Skip to comments.Cold Fusion Chemist Martin Fleischmann Dies at 85
Posted on 08/13/2012 8:03:05 AM PDT by null and void
British chemist Martin Fleischmann, who stunned the world by announcing that he had achieved nuclear fusion in a glass bottle, has died after a long illness. He was 85.
His son Nicholas said he died August 3, 2012, at his home in Tisbury, England. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease for many years.
Fleischmann was one of the world's leading electrochemists when he and partner Stanley Pons proclaimed in 1989 that they had sparked fusion, the nuclear process that heats the sun, in an experiment at the University of Utah.
The reaction they reported occurred at room temperature and appeared to give off little radiation, an enormous contrast to the still-ongoing quest to harness fusion by conventional means, in billion-dollar reactors at temperatures of millions of degrees.
The announcement in Salt Lake City raised the hope of a shortcut to fusion as a clean, renewable and cheap energy source. But, when other scientists rushed to replicate the achievement, most failed, and "cold fusion" was quickly labeled junk science. Physicists accused Fleischmann of incompetence and fraud.
He and Pons continued to work on and defend their findings, but they were disheartened by the way their work was ignored by scientists after the debacle of 1989.
"This has been a terrible experience," Fleischmann told German news site Telepolis in 2005. Research on "cold fusion" persists on the fringes of the scientific world.
Fleischmann was born in Czechoslovakia. When the Nazis occupied the country in 1938, the family fled to England. To gain legal status for the move, Fleischmann was adopted by a British bachelor.
He studied chemistry at the Imperial College in London, and became known for a strong grasp of mathematics and an imagination unusual for a chemist. He took over the chemistry department of the University of Southampton in 1967 and gave it an international reputation. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, Britain's Academy of Sciences.
After retiring from the university, he spent a lot of time in Salt Lake City, collaborating on experiments with his friend Pons, an American. Together, they decided to revive an idea Fleischmann had years ago. He had speculated that something interesting, perhaps a nuclear reaction, could be achieved by taking advantage of the peculiar behavior of hydrogen atoms infused in palladium, a precious metal.
Fleischmann was an "exploratory genius," said Michael Melich, a friend of Fleischmann and a research professor of physics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
I think Pons & Fleischmann will be vindicated, at least partly. There are low-energy nuclear fusion and fission reactions that will eventually become commercially viable. Maybe not the same reaction that purportedly occurred in their famous experiment, but I think it will happen commercially.
Perhaps he has fused with Heaven.
I have been following the work of this man and the mad rush that is on-going in the world to be the first to develop the technology that Martin Fleischmann dreamed of before anyone ever heard the term “cold fusion”. If you search the topic you could read the rest of your life on the published research on the topic. The vast majority of the research is however not published and is done by private organizations like “Toyota” and others who have discovered that there is indeed real science and value in the research.
I expect that the names of Ponds and Fleishmann will go down in history as the most famous names in science. Their names will be as well or perhaps more well known as Newton, Einstein, Bell, Edison, Farnsworth, William Shockley, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and any other famous scientist who discovered something that changed human progress forever.
The original coverage of their discovery was maligned by scientists who were receiving money for fusion research and didn’t want that money to stop. While Fleischmann didn’t live to see his efforts vindicated I hope Ponds does.
MIT and other research organizations said they were unable to re-produce the findings and results of the Ponds and Fleishmann but in reality they did reproduce the results and lied about it to keep their funding on “hot” fusion.
I find this subject to be very exciting and hope I live long enough to see it harnessed. If it does ever happen it will certainly be one of the greatest discoveries to be harnessed since fire.
I hope so. Petroleum is properly a precursor for paraffins, plastics, pesticides, pavement, pharmaceuticals and plant food...
If he had a PHD in physics, the replications of the work would maybe have succeeded.
..when an appropriate amount of time has passed, some future PHYSICIST will suddenly discover some obscure "anomalies" in the replication experiments which caused them to fail...
....and SHAZAM..... cold fusion will be here..."discovered" by a physicist, of course.
Indeed. IF it worked once, then it is possible.
Finding the subtle detail that made it possible may be a near impossible exercise.
I suspect some low level contaminant in the original palladium electrode might be acting as an essential catalyst, or that there is some physical/structural feature enabling fusion. Perhaps a detail of grain boundaries forces hydrogen into closer than normal contact?
I’m reminded of the near collapse of the silicone industry after WWII. All of the sudden it became impossible to get the reactions needed to form silicones.
Nothing had apparently changed, all the precursors were from the same vendors, made to the same specs, the silation processes were unchanged, the equipment was the self-same equipment that used to work.
After a couple years of frantic effort the culprit was finally found. The metallic silicon vendor had improved their process to produce silicon that was purer, it lacked the old levels of copper contamination...
Probably excess exposure to neutrons.
The Cold Fusion/LENR Ping List
He and Pons received considerable backing from Japanese sources throughout the 1990's yet they still couldn't come up with anything useful or defensible.
What about this other thing that someone was posting about for a while... the E-Cat:
Been done over and over. Many published replications exist today.
But in 1989, the physicists "jumped the gun" and started a bunch of experiments without waiting for P & F's published results. Examination of their experiments in light of what is known about LENR today shows both how and why they (NOT P & F) got it wrong. That is, except for the group at MIT that "did" reproduce P & F's results, but CHANGED THEIR DATA to show "no excess heat".
"Especially brand new findings that go against established knowledge."
Lots of things fit in that category that were later proven to be true.
"Besides, if you can't make it happen on demand, how can you hope to power the world with it?"
Getting it to "happen on demand" takes research, which takes money and people, which the hot-physics community has taken great pains to prevent LENR researcher from getting.
Over the intervening years, the success rate for electrolysis-based (P & F) type approaches has increased from 15% to around 75% today. Published and verifiable.
But electrolysis-based systems are IMO a dead end. Gas-loaded (whether deuterium or hydrogen) is proving to be much superior, but in energy density output and replicability.
At best cold fusion produces a few watts of heat after hours or days of loading, which for the most part is unsubstantiated in any case. Nobody wants to throw money at such a boring parlor trick that's been around since the 1920's and has produced nothing of economic or scientific value in all that time.
Japan and Utah invested several million dollars in the scam back in the 1990's but finally gave up due to reality taking hold.
RIP for a great experimental scientist.