To the Editor:
The myth that “cold fusion” is not real and an example of bad science has again raised its ugly head. On Sunday, Prof. B. H. Kevles of the Yale History Department wrote an article in the Washington Post entitled “Barely a Drop of Fraud” (1/8). Although the article was about the recent cloning research scandal in South Korea, Prof. Kevles compared this acknowledged academic fraud to the announcement of cold fusion made in 1989 by Profs. Fleischmann and Pons at the University of Utah. She wrote in part:
“It is true that there have been some great scientific misdeeds in the past. Who can forget Piltdown Man, the manufactured fossil skull that puzzled anthropologists for decades? Or the claims of the discovery of cold fusion in 1989 at the University of Utah?”
By lumping it with these examples of well-executed hoaxes, the writer of an otherwise excellent article demonstrated how widely believed the myth about cold fusion has become. Normally, this would not be an important issue, but these are not normal times with respect to the need for energy.
While it is true, the initial claims that energy could be made from nuclear fusion were rejected by many in the scientific profession, in some cases, with good reason. It is not true that the claims were shown to be false. Over the years, studies in 10 countries, at major universities and at several national laboratories revealed even more unusual behavior. This subject has become one of the most amazing discoveries of this century. Hundreds of papers have been published, some in conventional scientific journals, supporting the original claims and extending our understanding. The details of these studies can be easily read by going to LENR-CANR.org.
The issue now is what is to be done with this novel source of clean and inexhaustible energy. Are we to reject it based on the myth used by uninformed people, or should every effort be made to understand and apply the discovery? Our future will depend on the answer we give.
Jan. 12, 2006
The writer is a retired employee of Los Alamos National Laboratory.