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Power Science

Italian Scientists Demonstrate Cold Fusion? 815

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the believe-it-when-it-powers-my-toaster dept.
Haffner quotes physorg which says "Italian scientists Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi of the University of Bologna announced that they developed a cold fusion device capable of producing 12,400 W of heat power with an input of just 400 W....when the atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen are fused in their reactor, the reaction produces copper and a large amount of energy. The reactor uses less than 1 gram of hydrogen and starts with about 1,000 W of electricity, which is reduced to 400 W after a few minutes. Every minute, the reaction can convert 292 grams of 20C water into dry steam at about 101C. Since raising the temperature of water by 80C and converting it to steam requires about 12,400 W of power, the experiment provides a power gain of 12,400/400 = 31."
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Italian Scientists Demonstrate Cold Fusion?

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  • Riiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:03AM (#34981758)

    Call me when it's repeatable in more than 2 other labs please.

    • by DavidTC (10147)

      Call me when they can attach a generator to it, hook the output up to the input, and keep it running by just putting in cold water and getting steam.

      • Re:Riiight (Score:5, Informative)

        by xero314 (722674) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:53AM (#34982570)

        Call me when they can attach a generator to it, hook the output up to the input, and keep it running by just putting in cold water and getting steam.

        I think you mean by putting in Nickle and Hydrogen and getting out Copper and heat. The water itself should not have to be replaced as it just converts back from vapor after it cools and can be reprocessed. The nickle and the hydrogen on the other hand are replaced by the generated Copper.

        Some times it's like people don't even read the summary.

      • by alta (1263)

        The way I understand it, they produce steam, which turns turbines, which can then be condensed back into water, recycled like your car radiator.

        Fuel in this experiment is Hydrogen (H-1) and Nickel (Ni 28)... output is copper (Cu-29).

        The problem I see though is all the dope-heads raiding the thing for the copper to take to the recyclers for quick cash.

    • Re:Riiight (Score:4, Interesting)

      by whiteboy86 (1930018) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:14PM (#34983854)
      Quick "red flag" checklist:

      1) 'inventors' run their own journal site
      2) it is a .com website
      3) the site has ads plastered all over
      4) upon visiting you browser stalls and you notice huge background activity

      (somebody please verify this -- if you dare)
  • by gambit3 (463693) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:04AM (#34981762) Homepage Journal

    Rossi and Focardi’s paper on the nuclear reactor has been rejected by peer-reviewed journals, but the scientists aren’t discouraged. They published their paper in the Journal of Nuclear Physics, an online journal founded and run by themselves, which is obviously cause for a great deal of skepticism. They say their paper was rejected because they lack a theory for how the reaction works. According to a press release in Google translate, the scientists say they cannot explain how the cold fusion is triggered, “but the presence of copper and the release of energy are witnesses.”

    • by Junta (36770) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:07AM (#34981830)

      There is a chance that they stumbled upon something useful without having a clue how it works, therefore unable to produce a good paper on it. Notably 'cold fusion' appears likely to have nothing to do with it.

      Someone writing it up along those lines:
      http://blog.newenergytimes.com/2011/01/19/rossi-and-focardi-lenr-device-probably-real-with-credit-to-piantelli/ [newenergytimes.com]

      Hard to tell.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There is precedent. The "Father of Radio", Lee De Forrest, did not have a CLUE on how his creation of the audion (a device that allowed for what we think of as modern radio) worked. He would just pour over patents and mix up combinations of components. It took Edwin Armstrong, who came along and improved the device to explain how it actually worked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I looked at their "paper" at http://www.journal-of-nuclear-physics.com/files/Rossi-Focardi_paper.pdf [journal-of...hysics.com] and it has no information on the device itself, but does include some theory of how it works, but with no experiments supporting why they think it works this way.

        Their only experimental result is their input/output energies. No measurements of copper, gamma rays, or anything else. It was reported elsewhere that when one of the people attending their demo tried to measure the spectrum of the gamma rays,he was

      • by radtea (464814) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:55AM (#34982596)

        There is a chance that they stumbled upon something useful without having a clue how it works, therefore unable to produce a good paper on it.

        False.

        The history of science is full of unexplained phenomenology. Sargent's Rule is one that comes to mind: the observation that beta decay lifetimes scale as the fifth power of the decay energy. Sargent simply noticed this, and published a paper saying, "Hm... this is odd..." That kind of thing is the foundation of science.

        If these guys were legit they could easily publish a paper that says, "We do this, this and this. The result is that. We don't know why." Inexplicable results are bread and butter in science. Irreproducible results... not so much.

        Although even irreproducible results can find a place: the 17 keV neutrino was ultimately irreprodicible (it not existing and all) but that didn't stop Simpson and Hime from publishing multiple, meticulous papers on it documenting what they had done. Everyone else took them seriously because we couldn't see what they'd done wrong, even though most people found the idea of a neutrino that heavy with that weak a mixing angle implausible.

        Science is the discipline of publicly testing ideas by controlled experiment and systematic observation. There is no impediment to "doing science" on these claims unless the write-up is too poor to know what idea to test. Yet they claim reliability in their own results, and commercial shipping of devices in the next year or so, so they either can reliably reproduce--and therefore accurately describe--working devices that others can build and test, or they are not telling the truth about something.

        • by emt377 (610337)

          Yet they claim reliability in their own results, and commercial shipping of devices in the next year or so, so they either can reliably reproduce--and therefore accurately describe--working devices that others can build and test, or they are not telling the truth about something.

          Just because they haven't published a paper detailing their setup and results doesn't mean it's automatically bogus. Ask yourself: if you have the choice between owning the rights to a revolutionary energy production system that could make you a multibillionaire overnight, or the choice of putting your name on a scientific paper outlining the details so others can get filthy rich while you get a pat on the back - what would you pick? So, yeah, it may be all a scam, but the absence of a paper isn't much of

          • by Raffaello (230287)

            False dichotomy. They could publish a paper detailing everything and simultaneously file a patent for it. Other researchers could verify the phenomenon (if there is one) and they would still hold the patent.

            Remember, the word "patent" means "public." There is no contradiction between a money making patent and scientific publication.

          • Just because they haven't published a paper detailing their setup and results doesn't mean it's automatically bogus.

            Just that that's the way the smart money bets. They've got no theory and they've got no reproducible results (since they won't give anybody the necessary information to reproduce it). That means they got a whole lot of nothing.

            Ask yourself: if you have the choice between owning the rights to a revolutionary energy production system that could make you a multibillionaire overnight, or the cho

    • by Fibe-Piper (1879824) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:07AM (#34981836) Journal

      This sounds like any number of hoaxes that have been perpetrated; be they related to cold fusion or perpetual motion machines.

      The "inventor"/"discoverer" are the only ones who can repeat the process and always under their own conditions or in their own lab. On further inspection the man behind the curtain is always found instead of any real magic.

      • by Suki I (1546431) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:15AM (#34981962) Homepage Journal

        This sounds like any number of hoaxes that have been perpetrated; be they related to cold fusion or perpetual motion machines.

        The "inventor"/"discoverer" are the only ones who can repeat the process and always under their own conditions or in their own lab. On further inspection the man behind the curtain is always found instead of any real magic.

        On the other hand, if it is a hoax they could write books about it, sell videos online, claim to be suppressed and silenced, then retire.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:12AM (#34981914) Journal

      That's not an absolute mark against them - if they really were trying to do something different and the thing just started kicking out power inexplicably then their paper may well look like crap. Not to say I believe them - extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and all that - I won't be satisfied until (as the article heading says) I see one powering my toaster, but I have more respect for guys saying "Shit, we haven't got a clue, it just happened" than ones spouting demonstrably false pseudoscience like so many before have.

      Of course, the better way to go about this would perhaps have been to send detailed plans and experimental records to colleagues at other universities and ask that they try to replicate it. Maybe steer clear of mentioning 'cold fusion' at all and simply ask if they get unusual excess energy readings.

      It's probably junk, but hey, I'm holding on to the glimmer of hope that this could be a game-changer, just for a little longer!

    • by CODiNE (27417) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:21AM (#34982072) Homepage

      It's most likely not a success but I just want to touch on the logical fallacy there.

      Simply being unable to explain a phenomenon doesn't mean a scientist hasn't discovered something new.

      Perhaps they simply gave them one of the first few common eliminators they use to reject amateur submissions.

    • by CraftyJack (1031736) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:21AM (#34982084)
      That was almost my favorite part of the article. It ran a close third to this:

      Rossi and Focardi have applied for a patent that has been partially rejected in a preliminary report. According to the report, “As the invention seems, at least at first, to offend against the generally accepted laws of physics and established theories, the disclosure should be detailed enough to prove to a skilled person conversant with mainstream science and technology that the invention is indeed feasible. In the present case, the invention does not provide experimental evidence (nor any firm theoretical basis) which would enable the skilled person to assess the viability of the invention. The description is essentially based on general statement and speculations which are not apt to provide a clear and exhaustive technical teaching.” The report also noted that not all of the patent claims were novel.

      But neither holds a candle to this:

      Further, the scientists say that the reactor is well beyond the research phase; they plan to start shipping commercial devices within the next three months and start mass production by the end of 2011.

  • by Quantus347 (1220456) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:04AM (#34981778)
    ...is that they don't understand why it works, just that their magic box makes more energy than they put in.
    • by Zen-Mind (699854) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:17AM (#34981980)
      Isn't that the case for almost everything? We have many "observed" universal behaviors, but did anyone really break the fundamental working to explain the universe? For instance, I think nobody has been able to explain gravity; I think they tried to explain it using a particle called graviton, but nothing was ever proven.

      Moreover, many things were actually discovered before they could be explained. At one point, unless it can be dangerous (which could apply in this case), the fact that it simply works should be enough for most people.
    • by Kratisto (1080113) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:19AM (#34982052)
      They later found that a stopwatch placed inside the box ran for about 1300 times longer than the time elapsed outside the box.
  • by Syncerus (213609) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:04AM (#34981782)

    Also, the site on which this report was published is owned by the authors.

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/01/24/italian-scientists-claim-cold-fusion-breakthrough/?test=faces

  • by JW CS (1593833) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:09AM (#34981860)
    From the article:

    "Rossi and Focardi’s paper on the nuclear reactor has been rejected by peer-reviewed journals, but the scientists aren’t discouraged. They published their paper in the Journal of Nuclear Physics, an online journal founded and run by themselves, which is obviously cause for a great deal of skepticism."

    Everything about this seems like a scam.

  • Might not be fusion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:10AM (#34981870)

    They could have accidentally made a Nickel-Hydrogen battery. A remarkably efficient battery, which itself is pretty useful, but until they provide some concrete evidence that fusion is producing the majority of the power output here (e.g. a high fast-neutron flux), other methods of power production are more likely.

    Assuming the device actually works, of course.

    • by vlm (69642)

      They could have accidentally made a Nickel-Hydrogen battery. A remarkably efficient battery, which itself is pretty useful, but until they provide some concrete evidence that fusion is producing the majority of the power output here (e.g. a high fast-neutron flux), other methods of power production are more likely.

      Assuming the device actually works, of course.

      A better question, is why does their nickel-metal hydride "reactor" produce excess power that never showed up when the NiMH researchers did their rather extensive battery experiments in the past? News stories about batteries spontaneously combusting are mostly about lithium batteries not NiMH.

      Now if it was common knowledge that NiMH battery plants occasionally went nuclear, then maybe their experiment would have some merit, but...

  • by imsabbel (611519) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:10AM (#34981876)

    Those guys fell from the fraud tree and hit every single branch on the way down:

    - Created their own, "serious sounding" journal for publication
    - Do not disclose the actual device they claim to have been running
    - Do not allow independent observation of the experiment
    - Experiment is an open system (making it SO easy to fake)
    - Making totally implausible claims that would be too much even if it DID work.

    Not only have they yet to prove they did any kind of fusion, they also would not produce energy with the process they claim to do even if they were doing it (trans-iron fusion is not exothermic).

    And the really stupid thing is that there will be tons of "sceptics" that have no fucking clue about science that will eat up their claims just because they are "anti-established science". Wankers.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      True enough. I think you have gotten it down pat. Until it has been replicated it is all just fantasy.

      And yes the "skeptics" do tend to be the worst kind of true believers.
      I had this discussion at work about UFOs. I said that I didn't believe that they where from other planet's and or star systems because.
      1. They would be so big and put out so much energy that every one would know they where their.
      or
      2. They would be so good at hiding that we would have no clue the where their.

      It just struck me as dumb that

    • by scharkalvin (72228) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:31AM (#34982220) Homepage

      Trans-iron fusion with ITSELF is not exothermic, but trans-iron with Hydrogen?
      In small amounts this might happen in stars, but by the time a star has anything more than trace amounts of elements up to iron it has exhausted its hydrogen so any fusion of other elements with hydrogen is in the minority and doesn't contribute to the stars energy.

    • - Making totally implausible claims that would be too much even if it DID work.

      Not only have they yet to prove they did any kind of fusion, they also would not produce energy with the process they claim to do even if they were doing it (trans-iron fusion is not exothermic).

      I do agree with most of your points, except about trans-iron fusion not being exothermic. This is true if both isotopes being fused are trans-iron, as iron is at the top of the 'curve', but when one is above iron and one is below iron, it will depend on their relative 'energy per nucleon', and that of the product. A few people farther up have done the sums and shown exothermic results. The problem with this kind of thing is not the relative energy levels of reactants and products, but that of the transitio

      • by epine (68316)

        Mod parent up. If it went over your head, read it again. Input enough mental energy to achieve comprehensive, then enjoy the ride down.

        Another thing: the idea that there's no value in a reported result until it's been replicated is crap. There's value in the initial report if a stock market trader who acts on the information (that everyone else chooses to ignore) makes a larger profit in the long run (all averaged out).

        Prior to corroboration through replication, you're trying to reach judgement on inhere

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:15AM (#34981950) Homepage

    Finally someone figured out a way to synthesize copper, so people can stop stealing it from the plumbing of abandoned buildings in Detroit.

    The question is how to get rid of all that extra waste energy it releases... Maybe we can shunt it into space somehow?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      Finally someone figured out a way to synthesize copper, so people can stop stealing it from the plumbing of abandoned buildings in Detroit.

      The question is how to get rid of all that extra waste energy it releases... Maybe we can shunt it into space somehow?

      No joke. AGW folks will go nuts when they find out we're not just making greenhouse gases, we're making heat!

      • Re:free copper! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:30PM (#34983144) Journal
        You joke, but it's actually a serious problem. If this device is real, then at the rate it consumes fuel any house can easily have a constant supply of 10kW with the current model, maybe 100kW in the near future. That's a lot of waste heat to dispose of. Writers like Clarke and Niven have pointed out that this is a problem that any advanced society encounters.
        • No big deal, if electricity is free we'll just leave the fridge open all day every day! Instant planetary cooling!

  • Produces copper? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebcdic (39948) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:15AM (#34981964)

    Did they weigh the copper wires to the electrodes before and after?

    • by imsabbel (611519)

      Fully open system, they did even let the steam escape.
      So if they really HAD done fusion, they would have radioactively contaminated their whole building.

  • by jack2000 (1178961) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:23AM (#34982122)
    Fusion is the Duke Nukem Forever of the physics community.
  • by craftycoder (1851452) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:41AM (#34982380)

    It hardly matters how it works. It only matters that is does work. Smarter people can then go about figuring out how it works. Let these people make the investment in a factory to build these machines. The DoE can buy one can test it. If it takes nickel and hydrogen and energy and makes copper and 31*energy, then we can all retire or join the United Federation of Planets. Otherwise we are just out a few thousand dollars; money that otherwise would have been spent to kill brown people for Jesus in a foreign land. We are all better off no matter what how it turns out!

  • by hcg50a (690062) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:28PM (#34984070) Journal

    I call BS.

    For every nickel atom converted to copper, you need about 4 additional neutrons to make stable copper (they state there is no left over radioactivity). Where are those coming from? Those are probably harder to get than shoving the single proton into the nucleus, which is hard enough!

    Not plausible. But repeatable results by independent investigators is always plausible. And they don't have that either.

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340

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