As scientists around the world frantically seek to duplicate the feat of Utah researchers who claim to have achieved the Holy Grail of fusion research, they'll get a chance to compare notes at two world conferences next week.
Brigham Young University physicist Steven E. Jones, who's been working on cold nuclear fusion for at least 10 years, has been invited to keynote a special one-day seminar April 12 in Italy.Called by the Ettore Majorana Center for Scientific Culture, the conference will focus on cold nuclear fusion experiments being conducted at BYU and the University of Utah.
Also invited to speak is British chemist Martin Fleischmann, who with Utah colleague B. Stanley Pons, built a simple, table-top device they claim can achieve nuclear fusion at room temperature.
BYU spokesman Paul Richards said Jones was invited to Sicily by Nobel award-winning physicist T.D. Lee. The conference was organized by Swiss physicist Antonion Zichichi, a member of CERN, an organization that does high-energy physics experiments.
That same day, Pons, a chemistry professor at the U., will address more than 8,000 scientists throughout the world at the 197th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in the Dallas Convention Center.
Since the historic announcement by Pons and Fleischmann March 23, researchers from MIT, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, among others, have attempted to duplicate the astonishing results of the Utah team. None has yet reported success.
"I think that there is a lot of activity around the world on this," said MIT physicist Ian Hutchinson, "and the reason is because it's so simple. Almost any lab has the facilities to perform this experiment."
But Pons and Fleischmann aren't surprised their breakthrough has yet to be officially confirmed.
In the scientific paper describing their results, published this week in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, they wrote: ". . . the bulk of the energy release is due to a hitherto unknown nuclear process or processes."
"We realize that the results reported here raise more questions than they provide answers, and that much further work is required on the topic."
They believe that confirmation could still take several weeks. But if successful, the table-top fusion experiment marks a new method of creating fusion that eventually could lead to an inexpensive and almost inexhaustible supply of energy.
Meanwhile, editors of the British scientific journal Nature Friday were still evaluating scientific papers submitted for publication by both research groups.
David Lindley, assistant physics editor for Nature in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that his publication is still awaiting a response from Pons regarding peer reviews of his article by the scientific journal.
"Nature may be commenting on the Pons paper next week," Lindley said. He said a decision on publication is still pending.
Richards said Thursday that Jones had also received five peer reviews of his paper from Nature, and would respond to critiques Friday.
"That doesn't mean Nature is going to publish it, but I think there's a good chance they will," Richards said.