travel & location
by Michael McKubre
The siting of ICCF7 in Vancouver, Canada was important for several reasons. First, Vancouver is both an interesting and safe city. Armed against the rain by a very nice folding umbrella thoughtfully supplied by the organizers, we were able to wander and enjoy the city freely. More importantly, in extending the global reach of the ICCF conference series to Vancouver in Canada we were able to add another country and give truth to the rotational sequence: “the Americas; Europe and Africa; Asia and the West Pacific.” Considerably more effort is needed to extend our span to include South and Central America, the African Continent and the Islands and small countries of the Pacific west of the International Date Line. But including Canada was certainly a good start and the Chairman, Fred Jaeger of ENECO, is to be commended for demonstrating this leadership.
Fred Jaeger is a businessman, not a scientist, and he styled himself “Organizing Chairman.” Fred selected Professor George Miley of the University of Illinois and a pioneering “cold fusioneer” as his Technical Co-Chair and together they organized a splendid conference that was well attended (218 registrants) and very revealing. We don’t have any pictures of Fred but we have a fine one of George with Xing Zhong Li, Bill Collis and Vittorio Violante at the Banquet and on our cruise.
Photo: Xing Zhong Li, Bill Collis, Vittorio Violante and George Miley (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
The Primary funding for ICCF7 was provided by ENECO, an unusual company on which we might spend a few words. The company was configured originally as something like a “cold fusion hedge” or as Fred Jaeger preferred a “mutual fund” into which selected cold fusion researchers placed their IP in exchange for shares — the idea being that if any one of their “mutually funded” technologies “won big,” all would share (1). Despite the participation of many of the “big names” in cold fusion, this concept was effectively destroyed by intransigence of the U.S. Patent and Technology Office (USPTO) on any issue related to LENR.
In order to survive (and some time after ICCF7) ENECO turned to an invention of two of our cold fusion heroes, Peter Hagelstein (MIT and Chairman of ICCF10) and Yan Kucherov (then director of research and development at ENECO, now sadly no longer with us (2). Yan and Peter (seen below at the conference) invented and developed an efficient means to convert heat into electricity with about 17% efficiency with the possibility of reaching 25% — a very impressive half of the theoretical limit. Because of its mechanism of operation they called this a “thermal diode.” Their device was externally tested at NIST (the U.S. National Institute of Science and Technology) and was featured in the New York Times (3) on November 27, 2001. While not cold fusion, this device would clearly be useful for heat-producing LENR. On January 11, 2008 ENECO, one of the oldest LENR-related firms, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The technology was bought up by Texas State University and, as far as I know, is still under development there.
Photo: Peter Hagelstein (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Photo: Yan Kucherov (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
But at the time of ICCF7, April 19-22, 1998, none of this was anticipated. The conference was held in the award-winning Vancouver Convention Centre, which proudly boasts to be a “state-of-the-art facility on the waterfront in beautiful downtown Vancouver.” All true and the facilities, amenities and conference all were excellent, at least good enough to arguably support the claim of the conference subtitle “The Best Ever” (see photo below, for which the conference organizers received some gentle teasing). Very shortly after the end of ICCF7, on May 4, 1998, Professor Okamoto who was a member of the IAC and Chairman of ICCF6 passed away. In the Proceedings Fred Jaeger dedicated a Memorium to him with the words: “He constantly strove to improve the quality and rigor of experimental design and data interpretation for this emerging field. His knowledgeable encouragement, contribution, cooperation and friendship will be sorely missed by the entire cold fusion community. Our deepest and most sincere condolences go to his family and close colleagues.”
Photo: “The Best Ever” with Larry Forsley, Gene Mallove and Martin Fleischmann (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
The conference featured the now customary cosmopolitan tone with 98 registrants from the U.S., 30 from Japan, 15 from Italy and 14 each from Canada, China and Russia. We even had 4 Australians (and only one transplanted Kiwi to provide antipodean balance). Fred Jaeger had tried very hard to bring youth and new people, and “business energy” to the conference. In this he succeeded splendidly and as he notes in the Proceedings under the title “THE SPIRIT OF VANCOUVER: Approximately one-third of the ICCF7 audience was new. Nine students were present, some of whom gave their very first presentation at an ICCF conference. One new student was elected as a ‘Top Ten’ presenter. New and younger persons entering the field provide vital fresh perspectives that are crucial to continuation and growth. An entire second generation of scientists and managers are now carrying on the bulk of the work that was formerly performed by early pioneers.”
This is certainly in accord with my enduring memories of the conference: youth, rain, and the most exceptional and enjoyable banquet cruise. Of 18 attended so far, this was the only one where I experienced rain (we have a pact with the relevant deity to prevent light water falling from the sky). And the vitality of youth was evident although Fred Jaeger’s optimism that “the baton had been passed” proved a little premature. But the surprise of the conference for me was a “new boy,” though not young. Les Case (an independent researcher from New Hampshire, now no longer with us and definitely one of our fallen heroes), supported by physical props that he most certainly would not be permitted to fly with today, presented two pieces of information that took the breath away from all in the audience. The title of the presentation itself was enough to do this: “Catalytic Fusion of Deuterium into Helium-4.” Wow! Les Case can be seen below in an uncustomary jacket.
Photo: Les Case (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Looking at Les I was not sure what to expect. On the basis of his presentation the SRI group determined to replicate his work (this is a long story for another time). But in the course of this ultimately successful replication we became close friends and I am sure he would not object to my characterizations or anecdotes. Les was a “bowling ball” of a man — in more ways than one. He always dressed in the same style with suspenders (for younger readers: an alternative device to hold up your trousers). He certainly did not look like a scientist— at least not one from this or the last century. Les was also brilliant. He was President of the New Hampshire Mensa Society (4) and had an encyclopedic knowledge of many things, including wines, and especially Californian wines (5) . He was also a highly capable chemical engineer with four degrees from MIT through Doctor of Science. None of this I knew before his talk at ICCF7 and I was unprepared for the power of his low-key and matter-of-fact presentation.
After similar pre-treatment in hydrogen gas Les introduced deuterium at a pressure of a few atmospheres to a bed of chemical hydrogenation catalyst consisting of “coconut shell charcoal” infiltrated with approximately 0.5% platinum group metals. This was confined in a 1.7 liter stainless steel vessel of World War II vintage. In a very narrow temperature range, 150-250°C, and with a few selected catalysts Les was able to produce a 5-35°C temperature rise in D2 compared with H2 gas. Phenomenal! And this was apparently not related to the difference in thermal conductivity between D2 and H2 gas (6). He also claimed anecdotally to have had a post-test D2 sample analyzed by mass spectrometry at Oak Ridge National Labs (ORNL) where they observed (from memory) ~100 ppm of helium-4. Since the concentration of helium-4 in room air is 5.22 ppm, if verified this finding was stunning. Furthermore the creation of 100 ppm of helium-4 in a 1.7 liter gas volume by any nuclear means implied the production of a very large amount of excess energy.
Obviously we were interested as were many in the audience and Les was “mobbed” after his report. In my summary at the end of the conference I cited Les’ paper as one of the most interesting presented. Although Fred Jaeger certainly merits this title for his hard work, vision and funding of ICCF7, I am going to break with tradition and nominate Les Case as the “hero of ICCF7.” Partly because he is gone and was, in my view, significantly under-regarded during his too brief cold fusion career. But also because Les Case (with Francesco Piantelli) ushered in the gas-metal mode of CMNS that is very different from the Fleischmann Pons Heat Effect (FPHE) of liquid phase D2O-metal heat generation. With considerable work and much time (and wine) spent with Les the SRI group was able to sensibly reproduce “the Case Effect.” Although never at the very high levels of temperature differential between D2 and H2 gas, or the extreme value of 4He production reported by Les at ICCF7, we obtained some of our most significant results studying the Case system, first without him (and failing) then with him (and succeeding), and then making progress on our own.
There is a lesson in the art of replication here that mirrors somewhat my discussion about the Lonchamp-Biberian replication of Fleischmann and Pons reported at ICCF6 in Hokkaido. Although highly technical and with a phenomenal memory, Les tended to communicate tersely both orally and even more in writing. After we failed to replicate the Case experiment many times with DARPA funds we invited Les into our laboratory and watched closely what he did. My colleague Fran Tanzella stood on one side and I on the other and simply watched without helping or speaking while Les talked and worked his way through the process. Remember, this was a man who had repeated this exercise perhaps a thousand times before and had developed a procedure that he knew worked. This does not rule out systematic error (hence the need for independent replication) but we had a duty to understand what he actually did before criticizing any result, or lack of result. The differences between the “Case process” and our understanding of the Case process were subtle, but significant, and we were rewarded by an ultimately successful replication of the Case Heat Effect (CHE). Among other things this prompted a very positive write-up in Wired Magazine in November 1998 “Wired 6.11: What if Cold Fusion is Real?” by Charles Platt, as shown below.
Photo: Cover of Wired Magazine.
The Lonchamp-Biberian effort continued and was reported at ICCF7 and was summarized by Jed Rothwell as follows: “Jean-Paul Biberian (lecturing for Lonchampt) described two experiments now underway at the French Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique (Atomic Energy Commission—A.E.C.). The first is a continuation of the Pons-Fleischmann boil-off replication. None of the four platinum null experiments produced excess. Thirteen out of 14 experiments with palladium produced excess heat, which ranged from 5 to 29% during the final boil-off phase. These percentages are not as large as the A.E.C. reported at the last conference, or as good as Pons and Fleischmann reported, because the A.E.C. now begins measuring the final boil-off phase earlier, using a more rigorous method. They measure the waterline with a sensor. They designate the boil-off phase as the moment the water temperature reaches boiling and the water level drops according to the sensor. Formerly the onset was based on a time lapse video or visual observations of the cell. Biberian said that if you consider the boil-off performance based on the old onset, the excess is as high or higher than it ever was. In earlier phases of the experiment the sensor provides additional evidence that no recombination occurs.” Very interestingly the other effort reported by Lonchamp-Biberian was an apparently successful replication of the Patterson flow-through packed-bed experiment using 0.6 mm dia. Ni beads and lithium sulfate in normal water. Since many had tried, but few succeeded, this effort was noteworthy although little attention seems to have been paid to it.
At the conclusion of the conference I was asked to comment on the progress in excess heat, electrochemistry and materials studies reported at ICCF7 and my good friend Tullio Bressani (Professor of Physics at the University of Turin) was asked to report on the advances in our understanding of nuclear aspects of the work. I have already mentioned Les Case and the Lonchamp-Biberian effort. In addition I drew attention to several people including Mitch Swartz, Irina Savvatimova and John Bockris (the two latter seen below at the conference). This may have been John’s last attendance at an ICCF or as a member of the IAC.
Photo: Irina Savvatimova (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Photo: John Bockris (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Tullio Bressani’s summary was particularly erudite. Again as summarized by Jed Rothwell: “The conventional wing has been reluctant to accept strong evidence for excess heat with nickel/light water and transmutations—and even more reluctant to let go of some marginal evidence for neutrons and helium. The conference summaries presented on the last day by Bressani and McKubre were interesting in that regard. I find Bressani an “extreme” conventionalist. This year he again said that helium and neutrons are the most important evidence for cold fusion. This year, for the first time, he granted that there is good evidence for transmutation as well. Perhaps he was thinking of the work at U. Illinois and Mitsubishi. He mentioned transmutation briefly, but he devoted most of his attention to neutrons and helium. I suppose he thinks the transmutations alone cannot account for the excess heat, or that transmutations cannot occur without a neutron flux. Until this year I have classified McKubre as a rock solid conventionalist, but he has broadened his perspective even more than Bressani has. He noted the transmutation evidence and he said that Mitchell Swartz presented the first convincing data showing excess heat in nickel light water systems.”
From a position of some status in the physics community Bressani was able to observe and report on the lack of basis for or potential invalidation of one of John Huizenga and Douglas Morrison’s so called “miracles” of cold fusion (Morrison can be seen below flanked by Gene Mallove and Xing Zhong Li). Commenting on the first class work of Jiro Kasagi and his team to probe experimentally what actually happens when nuclear interaction energies are reduced towards (although still far above) the energies of cold fusion Bressani reported: “At ICCF-7 a spectacular result was reported. The (d+d) cross section, measured down to 2.5 KeV, is 50 times larger when d is embedded in PdO than when in pure Pd or Ti! The electron screening potential necessary to fit the data is now as large as 600 eV. By extrapolating the data at near zero kinetic energy with such an electron screening potential, a fusion rate fully compatible with that necessary to explain the Fleischmann-Pons excess energy as due to cold fusion is obtained. This experiment is very important for at least two aspects. The first one, quite obvious, is that it is a dramatic proof of the influence that condensed matter effects may have on nuclear observables. The ‘Condensed Matter Nuclear Physics’, whose first milestone is the Mössbauer Effect, may consider this experiment as the second milestone. The second aspect is that the enhancement of the cross section for (d + d), as measured following the method of Kasagi et al., could be considered as one of the quality parameters needed in the choice of metals/compounds/alloys best suited to reach reproducible results in Cold fusion Experiments.”
Photo: Gene Mallove, Douglas Morrison, Xing Zhong Li (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
This view of Bressani’s strikes at the core of the “theoretical objections” to cold fusion (if such a phrase has scientific meaning). Kasagi’s results demonstrate experimentally that lowering of the Coulomb interaction barrier in condensed matter is not a miracle but is an observed physical effect. Furthermore, having effectively reduced this barrier, the product branching ratio of hot fusion is changed, and is changed in the direction of CMNS observations. It has been argued that these changes are not sufficient to explain cold fusion and would not be sufficient even if extrapolated to the limiting condition of less than 1 eV interaction energy as is present in FPHE experiments. I did not know then and do not know now what to expect from a 4 or 5 order of magnitude extrapolation through a domain not explored, but a very important part of the arguments used to deny the reality of cold fusion on theoretical grounds had been shown to be flawed, irrelevant or invalid. Many of us who consulted our nuclear physics friends in the weeks following March 23, 1989 were told with absolute certainty that we (the physics community) knew everything that there was to be known about d-d interactions from intensive and expensive study, and that nothing changed in the condensed matter state (“electrons are irrelevant to nuclear interaction”) or as the interaction energy was reduced towards zero. After ICCF7 these arguments could no longer be considered as true, and more revelation might be expected. As stated by Bressani: “On the contrary scientific efforts performed mostly by University groups and oriented towards a physical comprehension of the effect seem to be more constructive and could lead, maybe at ICCF8, to a comprehension even of the second ‘miracle’ of Cold fusion.”
The IAC met in Vancouver to consider only one bid for the siting of ICCF8. This bid was proposed by my good friend Franco Scaramuzzi, founding member of the IAC, conference stalwart and senior researcher at ENEA, arguably the most important and relevant national laboratory in Italy for this purpose. Although Italy had hosted ICCF2 chaired by Giuliano Preparata, and Monaco (the site of ICCF5) was just “next door,” there was no opposition and no competition, and Scaramuzzi’s proposal was accepted unanimously. Those of us who knew Franco well and had worked in collaboration with Scaramuzzi and ENEA knew that this would be a first class organization and scientific agenda. We were not disappointed.
The Eighth International Conference on Cold Fusion convened May 21-26, 2000, in Lerici, Italy at the antique and beautiful Villa Marigola Conference Center. Some idea of the charm of the place can be seen in the conference poster below and the picture of me sporting my ICCF4 t-shirt. The weather was perfect, the town delightful, the gastronomy everything one would expect of Italy and some exceedingly important results were reported. Under the watchful stewardship of Franco Scaramuzzi and ENEA conference services, this was probably the most effectively organized of all conferences to date. Determined to achieve a high academic and scientific standard, a committee was appointed to sit together and review all submissions to determine their place in the program. This exercise, a meeting of the Science Program Committee of ICCF8, took place at ENEA Frascati over a two-day period. Nothing of this level and breadth of scrutiny had been applied before and the result was a tight and consistent conference.
Photo: ICCF8 Poster
Photo: Michael McKubre (photo courtesy: Barbara DelloRusso).
Some comment needs to be made about the much lamented absence at ICCF8 of Giuliano Preparata, to that point the most influential man in Italian cold fusion, a towering intellect and very good friend personally and to the field. Giuliano was born in Padua (the site of ICCF19) in 1942 and died in Frascati on April 24, 2000 — one month before the conference. This sad event colored the conference and it is fair to say that the ICCF series lost a great deal when Giuliano’s charm, wit, personality, love of physics, brilliance and fiery erudition were extinguished far too early. Although ICCF8 was successful in every way and the conference series continued to grow in strength, one wonders what might have been if Giuliano had remained to chide and guide us. Giuliano’s right hand man, Emelio del Giudice (seen at the conference below) continued to deliver Giuliano’s message as well as any could. But nobody could and Emelio, alas, is also not with us any more.
Photo: Emelio del Giudice (photo courtesy: Barbara DelloRusso).
In this light it is worth recalling in Franco Scaramuzzi’s words that Giuliano Preparata “participated in the February two-day meeting of the Science Program Committee: he was not well, but nevertheless he wanted to participate. He was extremely active, with his intelligent criticism, pointing out faults of the abstracts that he examined: his contribution was very important in making the proper choices for this Conference, and I am very grateful to him for his help.” This exercise was the last of many that I undertook with Giuliano and I echo Franco’s words. Although he was prevented from attending by the only means possible, Giuliano’s presence was everywhere at the conference, and I designate him as the hero of ICCF8.
Both Martin Fleischmann and Franco Scaramuzzi (seen below) presented lectures in memory of Giuliano Preparata, centering on his contributions to theory of coherent nuclear reactions. The technical content of the proceedings volume was preceded by papers from Franco Scaramuzzi and Martin Fleischmann honoring Giuliano Preparata . At the time of his death Preparata had taken a one-year leave of absence from his Chair at the University of Milan and was working with Italian government funding at ENEA Frascati in close collaboration with Fleischmann and Scaramuzzi. It was thus highly appropriate that these two speak of Giuliano. Scaramuzzi briefly described the Italian government initiative in cold fusion that was created almost solely through Giuliano’s personal effort and was ultimately supervised interestingly by Carlo Rubbia (7)as Director of ENEA. Fleischmann spoke of the breadth of Giuliano’s ideas and hinted at work in other controversial areas such as the effect of waves and magnetism on health, which, as Martin put it, "will make us even more enemies.” In Martin’s words about Giuliano: “For me he was a man who, with his breadth of vision which latterly extended from cosmology to biology (and which is so necessary in the development of science), who is only found once in a lifetime, perhaps only once in several lifetimes I am sure that his work will be increasingly appreciated and I am just deeply saddened that he has not lived to witness this himself.”
Photo: Franco Scaramuzzi (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Because of his personal stature and the status of ENEA in Italy and Europe, Scaramuzzi was able to secure the sponsorship or patronage of prestigious Italian science organizations. In addition to ENEA (Italian Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and the Environment), patronage included: CNR (National Research Council); INFN (National Institute for Nuclear Physics); and SIF (the Italian Physical Society). The ICCF8 conference proceedings were published by the Italian Physical Society in a peer-reviewed version in January 2001(8) in elegant and well-bound form. Possibly the only disappointing aspect of the conference was the relatively slight attendance, especially in view of the important scientific aspects discussed. There were 145 participants in the Conference: 41 from Italy, 40 from the U.S., 24 from Japan, 12 from Russia, and smaller numbers from 14 other countries.
The conference led off with 5 papers on the observation of helium in cold fusion experiments. In his foreword to the proceedings Franco Scaramuzzi cited evidence of helium production confirming the original Miles observation as the foremost advance of the conference. In Franco’s words: “There have been quite convincing confirmations, at least three, of the detection of 4He, understood to be a nuclear ash, in experiments with palladium and deuterium, obtained with different experimental procedures. In some cases the correlation with the heat produced gives support to the figure of 24 MeV per atom as a consequence of a D+D reaction. There was also an interesting evidence of 3He production. The presence of these nuclei is the indubitable signature of a nuclear reaction.” This experimental observation was of particular pertinence since it was Giuliano Preparata who first had predicted that helium-4 would be the primary product of cold fusion. Franco’s comment was especially heartening since my group was one of those cited. It is somewhat disappointing however to note that ICCF8 may have been the high tide mark so far for helium studies with surprisingly little experimental follow-up (9).
One exception to this statement is the notable work of my good friend and long-term collaboration partner Vittorio Violante (seen below at the conference with Talbot Chubb). Vittorio was a protege of Franco Scaramuzzi’s at ENEA and inherited many of Scaramuzzi’s responsibilities and facilities when Franco semi-retired at about the time of ICCF8. It is therefore no surprise that Vittorio developed an interest in the helium question and set up a first class facility to measure helium-3 and helium-4 at ENEA with financial and political support from Carlo Rubbia.
Photo: Talbot Chubb and Vittorio Violante (photo courtesy: Barbara DelloRusso).
The work of John Dash and his student John Warner received considerable attention at the conference, partly for the seemingly simple manner with which they were able to achieve modest but impressive levels of excess heat. These authors worked with cold rolled titanium cathodes in what they described as “acidified D2O”: one mole of H2SO4 to 99 moles of H2O or D2O. Their observations of excess heat by two calorimetric methods were at the 100 – 400 mW level and appeared to vary systematically with the extent of cathode mechanical deformation by rolling. Warner and Dash also expressed preliminary support for potential products of transmutation: Cr, Fe and Ni. This work was in a new direction and some of us “old hands” were waiting to see where it might lead. But two astute observers of the field, Jed Rothwell and Gene Mallove, were already impressed. In their Summary Report of ICCF8 in Infinite Energy (10) Rothwell and Mallove proclaimed: “This conference may have exposed two long-established ideas as myths: 1) High loading is essential to all forms of cold fusion (see Storms and Warner presentations below); 2) Cold fusion experiments are inherently difficult to perform (see Warner). High loading may not be needed after all, at least not with Ni, Ti, and Pt. It may be necessary with Pd, but that is probably the ‘worst choice’ of metals, as Storms put it.”
Because of its beautiful and world-famous location Lerici attracted what might be a record number of spouses and partners. My wife and I, and Peter Hagelstein and his (then) fiancé traveled together to the conference from Nice. Ed Storms was there with his wife Carol, as were many others. We have captured a few in the photographic record of the conference. Below we see Tom Passell and his wife Joan, Jed Rothwell and his wife Junko and Martin Fleischmann with his wife Sheila together with John Dash.
Photo: Tom and Joan Passell (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Photo: Jed and Junko Rothwell (photo courtesy: Barbara DelloRusso).
Photo: Sheila Fleischmann, John Dash and Martin Fleischmann (photo courtesy: Barbara DelloRusso).
The photographic record also reveals the presence of a man who was later to become important in a parallel role. Shown below is Christos Stremmenos with his customary pipe standing outside Villa Marigola with Bill Collis. I had met Stremmenos at one or more of Bill’s “Truffle” or “Asti” conferences but am not aware of him attending another ICCF. Christos Stremmenos is a retired Professor of the Department of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Bologna. He served as Ambassador from Greece to Italy (1982-1987) for which service he was awarded the title of “Cavaliere di Gran Croce al Merito” of the Italian Republic. His academic specialization at the University of Bologna as well as in the Polytechnic of Athens was Spectroscopy and Photochemistry. He had tried but failed to reproduce the Fleischmann-Pons experiment early and then commenced to work in the field of nuclear reactions between nickel and hydrogen or deuterium. Stremmenos was the man who introduced the Greek money and political support to Andrea Rossi through the group that became Defkalion and thus is the man possibly more responsible for the non-technical part of Rossi’s work and success than any other (all of which happened well after ICCF8). When Defkalion and Rossi split, Stremmenos stayed on Rossi’s side.
Photo: Christos Stremmenos and Bill Collis (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Although none of us knew it at the time, ICCF8 was to be the last conference for another stalwart, Douglas Morrison (seen below with Chino Srinivasan, Gene Mallove and Tom Passell). Doug had faithfully attended each of the conferences up to “8” and duly asked his same three questions and then reported each conference to his followers, somewhat less faithfully. But he was a friend, and was welcomed at the conferences as an institution. Ironically through his “newsletter” Douglas made himself “famous” (in a small circle), and made us more so. I happened to stay at the same small hotel as Douglas in the tiny town of Lerici, and we took breakfast each morning together amicably. He exhibited no indication of infirmity and neither of us expected not to meet again. From the “CERN Courier” of May 2001: “A distinguished and conscientious physicist and a popular figure at CERN, Douglas R. O. Morrison died on 25 February 2001. He was born in 1929 in Glasgow.” So nine months after the conference and ten months after the death of his “bête noir” Giuliano Preparata, Douglas Morrison was also suddenly gone. The conference series would never be the same again without two of its more colorful characters of opposite polarity. But the conference and the concept would survive.
Photo: Mahadeva (Chino) Srinivasan, Gene Mallove, Tom Passell and Douglas Morrison (photo courtesy: Barbara DelloRusso).
The IAC met at Lerici to discuss the next conference and the next. The bid from China had been twice derailed, once by the continental rotation and once by circumstances outside the organizers control. Japan had hosted twice and considerable work was being done and interest generated in China. As the senior representative of that country at the conference and founding member of the IAC, Prof. Xing Zhong Li, a long time friend and ally, was well positioned to make a bid. The original proposal from Prof. Li to host ICCF9 in 2001 in Beijing was warmly accepted by the IAC. The proposed site was a brand new conference center as yet unbuilt, associated with the very prestigious Tsinghua University. Delayed completion of the conference facility later became a problem and Prof. Li sought approval from the IAC to postpone the date of ICCF9 into 2002. After a site visit by my colleague Fran Tanzella and I, this approval was rapidly granted.
The Ninth International Conference on Cold Fusion was held May 19-24, 2002 in the newly opened International Convention Center at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. The Chairman, Professor Xing Zhong Li, probably China’s most eminent cold fusion scientist, was able to secure significant support and sponsorship from an impressive group of local science and government entities. In addition to the Department of Physics of Tsinghua University, sponsorship was provided by: the Fundamental Research Division of the Ministry of Science and Technology; the natural Science Foundation of China; the Chinese Nuclear Physics Society. This patronage and the splendor of the new conference/hotel facility in which we were hosted spoke significantly about the weight attached by Chinese Science and Government to our endeavor.
Impressed by this official support Gene Mallove in his summary of ICCF9 in Infinite Energy (11) stated the following with partial irony: “It is gratifying to observe the open-mindedness of these Chinese science organizations. Would that ICCF10 could be sponsored by the U.S. DOE, NSF, the American Nuclear Society, and the MIT Physics Department. But please don't hold your breath for that!” I echoed (or “pre-echoed”) this sentiment in my closing summary (12) to the conference in the following: “I think that the effect we are studying here, from an energy perspective, will make the greatest difference to one country on the surface of this earth; that country is China. I suspect that China stands to take more advantage of what we are doing than any other nation. India could take advantage of it, but the work in India seems to be proceeding very slowly, and it doesn’t appear to have government support. Here in China, the work is moving rapidly and effectively, and seems to have at least some level of governmental support. This makes me comfortable that there is an awareness and understanding of the potential.” I do not know what is the present state of activity in China 12 years after this observation. Certainly they have had sufficient time and incentive to capitalize on the opportunity that Prof. Li placed before them. But have they?
The opening address to the conference was delivered by YanKang Zhen, vice president of Tsinghua University, who welcomed participants to the city of Beijing and the university. Prof. Zhen can be seen in the photograph below with Prof. Li. Heavily influenced by Giuliano Preparata, the theme of ICCF8 was coherence and ICCF9 was organized explicitly with this same theme. As stated by Prof. Li in his introduction to the proceedings: “the coherence between condensed mater physics and nuclear physics; the coherence between ‘hot fusion’ and ‘cold fusion’"; and the coherence between application and fundamental research.” Peter Hagelstein and several others had begun more heavily to involve quantum coherence in their thinking and the title of the paper offered by my group at ICCF8 ( with Peter as co-author) was “The emergence of a coherent explanation for anomalies observed in D/Pd and H/Pd systems,” suggesting that we might begin to think about rationalizing the behaviors of the two light hydrogen isotopes. And of course the title of Giuliano Preparata’s seminal book was QED Coherence in Matter.
Photo: YanKang Zhen, vice president of Tsinghua University, and Xing Zhong Li, Chairman of ICCF9 and Professor of Physics at Tsinghua University (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
The official count was only 124 attendees with 77 listed from abroad and the remainder from China, further indicating the serious interest of that country. There was, however, an impressive and expanded national diversity as can be judged somewhat from the conference delegates photograph below. Attendees were present from Australia, Belarus, China, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Romania, Russia, Spain, U.K., Ukraine, and the U.S. Unannounced and unexpected a four-person group from Israel (three individuals from Israel and one Israeli resident in the U.S.) were present for ICCF9. Representing Energetics Technologies, this group was destined to dominate the cold fusion scene for the next decade but were in Beijing in information-gathering and watching mode. None of us knew this of course and the fact that they did not speak or share their intentions meant that few if any paid attention beyond the fact that a new country had been added to the cold fusion atlas.
Photo: ICCF9 Conference photo.
In the light of the sad and untimely demise of our “resident critic” Douglass Morrison, the organizers made an effort to obtain a balance in perspective by inviting Thomas Dolan, an eminent physicist and expert on fusion of all types from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEL) in the U.S. Dolan provided valuable commentary at the conference that he summarized in a written report titled “An outsider's view of cold fusion” that was included in the proceedings (13). In that Tom made the following very valid points under the heading “NEGATIVE FACTORS: (i) The public is swayed by the news media. The only scientific information that most people receive is from television, radio, newspapers, and news magazines. Journalists sometimes exaggerate mistakes, dangers, and controversies, because such exaggerations excite people, increase their audience, and sell more advertising. Unless journalists become more responsible, the public will continue to be misinformed. Such misinformation is responsible for the exaggerated fears of nuclear power; (ii) the name ‘cold fusion’ is also misleading. In some cases this phenomenon is not cold, and in some cases, such as transmutation of heavy elements, it may not be ‘fusion’. ” As discussed below the second of these points was addressed at the conference.
Dolan’s first point was reinforced by possibly the most talked about paper at ICCF9 presented by Yasuhiro Iwamura reporting on the work of his very able research group at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). This work had been going on for some time and was reported at ICCF8 but the presentation at ICCF9 was clearer and more confident than I had seen before. Iwamura et al. take the flux variable seriously. In fact the whole idea of flux — the idea that the effect we are studying is a dynamic and not an equilibrium property as my group first reported at ICCF5 in Monaco — was strongly represented at ICCF9. In my closing remarks I made the following comment: “The flux of material is also important and was very much discussed at this conference. In fact, I did a small statistical survey this morning. Something like 50% of the papers at this conference, including both theory and experiment, discuss the issue of flux as a driving force for the effect.” For MHI the flux is a forced flow of deuterium gas through a planar specimen. The gas permeates Pd complexes consisting of a thin Pd layer, alternating CaO and Pd layers and bulk Pd. Selected atoms deposited on the entry surface are observed to “transmute” in altogether unexpected ways. For example, cesium was reported to “up-convert” to praseodymium and Iwamura presented an astonishing graph showing the surface number of atoms of Cs decreasing as Pr increased in quantitative balance as D2 permeation proceeded. If correct, whatever the cause was not fusion in any conventional sense. I was significantly moved by this work and the very high experimental standard of the MHI scientists, and commented on the need perhaps to take the transmutation evidence much more seriously on the basis of these seemingly irrefutable results.
At ICCF8 emphasis had been placed heavily on the heat-helium correlation and Franco Scaramuzzi began the technical reports with this topic. As such I was surprised to see essentially no discussion of this topic at ICCF9. Session 3 of the conference was titled “HELIUM AND TRITIUM DETECTION” but included very little new data with work focusing on tritium and helium-3. The SRI group reported on helium-3 production. One of the speakers in the “helium” session was one of our senior statesmen Prof. Yoshiaki Arata (seen below) who talked about “Picnonuclear fusion generated in "lattice-reactor" of metallic deuterium lattice within metal atom-clusters.” The reason for this change of emphasis is not clear although may reflect the challenge of measuring helium-4 in the high ambient background, the level of skill needed to do so, and (not inconsequentially) the costs of such measurements. Only now, more than a dozen years after ICCF9, are we moving back to the place where replication of heat-helium experiments has achieved a priority and “cost-benefit ratio” sufficient to motivate this undertaking.
Photo: Professor Yoshiaki Arata (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Not only was the heat-helium correlation not widely discussed at ICCF9, there was very little experimental discussion of what I described in my summary (14) as: “boring old palladium deuterium systems.” Instead we saw what might be described as the beginning of a renaissance of excess heat studies in natural water electrolytes. Back in 1992 and 1993 Bob Bush, Francesco Piantelli and others (including Fleischmann himself in private conversation) ushered in the slightly uncomfortable possibility that excess heat at nuclear levels might be accessed using natural water (15) or hydrogen gas at natural isotopic ratios. This information was largely ignored then, but re-emerged with some impressive new results at ICCF9. As I noted in my summary of the conference: “Professor Ota really caused me to scratch my head and reevaluate my position with his rather unambiguous and clear demonstration of a heat effect from what once was called the Patterson cell, or some derivative thereof.” In an impressive 9 out of 32 results (in 28 experiments) Ota’s team was able to demonstrate greater than 25% average excess power in a relatively simple flow-through mass-flow natural-water calorimeter reaching a very impressive power density of ~2kW/cm3 of Pd. This result perhaps needs to be reevaluated, or at least remembered, in the light of our current interest in the results of Andrea Rossi.
As a break from heat, helium and transmutation on Wednesday afternoon many of the conferees were transported, as Gene Mallove notes in his conference summary,(16) “in two large buses through the traffic of Beijing, and outward on free-flowing superhighways toward the Great Wall of China (at Badaling). For a few hours we all walked and climbed the awesome, ancient structure, which stretches some 7,000 kilometers over mountaintops and into valleys across China. It was a relaxing interlude.” Although I had been to China before, this was my first time to experience directly the Great Wall. It is a magnificent and impressive structure, the visit made all the more memorable by being in the company of so many great cold fusion warriors. Below we have shots of Tom Passell and Jean-Paul Biberian, and Vladimir Vysotskii and Gene Mallove on the Great Wall of China.
Photo: Tom Passell and Jean-Paul Biberian on the wall (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Photo: Vladimir Vysotskii and Gene Mallove on the wall (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
At our meeting in Beijing the IAC were encouraged for the first time to “sing for our supper.” The issue of location for ICCF10 was settled without stress or rancor. My very good friend, long time collaborator and IAC member Peter Hagelstein from MIT was confident that he could bring an organization together in the vicinity of, possible even on the precincts of MIT. Given the stature of Tsinghua University, it seemed only fitting that one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. participate in the next rotation of the conference back to the Americas. Some of us were aware of how much work this would entail for Peter and had pangs of guilt over this decision. But we knew that Peter would do an excellent and highly professional job and would set and maintain the very highest standards of academic research. Because of technical holdups, ICCF9 occurred almost exactly two years after ICCF8. The IAC agreed that with the rapid development of the field two years was too long between conferences and it was agreed that ICCF10 would convene either in September or October of 2003 under the Chairmanship of Peter Hagelstein (seen below at ICCF9).
Photo: Peter Hagelstein (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
With that task formally concluded Prof. Li set us to work. For the satisfactory completion on this assigned task and its long ranging implications, as well as for the very successful implementation of the long awaited conference in China, I am going to denote Xing Zhong Li as the “hero of the conference.” Before I get to the task and its resolution, a little preamble. As commented by Tom Dolan the descriptor “cold fusion” is not everyone’s “cup of tea.” As noted previously this title was willed onto us by Steve Jones and Johann Rafelski in their 1987 paper (17) titled “Cold Nuclear Fusion” in which they referred to muon catalyzed fusion. Many question whether “cold fusion” is an even partially correct description of our field of study. Although it seems certain that some form of fusion does take place at temperatures far less than the sun or man-made thermonuclear events, what about transmutation? What about Iwamura and MHI? What about George Miley and Tadahiko Mizuno’s “massive transmutation” results? Miley can be see below at the conference with another of the “old guard” Jacques Dufour and Mizuno can be seen with Jed Rothwell.
Photo: Jacques Dufour and George Miley (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
Photo: Jed Rothwell and Tadahiko Mizuno (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
This is not a new debate. At every meeting I have attended on this topic, someone will state something to the effect that “cold fusion is a misleading, inappropriate or divisive name” — many will propose alternatives. I have been collecting acronyms proposed and used for “cold fusion” and now have a list exceeding 20. Worse than the babel that this produces between us, and the confusion it engenders on the outside, people who coin names seem dogmatically bound to them much as a theorist defends his or her model or a mother her young child — unconditionally. So it was with some trepidation that I and the assembled members of the IAC accepted that challenge of Prof. Li to create a more accurate and more accurately descriptive name for the field, potentially to be used also for a Society, and a Journal (more of this in my history of ICCF10).
The discussion was long. Every one of us (maybe 15 people) had thoughts and an opinion — some more than one. Until the time that we had begun to see helium-4, helium-3 and tritium from our experiments with our own eyes and instruments (these isotopes being clearly products of fusion) we had not used the descriptor “cold fusion” so I was not strongly committed to its retention. But neither was as I opposed as some were. The discussion finally settled down to the following point. It was increasingly likely that Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons had discovered something far larger than even they imagined. Just as Julian Schwinger had speculated (and essentially every other physicist had perfunctorily dismissed) the processes of nuclear physics proceed differently in condensed matter than in free space. This statement is huge and if shown to be general (rather than confined to the few cases studied so far) it will have very wide-ranging implications for the foundations of nuclear physics. We were not then, and are not now, in a position to specify what it is about the condensed state that conveys this new property and possibility. Some look at the crystalline order that partitions space in a solid lattice. Some look at electrons and screening. Some look at phonons. Others focus on the presence of a surface or features in that surface. It is interesting to note that Martin Fleischmann, the father of our field — seen below at the conference with Chino Srinivasan, chairman of ICCF17 — chose to title his ICCF9 conference paper “Searching for the consequences of many-body effects in condensed phase systems.”
Photo: Mahadeva (Chino) Srinivasan and Martin Fleischmann (photo courtesy: Gene Mallove).
The consensus collective view of the IAC, possibly unanimous, after half a dozen or more trails, was Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (CMNS) as an overall name for the field of study in which we are engaged. This name is intended to be broad and inclusive. If we find examples of phenomena that clearly have the same or similar origin that do not conform to CMNS then we will need to broaden or redefine our designation. But until then the name coined by Prof. Li’s IAC at ICCF9 has stood the test of time. The potential range of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science and the effects that might occur if nuclear processes can be caused to take place by different pathways, with different rates and different product branching ratios, have barely begun to be explored. The Fleischmann Pons Heat Effect itself may have widespread and potentially profoundly useful applications. But in CMNS there is so much more to explore.
ENECO was a follow-on to Hal Fox’s Future Energy Applied Technology (FEAT) with what Fred Jaeger described as “a better business structure than what FEAT offered.”
Yan Kucherov spent his last years at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, DC working specifically not on cold fusion. He died on my birthday December 4, 2011 at the age of 60 from pancreatic cancer. Although not a close friend, I always looked forward to quizzing Yan on my regular trips to NRL for his very penetrating and intuitive assessment of who and what makes sense. A reluctant warrior, Yan Kucherov is another of our fallen heroes. In 1993, Yan was the recipient of the cold fusion’s first Truffle Prize (now called the Preparata Medal - more of this later) for his “pioneering work on transmutation induced by glow discharge.”
From Wikipedia, Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.
A fact that I took advantage of many times by giving Les the wine list at a restaurant, and a wine budget for the evening.
Because of the large mass difference the difference in thermal conductivity between D2 and H2 is quite large but this could be ruled out as an explanation by Les’ numerous null experiments.
Rubbia took a particular interest in this activity and I had several interesting conversations with him about it. This ENEA program - or this aspect of it - did not long survive Giuliano’s departure.
One significant downside to this professional and classical approach is the relative unavailability of the proceedings volume and access to the papers in it.
No blame attached — the reason is simply cost.
Infinite Energy Magazine Issue 32, July/August 2000.
Fresh waters of the United States contain from 0.0133 to 0.0154 mole % deuterium (roughly 1 part in 6500 – 7500). As far as I am aware nobody has performed serious LENR studies in deuterium depleted water and the question remains to what extent deuterium participates in excess heat production in natural hydrogen experiments.
J. Rafelski and S.E. Jones, “Cold Nuclear Fusion,” Scientific American, 257: 84-89 (July 1987).