I like to keep up with seemingly impossible things in the news.
It likely has something to do with my penchant for cryptozoology and extraterrestrial genesis theories but it also has to do with my belief that, given a long enough time line, science will deliver us the ability to live sustainably. Enter the Cold Fusion experiments of Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann (P&E) in 1989. They were roundly condemned after their experiment wasn’t immediately reproduced.
Interest in Cold Fusion nosedived afterwards and only a very few individuals around the world continued any kind of work on it. Since then their experiment has been reproduced many times in many different labs so clearly something is happening. It’s just unclear exactly what. Check out the video of the announcement. This was an enormous deal that promised to change absolutely everything, free energy, a perpetual motion machine.
So, it didn’t happen and there was much rage and gnashing of teeth and condemnation and rage and distancing from P&E. They were accused of falsifying data, which would have been insanely stupid, they were accused of sloppiness. Regardless, the experiments have been reproduced and excess heat has been measured. Now I don’t pretend to be a physicist but the process is not well understood. Scientists state that they’ll get completely different effects from two experiments that are exactly the same so far as they can tell, one will produce heat and the other won’t.
So now it’s 2013 and Cold Fusion experimentation is back except now it’s called Low Energy Nuclear Reaction or LENR. I first took notice of it back in 2010 as an Italian inventor (and possible scam artist) named Andrea Rossi started claiming to have invented a Cold Fusion device and claimed to have tested it in full view of Italian scientist, Sergio Focardi who was a physicist and professor emeritus at the University of Bologna. Considering that it’s a bold move to claim to have suddenly discovered something that almost everyone in the world states is patently impossible I was intrigued. How far would this guy take this scam if it was a scam? If it wasn’t a scam then what was it?
So, I created a Google alert and watched them roll in. Since then I’ve gotten over 200 emails on the topic and it appears that it’s broken into two major camps. One is Rossi’s e-Cat and the other is Greek firm, Defkalion. Both are claiming to have invented devices that produce electricity using only nickel powder and some hydrogen. There’s some black box stuff as well but those are the main two ingredients. To be clear, nickel is one of the most abundant elements on the face of the Earth. This would be insane.
But, it’s still got to be a scam, right? Well, maybe not. Now the e-Cat has been independently tested. This just happened in May and it apparently works. Color me surprised. Of course, I reserve judgment but I reserve it in both directions because every time I’ve expect the scam to be revealed I’ve end up getting more evidence that it could be the real deal instead. To top it off, Rossi hasn’t been trying to sell “stocks” or “shares” in his idea and that makes a big difference in determining whether it’s a scam or not. Usually the scammer hypes his invention, gets stockholders, then runs off with the money. If you go to the e-Cat site, he’s not even pre-selling him. You get this message: “THIS IS A NO-MONEY, NON-BINDING, NO-OBLIGATION WAITING LIST ONLY.” Additionally, Defkalion isn’t selling anything either. So, where’s the scam? I don’t see the payoff yet.
This is long game stuff as you can see since I’ve been watching this for three years already but it’s highly promising. I mean it promises to change everything about your life, about the world, about scarcity and want, everything. And so that’s why everyone has to remain skeptical even as we keep an open mind and contain our reserved hopes.
Here’s a link to an article about the latest and most convincing e-Cat test.
And here’s a link to the Defkalion’s demonstration of their device, the Hyperion.
One last thing, Mark Gibbs, a science and tech contributor over at Forbes, starting covering this story back in 2011 and was highly skeptical about it. He’s come around a bit to the place I am which is “ok, keep going.” It’s a good place to be.