The End of the E-cat– and another blow to non-traditional Fusion Science

Popular Science has a reasonably good article on the sad history of the E-cat. Another discussion of its rise and fall is included here at Cassandra’s Legacy.

There is no real need to discuss the facts around the E-cat– Rossi was either deluding himself or being dishonest, and given his history, I will leave it to the reader to decide which.

But that was not the source of the real harm of this event, and we cannot blame Rossi for what followed.  The chorus of mocking skepticism once again rises, that any non-traditional approach to fusion is the work of fools and charlatans, and the groups who were only too ready to uncritically accept what in hindsight were completely specious “tests” bear the blame for that. Continue reading

Fool Me Once….

When we ask why there isn’t more funding for Polywell, or Dense Focus Fusion or the other concepts we must remember the old joke: Fusion is the power of the future– and always will be!

For that last 60 years, there have been books about fusion, articles, TV specials, many of which tell us that fusion is expected by 1970, or 1980, or 1985…it’s a mirage, always just around the corner, if only we had more money or more funding.  It would be nice to blame this just on traditional fusion scientists, but it’s a danger every advocate, of any new technology faces– the danger of becoming overly optimistic.
And, after better than a half century, the response of many individuals, not Luddites but quite intelligent businessmen and citizens, to a breathless new announcement is… a hearty yawn.  They’ve heard that story before.  They’ve seen the pictures of bigger and better test units.  They have a hearty doubt if fusion will ever be achieved, or if it is, will it be economically viable.
Even many of those interested in alternative energy point out that advances in solar are changing the world as we speak– to them, the question is, “why invest in this, when we have more profitable directions?”  And they have a point– solar powered charges for celphones and tablet computers are revolutionizing the economy of the third world, in a way that big centralized power stations likely wouldn’t.

 

But what does this mean for advocates of Polywell fusion or any other fusion technology?  It means we must accept that we are  energized and enthused, but the rest of the world may not be– and we must understand that they have some fairly good reasons for that.  Falling into the trap of assuming anyone who doesn’t agree with us is stupid and shouldn’t be engaged not only is disrespectful– but it runs the real risk of alienating the uncommitted.

Today, we must face the fact that the Polywell, like other new concepts, has to be effectively marketed to the public.  As a community, we cannot leave this to occasional magazine articles, that more often than not fail to effectively explain it, nor can we expect people who may never even have heard of Polywells to understand and uncritically accept why they should invest money in it.

 

Remember, that the greatest developments in American history have been in part due to engineering, but Ford, and Edison and Steve Jobs were also great salesmen. That’s what the Polywell community has to become.

 

 

Why we have enough money for Polywell and Other Fusion Attempts.

According to Vanity Faire, men and women spend over 17 billion a year on cosmetics. This was in 1986.  In 2008, the yearly cost was over 30 billion.

Note that I’m not picking on women here, this is just the first example that came to mind. You can put cigarettes (over 35 billion for the US alone), or fast food, or any one of a hundred luxuries.

the point is that the common claim as to why we cannot afford working on Polywell doesn’t hold water. We are not “too poor” to do so– the United States is wealthier than almost any other nation in history– compared to the disposable wealth we have, the greatest Roman emperor was a piker.

If you want to move to more government controlled sources of funding, consider that a single B2 costs over 2 billion– far more than would be needed to take the Polywell from test to prototype to production machine.  More importantly, the benefits of a functioning fusion system woudl far outweigh the benefits of a B2 (for one thing, it’d reduce our dependence on sources of energy that demand the use of said B2).

The problem is not money– it has never been money.  The problem is one of allocating money effectively and convincing the people that it is important to do so. In other words, the problem isn’t science– it’s politics and public opinion.

Kickstarting Fusion?

We all know that the Polywell prototype is going to cost roughly 200 million dollars to build.

How much is 200 million?

Not a lot.  Not a lot at all.  We’ll run some numbers– an average Mcdonald’s lunch costs about, oh say 5 dollars, or 10 dollars for two people.

 

About 30 million people at at Mcdonalds every day.   At five dollars per meal on average, that’s 150 million dollars.  Per day. Two days worth of McDonald’s food sales could pay for and more than pay for the Polywell prototype.

Americans spend billions per year on make up, food, movies, just about anything you can name, and do so even as the need for something like the polywell becomes more important every day.  And yet the polywell can be funded–without any hardship on the part of American, for the cost of a few fast food meals.

What makes this worse is that today, beyond almost any other time period in history, we have more tools to get to the people directly. Wiki, goodle, the internet– the days of only being able to communicate via expensive TV ads are over.

So let us assume a kickstarter style program manages to reach 10 million americans. Of them, one million provide 100 dollars each, over the course of the year.

You’ve just hit the half way mark– in one year.

In fact, the publicity almost writes itself: For the cost of two gallons of gas, you can free us from high energy prices– forever.

The problems of government funding or corporate funding have been spoken of for years.  Maybe the time has come to find another source– to go directly to the people. You might be surprised at what happens.

 

 

 

Why is there a sucker born every minute?

The E-cat fiasco isn’t that important from the view point of the pathological science it represents– that’s happened many times before and will likely happen many times later. But there is another question, one that is fairly important to the entire field of LENR.

But why are so many people jumping on the bandwagon?  I mean, a secret test, not letting scientists look at your magic box, a history of fraud and legal action…it’s right up there with offers to sell you a certain bridge or beach front property in the everglades.

Well part of the answer is that today, the number of people who are well educated, even to a layman’s standards in the hard sciences is not a very large number.  When trying to evaluate a scientific scam, after all, it’s wise to have at least some knowledge of science (though the opposite does apply– the layman should always be firmly aware that he is just that– and not an expert).

But most importantly, any layperson should remember, and remember firmly, that Great Claims Require Great Proof.  To say that you have invented a new process of fusion, one that produces no neutrons, or any other dangerous radiation, that produces megawatts of power, and does so with desktop equipment– that is a great claim indeed.

And the proof is not found in youtube displays, or magical clients that wish to keep their identity secret and seem to often vanish away, or forever be “just about” to show off their new power units.  It is found in the rigorous testing of these claims by people who are not the friends of the inventor, who infact have no interest in seeing him successful– or unsuccessful.  Who are simply interested in verifying “Was this event properly documented, and does it represent something new?”

Now, the true believers will immediately claim that the scientific conspiracy will work against them.  Beyond the question of whether such a conspiracy exists, that should spur advocates of new discoveries to more, not less, in the way of strict adherence to the measures predicted to convince even skeptics that something is occurring that cannot be explained by chemical or other known reactions.

Rossi’s “work” is in fact a text book example of how not to do it.  By this time, the lack of careful documentation and factual support of his claims points to pathological science at the best, fraud at the worst.   The mindless rush to excuse these failures, especially considering his history, does advocates of non-traditional fusion no favors, making it plain that once again, many have let their hopes run away with their skepticism.

The best way to deal with skepticism is not to excuse shoddy work– it is to be more critical and demand more proof.  Every advocate of alternative energy should be looking at claims and asking themselves : “What would a skeptic think?”  “If I was trying to disprove this, what would I seize as evidence that something wasn’t right?”

Excusing poor testing, or dicey claims, does the quest for alternative energies no good. It simply allows critics to point to those instances and argue that once again, we’re seeing a community that has allowed a laudable enthusiasm for a new source of energy run away with its ability to be skeptical and detached.

Don’t be that community.

E-cat– suddenly a website is proof?

http://ecatinfo.com/e-cat/breaking-e-cat-news-launch-of-ecat-com

 

The freshly launched online platform e-cat.com is here to showcase exactly that. It’s the first world website that accepts e-cat preorders. It’s filled with e-cat info about cold fusion and LENR, about e-cat home units and e-cat plants, about Andrea Rossi and his incredibly rewarding technology.

Well, that’s pretty impressive.  A website now becomes proof?  Especially a website that stands behind its product-

 

Er, no, no it doesn’t:

 

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Now remember children, the magic box supposedly has been ready to go, oh many times, but there have always been dastardly incidents keeping us from our era of TRUE! FREE! ENERGY!
I’d save your money– because I have a barely used bridge for sale, and I’ll even put up pictures on my website…any day now.