A Utah physicist and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist both say they have theories explaining the University of Utah's cold fusion experiment; the Utahn will talk, the MIT scientist won't.
L. Carl Jensen teaches physics at Salt Lake Community College. He told the Deseret News he's been developing a theory on matter/anti-matter for years, and that the experiment conducted by U. chemistry professor B. Stanley Pons and British researcher Martin Fleischmann fits his theory."It's not fusion at all. It's a matter/anti-matter reaction," says Jensen.
Pons, Fleischmann and other scientists who have repeated the experiment say heat is given off, but they can't explain how.
Meanwhile, MIT's Peter Hagelstein, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, said in a statement that he submitted four research papers to scientific journals "describing a speculative theory on the new cold fusion."
But Hagelstein revealed no additional details about the papers other than to say that "the model involves both quantum collective and coherent effects" and that "further details will be provided upon acceptance of the papers."
Pons' and Fleischmann's experiments give off a great deal of heat - more than four times the amount put in to start the reaction. The chemists say it can't be a chemical reaction, that such heat couldn't come along that scientific path. They believe it must, therefore, be nuclear fusion - the combining of heavy hydrogen atoms to make a new element - helium.
But few neutrons or gamma rays are emitted in the experiment, and traditional physics says a fusion reaction giving off such energy (heat) would also give off billions of neutrons, easily measured and lethal to anyone near the experiment who wasn't heavily shielded. Such radiation hasn't been given off, leaving scientists puzzled about what is going on.
Jensen, who has a master's degree in physics from Utah State University and has taught at the community college for 16 years, says his theory fits the experiment.
"The present theories don't even allow a thermo-nuclear reaction to give this much energy. Certainly, no chemical reaction could produce this result. Only a matter/anti-matter reaction converts 100 percent of current mass to energy, and no neutrons are left behind. This fits very well the facts at the U. You don't see many neutrons because they are annihilated in the matter/anti-matter reaction."
Jensen said many scientists believe neutrons are stable, but when they are freed - as they are in Pons' experiment - they are very unstable, decaying quickly. "They can decay into anti-matter. It doesn't happen very often (in nature), but when it does it gives off a heck of a lot of energy," Jensen said.
He has written a scientific paper on the subject, but doesn't know where to go from here.