Although University of Utah researchers billed it as the day of reckoning, Monday's meeting of the Electrochemical Society did not quiet skeptics of the U.'s solid-state fusion experiments.
The latest attack on the solid-state fusion experiments of researchers B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann came Monday from a California Institute of Technology scientist before 1,600 members of the society at its 175th meeting in Los Angeles' Westin Bonaventure Hotel.The attacks persisted although Pons and Fleischmann presented a list of new evidence that their discovery is indeed real. (See chart.)
Attacks by Cal Tech researcher Nate Lewis were challenged by other researchers who want the scientific community to expedite efforts to confirm the experiments that - while bubbling away at the University of Utah lab - are fueling the controversy.
The bottom line, several scientists stressed, is not who says what but rather: Does the experiment work and will it provide the world with an abundant supply of clean energy?.
Texas A&M scientists, who claim to have confirmed the U. research, asked fellow researchers who have confirmed the research to put up or shut up.
"The question is not `Why do so many labs go astray?' as `Why are so many verifying the experiment?' " Texas A&M University researcher John Bockris told colleagues who paid up to $205 to attend the special session on cold fusion.
Bockris said 14 labs in six foreign countries have now confirmed the project. Those who can't should collaborate with those who have, he said.
Researchers from Stanford University, Case Western University and Texas A&M, who have duplicated at least part of the Utah experiment, challenged all labs to publish data on their experiments as Fleischmann and Pons have done.
"I have always been ready to acknowledge the fact that our experiments may be faulty," Fleischmann said in a news conference that followed a three-hour scientific seminar. "I said this at the beginning, at every meeting (and) to the press. I have emphasized that you cannot prove something; you only prove it is wrong.
"For this reason, one has to have full publication of all information. If it turns out to be wrong, I'll be the first to admit it."
Both U. researchers told the press and scientists they are not asking anyone to believe their experiments.
"We have published research in which we have said we have generated excess heat and that excess heat is not consistent with any chemical process," Fleischmann said. "Sustained nuclear fusion would be a logical interpretation of our experiment."
Lewis, the most outspoken critic Monday night of the Pons-Fleisch-mann experiment, insisted that during his group's attempts to duplicate the Utah experiment, they have seen no evidence of helium, neutrons, gamma rays, tritium, excess heat - or fusion.
Brigham Young physicist Steven Jones urged scientists to look for the byproducts of fusion - helium 4, helium 3, tritium - that would be conclusive proof of the experiment's validity.
Some researchers at the Los Angeles meeting reported measuring dangerous levels of tritium and neutrons as well as excess heat.
R.A. Huggins of Stanford University stressed that people should be paying attention to the tremendous heat output.
"It's nice to look for these other products because they help you understand what's happening," he said. "But it's fair to say something very unusual and large is happening. There is conclusive evidence there is a lot of heat generated here - much larger than the proposed chemical reactions that people suggest might be happening."
Despite the damnation he's undergone since the breakthrough was announced in a press conference at the U. March 23, Pons on Tuesday remained confident that he and Fleischmann have created fusion in a flask.
"The data will not go away; we are not going to withdraw any data. That's for sure," he told the Deseret News. "We have presented our explanations and we are building our devices. People can continue to say what they want to."
The researchers returned to the lab Tuesday to continue new experiments, gather new tests.
Media from throughout the world attended the Los Angeles meeting. Some media representatives, particularly from the East and West coasts, were extremely skeptical of the Utah experiments and fired often-hostile questions to the Utah scientists during the press conference.
New evidence presented in L.A.
Pons and Fleischmann reported:
- Experiments continue to show large releases of heat.
- Total watts put into the cell are less than total energy output (without considering the electrochemical reaction).
- Energy coming out of system is fairly constant, but in some situations there are large bursts of energy.
- The bursts are enormous and, if persistent, are capable of literally boiling the cell out at a very low voltage.
- One cell, running at 32 degrees for 5 1/2 million seconds, suddenly burst up to 60 degrees and remained at that temperature for several hours.
- Bursts of neutrons and other radioactive particles, usually ignored by physicists, have been seen. (Pons and Fleischmann are not yet correlating bursts of neutrons to heat.)
- Some bursts have lasted long enough to enable scientists to go into the machine to check instruments.
- The heat output from the sustained bursts over a two-day period have been between 1,000 and 5,000 percent more than the input.