travel & location
by Michael McKubre
Sochi, site of Stalin’s dacha and the 2014 Winter Olympics, was also the site of the 13th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (or Cold Fusion, depending on taste). This event took place between June 25 and July 1, 2007, inDagomys, roughly 12 busy km from the center of Sochi, Russia, a bustlingand beautiful city on the shore of the Black Sea. Only 80 scientists and specialists took part in the conference including 46 persons from the Russian Federation. This was the lowest attendance of any ICCF in part due to visa difficulties but mostly I expect due to “traveler anxiety.”It was, however, by far the largest participation of Russian scientists at an ICCF, fully justifying the siting of the conference. Only 12 registered attendees were present to represent the U.S., the lowest number by far of any ICCF. I had visited the conference site twice before with even fewer Americans in attendance at the Russian Conference on Cold Nuclear Transmutation and (later) Ball Lightning. Then the travel was prolonged, althoughthoroughly enjoyable, involving a train-ride of 36 hours each way from Moscow to Sochi. This time my companions and I traveled in style from Frankfurt directly to Sochi in a brand new Aeroflot Boeing aircraft, and thence on to the conference in a black Mercedes saloon. Times had changed. Below we see the group photo.
Photo: Group photo ICCF13 (photo courtesy; ICCF13).
As Scott Chubb notes in his conference summary (1): “Yury Bazhutov, Igor Goryachev, and the other members of the ICCF13 Local Organizing Committee are to be commended for their effort in making the conference such an excellent event and for picking such an extraordinary location for it. Sochi, which is located at the base of the Caucasus Mountains, on the eastern side of the Black Sea, is a stunningly beautiful city. In fact, three days after the conference ended, the Olympic Game Selection Committee announced that Sochi would be the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.” This pending decision was much discussed by the local population during the week of the conference. The conference was opened by ICCF13 Chairman Yuri Nikolaevich Bazhutovwith Secretary Igor Goryachevand various dignitaries offering welcomes. These included Vladimir Bychkov on behalf of Vitaliy Mikhailin, President of the Russian Physical Society. Yuri Bazhutov can be seen below holding a copy of the conference program, and below that with Secretary Igor Goryachev working at the computer. Some idea of the majesty of the venue can be seen in the aerial view below that. The conference hotel is the large, white, pyramidal structure seen more closely in the photo four below.
Photo: Yuri Bazhutov(photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).                   Photo: Yuri Bazhutov and Igor Goryachev(photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
Photo: Arial view of Dagomys, Sochi, Russia.                                           Photo: Yuri Bazhutov and Igor Goryachev(photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
In reviewing the photos I was struck by the same thing that first surprised and then always delighted me in Russia — the joy expressed in genuine smiles and the ever-present shared laughter. Even the non-Russians seem influenced by this exuberance just being in contact with “Mother Russia” (see photograph of Alison Godfrey, Michael McKubre and Esperanza Alvarez below at the conference). Certainly I always felt this way (even in grueling situations), and I was very glad to be back in Russia, and especially Sochi. In keeping with the tradition of the Russian National annual conferences the scope of ICCF13 was broader than any previous (with the possible exception of Jean-Paul Biberian’s ICCF11 (2)). The Russian conferences have a strong focus on nuclear transmutations not only in condensed matter but also in gaseous and plasma media that relate to another important investigation in modern science — the nature and potential implementation of Ball Lightning phenomena. This fresh diversity is reflected in YuriBazhutov’s preface to the ICCF13 Proceedings: “The present Conference is the forum in this new field of science. According to the opinion of the Organizing Committee the main subjects and goals of the Conference should incorporate consolidation of the results obtained by the scientists of many countries in investigating the physical phenomenon with the achievements in some other fields of science and technology such as nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, laser science and engineering, material science, nano-technology, bio-technology, etc. for the sake of fast solving valuable application problems.”
Photo: Alison Godfrey, Michael McKubre and Esperanza Alvarez (photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
The ISCMNS featured significantly in the organization of ICCF13 and is mentioned in YuriBazhutov’s list of sponsors: “Conference organization, edition of the Program and Abstracts&Proceedings of the ICCF-13 and also partial financial support of several ICCF-13 participants were provided by sponsorships of private Russian Sponsor Andrew Mozzhegorov, International Society Condensed Matter Nuclear Science & private American Sponsor Steve Krivit, New Energy Times Internet magazine Senior Editor.” It is interesting to see Mr. Krivit’s name on this list and a further indication of the breadth of Steve’s contributions from ICCF10 to ICCF15. On behalf of the International Society Bill Collis and Francesco Celani presented much-deserved PreparataMedals to two Russian heroes Andrei Lipson and Alexander Karabut (most regrettably now both deceased). In addition to their historical contributions both these men presented highly interesting and innovative papers at ICCF13. Andrei Lipson and his group at the Russian Academy of Sciences presented new research on the use of single-wall carbon nanotubes to enhance the diffusion of deuterium/hydrogen into palladium and to create a controlled population of linear defects into which H or D could accumulate. This work was closely followed both intellectually and experimentally at SRI and Energetics. With Alexander Roussetski, Lipson also reported a rigorous method of particle detection using CR-39 plastic track detectors thatshowed clear indications of 3 MeV protons and high-energy alphas in a repeatable experiment. Alexander Karabut provided further illumination into the generation of coherent “beams” of X-rays that he first revealed to the ICCF community at ICCF12 in Yokohama. This excited the interest of theorists Chubb and Hagelstein in particular. In light of Karabut’s very recent departure it may be wise to focus some collective thought on his observations and their implications for Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (CMNS). Karabut also presented the results of his recent replication of an early (1994) Russian excess heat experiment. Alexander and Andrei can be seen side-by-side below presenting their respective papers.
Photo: Alexandra Karabut(photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).                    Photo: Andrei Lipson (photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
Andrei Lipson and Alexey Roussetski presented novel results involving highly deuterium-loaded materials in multilayer structures involving single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) encapsulated by thin Pd films electrodeposited on top of a Pd foil. They found nuclear emissions of charged particles using CR-39 films that indicate 3 MeV alpha particles were produced in these experiments. This technique was later used successfully by Energetics and at SRI to produce excess heat of a slightly unusual sort (3), lending credence to Andrei’s idea that linear defect structures facilitate both nuclear emission and the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect (FPHE). This concept (and demonstration) is sufficiently close to Ed Storms’ concept of -D-e-D-e-… linear extended polymeric structures (and analogous -H-e-H-e-…) that onewonders why the field has not collectivelyfollowed up. I would like to call out two other Russians with photographs below. Both are good friends and important members of the local organizing committee who have contributed significantly to conferences in Russia over the years: Nikolai Samsonenko (Peoples Friendship University, Moscow, and also member of the ICCF13 IAC); and FangilGareev (very interesting theorist, formerly member of the very important Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, and another of our fallen heroes).
Photo: Nikolai Samsonenko(photo courtesy: Mike McKubre).              Photo: FangilGareev(photo courtesy: Mike McKubre).
A very important result caught the attention of a number of us including Mike Melich and Scott Chubb for reasons Scott makes clear in his IE summary: “Ivan Chernov (Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia) presented novel results associated with a new phenomenon, in which many hydrogen atoms appear to be spontaneously excited by irradiation by X-rays and/or electrons. He and his collaborators propose the associated effect involves cooperative phenomena in which the hydrogen atoms/ions behave as a ‘sub-system’ that is excited as a single entity, similar to the kind of sub-system envisioned by Talbot Chubb (and indirectly by me) in the context of the ion band state theory that we have proposed.” Basically Chernov reported that “punching a hole” in the barrier that restrained hydrogen deloading at a single point caused “instantaneous” and “coherent” deloading at all points on the surface of a charged cathode. Noting this comment by Scott Chubb I realize that I have not followed up on this phenomenon, either. Scott can be seen below with one of few other Americans present and one of the “new kids on the block” at ICCF13, Marianne Macy. Marianne went on to become an integral part of the ICCF and CMNS world in her writings for Infinite Energy (5) and her ongoing organization of an “Oral History” of the field.
Photo: Marianne Macy and Scott Chubb(photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
By ICCF13 the Energetics-SRI-ENEA collaboration was operating “full steam ahead” with NRL recently included. Vittorio Violante (group leader at ENEA-Frascati) was unable to attend but was very ably represented by Emanuele Castagna, seen below at dinner with others of the Energetics’ “family”, including Tanya Zilov, a“transplanted”Russian. Both Castagna and Zilov presented interesting reports from the collaboration. Emanuele reported on the heroic effort of the Violante group at ENEA Frascati to characterize and control the metallurgy of bulk palladium samples, allowing the possibility of simultaneous high deuterium loading and flux, and thus excess heat. Scott Chubb, reporting for IE, lamented the withholding of details deemed proprietary by Energetics (a private corporation) but reported: “Fortunately, in spite of the non-disclosure of some seemingly important results, progress is being made. In fact, in Zilov’s presentation, new innovative results were presented. In particular, by introducing ultrasonic forms of wave-like effects, it was possible on two occasions to create effects referred to as ‘heat after death,’ in which heat occurred in the absence of any form of externally applied force identified as being relevant to the associated phenomenon.”
Photo: Tanya Zilov, Esperanza Alvarez, Michael McKubre, Emanuele Castagna, Alison Godfrey and Arik El Boher (photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
As noted by Steve Krivit (4): “After many years of absence from the field, Toyota has re-emerged on the CMNS scene through the work of TatsumiHioki, Naoko Takahashi and Tomoyoshi Motohiro at Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories Inc. in Nagakute, Aichi, Japan. The researchers have attempted to replicate the Yasuhiro Iwamura deuterium gas permeation experiment performed at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The Toyota team reported an experiment that showed mildly positive evidence of the low energy nuclear transmutation of cesium into praseodymium.” This work was to become important in what later generated a mini-controversy between the group of Iwamura at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Ken Grabowski at NRL that is still unresolved.
Because of the significance and seeming irrefutability, initially based on an in situ XPS measurement of about a nano-mole of Cs to Pr transmutation results at MHI, Mike Melich (seen below with Vladimir Vysotskii) was able to attract fairly significant funding to NRL in a replication attempt. By the time the project was fully operational Iwamura had completed over 150 experiments using a post experiment analysis of the surface layer of material containing the transmutation products and had moved on to different materials to transmute. With much effort a mutual agreement was signed, trans-Pacific interchange of personnel undertaken, and samples were sent from Mitsubishi to NRL. All of these later efforts depended upon the post-production extraction of samples taken from the foil surface. The focus of that effort was solely on the putative double-deuteron transmutation of Cesium to Praseodymium. Although old samples received from MHI by NRL were successfully analyzed for Praseodymium (at significantly lower levels than earlier results at MHI) NRL never was able to replicate the conversion themselves. A special matrix experiment was conducted to try to resolve the differences. Shared samples showed different results in the MHI extractions and the NRL extractions from different parts of the same metal foil. This dichotomy resurfaced at every ICCF from 14 to 18 and remains undetermined with NRL claiming that it found Praseodymium contamination on apparatus in Iwamura’s lab and that this was the simplest explanation for the observed Pr. MHIcounter-claim that this is not a possible explanation since that apparatus (a balance) was not used for all samples that exhibited the effect. Recent results from Toyota working in a beautiful and modern research facility continue to support the MHI finding. Despite the stunning significance of this result (if proven correct) the matter is still undecided with both sides talking past the other.It is to be hoped that a more complete scientific interchange will take place at some point.
Photo: Vladimir Vysotskii and Michael Melich (photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
All in all it was a very successful, enjoyable and informative conference for which we can thankfully and fittingly declare YuriNikolaevichBazhutovas the hero. In addition to the technical program the weather was kind, the beach entertaining, and the hospitality extraordinary (below we have a shot of the “groaning table” at the welcoming reception on the 22nd floor of the DagomysHotel, principal site of the conference, and below that a cheerful shot of Alison Godfrey and me at the Banquet). Very appropriately George Miley made a touching and fitting tribute to GiulianoPreparata.The IAC at ICCF13 was not faced with a decision since Prof. Takahashi’s IAC had already determined that the continental rotation would return to the Americas and resume normal order, and we had accepted Prof. David Nagel (George Washington University) as the Chairman-elect. The Russian tradition is to use the occasion of an “organizers closing conversation” as a vehicle to craft a “we did this” statement. Most of the rather sumptuous “Advisory Committee” meeting was spent enjoyably in this pursuit.
Photo: The welcoming reception Hotel Dagomys(photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
Photo: Alison Godfrey, Michael McKubre(photo courtesy: Dave Nagel).
The 14th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (ICCF14) took place in Washington, D.C. between August 10 and 15, 2008, in the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill. In many ways, this conference was an historic event and a carefully strategized effort to influence “movers and shakers” in the political island of Washington. Convened at Chairman Dave Nagel’s chosen location, the conference was deliberately staged within easy strolling distance of any congressional representatives, delegates or bureaucrats who chose to engage with us. As far as I am aware none did. Just as Washington is divided from Virginia to the south by the Potomac River, so is the politics divided. North of the river where we were situated essentially all of the politics and power is civilian. This particular fiefdom had been un- or anti-interested in cold fusion and this tradition persisted through 2008.
South of the river the Pentagon dominates the landscape and the politics. This environment has traditionally been far more receptive to the message we were intending to communicate at ICCF14. A significant fraction of the SRI support had been generated by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Projects Agency, south of the river) which agency had maintained a solid and pragmatic interest first initiated by Robert Nowak (trained as an Electrochemist and who knew Fleischmann and Pons well) and maintained until recently when DoE impelled DARPA to leave the energy business (for a time). The other defense agency just beginning to exhibit serious interest in CMNS was DTRA (the Defense Threat Reduction Agency). To accommodate and capitalize on the generally more welcoming attitude of the “south of the river” DoD dominated politics, the conference General Chair (David Nagel) and Technical Chair (Michael Melich) had invited Vice-Admiral Dr. George P. (Pete) Nanos, Associate Director of Research and Development Enterprise at DTRA, to make the opening address to the conference. Photos of Nagel and Melich appear below.
Photo: Dave Nagel (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).                                   Photo: Mike Melich (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
Pete Nanos’ opening address did not occur for reasons that are not completely clear. As Scott Chubb notes in his conference report for Infinite Energy : “Apparently because of a scheduling conflict, an alternative speaker was engaged. Llewellyn King, journalist, former editor-in-chief and founder of The Energy Daily (the King Publishing Group’s flagship newsletter), and now executive producer of the PBS television program, “White House Chronicle,” gave the keynote address. The fact that such a well-known journalist would give the keynote address is consistent with the improved publicity associated with this ICCF conference. During the speech, Mr. King emphasized the past history of the energy situation. He recounted the problems of the initial oil shocks during the 1970s and the underlying ideas associated with using nuclear power and alternative fuel forms. He emphasized the importance of the role of government in altering the existing dynamic. He suggested that what was about to happen during ICCF14 is extremely important.”
The organizers Nagel and Melich took the unusual step of honoring living scientists with dedicated sessions. This was criticized prior to the event by New Energy Times’ Steve Krivit (6) but it is hard to imagine two senior scientists in our community more worthy of honor than Yoshiaki Arata and Stanislaw Szpak. Arata, one of Japan’s original hot fusion scientists and renowned “father” of electron beam welding, has been described as Japan’s “greatest living physicist”; he is the only physicist to have received Japan’s highest civilian honor, the “Emperor’s Medal.” His ideas in CMNS include two of the most innovative of any so far: his double-structured cathode with which he reliably produced excess heat, helium-3 and helium-4 (the first two confirmed by replication at SRI); his method of producing finely dispersed nickel and/or palladium on a zirconia substrate in such a way as to prevent or mitigate sintering (apparently replicated by Mitch Swartz in his “nanor”). Arata’s results of this second idea are discussed below.
Stan Szpak was one of the original workers in the CMNS field and although now advanced in age still is active in thinking and writing on the topic to the extent that he is, with his co-workers, our field’s most prolific published author of peer reviewed “mainstream” journal articles. As Scott Chubb notes in his IE report: “Szpak has advanced science in its truest sense through his persistence and idealism. Not only has he been creative, he has followed through with conviction to make sure that what has happened … has been recorded and presented openly and within the context of conventional science. Frank Gordon should also be commended for his foresight and creativity in recognizing the genius of Stan Szpak, and for encouraging and helping Pam [Boss] and Stan to perform their research.”
A total of 181 people were listed as registered participants although five of those people were unable to attend from the Russian delegation despite strenuous efforts on the part of the organizers. As expected (and as a reversal from ICCF13) 119 attended from the U.S., 17 from Japan, 12 from Italy, 8 from Russia, 7 from Israel, 5 from Germany, 3 from France, 2 from Canada and the United Kingdom, and 1 each from China, Finland, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Ukraine. The attendance from Germany was interesting, new and welcome. Besides a large number of scientists, many participants were investors or people actively scouting the energy arena. Below we see two of my Silicon Valley friends operating in the latter category: Matt Trevithick and Ed Beardsworth. According to the program, 61 oral presentations and 36 posters were scheduled for the conference.
Photo: Matt Trevithick and Ed Beardsworth(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
The surprising “new kids on the block” at ICCF14 were a crew and producer from the CBS television program “60 Minutes” who filmed during the first two days. This caused considerable “buzz” despite their unannounced presence, and no little surprise and (in at least one case) an almost siren-like enticement. Some time previously CBS had expressed a desire/willingness to feature the work of Energetics in a report on the topic of our conference. Before the conference I had been working with producers at “60 Minutes” and the Energetics’ folks (Alison Godfrey and Irv Dardik) for several months, and it would take more than 6 months more before the program “Cold Fusion Is Hot Again” aired (7) to general (but not unanimous) critical acclaim on April 19, 2009. It was an interesting experience and the “60 Minutes” folks were the most careful and “fact provable” people I have ever worked with. One of the things we critically needed was an independent expert from a neutral or antagonistic position who would be willing to review the literature, visit the laboratories where Energetics work was being performed (Omer Israel, ENEA Frascati and SRI Menlo Park), and then make a public report on camera. The story needed balance. At ICCF14 CBS were just filming “background.”
Our task of finding an “honest physicist” was harder than imagined and several abortive attempts were made before we found Rob Duncan (who would rise to be a star in our field and to Chair ICCF18). Several “big name” individuals were willing to make an on-camera report based on what they already felt they “knew.” They were not, however, willing to review any literature or travel to see an experiment. Professor Duncan was a godsend; an experienced and highly capable experimentalist, former Gordon and Betty Moore Distinguished Scholar in the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a fellow (and life member) of the American Physical Society. More specifically Rob had two qualities that were desperately needed: personal hands-on experience with calorimetry; and an open mind, capable of change, and a willingness (Rob would call it a scientific obligation) to speak out publicly if and when his mind was changed.
In his IE review Scott Chubb acknowledged Professor Arata as having presented the “most significant results” at the conference and noted: “In one series of experiments (Arata and Zhang), the reported heat occurred using a device in which there was no electrical (or other) form of input power; the associated measurements of excess heat, which were performed by monitoring changes in temperature and pressure of gases above particular nm-scale palladium (Pd) powders, persisted for such long periods of time and involved such simple forms of measurement that it is virtually impossible to understand how the resulting effect could have occurred, except from room temperature nuclear reactions.” Scott went on to comment: “Prior to Arata’s presentation, Talbot Chubb provided background material about Arata and an overview and interpretation of the work.” We have a picture of Arata below and two very good shots of Scott at the microphone and of“Uncle” Talbot.
Photo: Yoshiaki Arata(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
Photo: Scott Chubb(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).                         Photo: Talbot Chubb (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
On Monday morning Mitch Swartz repeated his claim from ICCF9 that increased levels of excess heat can be obtained from Ni/normal water electrochemical systems by adding increasing amounts of heavy water. This is one of those facts that we keep forgetting and failing to fully reproduce. This is precisely the final thing that Edward Teller told me to do (and I did not). If correct, as Scott Chubb noted: “This is important because it potentially clarifies a possible origin of the excess heat results in the Ni/normal water systems. As opposed to the commonly held, intuitive idea that unusual nuclear reactions are occurring in this kind of system (as a result of the assumption that protium in the normal water is entirely responsible for the reaction), it is possible that the Ni substrate could filter or partially filter out protium, or an alternative process could be at work, in such a way that even the small (1 part in 6000) portion of deuterium (and heavy water) that is present in normal water could be playing an important role in the associated reactions.” With the current fashionability of Ni/normal hydrogen gas systems it may be time to seriously begin “Teller’s task” to see if we can determine what (if anything) actually undergoes nuclear reaction in the experiments of Piantelli—Rossi—Parkhomovet al. Note Piantelli claims for his gas system at least that deuterons “poison” the nuclear reactivity of protons. Whatever the case we need to know.
Following up on the “60 Minutes” presence, Scott Chubb was also very impressed with the Energetics presentation and noted: “On Monday, ShaulLesin (Energetics) also gave a very important talk titled, Ultrasonically-Excited Electrolysis Experiments at Energetic Technologies. The talk was important because Lesin discussed experiments and experimental techniques that have demonstrated a highly successful (80% success rate) procedure for reproducing the excess heat effect and at magnitudes that are considerably larger than have been observed elsewhere. Key results that Lesin discussed involved modifying surfaces: 1) using short sequences of ultrasonically induced cavitation cycles (for cleaning the electrode surfaces), followed by low current density electrochemical loading, using Dardik’ssuperwaves and 2) cleaning the electrode surfaces by etching them using glow discharge pulses that are constructed using superwaves, and then applying electrolytic currents that are also produced using superwave forms. Superwaves consist of highly non-linear (fractal) modulation.” The Energetics “extended family” were well represented at the conference and we see Tanya Zilov and ShaulLesin from Omer, Israel below, and below that Fran Tanzella, Vittorio Violante and Arik El Boher from the U.S., Italy and Israel.
Photo: Tanya Zilov and ShaulLesin(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
Photo: Fran Tanzella, Vittorio Violante and Arik El Boher(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
On behalf of the International Society for Condensed Matter Nuclear Science I was invited by Bill Collis to present the Giuliano Preparata Medal to my good friend Dr. Irving Dardik, of Energetics, LLC, in recognition of his outstanding contributions in developing procedures for creating excess heat through the Fleischmann Pons Heat Effect. Dr. Dardik’s acceptance speech can be seen in the link at footnote 5. In it Irv focused attention on the task and the hoped for objectives with the words: “The stakes are easily articulated. The survival of civilization is dependent upon finding a safe, sustainable and readily accessible solution to the energy crisis. It is our job to remain focused on our goals and not take on a victim’s mentality, nor get caught up in the tempting web of infighting. This quiet revolution is yielding results that are more and more reproducible. We are on the verge of developing a technology that promises to rescue our future. And it is the people in this room who are going to save the world.” Below we have a very good picture of Irv Dardik and Alison Godfrey with a number of the Israeli Energetics team led by Shaul Lesin.
Photo: ShaulLesin, Irving Dardik, Alison Godfrey, VitaliKrakov, Tanya Zilov, Ehud Greenspan, Mark Tsirlin and Arik El Boher after the award of the Preparata Medal (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
Many other old faces were present, and some new. In both categories we have a picture of Ed Storms with the Coolescence leadership, Matt McConnell and Rick Cantwell. Founded in 2005 to pursue LENR goals, Coolescence presented at the ISCMNS (“Asti”) meeting in Catania organized by Bill Collis in October 2007, but I did not remember seeing them or hearing them present at previous ICCF’s. Below that we see Antonio Spallone, LudwikKowalsi, Bill Collis himself, Frank Gordon in his signature T-shirt and newcomer Leona Neighbour.
Photo: Rick Cantwell, Matt McConnell and Ed Storms (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
Photo: Antonio Spallone, LudwikKowalsi, Bill Collis, Frank Gordon and Leona Neighbour(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
We also have an extremely fine shot of very dear friends Franco Scaramuzzi and his wife Teresa, and of Jean-Paul Biberian in customary good humor.
Photo: Franco and Teresa Scaramuzzi(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).                           Photo: Jean-Paul Biberian(photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
We end in a cluster of four photographs: newcomer Robert Godes of Brillouin at his first of (we hope) many ICCF’s; my good friend, first program manager and long time cold fusioneer Tom Passell; the now departed and much missed John (Alf) Thompson who passed away far too early; and finally the team of Dave and Carol Nagel. Dave we all know, love and respect, and he put great effort into this conference with his technical partner, Mike Melich, to produce scientifically an extremely sound result. But watching Dave and Carol work together and share responsibilities and duties I was reminded of the phrase “behind every good man is a good woman.” I think it is fair to guess that without Carol’s strong and steady hand the conference experience would have been much less. For this I designate the team of Dave and Carol Nagel as my heroes of the conference
Photo: Robert Godes (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).                                                 Photo: Tom Passell (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
Photo: Alf Thompson (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).                                                  Photo: Carol and David Nagel (photo courtesy: Duy Tran).
The siting of the next conference was due to rotate back to Europe and the resolution of this matter by the IAC occasioned the most discussion, interest and drama of any before or since. Bill Collis had been given a “hunting license” by Yuri Bazhutov’s IAC in Sochi to pursue the organization of ICCF15. Bill has a demonstrated ability to organize good (and enjoyable) conferences and had formed a team with Larry Forsley to boost the technical side. He had arranged some funding and proposed a familiar location (Catania in Sicily); he had a well-prepared and strong plan for ICCF15. But in the year intervening between ICCF13 and ICCF14 a new candidate had emerged from a very strong agency, ENEA, and strong potential chairman, Vittorio Violante. Vittorio also approached the committee with a well-prepared and well thought out plan. Both men were members of the IAC and were thus able to make their cases directly.
The basic issues under discussion were: cost, accessibility, impact and science. Vittorio proposed to hold the conference in downtown Rome within easy walking distance of the seats of Italian power — using an argument parallel to Dave Nagel’s reason for siting ICCF14 in Washington, D.C. Catania was a long way away from such power but would certainly be less expensive for both the conference fee and accommodation (although perhaps not air travel). Catania, on the sea in one of the most remarkable places on the planet, was certainly a great tourist destination — but so was Rome. I suspect the telling arguments were scientific — it would be very difficult to compete with the known scientific standard and credibility of ENEA (not to mention the technical prowess of the proposed Chairman). What none of us appreciated fully at the time was just how much influence ENEA has in Rome. After much discussion and deliberation a secret ballot was held that Vittorio narrowly won. And so we were off to Rome…
Conferences in Italy rarely disappoint and ICCF15 most certainly did not. I would rate ICCF2 in Lake Como, also in Italy, as the most interesting conference I have ever attended for reasons discussed previously. But the most memorable of recent conferences was ICCF15, for reasons discussed below. The next conference, ICCF19, will also occur in Italy in less than a month at time of writing. I am sure it will also not disappoint and I look forward to it with eager anticipation. ICCF15 was the second conference organized by ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Environment). The previous one, ICCF8 at the turn of the century in Lerici, was chaired by one of the field’s (and certainly ENEA’s) most respected cold fusion scientists, my old friend Franco Scaramuzzi. That was a highly memorable conference for a number of reasons both good and sad, as noted. It would take a lot to compete or exceed. Fortunately my good friend Vittorio Violante and an excellent team from ENEA led by Maria Polidoro succeeded admirably with a wonderfully and beautifully crafted conference containing many memorable elements. Vittorio adopted a novel administrative arrangement with himself as chair, ShaulLesin (CEO of Energetics Technologies, Israel) as co-Chair, and Martin Fleischmann (Professor of Electrochemistry at Southampton University, retired) as Honorary Chair. It was a nice touch. We did not know, at that time, how timely and how appropriate.
The conference location itself was magnificent. The lectures were held from October 5-9, 2009, at the Angelicum, PontificiaUniversità San Tommaso d’Aquino (the Papal University of St. Thomas Aquinas). Situated just behind Trajan’s Markets and between the Roman Forums and the Quirinale Palace, Angelicum is located in a monastery built by Giacomo Della Porta at the end of the 16th century. The high altar of the monastery church Santi Domenico e Sisto is a work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Certainly as a community we had not been treated with such class and grace before. As Vittorio had promised the ICCF14 IAC, the sessions were held within easy walking distance of some of the most important Italian government offices (including the one in the Ministry of Economic Development from which Benito Mussolini once controlled Italy (8) that I visited with Energetics the previous year). Refreshment breaks and the opening reception were held in the cloistered garden of the active convent, with nuns present. The ambience and gastronomy was everything one expects from Rome — spectacular!
I escorted Martin to the conference (see photo below) and the sessions opened in an interesting and memorable way with Franco Scaramuzzi and I chairing. After welcoming comments by Vittorio Violante and Alison Godfrey, Martin Fleischmann was asked to address the audience(see photo of Martin with notes before the address and while speaking with Franco chairing below). Considering Martin’s state of health, that he was able to do this at all was remarkable (see further detail below). I introduced Martin and sat down in the audience, unsure what to expect. Martin started speaking — and then stopped — a long pause, perhaps 10 seconds but it seemed much longer. As co-chairman and old friend I was not sure what to do but just when it seemed as if rescue was necessary Martin resumed and delivered lucid, thoughtful and kindly comments to the audience that had assembled for just one reason: Martin Fleischmann. This was to be Martin’s last public speech, and last attendance at an ICCF.Born in 1927 in Karlovy Vary, in the (now) Czech Republic,Martin died on August 3, 2012,after a long illness in his adopted home of Tisbury, England. The lasting honor that Martin was able to give his audience in that final lecture (in large part thanks to Vittorio Violante and ENEA), and that we were able to give him in the evening of that day (in large part due to Bill Collis, Akito Takahashi and the ISCMNS – and Alison Godfrey and Energetics – see below) is much of the reason why ICCF15 is so precious in my memory. Although Vittorio very well deserves this honor, and Maria Polidoro could share, I am certain that they will not object to my nominating Martin Fleischmannas the hero of ICCF15.
Photo: Vittorio Violante, Michael McKubre, Xing Zhong Li and Martin Fleischmann (photo courtesy: DaveNagel).
Photo: Martin Fleischmann with notes and Alison Godfrey & Irv Dardik behind (photo courtesy: Mike McKubre).
Photo: Martin Fleischmann speaking and Franco Scaramuzzi (photo courtesy: DaveNagel).
Three introductory lectures were scheduled to follow Martin before the session itself. These were not introductions to cold fusion or CMNS, but rather a way for us to introduce and begin to integrate ourselves with “normal” European science. Professor Tomellini representing the Directorate General of Research for the European Union (EU) spoke generally of the place of Science in the world, and Professors Campanella (President of the Italian Chemical Society) and De Sanctis (Vice-President of the Italian Physical Society) spoke about their disciplines and welcomed us to Rome. It was a thoughtful and touching start by Vittorio and ENEA with two significant points: like it or not, to make any significant advance we would need to integrate with “mainstream” science and were here being welcomed to do so; ENEA has tremendous influence in Rome, Italy and the EU. As I was to discover later this influence also extends to the Vatican, and beyond.
The technical sessions began with a session on the “Fleischmann & Pons Experiment” led off by Rob Duncan (then Vice Chancellor of Research at the University of Missouri and later chairman of ICCF18 in Columbia, Missouri). Rob, the face and voice of balance in the CBS “60 Minutes” documentary discussed above, having been swayed by the evidence he had reviewed and observed on behalf of CBS, chose then and chooses now to actively participate in CMNS (9). Rob and his lovely (and highly technically competent) wife Dr. Annette (Annie) Sobel were definitely the “new kids on the block” at ICCF14 (see photograph below at one of the evening functions). Rob’s lecture was titled “An Outsider’s View of the Significance of the Fleischmann-Pons Effect” and very much reinforced the points made by the three Italian speakers. Science is the Scientific Method. As Rob would say: “This is the only tool we have and, fortunately, it is the only tool we need.” This was well received (although sometimes forgotten). The message and the messenger were powerful. The field needed new, young, strong, voices, especially those with good credentials and Rob’s were impeccable. Prof. Duncan’s closing comments were especially relevant to the audience and this community: “Science is fundamentally empirical, so scientists must always be prepared for surprises that challenge accepted thought. But the Scientific Method, which strives to disprove the hypothesis through experiment, must be followed always, with no exception.”
Photo: Annette Sobel and Rob Duncan at Palazzo Brancaccio(photo courtesy: DaveNagel).
I lectured next in a talk titled: “Cold Fusion LENR: One Perspective on the State of the Science.” The Chairman of the conference and long-time colleague, Vittorio Violante, had tasked me to review the state of the science. As I note in the proceedings (10) this would be a summary of “at least 1000 man-years worth of work in 30 minutes, and here on a few pages. Of course [this task] is impossible, so what was and is presented here is a very brief and personal view of the state of the science, through time and space constraints necessarily avoiding consideration of many large and important research subtopics.” I focused on the SRI work (itself, at this point, more than 60 person-years of work) at a “gentle” level with the purpose of communicating as broadly as possible. The following talks in this first session, by Graham Hubler, David Kneis, Vittorio Violante, and ShaulLesin, were all more technical. I, and many others, found this first morning strategy of “tapering into” the topic to be highly effective and Vittorio Violante and ENEA are to be highly commended for it.
And it got better. That evening was to be one of the most memorable of my life (11) but first we need to establish a little context. I remember clearly when I first noticed signs that my friend Martin Fleischmann was fading. I had taken Irv Dardik and Alison Godfrey to visit Martin at his home in Tisbury, England, in June, 2007. We were having lunch at an exquisite English country restaurant of Martin’s choosing on the banks of a little river. The setting was idyllic. I noticed a lack of sharpness and Irv (trained as a medical doctor) queried Martin about his tremor; Martin acknowledged the early onset of Parkinson’s. The disease proceeded swiftly. By early 2009 Martin could barely function and his friends became extremely concerned. Knowing that Irv and Alison had had considerable and demonstrated success (12) in remediating this disease, Mike Melich and Marianne Macy arranged funding and support to bring Martin and Sheila to spend the summer before ICCF15 in New Jersey. In a mansion owned by Sidney Kimmel, on a hill overlooking Oldwick, New Jersey, Irv and Alison brought Martin back to life to the point that he was able to be present in Rome on Monday, October 5, 2009.
I spent much of my summer in Oldwick that year watching Irv and Alison, and their son Trevor Dardik (who we will meet again in this story at ICCF18 in another role), and Ryan Freilino, kindle a spark in the intellectual fire that had been Martin. In addition to Mike & Marianne many of Martin’s “cold fusion” friends including Bob Nowak (my DARPA Program Manager, now retired — seen below in Irv & Alison’s home) and Debra Rolison (NRL) spent time there that summer to provide Martin with cognitive stimulus. We have a good shot below of other members of Martin’s “recovery team.” Martin arrived on the Queen Mary on July 3rd (he could not fly) and I arrived on the 4th. I was instantly appalled at the deterioration. I had watched Irv and Alison work their miracles before (13) but when I first saw Martin he could not finish a sentence or a thought; he could not walk or dress or feed himself unassisted. The prospect looked if not hopeless then, at best, bleak. But, with good care, the progress and rate of progress was stunning. Good friends of ours were married at the house on the 19th of September and Martin was able (and interested) to dress himself in a suit and tie and present himself fully attired for, and participate in the occasion. We were able to hold scientific conversations, sometimes in considerable depth, and I was able to hear my old friend’s deep belly laugh again. My most enduring memory of the revived Martin is the vision of him jogging down the long corridor of Irv and Alison’s home.
Photo: Robert Nowak in Oldwick(photo courtesy: Mike McKubre).
Photo: Some of the “Recovery Team”: Cecilia Oleas, Ryan Freilino, Irv Dardik, Martin Fleischmann, Alison Godfrey, Mike Melich, Charles Ressler and Joey Pero(photo courtesy: Mike McKubre).
Photo: Irv Dardik, Charles Ressler, Alison Godfrey, and Martin Fleischmann (photo courtesy: Mike McKubre).
We have another picture below of that time in Oldwick at the kitchen table in Irv and Alison’s home. Martin recovered sufficiently that Sheila was able to go home early. Martin flew back to Tisbury with Ryan Freilino in sufficient time to attend ICCF15 in Rome. I salute all those who participated in this rescue: Irving Dardik, Alison Godfrey, Trevor Dardik, Ryan Freilino, Marianne Macy, and Michael Melich. Without that summer gift there was no possible way that Martin could even have attended ICCF15, let alone speak cogently and unsupported to the conference that morning, or receive the award presented to him that evening (14).
Photo: Irv Dardik, Michael McKubre, Niamh Sullivan, Martin & Sheila Fleischmann (photo courtesy: Sue Ruscitto).
That evening of Monday, October 5, 2009, was brought to us by a powerful cast of characters: Vittorio Violante, Maria Polidoro and ENEA; Bill Collis, Akito Takahashi and the ISCMNS; the family of Minoru Toyoda; Alison Godfrey, ShaulLesin, Sidney Kimmel and Energetics. The ISCMNS, principally Bill Collis and Akito Takahashi, had determined that a second medal was needed to augment the Preparata Medal to award individuals who had “made outstanding contribution (not necessarily scientific) to the promotion and progress of CMNS community (15)”. There was some discussion and several names were mooted but there was little disagreement that Martin Fleischmann deserved the first. Akito Takahashi worked closely with the family and partners of Minoru Toyoda, to craft a medal in his name and image, and cast it in gold (there is a nice shot of Akito with the medal below). It is particularly fitting that Fleischmann was to receive a medal with this name. Martin always had the highest regard for Minoru Toyoda, and Toyoda had personally rescued Fleischmann and Pons from the U.S. Physics community and settled them in a beautiful laboratory with his name (16) in the south of France. This medal was to be awarded to Martin that evening in one of Rome’s most spectacular sites and buildings with the following announcement in the conference program:
October 5, 2009
(sponsored by “Energetics Technologies”)