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October 13, 2004

Cold Fusion Warming?

Second Thoughts By DOE

In 1999, I posted a piece that began: People have been asking for my take on "Cold Fusion." The short answer is that I've always thought the rush to dismiss the original Fleischman and Pons report in 1989 seemed over-hasty. They were 18 months from wanting to publish and were pressured into doing so by political and legal considerations. Since then, the censorship from the mainstream literature has been virtually total, with only derision and put-downs allowed. But from other things I hear and read, a lot of work is still going on, primarily under private funding, that is yielding encouraging, repeatable results.

This month, the IEEE Spectrum carries an item that opens:

Cold Fusion Back From the Dead. Later this month, the U.S. Department of Energy will receive a report from a panel of experts on the prospects for cold fusion?the supposed generation of thermonuclear energy using tabletop apparatus. It's an extraordinary reversal of fortune: more than a few heads turned earlier this year when James Decker, the deputy director of the DOE's Office of Science, announced that he was initiating the review of cold fusion science. Back in November 1989, it had been the department's own investigation that determined the evidence behind cold fusion was unconvincing. Clearly, something important has changed to grab the department's attention now.

It's nice to know that old-timer sf writers can still sometimes keep our hand in.

 
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