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  Why is cold fusion considered bogus?

+ 11 like - 0 dislike
1471 views

Cold fusion is being mentioned a lot lately because of some new setup that apparently works. This is an unverified claim.

See for example:

While we should give the scientific community time to evaluate the set up and eventually replicate the results, there is undoubtedly some skepticism that cold fusion would work at all, because the claim is quite extraordinary.

In the past, after Fleischmann and Pons announced their cold fusion results, in perfectly good faith, they were proven wrong by subsequent experiments.

What are the experimental realities that make Fleischmann and Pons style cold fusions experiments easy to get wrong?

Would the same risks apply to this new set up?

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Sklivvz
asked Jan 24, 2011 in Experimental Physics by anonymous [ no revision ]
retagged Mar 24, 2014 by dimension10
Most voted comments show all comments
Your Journal of Nuclear Physics link returns 403 for me, and I can't find another on the web site. The web site looks like the Journal exists for the purpose of reporting on cold fusion.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user dmckee
Aside from technical issues, that Rossi and Focardi "paper" should be setting off all kinds of crackpot alarm bells in your head: the amateurish writing, the lack of description of the experimental setup, lack of data, emphasis on the invention and patents, the fact that the "journal of nuclear physics" appears to be nothing more than somebody's blog...

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user nibot
@dmckee,@nibot It's 403-ing for me too now. I know the "journal" is not an authoritative publication. They admit they set it up because they couldn't get published (they blamed the CF stigma). In any case the paper did not include the experimental setup (they only say they used a calorimeter, basically), but the setup is shown in the patent application. Yep, it sounds like bogus to me too.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Sklivvz
"apparently works" "perfectly good faith" You are being way too subjective. The reason most physicists are very skeptical is because it makes no sense theoretically.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user pho
A run-your-own-journal isn't the end of the road, but it does invite close scrutiny. Knowing you're under the microscope and turning in less than impeccable work does not inspire confidence.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user dmckee
Most recent comments show all comments
The fact that cold fusion is a pile of steaming **** isn't justification for closing discussion on why it's a pile of steaming ****.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Ben Crowell
Also keep in mind, patents for original ideas, not working anything. The US Patent Office gave out thousands of patents for Perpetual Motion Machines too. A patent means nothing in this context.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Mooing Duck

13 Answers

+ 0 like - 1 dislike

Update : I guess it is the same reason that multi universe theory is considered bogus by some : "fantastical speculation, disconnected from the reality that we can access empirically"

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=is-speculation-in-multiverses-as-im-2011-01-28

Old content down here : I wanted to send this as a comment to your question but I don't have enough rep to do that.

In the book "Forbidden Science", Cold fusion is discussed, and the attitude of scientific community mentioned. The book "The trouble with physics" also gives a glimpse into the physics community.

Maybe instead of wondering why it is considered bogus, should change it to considered bogus by some. I haven't been able to find a verification to the story that before the planes were invented there were "mathematical" proofs floating around that why it was impossible for machines made of metal to fly. ( any one has references for this? )

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Arjang
answered Jan 24, 2011 by Arjang (25 points) [ no revision ]
That's precisely the point: modern physics tells you that cold fusion is impossible. Stating the opposite means either dismissing the theory that is supported by numerous facts, or inventing new kind of interactions that was miraculously missed by all physicists with their particle accelerators and yet here it is, happening in your glass of water.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user gigacyan
Don't confuse mathematics and physics. In physics mathematics is a tool - potentially a tool in a setup to produce evidence. However, mathematics is never an end. The only thing that counts in physics is empirical observation, typically through repeating experiments. Hence, physics doesn't have to produces any mathematical constructions as a proof why something is impossible, it's up to those that claim that something is possible to produce empirical evidence. This line of business might not be convenient for some which is of no consequence for physics.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Steven Devijver
@gigacyan : Dear gigacyan, In Sydney there is maritime building, every time I pass by the entrance of the building I see a huge knot woven together by steel strands. In the sign next to it, it is mentioned that the person who did it, did it with the knowledge of engineers having clearly known for a fact that knot is impossible. Yet there it stands, despite the belief of many experts in the field, it has been done. Science is not rule of the mobs, the victory belongs to those who do not accept what can NOT be done, but try to figure out how to do it.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Arjang
@Arjang: Generally, I agree with your point and it happened that the majority of scientists were wrong about something. But the major progress in physics in the first half of the 20th century pushed it to a state where physicists can understand everything they can put their hands on. They go to huge energies with LHC just to find some new things they could study. There is just no place for a new physical interaction happening at normal conditions that would somehow go unnoticed by thousands of physicists for 100 years.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user gigacyan
@gigacyan : By what is known today, yes it is impossible. But in trying there would be new things learned and progress made. Maybe not in the cold fusion itself but other areas. In mathematics solving the hard problems on their own did not matter much at the end, but in the way to do that many more tools/discoveries were made. For example look at the the Fermat's Last Theorem, whether it was true or not was not as important as the fields of study that were invented by the people were working on it. It is not just about the final result but the journey to get there.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Arjang
@Arjang: if you like historical examples, take perpetual motion machines, you arguments can be applied to those as well. Would you say that we cannot rule out possibility of building such a machine because there might be physical phenomena we don't know about that would make it possible?

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user gigacyan
I guess so at some point a line must be drawn. But the question is who should draw the line, us that are not funding them, or scientific community that has become the new dogma. Looking at how much money has been wasted on wars, the total research funding (both scientific and crank like) is nothing. If somebody decides to follow up on perpetual motion machines, I would point them to what is known and history of attempts and wish them all the best. A perpetual motion machine that uses zero point energy be a new twist? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy#Claims_in_pseudoscience

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Arjang
@Arjang if - at some time in the future - cold fusion and/or perpetual mobile machines will have been proven to be possible through repeated experiments we will all stand corrected. Until that time there's no reason to assume either is possible.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Steven Devijver
@Steven Devijver : Is that all they are doing? Repeating the same experiment over and over? That is madness! I thought by research they meant varying, modifying, realizing new things. Of course repeating the same experiment and expecting a different result is insane, but that shouldn't be called research.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Arjang
There's a big difference between cold fusion and multiverses: Cold fusion, if it exists, should be experimentally demonstrable (indeed, Pons and Fleischmann claimed to have done exactly that), but would violate current theories. On the other hand, multiple universes are not observable in principle, but don't violate any known law of physics, and can only be proven false by proving false one of the physical theories they are supposed to explain. Therefore the question of cold fusion is a physical one, while the question of multiverses is basically a philosophical one.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user celtschk
@StevenDevijver: Perpetual motion machines (that do work) violate CoE, by definition. What falls under the term "cold fusion" is primarily a set of empirical claims that seek explanation. The nontrivial explanations that readily come to mind generally violate known laws of physics. But the empirical claims themselves are not the same as the explanations we come up with. This puts cold fusion and perpetual motion machines are in very different categories.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:44 (UCT), posted by SE-user Eric Walker
+ 0 like - 1 dislike

Here's the publication where the roots of Rossi et al's studies are: Noninski V. C., Fusion Technology, 21, 163-167 (1992). Apparently the important power imbalance found in this paper (published in a legitimate peer-reviewed journal) is to be sought in some hitherto unknown aspects of classical physics.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:45 (UCT), posted by SE-user ganzewoort
answered Sep 22, 2011 by ganzewoort (-10 points) [ no revision ]
+ 0 like - 3 dislike

They want to be rich and try to catch funding. ;) Two ways:

  1. They have 'a secret device' that works -> funding, patents, RICH,RICH,RICH ... (I do not believe they have this secret)
  2. they have 'a secret lie' - funding, RICH (it was a risk operation, etc,.. contratual details,...ruined reputation... but RICH)

I will not make a direct judgement on bogus or no bogus. I will wait and see. May be some day, someone, do unexpected experiences like the recent 'anti-laser' that 'destroys' energy. To justify my 'operational' position I can tell one story of academic arrogance: The national TV broadcast started here in 1955, in 1957 the russian Sputnic was sent to orbit and, conveniently, an academic appeared in TV and said 'It's impossible, russians are liers'.

*added : * found:
How to Transmute Elements with Laser Light

Coherent photonuclear isotope transmutation (CPIT) produces exclusively radioactive isotopes (RIs) by coherent photonuclear (γ,n) and (γ,2n) reactions via E1 giant resonances.

EDL - Proton-21 (Adamenko)

The primary focus of EDL's research is based on a newly developed and self sustainable process which leads, through a controlled stimulation, to the collapse of condensed matter. In this collapsed state thus created, the effect of the Coulomb barrier becomes insignificant, and a rapid transmutation of elements and isotopes occurs and can be observed.

arxiv 2013/05 update - experiment 1 - theory 0
SEVEN investigators from Universities of Italy and Sweden, namely Hanno Essén recently reported an
Indication of anomalous heat energy production in a reactor device:

An experimental investigation of possible anomalous heat production in a special type of reactor … An anomalous heat production was indicated in both experiments. .. , the result is still one order of magnitude greater than conventional energy sources.

Apparently the theory is in trouble.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:45 (UCT), posted by SE-user Helder Velez
answered Feb 25, 2011 by Helder Velez (-130 points) [ no revision ]
I added a 2013/05 update from 7 investigators

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:45 (UCT), posted by SE-user Helder Velez
the arxiv link was obtained via wavewatching, the same site where I found that D-Wave quantum computer works against consensus QM theory.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-03-24 04:45 (UCT), posted by SE-user Helder Velez

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