"In a couple of weeks, a lot of high-profile scientists are going to have to eat their words." -A researcher in B. Stanley Pons' chemistry lab
As laboratories throughout the world race to duplicate the University of Utah's cold nuclear fusion project, B. Stanley Pons is running on another track."I am just concerned about getting on with our own work. We know it works and we are going ahead to start developing it to the point where it's useful," the U. chemistry professor and co-discoverer told the Deseret News.
The unassuming chemist, who's been pushed into international spotlight, has 18 experiments "which we are pushing very hard to get running."
He's also relishing that two other universities - also pushing hard - have duplicated his findings.
Monday's announcement by Texas A&M University scientists was believed to be the first U.S. confirmation of the controversial findings by Pons and his British colleague Martin Fleischmann.
Later Monday, Georgia Tech scientists held a press conference to announce that they too had not only verified the U. experiment but also measured large numbers of neutrons produced by the experiment - a finding that comes the closest so far to confirming a cold fusion reaction.
"This indeed is a thrill. I can't remember when I've had a better Monday," an elated Pons said of the Georgia results. "I really expected to see more of the heat because the neutrons are hard to measure. The (neutron production) is one of the concerns I've had."
Pons said the Georgia information is needed to evaluate the safety of scaling up to commercial applications.
"We tried very hard to do this (measure neutron production), so this indeed is a real pleasure. If they indeed have measured the neutron production, that's a real breakthrough. My sincere congratulations to Georgia Tech."
Meanwhile, Pons has kept busy writing four papers for submission to scientific journals - not to mention keeping up with his teaching duties.
"I've met every lecture, although I am not as prepared as I'd like. My graduate students have not asked one question or mentioned one thing about this. It's been great. It's the only place I can go and not have to talk about it," he said.
Twenty days ago, Pons and Fleischmann, of Southampton University in England, announced they are on the path to unlocking the secrets of nuclear fusion. Their claim - the achievement of nuclear fusion at room temperature - has been met with widespread skepticism.
Despite this week's good news, many scientific doubters say the Pons-Fleischmann experiment defies scientific theory.
Simply put, the skeptics refuse to believe that the excess heat generated in the experiment was caused by nuclear fusion and not by an unexplained chemical reaction.
Pons doesn't let the scientific Doubting Thomases bother him.
"We've maintained from the word go that the energy we see is far greater than the radiation which we have observed," Pons said. "So we can't imagine that it is anything but a nuclear reaction. You can't create energy like this with a chemical process. It's impossible."
Pons is tired of scientists who don't look beyond current scientific theory. "Everytime the word `fusion' comes up, people think of fusion in the conventional sense," he said. "It therefore is misunderstood."
He believes that theory is only designed to explain experiments.
"If someone comes up with an experiment that doesn't fit the present theory, there is always a reluctance to accept it," he said. "The scientific way is that you explain results, check and duplicate them many times. You become convinced that the results are real and then come up with a theory.
"It's not appropriate that just because an observation doesn't fit into a theory to say that the observation is incorrect."
Pons believes the skepticism will continue until someone comes up with a theory for his experiments.
He therefore welcomes the confirmations.
"Clearly everyone will get different results because they are using different techniques," he said. "They will start shedding more light on the process because they are using different techniques - and they will give us more hints as to what is going on."
In addition to his own team, Pons said he is discussing the possibility of working with a national laboratory and researchers outside the U.
On Tuesday, he was expected to meet with a U. physicist and an engineer who hope to measure neutrons emitted from the test tube experiment.
Fleischman will join his friend and colleague April 25 in the U. lab where they made scientific history.