CR-39, before etching, had become substantially thinner in the region next to the cathode. The Russians, experts in CR-39, they use it a lot in hot fusion research, don't like to analyze what they call "hamburger," which is heavily damaged CR-39, as SPAWAR finds adjacent to the cathode. Scott Little concluded that what he was seeing was probably chemical damage. And I think he's right.
  • However, beware, there may be a baby in this bathwater. Why is the cathode environment etching the CR-39? Could it be that there is a combination effect, happening in the cell? I.e., radiation damage combined with chemical action in the very complex environment adjacent to the cathode? Unanswered question!
  • However, SPAWAR has done further work. They placed the CR-39 outside the cell, on the other side of a six micron mylar window. And I won't go into the "dry" results -- the original configuration, with the CR-39 immersed in the electrolyte, is "wet." (Those results have been published, but once we realize that neutron radiation can produce charged particle radiation, the interpretation of charged particle radiation becomes far more complex. They did not expect to find neutrons, originally. It was serendipitous.) My own work will be "dry." I really don't care about whether or not the earlier charged particle work is artifact.
  • What made all this pale in importance is what they found, but could not initially report for security reasons, on the back of the CR-39: tracks associated with the cathode. Including "triple tracks," characteristic of C-12 breakup by neutron impact. These are not merely coincident tracks, three tracks that happen to be near each other. When the track position with respect to the CR-39 surface is appropriate, small grooves at the base of the pits can be seen to be originating in a single point of origin. Those many tracks on the back (there are only a few triple-tracks, maybe ten per CR-39 chip) are presumably proton knock-on tracks from neutron impact with protons in the proton-rich CR-39 material.
  • But CR-39, by nature, is a bulk material, when it is etched, one sees tracks from an entire history, from the surface down to the etch depth and deeper (i.e., the pits are, of course, deeper than the surface, and earlier pits, origin erased, have allowed deeper etching than unblemished surface.) It becomes difficult to interpret.
  • Hence I am using LR-115, which has a detector layer that is only 6 microns thick. I will get (and have already seen) much more precise nuclear tracks, I can see, from calibration alphas, the tracks start as thin tracks and become thick ones at the alpha loses more energy and becomes more ionizing. (I had, originally, a totally incorrect understanding and thought that the thin tracks represented lower energy, it's the opposite. I was corrected by Pam Boss, though she didn't write me, she complained to someone else that I'd probably see nothing, because of the energy dependence of LR-115. I think her analysis is incorrect, because even if I only see tracks below, say, 2 MeV, I'll then see proton knock-on tracks after they have lost enough energy to become visible. And because of how I'm setting up the detectors -- I'm using stacks of two, providing a 12 micron detection layer in two halves -- I'll be able, I expect, to derive vector and possibly energy information from each track. Don't you think that will be fun? LR-115 is also pretty: the detector layer is deep red cellulose nitrate, so tracks stand out far more clearly than with CR-39. I can see my alpha-exposed area with the naked eye, it's obvious as a light patch.
  • I will be working dry. If I want to get closer to the cathode with the stack, I'd seal it with 6 micron mylar and put it inside, but that's not where I'm starting. I'll still intercept most of the radiation pattern from the cathode, being removed from the cathode only by the 1/16 inch thick cell wall (and 100 microns of polyester LR-115 base). I just won't see such a tight concentration of tracks. To me, it's worth the difference to keep the cell plastic simple and intact. Remember, cost and simplicity are critical for me.
  • SPAWAR has gone on to publish several papers examining the neutron results, to the point of estimating the neutron energy. Now, "have they refuted the null hypothesis?"
  • What null hypothesis? They've handled the obvious ones: they examine control detectors of various kinds. They run radioautograph testing on the materials. The strong neutron results are on the back side of these detectors, associated with the cathode wire position. (Thus the other areas of the detector serve as controls.) Shanahan suggests an alternative hypothesis for the apparent neutron tracks which is so much of a stretch that I find it hard to believe he isn't joking. The only problem with the SPAWAR neutron work is ... no independent confirmation of note. One triple track from another researcher isn't adequate! After all, there are such animals as cosmic ray neutrons. Unfortunately, the Galileo replicators, in 2007, were led to use a silver cathode, which, in the SPAWAR work, shows practically no neutron radiation. Interestingly, Pam Boss, who wrote the Galileo protocol, suggested, originally, the use of a cathode that was silver, gold, or platinum, and so if some Galileo replicators had chosen gold, they might have accumulated some neutron evidence. Steve Krivit, however, who was managing the Galileo project, wanted a single, identical experiment, so he asked her to choose, not realizing that the security constraints would prevent her from choosing gold! He wanted a single experiment because he was trying to prove something. In hindsight, Bad Idea. He later compared running the Galileo project to trying to herd cats. Seems everyone wanted to try their own thing. I'm trying to harness that instead of fighting it.... The best Galileo work, in my opinion, was done by Scott Little, and Krivit was so upset with them for jumping the gun that he didn't include any report from them in his final report, as I recall. Another Bad Idea. Results are results, whether you like them or not. I suggest dropping an easy experimental setup in a room full of cats and observing what they do with it. Might be surprising. Might actually learn something new. Some of them will do the experiment as-is, at least the first time. They will, I think, be getting a discount from me if they report their results, or perhaps they will get free processing of the LR-115 if they do that. Serious skeptics won't take advantage of this offer, they will want to do it themselves, and I'll be happy with that, too! I'll even provide detailed instructions and whatever they want for support. --Abd 02:09, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

Learning through the process of writing[edit]

  • Writing is how I learn.

I gather you've learned that most people soon grow tired of reading your walls of text and abandon the dialogue. What I noticed about your walls of text is that they omitted the kind of quantitative and analytical modeling that characterize scientific work in mainstream science. But what they also omitted was any expository story. It's not hard to read long tracts of text that tell a good story. If there is no analytical theory, and no story, what's left? Is this someone who is just talking to themselves, pitching to themselves a line of baloney that lacks color, spice, or nutritional value? If you are learning, I'd expect to see the emotional markers of learning. I'd expect to see (or hear) an occasional "Aha!" when some perplexing mystery suddenly resolved itself. You will recall that I expressly asked Ed Storms about that. He said, quite matter-of-factly, that there were no "Aha!" moments, no flashes of insight, no epiphanies. Where are the expected emotional markers of learning? —Caprice 03:42, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Great question. Storms has not found the grail, the Theory of Cold Fusion. Nobody has. The determination of "fusion" is simple math, in fact. Seems that Miles did have an epiphany over it, he's the one who really found it, but he credits Preparata for predicting it. Storms has, instead, done the patient, painstaking work of experimental chemistry, investigating the field, laying the foundation for others to have that moment you think is expected. As to my own work, you expect my emotion to appear in text? How would you answer your own question?
Now, since you are essentially disclosing to me that you don't intend to read what I write, but simply continue responding according to your established beliefs about me and cold fusion and involved scientists, it's clear that I'm wasting that portion of my time that represents responding to your questions. Instead, I will only respond to you to the extent necessary to prevent others from being corrupted by your ignorant assumptions, often preposterous, but confidently asserted as if they were fact. And that is not any kind of emergency here, at least not normally. Let me know if you have any epiphanies, or if you otherwise wake up.
I'm concerned that you appear to be involved in education of young people about the scientific method. It worries me because I don't see, from this extended exchange, that you have any practical knowledge of the application of the method.
If I'm correct, you seem to imagine that the method is some variation on Defense of Established Dogma Against Change, not what it originally was, a way of escaping and emerging from dogma. You seem to think that different standards apply to "established models" -- dogma, even if originally reasonable or best fit to data at the time -- than to new models that contradict dogma (or, far more likely, expose it as a special case). In the former situation, for you, with established models, every contrary evidence, every failure of prediction, must rise to the level of proof or be discarded, and "proof" becomes impossible because any contrary explanation, no matter how complex, unlikely, and without experimental foundation, must be thoroughly refuted, whereas in the latter case, since the "established model" does not predict the experimental data on which the new model is based, anyone who proposes it is to be rejected as "not following the scientific method," since they have not refuted every possible null hypothesis, even if the data indicates a high probability of correctness. Any doubts at all must be resolved in favor, it seems, in your model of the scientific method, of "established models." If a new model doesn't have deeply accurate predictive power, but does better predict results than the old, quite precise model, the old model must be retained until the new model is complete and accurate.
I must admit that I find this completely preposterous and thoroughly unscientific. When science follows this path, it fails, it becomes frozen and incapable of expanding beyond limitations. It's like an old man who has become unable to learn. Barry, are you an old man? Do you think that science should be like you? --Abd 04:09, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
  • ZZZzzz... —Caprice 04:21, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Avoidance and pretense. Snoring men do not type and sign posts to Wikiversity. Those who wish to avoid what's being said pretend to be bored. Indeed, Barry Kort is facing what he so loved to inflict on others. Karma. --Abd 05:28, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
  • And so, being tired, did Old Man Moulton retire to bed, whereupon he quickly fell into a deep dream sleep of some 5 ½ hours, after which he awoke afresh with an afterimage of an Ouroboros sigil devouring its own tail. And it occurred to Old Man Moulton that Abd writes not so much to learn but to spin tall tales, which he then devours, much as the Ourobouros devours its own tail. But the tales of Abd are lamentably devoid of spice, color, amusement, or redeeming cultural value, and yet this is also how he sustains himself, day after day, week after week, year after year, endlessly dining upon the effluvia of his own peculiar brand of poopular culture. And it occurred to Old Man Moulton that this practice of re-ingesting one's own daily drivel was probably more toxic than nutritious, and that Abd could benefit from a whack on the side of the head, or a kick in the seat of the pants. —Caprice 11:21, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

As the above is certainly not relevant to Shanahan's arguments, I'm moving it here to Talk, for the time being, but it may belong somewhere else entirely. --Abd 19:43, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

  • Since a dream is clearly an imaginative flight of fancy, barely more than a mere muse, I posted it on Moulton Lava, where I periodically collect my fanciful Moultonic Musings. —Caprice 20:07, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Our dreams are generally about ourselves, not about others. It seems you are eating my poop, so to speak, not your own. Maybe you should study the Ouroboros image some more. "whack," "kick," my, my, Barry, did you get angry? --Abd 02:13, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Did you see Jurassic Park? And did you follow up on Roger von Oech? —Caprice 02:26, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
  • No. No. Eh? --Abd 16:49, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
That explains why you don't seem to recognize my allusions to popular culture and the associated literature on creative thinking. —Caprice 19:21, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
Just as your lack of familiarity with the cold fusion research literature leads you to not understand references to it, even when accompanied with links and citations. On the other hand, this is the Cold fusion resource, and learning what's in the literature would be crucial here. Is it necessary to know about Jurassic Park and Oech to develop this educational resource? And what does this have to do with this page? I'm not motivated to go out and see the movie, for sure, and I have no idea if I'd be interested in Oech, and no clue from what you've written. Sorry, I'm not enrolled in your course of study. Create one here, and I'll look at it. Please don't try to turn every resource into your particular interest, with indiscriminate hijacking of pages. --Abd 19:39, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Correct me if I'm wrong (again), but isn't this the thread on skeptical arguments of the variety raised by Kirk Shanahan? Part of the CF literature is the skeptical and critical part, including not only direct criticisms like those from Kirk Shanahan, but meta-analyses like the one published by Labinger and Weininger, comparing the CF Story to the Phlogiston Story in the context of how the scientific endeavor evolves, especially in the wake of interesting examples where scientists disagree in such a dramatic manner as we find in these classical examples from the history of science. —Caprice 20:16, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
  • No, this page is on the skeptical arguments raised by Kirk Shanahan, not every stupid argument that can be dreamed up by someone clueless as to the experimental facts and with an axe to grind, and for which Shanahan is certainly not responsible. Do you think you could get him to endorse your preposterous radon contamination theory?
  • Your raising of preposterous arguments has distracted from the very appropriate consideration of Shanahan's arguments, who has actually been published in the field with a (marginally) notable calibration constant shift theory, and who has raised other objections in print.
  • The descriptions of cold fusion as pathological science, which abound, are not cogently grounded in the experimental facts in the field, commonly asserted characteristics that would legitimate such a comparison are typically blatantly bogus, as far as I've seen. That's why the reviewers at NW allowed NW to publish what Storms wrote. But I haven't read Labinger and Weiniger, as far as I recall, do you have a citation?
  • The rejection of cold fusion and its characterization as pathological science is part of the history and should have coverage under this overall topic. In a page on that, specifically. But it's not really relevant to current science, and the "pathological science" accusations are not found in recent peer-reviewed coverage of the topic, generally. Even though these pages are sometimes written by "scientists," they are not written as neutral examinations of the field, they assume pathological science, typically, as if it were completely obvious. Cold fusion is usually being used as an example, the purpose of the articles is not to review cold fusion. Have any of these reviewed the main, the strongest evidence, known since about 1993? Let me know if you find anything! --Abd 21:28, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
  • In the normal scientific process, scientists disagree in peer-reviewed publications or sometimes self-published articles that examine the evidence in detail. The skeptical meta-analyses, those which categorically reject fusion, have disappeared from the reviewed literature, and they disappeared long ago. There are 16 reviews of cold fusion in peer-reviewed journals (or what's listed as mainstream published by Britz) over the last five years. All are positive. Science moves on. If the present apparent consensus is wrong, sure, show the errors. But ... you have not done that, at all, you have not addressed the most solid evidence available, only small details that you think incompletely examined, mostly incorrectly. --Abd 21:23, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Consider Figure 3 in the Citizendium article on Cold Fusion.

Figure 3. An example of excess heat from Energetics Technology, Ltd., 2006. Input power is typically ~1 W, and average output is 25 times larger. Total excess energy output is 1.14 MJ, which far exceeds any possible chemical energy output from a cell of this size. From McKubre, M.C.H. Cold Fusion at SRI (PowerPoint slides). in APS March Meeting. 2007. Denver, CO.

Now if you are getting 25W of heat out, for 1 W of charging current in, why not replace the calorimeter with a Stirling Engine that powers a DC generator to replace the battery charger? For that matter, why not just use a straight Seebeck power generator instead of a Stirling Engine and DC Generator? —Caprice 22:18, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

How is this relevant to Shanahan's arguments? You are describing a demonstration, and you've completely missed the experimental conditions. You've also completely neglected the evidence above that no "battery charger" is involved, beyond what's considered and incorporated. If you want to know power flow, calorimetry is the best method, not running a demonstration for dramatic effect, with all the inefficiencies. Problem is, that experiment is an outlier; it was carefully recorded, so it is of high interest, in terms of suggesting where cold fusion might go in the future, when the effect is better understood, but most ET cells run less than 100% excess power, so with conversion inefficiency, they would not self-power. Is 1.14 MJ in excess of chemical energy storage capacity? Are you ignoring the forest for a set of imaginary trees?
That particular cell could not run itself, for sure, because the power arrived after a loading phase with no excess heat. (It could easily have sustained the electrolysis current during the active phase, but that would end, it always does, in every known cell.) You've missed, especially, the point: if it is a battery, it is a battery with storage capacity far greater than any known chemical battery. And it appears you are willing to continue like this indefinitely, raising spurious arguments, suggesting useless experiments, etc. Does it never end? Probably not: Ouroboros.
Cold fusion scientists have no motive to set up demonstrations for people like you. They've been dealing with such people for twenty years. Now, if someone were asking me to fund their "development," I might want to see a demonstration, for sure. Watch your wallet. CF is not ready for "development," my opinion. We need to know what's happening! Your crazy ideas and your proposed self-running device, even if it worked occasionally, wouldn't tell us what is happening. You haven't even accepted the most basic and clear experimental results, but here you are looking for a power generation demonstration. You may not see one in your lifetime, easily. --Abd 04:13, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
  • What appears to be happening, is that you are kidding yourself, but no one else. Was ET self-deluded when they reported 25W out for 1W of electric current in? What appears to be happening is that after the battery charger loads up the cathode with one D+ cation for every atom of Pd, thereafter the charging current has no place to go but to evolve Deuterium gas, which then bubbles up into the atmosphere in the headspace, reducing its density (which reduces its thermal conductivity), so that proportionately less heat is conducted to the walls of the Dewar flask and proportionately more heat ends up being drained through the heat sink of the calorimeter. In other words, Shanahan's CCS kicks in precisely when D2 gas begins to evolve and mix with the atmosphere in the head space. —Caprice 04:58, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
  • What is Kort (Caprice) thinking? His comments are transparently ignorant to anyone who is familiar with the experimental science here. He's essentially arguing for the sake of arguing, because he repeats arguments beyond their life. He has proposed a series of theories here that are totally new, not known in the skeptical literature on cold fusion; they are new, not because cold fusion hasn't been considered in depth by hundreds of experts, but because they are almost entirely preposterous, desperate attempts to come up with some way to claim that cold fusion researchers are incompetent as to the scientific method.
  • This page is supposedly about Shanahan's theories. Shanahan's CCS theory is not based on the kind of shift in heat flow that Kort has proposed; rather, Shanahan proposes unexpected D2/O2 combination at the cathode. However, let's look at Kort's description of the process.
  • The caption on the Citizendium image cited reported, "Input power is typically ~1 W, and average output is 25 times larger." This is a report on a single cell, one with unusually high excess heat. This cell had peak power output of 34 watts and has been mentioned here. Frequently in discussing electrolytic CF work, power is confused with energy, which is integrated power. "Average power" was 25 watts, but for some of the experiment, measured power was very close to the input power of 1 watt. The excess heat occurred in a well-defined period during the experiment. The graph shows 24 hours of operation (quite short for a CF cell). I'm not understanding how they got high loading with only 4 hours of electrolysis. From the ET replications by SRI, I'm suspecting that the time scale in the graph is only a one-day chunk out of a much longer run. (SRI reports this cell in their own replication paper published in the ACS LENR Sourcebook (2008).
  • Let's check that. An original ET presentation on this cell is at Cell #64a. The cathode is a 50 micron palladium foil, 80 mm x 7 mm. The average input power is given as 0.74 watt. For what period? There is no accurate description of the input current or power profile. However, from the graph on page 30, the input power was below 200 mW before 10,000 seconds. Sometime after that, input power was increased slowly to the 0.74 watt figure, it appears. At about 16,000 seconds, before the rise to 740 milliwatt input power was complete, excess heat (as calculated) began to rise rapidly, reaching 18 watts rapidly. It then fluctuated between 12 watts and 34 watts for roughly 17 hours, the chart caption claims, though from the scale I'd read a bit more than 15 hours. (This was a conference powerpoint presentation, good example of the difference in quality between such and a peer-reviewed paper; the presentation may have been tossed together quickly. It doesn't include adequate explanation of the work, for sure.)
  • Okay, the charts on page 33 explain a little. The current density is maintained (as a SuperWave pattern) through the experiment, at what looks like roughly an average current of 7 mA/cm^2. The surface of the foil is 11.2 cm^2. So current was about 80 mA. What changes is the cell voltage; as loading increases, the voltage to maintain the same current profile rises. It seems that voltage started at about 3 V, and had risen to about 10 V by the time excess energy appeared, continuing on up as high as 15 V. From this chart, input current was not shut down; rather, the voltage collapsed to about four volts. current remained the same. That greatly reduced the power input.
  • Loading determined by axial resistance was running about 80%, but the plot, presumably based on cathode resistance, shows plentiful spikes going off-chart during the excess heat period, which stand out like a sore thumb. That's a nifty independent indicator of excess heat, the kind I've wanted to know, if this is general. Maybe I should monitor cathode resistance. Tricky for me. Gold wire based, highly conductive, palladium plating... hmmm.... Ideas.....
  • Wow, would I have a pile of questions for ET! There may be a better description of this experiment elsewhere, I haven't searched extensively. Here is what it looks like to me:
  • They report loading of 80%, but it's not clear from the chart what that means. The spikes could indicate transient loading much higher than 80%, or they be artifact of some kind. Transient loading higher than 80% would be more consistent with results from other approaches. There was a period where excess power dropped below 15 watts. In that period, the spikes are far fewer.
  • Now, to Kort's explanation:
  • There is a loading phase. Kort claims that in this phase, the deuterium is all being absorbed by the palladium; however, that's not how one gets to high loading, usually. Rather, some of the deuterium gas is evolved. except in the earliest phases. Whatever deuterium gas is evolved will rapidly be oxidized by the recombiner, but as rate of evolution increases, of course, the level of deuterium gas in the headspace will rise *some*, but it will never approach a stoichiometric ratio. (Two molecules of D2 to one of O2.) This would explode if it reached the recombiner! The recombiner, I believe, keeps the deuterium concentration in the headspace quite low, and, note, at best, this thing is only slowly evolving deuterium.
  • Kort describes 100% loading; this cell only went to 80% average, but there are spikes in the cathode resistance, which might mean higher transient loading. Higher loading would mean less deuterium evolved for a moment. Not for long at all.
  • From the resistance chart, deuterium loading levelled off at about 3,000 seconds (units are unclear, actually, the charts are sloppy). At this point, all the current is producing deuterium gas. The excess heat phase did not appear until about 16,500 seconds. At this point, D2 gas in the head space will be at equilibrium; the loading factor did rise a little after excess heat began, but not much. (That would represent transient lowering of the deuterium concentration in the headspace gas, maybe.)
  • The excess heat period is not associated with a rise in the production of deuterium.
  • Kort assumes this sequence: deuterium production increases because less deuterium is being absorbed by the cathode, which causes headspace gas composition to increase in deuterium percentage, which causes reduced heat loss through the headspace gas through the "Dewar flask," which causes a calibration error leading to apparent excess heat. These are the problems with this:
  • As noted, excess heat appears long after the rise in deuterium production, the cell is fully loaded, as to overall loading, much earlier than this hypothesis requires.
  • There is no Dewar flask in this experiment. Kort should review the Dardik report.
  • The heat path through the gas is quite minor. Recombination heat is not released in the headspace in this design, so heat would not ordinary be originating in the headspace, from any source. Heat generated in the cell comes from electrolytic power, which will appear in the electrolyte, which is a much better conductor of heat than the oxygen (major component) and deuterium (minor component) atmosphere in the headspace, plus, of course, excess heat -- or any unexpected D2/O2 recombination in the cell. Hence looking at unexpected recombination, as Shanahan has, makes far more sense than this idea of a shift caused by changes in headspace gas thermal conductivity.
  • That the minor fluctuation that might or might not result from an atmospheric composition shift could affect calorimeter calibration to the extent to produce the gross discrepancy between input power and output power shown in this cell is preposterous. (Total input energy calculated at 40 kJ, total output power at 1.14 MJ.) (Most CF cells, even using this technique, could not reliably self-power. This one could have, once the reaction was started, with efficient heat conversion to power, I believe. But nobody is going to set up a demonstration with an effect that might show up at adequate levels only a small percentage of the time. Not unless it's a demonstration that uses efficient calorimetry instead of very inefficient power conversion. And because the heat period spontaneously terminated, mechanism unknown, such a demonstration would have convinced nobody. Heat/helium is, in fact, far more convincing, given the erratic conditions of cold fusion.)
  • The information that I've seen on this cell is sketchy, compared to what I'd want to know. But that has almost always been true for papers I've been reading. They can't print everything! And this was just a conference presentation, and looks like it was hurriedly tossed together.
  • I thank Kort for presenting the opportunity to study this SuperWave result. It's fascinating. McKubre has generally replicated the SuperWave results, reported in the ACS LENR Sourcebook, as did ENEA in Italy. I was quite surprised to see such heat results so quickly; now I understand why there has been excitement over this work. It's a thin foil, so it's not terribly surprising that it would load quickly, though. There is still great variability in results from cell to cell.
  • Now, Kort has advanced several contradictory theories as to the source of excess heat and helium. These experiments did not check for helium, but this explanation of CCS error is entirely different and contradictory to the radon contamination theory advanced. Has Kort abandoned the radon theory? Or his he still defending it?
  • For sure, though, his comments are not about Shanahan's theory, and Shanahan is not responsible for the silliness of these "alternative hypotheses." They might still be useful for this reason:
  • There is a great deal of general skepticism on cold fusion that arises but remains unspoken. My guess is that it's not uncommon that scientists who've heard about cold fusion results are dismissing them with general thinking like that of Kort, but those preposterous ideas are never examined in detail, and if they were, those thinking them -- if they have open minds -- would recognize the error. So there is a value, sometimes, in examining even preposterous ideas, in "giving them the time of day," so to speak.
  • This is why there was a fundamental process shortcoming in the 2004 U.S. Department of Energy review of cold fusion. There is a great deal of entrenched opinion on the topic, and a one-day presentation is nowhere near enough to overcome it, it would be necessary for a panel to study each piece of evidence and each alternate theory in detail. That didn't happen. The questions that would have needed to be asked were apparently not asked, and there was no time for the necessary detail in response. Even so, the panel came down half that the evidence for excess heat was "conclusive," and one third that evidence for a nuclear origin for the heat was "convincing or somewhat convincing." And it was obvious from comments that many panelists misunderstood the excess heat/helium evidence.
  • Kort, here, appears to think that plausible alternate theories were not considered and falsified, but the theories he has in mind were not based on knowledge of the actual experimental conditions and controls.
  • Kort has stated that there are two groups of scientists who come to different conclusions about cold fusion, implying that they are considering the same evidence. That doesn't appear to be true, I've seen no sign that the considerable body of scientists, physicists especially, who remain highly skeptical on cold fusion,
  • Understand that cold fusion is probably not d-d fusion, it is truly an unknown nuclear reaction, so they take all their extensive knowledge about d-d fusion, apply it to CF experiments, and say, "This isn't d-d fusion," therefore it is not fusion. Which is an obvious logical error.
  • Are familiar with the heat/helium evidence. They think that calorimetry is an imprecise technology, not having experience with it, generally. They also know that the levels of helium measured are typically below ambient. Thus they discount the heat/helium evidence, not realizing that, first, the correlation between heat and helium is strong, not weak, that it has been amply confirmed, that there is no contrary evidence, and that the value found is that expected for deuterium fusion, an astonishing coincidence, if that's what it is! Secondly, they are not aware that in some experiments, the helium level rises above ambient and continues to rise, showing no slowing, which would not happen with a leak. Other experiments look for helium above ambient and have not excluded ambient helium. (They also look for argon, which should leak with helium under normal conditions, and so is a marker for ambient helium.)
  • Are aware of theories using existing physics (quantum field theory) that indicate a possibility of fusion at room temperature under lattice confinement. The mechanism isn't d-d fusion, it's multibody fusion, known to be greatly enhanced already over expectation in bombardment of palladium deuteride by deuterons at "cold" temperatures (in this case, "cold" means below normal fusion energies, still quite hot). Fusion is actually predicted 100% if the physical configuration arises. For sure, this is by no means a complete theory, because the probability of the physical fusion condition arising is very difficult to calculate, there is far too little experimental data. Note that it only takes a very rare occurrence, though, to account for cold fusion, which, so far, only happens at extremely low rates.
  • Cold fusion exposes our ignorance about condensed matter conditions, it is quite difficult to investigate what happens inside a metal lattice. You can't see it, you know! Low-energy radiation won't escape. A reaction occurring at such a tiny level may not create much, if any, signature that escapes the lattice, except for a little heat. And a corresponding amount of helium.
  • It is heat/helium that demonstrates "fusion," but only "fusion by an unknown mechanism." The search is on for the mechanism. Not easy. --Abd 00:59, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

Baleted discussion from Cold Fusion talk page[edit]

Note: This was baleted from Kirk Shanahan's Wikipedia talk page by User:Kww.

Hi Kirk,

Please take note of this discussion, which goes to your CCS hypothesis.

Evolution of Low Atomic Weight Gases[edit]

I have a question that I have not been able to find the answer to, either in the article or in discussions elsewhere. Perhaps someone here can help me out.

While the evolution of Helium into the headspace above the electrolyte is too insignificant to consider, the same is not true for Deuterium gas, which evolves in direct proportion to the electrolytic current once the cathode is fully loaded. Prior to fully loading the cathode, the atmosphere in the headspace above the electrolyte is going to be comprised of water vapor, Oxygen gas evolving from the anode, and whatever atmosphere was initially in the cell (e.g. Nitrogen gas, perhaps some Carbon Dioxide and ordinary water vapor if the head space were filled with ordinary air). Once Deuterium gas begins to evolve, it will mix with whatever gases are already in the headspace. Storms has recently noted that the thermal conductivity of gases in the atmosphere determine the rate at which heat is conducted to the walls of the Dewar flask, where some of it leaks to the ambient rather than being drained through the calorimeter. Deuterium gas, being lighter than the other components, decreases the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere, so that proportionately more of the heat drains through the heat sink in the calorimeter, rather than leaking through the walls of the Dewar flask. Since "excess heat" has been shown to increase linearly with current (and hence with the rate of evolution of Deuterium gas), doesn't this jibe with Shanahan's hypothesis that the calorimetry calibration constant shifts systematically with excess current? Does anyone here know if this analysis has been carried out in detail? I can't seem to find it in my (limited) review of the literature.

Moulton (talk) 04:38, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

That concern doesn't apply to open cells where the evolved gases are vented after temperature measurement. Researchers stopped using closed cells generally because they would occasionally explode. (talk) 11:26, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Why doesn't this analysis apply? When the headspace has significant levels of evolved D2 gas mixed in with other gases (like water vapor and O2), that reduces the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere in the headspace, so that a lesser proportion of the heat is conducted to the walls of the Dewar flask (and thus a greater proportion of the heat is drained through the heatsink of the calorimeter). In other words, Shanahan's hypothesized CCS error would be expected to increase directly with the rising level of evolved D2 gas mixing into the headspace. Caprice (talk) 12:03, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
Among other reasons, hydrogen and deuterium gas have a much greater thermal conductivity than air,[2] not less. Ura Ursa (talk) 12:14, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
  • You're right. Storms told me that Deuterium gas has lower thermal conductivity than Hydrogen gas. Sure enough the lighter gases are listed as having higher thermal conductivity than the heavier gases. So that model doesn't work. What I hadn't reckoned, however, was the venting. Let's think about that. If the gases are being vented (instead of being recombined), which species vent preferentially? Does the lighter Deuterium gas vent preferentially? Does that carry off more heat or less heat than venting when only O2 is being evolved and vented along with water vapor? If you're now venting proportionately less water vapor per unit time, that means less liquid water is evaporating into the headspace per unit time. And that in turn means less thermal energy is being bled off via the evaporative phase change of liquid water to water vapor. Does that now become the dominant term in the rate of heat flow out the vent? —Caprice (talk) 13:50, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

Moulton (talk) 12:55, 27 December 2010

Well, Barry, Kirk Shanahan bailed from Wikipedia, if you look at his last edit to that Talk page. You'll have to try to contact him directly. Your edit was revision-deleted, which was very unusual; if that was the content, I can't see any reason for it. I'll discuss this on Wikipedia Review. It's not really appropriate for here.

However, Shanahan is on-topic here, but your issues aren't really about him. We can look at those arguments, but this isn't a good place to do it. Would you like to create a page under Cold fusion/Skeptical arguments or some other page for student questions? The former would be fine if you would like to be identified as a "cold fusion skeptic," the latter if you are simply exploring as a student. I'll do either if you like, for you, maintaining an approach to some consistency of treatment here (lots of work to be done on that!). I can probably answer some of your questions. --Abd 23:00, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

  • Yes, that was the content. I copied it verbatim out of my edit buffer, only changing the inter-wiki prefixes on the signature blocks. My interest is in trying to understand why there is so much difficulty in applying the tools for thought of the scientific method to simply review this subject. Recall that my area of research is science education. I see this case as a good opportunity to review issues of concern to science educators. —Caprice 23:20, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree. Now, your own reactions to cold fusion demonstrate part of the problem, so I strongly suggest that you carefully study them. Those reactions may inhibit your ability to proceed step-by-step through the application of the scientific method to the evidence. In addition, there is a problem of limited knowledge. It's assumed, in the application of the scientific method, that the one applying it is knowledgeable regarding the experimental evidence. You aren't there yet, but nevertheless you appear to have an operating hypothesis, which I'll state as, "The scientists working in this field are simply "believers" and are not applying the scientific method." To judge that fairly, you'll need to learn and know a great deal more than you do.
Here is what happens. Storms says X. There is (I'll claim) no proposed hypothesis on the table that explains the experimental phenomena adequately, as understood by experts, familiar with the experimental conditions and results, general theory, etc., other than X. However, there are alternate hypotheses, Y(1), Y(2), Y(3), etc., which may explain a small part of the data, and Storms doesn't cover these. Those hypotheses, to any expert, are preposterous, but you assert them because you don't realize the preposterousness, they seem reasonable to you, out of your relative ignorance. It appears that you are able to, eventually, acknowledge the errors. That's good!
It's absolutely fine to examine these alternate hypotheses here, but totally silly, and maybe worse, to claim that Storms "has not falsified the null hypothesis" simply because he hasn't, in a review, necessarily limited in all the detail it could cover, rebutted your list of alternates.
Indeed, it is useful to examine all these here, in the often excruciating detail that it takes to demonstrate the errors. Storms summarized it, for you, as "do your homework." He was telling you that if you apply the scientific method to your own alternate hypotheses, you will see how to falsify them.
What you are doing, apparently naturally, has been replicated massively elsewhere, so our examination could be very important.
Skeptics, without doing real experimental work, as did happen with N-rays and polywater, have proposed certain alternative hypotheses. I've seen none on heat/helium, the crucial evidence for fusion. If you can find one, by all means, let us know! Surely if the skeptical position is sound, someone would have looked at this!
I've seen many skeptical alternate hypotheses for various other CF results. Beyond the first year or two, they are not published under peer review, where cold fusion phenomena were the topic.
Later work does not contradict the earlier skeptical publications under peer review, for the most part. Rather, it simply shows that there were limiting assumptions being made. You can find some more recent peer-reviewed articles, often on other topics, where cold fusion is mentioned in passing as "pathological science," without proof, or with blatantly false statements asserted as evidence. The pseudo-skeptics, in general, are not following the scientific method. If you'd like to read a book by a genuine skeptic, read the late Nate Hoffman's work, A dialogue on chemically induced nuclear effects, A guide for the perplexed about cold fusion, 1995. Indeed, how about writing a report on this book for us? Reading this book was part of what convinced me that CF was possible, and it was heat/helium evidence that convinced me that it was probably real, with high certainty. For reasons not known to me, Hoffman did not cover heat/helium (it was known by then), he only looks at helium, and helium, by itself, is vulnerable to claims of leakage from ambient. --Abd 17:57, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't have any firsthand experimental data, and the 20 years worth of reported data is beyond anyone's capacity to comprehensively review and summarize, especially since so much of it is inconclusive at best and controversial or worst. But I'm a theory kind of guy. What's interesting to me — and more importantly, possible for me — is to consider interesting hypotheses to see what they imply. This is the part of the process that Storms bypasses. He doesn't have time to look at silly or preposterous or trivial or dumb hypotheses; he's too busy searching for evidence to prove his preferred hypothesis. But in terms of science education, reckoning interesting hypotheses — especially ones that can be falsified by running the numbers — is precisely the kind of exercise we want to highlight in science education. If there is no way to test or falsify an hypothesis, it doesn't really count as a bona fide scientific theory. That's why Creationism is considered not a scientific model. Since it doesn't make any testable predictions, there is no way to falsify it. In my role as a science educator, I'm only interested in hypotheses that make testable predictions. I'm interested in showing how we take an hypothesis (no matter how silly) and run the numbers to make a prediction. So, for example, how do we take the silly model that suggests that a small perturbation in the mix of gases in the headspace changes the coefficients in the calorimetry calibration formula, along the lines suggested by Shanahan's analysis? —Caprice 19:01, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
  • You are correct, Caprice, but you are not recognizing the noise problem. On this page, this is noise. On some other page, it would be information. I can help you do what you seem to want to do. But you are expecting Storms, in a publication in a major journal, to have addressed hypotheses that a few hours of research into the literature, or, easier, a little discussion with others who are knowledgeable, would falsify. You are being supremely vague in your charges. What hypothesis and what null hypothesis? And you are expecting the person who is probably the world's deepest expert on cold fusion (broadest knowledge), a serious and active researcher, to answer "stupid questions." He did answer you, he gave you a great deal of time, but it was lost on you. You took offense when he was frank with you. Sorry, if I approach a world expert on a topic with a stupid question, I expect to be told to do my homework. World experts are frequently blunt. If he's kind, he'll give me some hints. And Storms did give you hints. Instead of following them, you objected to every minor error you could find (and some of what Storms wrote, in emails he probably wrote casually, could be considered less than fully correct), as if you were in a debate with him. Sorry, not appropriate. You aren't qualified, not yet. If you want to become qualified, you could, but I don't think you have that aspiration. Your goal isn't really about cold fusion, but about scientific process, right? So let's look at scientific process! But you've been making assumptions about Storms that are simply not supportable, based on your own ignorance of the topic.
  • I think you want to use Storms as an example of failure to follow the scientific method, but there are much clearer examples, some quite close and easy to see. If you really want to go into detail about calorimetry, we can do it. It's a complicated, even boring topic. Are you ready for it? I'm not sure I am! But I'll try. I could answer some of your questions, and I know where to get answers where I don't know or at least have a good idea. Mailing lists, Barry. In particular, the CMNS list, which is subscribed to by almost all the major researchers. But I'm not going to dump undigested questions on them! I was admitted because my discretion was trusted. --Abd 00:22, 29 December 2010 (UTC)