More on Cold Fusion in Scientific American

The newly released Believers film has been mentioned already in Scientific American, and now it has been followed up with a longer article by Jennifer Ouellette titled “Genie in a Bottle: The Case Against Cold Fusion“, which provides a familiar critique. You don’t have to read too far to get an idea of what the tone of the article will be.

I can’t speak for the quality of the film, because I haven’t seen it, but as someone who has covered physics for (*cough*) going on 20 years, I well remember the controversy, and have followed it off and on over the years. So I readily admit to getting a little rant-y when I encounter insufficiently skeptical reportage on this topic. It’s prime ground for wishful thinking: who wouldn’t want a source of cheap, limitless energy? I sure do! But wanting something to be true isn’t the same as something actually being true in the rigorous experimental sense of the word.

Despite the developments that have been taking place recently that have been chronicled here and elsewhere, the narrative about cold fusion that most people hear from media sources they trust is that there really is nothing going on, and probably won’t ever be.

While I have a very different take on the whole field, I think I understand the author’s position given cold fusion’s history and its assessment by respected authorities. I really think that it’s just a matter of time (how long, I don’t know) before reassessment will take place, and then the idea of cheap limitless energy won’t be so far-fetched.

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