Issue Date: February 6, 2017
More on cold fusion
In contradiction to the recent letter by Steven B. Krivit (C&EN, Nov. 28, 2016, page 3) about the story “Cold fusion lives on” (C&EN, Nov. 7, 2016, page 34), there is ample experimental evidence that helium-4 is the major product resulting from cold fusion experiments. Therefore, deuterium-deuterium nuclear fusion is the likely process.
My experiments in 1990–95 at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., showed a strong correlation of the excess heat produced and the measurements of helium-4 in the electrolysis gases. Later experiments at several other laboratories gave similar helium-4 results.
I worked closely with Martin Fleischmann on several cold fusion publications, and he always attributed the excess energy to a deuterium fusion reaction producing helium-4.
Krivit promotes the Widom-Larsen theory and always attacks experimental results which do not conform with his pet theory. This is shades of 1989, when cold fusion was rejected mainly because it did not fit with the nuclear fusion theories of physics. There are presently many competing theories explaining cold fusion. I do not know which theory, if any, is correct, but I like the variable mass theory first proposed in the 1930s (Fock and Stueckelberg) that Mark Davidson claims can explain nearly all the experimental cold fusion effects, including deuterium fusion to form helium-4 (J. Phys. 2015, DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/615/1/012016).
Melvin H. Miles
I read with interest the article on cold fusion. I have been following this topic since the Pons and Fleischmann report in 1989.
I was intrigued by the letter by Greg Konesky in the Nov. 28, 2016, issue. In his commentary, Konesky suggests that there may be a role for muons in low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) effects and suggests that there may be a muon-catalyzed fusion effect, which of course depends on altitude, with a pronounced effect at high altitudes and with a lesser effect (but still an effect, as muons are known to actually penetrate into subterranean spaces) when carried out underground.
Assuming that there is a hypothesis available to explain how muons might have an effect on LENRs, one nice way of proving this would be an experiment on board the space shuttle or the International Space Station—of course, if there were an entity willing to finance this project?
Jan. 23, page 26: In the feature story about how thin films helped detect gravitational waves, LMA was referred to as a French specialty coatings firm. It is a specialty coatings research center based at Claud Bernard University Lyon 1 in France.
Jan. 23, page 28: The multipart cover story package on machine learning contained the following errors: The introduction incorrectly stated that GlaxoSmithKline is partnering with a pair of government labs. The firm is partnering with more than two government labs. In the piece on deep learning, Mark Murcko is listed as chief scientific officer of Relay Pharmaceuticals. He is CSO of Relay Therapeutics. In the piece on machine learning, the reaction scheme is credited to Chematica. It should be credited to ChemPlanner.
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