“The Myth of Basic Science” (GreenWin)

The following post has been submitted by GreenWin

Today’s Wall Street Journal Review features a full page spread by (UK House of Lords member) Matt Ridley titled: “The Myth of Basic Science” (Link here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-myth-of-basic-science-1445613954). Ridley emphasizes the disruptive shift from institutional, tax-paid research to entrepreneurial innovation.

Speaking of years of government intervention and “forbidden tech,” Ridley observes: “The history of technological prohibitions is revealing. Ming Chinese prohibited large ships; the Shogun Japanese, firearms; the medieval Italians, silk spinning; Americans in the 1920s, alcohol.” Ridley does not mention onerous federal statutes like the U.S. Invention Secrecy Act of 1951. And while some prohibitions may actually defend national security, many simply defend industrial monopolies.

Ridley goes on to skewer the political structure and its dim support for the MIC: ”Politicians believe that innovation can be turned on and off like a tap: You start with pure scientific insights, which then get translated into applied science, which in turn become useful technology. So what you must do, as a patriotic legislator, is ensure that there is a ready supply of money to scientists on the top floor of their ivory towers, and lo and behold, technology will come clanking out of the pipe at the bottom of the tower.” This is the Wall Street Journal, not Buzzfeed, the Village Voice, or NPR’s All Things Considered.

Ridley continues on the history of innovation: “…You find again and again, that scientific breakthroughs are the effect, not the cause, of technological change. It is no accident that astronomy blossomed in the wake of the age of exploration. The steam engine owed almost nothing to the science of thermodynamics, but the science of thermodynamics owed almost everything to the steam engine. The discovery of the structure of DNA depended heavily on X-ray crystallography of biological molecules, a technique developed in the wool industry to try to improve textiles.”

The thrust of Ridley’s article demands we re-think innovation from the bottom up. He paraphrases Terrence Keeley, a biochemist turned economist: ”Technological advances are driven by practical men who tinkered until they had better machines; abstract scientific rumination is the last thing they do… It follows then that there is less need for government to fund science: industry will do this itself. Having made innovations, it will then pay for the research into the principles behind them. Having invented the steam engine, it will pay for thermodynamics. This conclusion of Mr. Kealey’s is so heretical as to be incomprehensible to most economists, to say nothing of scientists themselves.”

Herein lies the new paradigm exemplified by LENR/E-Cat/Brillouin/IH/SKINR/EM-drive,Tesla,TerraPower, Space-X, and dozens of innovative startups. The ivory tower had its day, and squandered it. We don’t need a cult of condescending priests to tell us how to innovate. The advent of LENR, EM-drive, time crystals, life on Mars, placebo, aerial phenomena etc. points the way. Sure, without theory we may stumble. But for centuries explorers have boldly gone into the unknown with little theory to protect them. I am confident we are returning to that
era. A time in which we practice the wisdom of Albert Einstein:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”


  • US_Citizen71

    I am not sure that we ever left the era of innovation by private industry. Governments may throw money at researchers and direct how it is used but by and large most innovation comes from the private sector. The government is responsible for creating the basis for the Internet but the true leap forward of its technology and use came after by the private sector for an example.

    • we want LENR Fusione Fredda

      The web, internet, is a powerful example. And it is a very recent development, which has spread over 10 years without comparison to any other technology. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
      Throughout history, information has been managed, hindered where deemed dangerous, by those in sacral or temporal power. We are all the product of our history, which includes cultures.
      Today, thanks to the freedom with which information is available, virtually anyone, having the possibility and the preparation, can create, confronting a discovery in real time with professionals who previously were impossible to reach for time or geographical reasons.
      It is interesting to watch how the majority of the internet user community will impose and/or demand limits to crimes and/or misuse of this wonderous tool. It shows, IMHO, how the number of minds applied to each research exponentially and dramatically improves the paradigm of collaboration, as well as the results.
      Darden’s interview underlines one of Greenwin’s points: “We’re not interested in or insistent upon perfection from a scientist.
      What I mean by that is, stuff might work. Stuff might not work
      sometimes. I don’t find failure to be very depressing. As I said in my
      talk, I’m a pilot; if you see any airplane fly, then airplanes fly.” (source: http://www.sifferkoll.se/sifferkoll/?p=60)

  • LuFong

    Matt Ridley among his list of hidden tech forgot to mention the current congressional restrictions on research into climate change and gun control among other things. I wonder why? Perhaps it is because he is a member of the British House of Lords and a conservative one as well. And that pretty much sums up the rest of his position as well.

    Science in its purest form does not exist for the sake of innovation. Science exists for the sake of understanding, driven by people who want to understand how the universe works. Sometimes this is motivated by technological issues sometimes not. That technological innovators can harvest scientific results happens frequently. Sometimes there is no science and the science has to be discovered but even then these innovators stand on the shoulders of the scientists that proceeded them as even Rossi will freely admit.

    Bill Gates made an interesting comment in the “Energy Miracle” post a few days ago. Of course it fell on deaf ears here but it bears repeating as it directly conflicts with Ridley and the conservative’s view on the role of government. While I don’t ascribe to this fully, I think there is much truth when Billl Gates said: “Yes, the government will be somewhat inept, but the private sector is in general inept. How many companies do venture capitalists invest in that go poorly? By far most of them.” Bill Gates gave as examples the fight against cancer and the initial effort to develop digital technologies as government successes. He mentions that a similar effort is required for Energy R&D. I have to repeat as well that Rossi, despite his denials, has been partially funded by the US government (and US taxpayer) when they bought his very first 1MW plant. There is no doubt that government expedites and technological innovation and that one cannot separate the two.

    While I welcome entrepreneurial efforts for basic scientific research as we see with Google, SpaceX, and countless less known efforts, don’t forget that the first customer of these companies frequently is the government. And with today’s powerful market based financing mechanisms, private enterprise is in much better position to finance science.

    Many of his examples Ridley gives are old. The complexity and pace of science is markedly different than it was 50 to 100 years ago. The world is no longer the same place it was 50 years ago. Sometimes change is required and old ways of doing things do not work. Science needs more funding not less. Science needs less government direction not more.

    • GreenWin

      “I have to repeat as well that Rossi, despite his denials, has been
      partially funded by the US government (and US taxpayer) when they bought
      his very first 1MW plant. “

      LuFong, has anyone in the US government confirmed it bought the very first 1MW E-Cat plant? If so, would you cite the source. We are generally aware the U.S. Navy has invested in some LENR research – but AFAIK, no person or government department has come forward. Most certainly not the agency overseeing energy, the befuddled DoE.

      Ridley provides historical examples of prohibitions and innovation to underscore today’s weaknesses. Of course the world is a different place. This only emphasizes the unproductive, anti-social results of basic science. For example, the most highly touted “discovery” in recent time seems to be the God Particle or Higgs boson. It won the Nobel Price! But have we any examples of the God Particle making our lives better? I hazard a prediction: Higgs will be superseded by yet another, more basic particle that will again be breathlessly declared, “The foundation of all matter.”

      • LuFong

        Rossi has said the military bought his plant on numerous occasions and shipping records indicate a US destination. Rossi’s has also indicated its use is experimental. I don’t think there is an issue here.

        The Higgs boson was predicted by theory and whose existence was confirmed (twice) by CERN. It is a fundamental particle, responsible for mass. If you don’t see the importance of this well there is no sense in discussing this. As to technological advances? I’m sure the CERN collider has spawn quite a few advances including HTML, the basis of the web. As to direct direct technological advances who knows, that’s for scientists and technological innovators to determine.

        As to Ridley, he is a conservative politician peddling a book in a conservative newspaper owned by his publisher and rehashing conservative notions attacking science and big government. Not much new here although I found his ideas of technology self-evolving to be interesting. But his basic strawman argument that the idea of science is necessary for technological advancement is wrong is just that, a strawman argument. Science begets technology and technology begets science.

        • GreenWin

          In other words you have no citation or authority so we assume this is unfounded rumor. Your claim that Rossi is partially funded by U.S. government is false. The evolution of LENR is largely due to the few, courageous researchers and scientists who continue to pursue it. LENR is certain to be of greater benefit to the human race than anything CERN has come up with.

          • LuFong

            Rossi said it was for military. You can look it up yourself.

            Pons and Fleischmann own work was partially funded by the Department of Energy.

            This is a waste of time.

  • Mats002

    Imagination only will be – eeh imagination. Knowledge (experience, facts) is also needed to innovate. Knowledge is yesterdays news and imagination bring the new touch, but TEST is what verify a good outcome, if any. Einstein is not famous for testing, sometimes I wonder if Einstein gets more credits than he deserve.

    LENR and EMDrive will give new experience and facts to be combined with imagination into new theories about our world.

    I agree with this articles message of cause and effect.
    Basic science is always one step behind innovation.

    • GordonDocherty

      “Basic science is always one step behind innovation.” As the article points out, this ordering of events is no accident.

  • Jarea

    I like that phrase: “The ivory tower had its day, and squandered it. We don’t need a cult of condescending priests to tell us how to innovate.”
    It describes exactly the mainstream science!

  • georgehants

    Morning GreenWin, I find myself pleasantly surprised after five years to at last have a topic page on the failures in science today.
    Most I think agree that Cold Fusion is only the tip of the iceberg in the complete failure of science to do any more than applied science in most areas, except today the Quantum boys who are having a great time open-mindedly Researching the unknown.
    The unknown is the only reason for science and scientists, those not open-mindedly Researching and looking for the unknown are just applied scientists not scientists and that distinction needs to be made clear.
    Some time ago I had a sad misguided highly qualified applied mathematician on page who was so out of touch with reality he was attacking and arguing that an applied mathematician was a mathematician.
    This person could not understand that only a guy who Researches the unknown in math is a mathematician, those using known maths have always been known throughout history as computers.
    According to the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology (Robert Barnhart, ed., NY: HarperCollins, 1995), computer came into use in English in 1646 as a word for a ‘one who computes’
    So your report leads as always directly to, what is to be done to change things for the better?
    Suggesting changing things so that our children can live in a better, fairer World seems strangely to lead to many personal attacks on myself.
    Perhaps your report will help some to respond positively.

    • GreenWin

      Thanks for your comments George. I thought you’d find the article interesting – coming from whom it does. I am encouraged by the emergence of “forbidden technology” like cold fusion, EM-drive, electric universe, etc. This suggests the change you pursue may well be underway, albeit unreported by the owners of media. It is also interesting that Ridley notes nations not subject to empire pursue the forbidden. Which is why we see India, China, Russia, even Japan officially supporting LENR.

      This is a very positive sign that certain vested interests (nations) are losing power to restrict technology. Were all restrictions lifted, we may find ourselves in a far more equitable and enlightened world.

      • georgehants

        Morning GreenWin, thank you, I like the possibility that “we may find ourselves in a far more equitable and enlightened world.”
        Our Russian friends have sorted out the Syrian problem in a few days with Assad, remove IS and then Assad must hold elections with all peaceful party’s participating. Assad has agreed.
        No more refugees.
        Unfortunately America does not want to play with the Russians to bring peace without an invasion and American dominance.
        The West has become worse than Rome at the end of their Empire, with crazed leaders destroying themselves and their people.
        Thank you and Admin for putting up this important topic, that surely is what this Website should be doing all the time, everything possible to change the crimes that have led to the Cold Fusion disaster.
        Fine having interesting pages of people guessing what Rossi et al are up to but very repetitive.
        You seem busy these days, I thought my new horse dung scented after shave was keeping you away, could not understand that as the advertising guaranteed that I would make a thousand new friends, mostly nubile young females instantly.
        Knowing the advertisers only have my welfare at heart I rushed out and bought half a dozen bottles.

        • GreenWin

          Dear George, I hope you refer to bottles of good red and not a male fragrance! One has life extension effect, the other, deleterious drama. 🙂

  • Bernie Koppenhofer

    Good Job GreenWin!!

  • Freethinker

    Greenwin, as always you serve up interesting stuff.

    Having a scientific background myself, however brief and insignificant it may be considered to be, I think I have seen both sides of the fence, from tinkerer to engineer, from idealistic young PhD student to the blasé professor. Also I think I have a fairly good understanding of the intellectual property processes on both sides, and a fairly good insight into scientific and engineering history.

    The world is not black and white. This goes for science and engineering as well. Of course there are good examples where tinkerers, entrepreneurs and engineers creating things that later turned out to be forming society on a broad scale, going there without theoretical science, instead giving birth to new such science. Likewise there are examples of theoretical constructs of science that we have struggled with making sense out of to further engineering and create new products.

    But I have a feeling that some commentators here think of these things in the black and white.

    Lets consider this. Corporations want to make money. All things are driven by the bottom line, even the most long laid plans. Corporations depend on the PEOPLE in their workforce to be skilled and well trained. Some of the skills and the training they get by the corporation and by experience for many years in their care, but there is a prerequisite level that they expect from people joining them, unless they are prepared to also school them from an early age. In terms of economics, the latter seem to be a high risk endeavor. For schools to give a good education, teachers need be knowledgeable, and especially critical that would be on the university level, where the chaff is separated from the wheat, and in depth knowledge is obtained by the students. For that knowledge to be of importance it need be cutting edge. For it to be cutting edge, you need to have teachers who are on the cutting edge. Hence, it is advantageous if those teaching PhD students themselves are in fact doing science and breaking new ground. I should say, too. Because, it is equally important that the PhD’s leaving academia come out in industry to also break new ground.

    Further: Driven by what is projected to be revenues, using NDA’s, law suits and other even darker suppressive means, will make sure that deep knowledge is well hidden, at least as efficiently as by the priesthood of the ivory towers and governmental paranoid departments who see an enemy at every corner. Competing tech is bought up, and put into the vault, never to see the day of light. That has been seen many times.

    It is a symbiotic relationship between two concepts with different driving mechanisms. Or so it should be. But both must behave, be kept clean and uncorrupted.

    Also please do differentiate between theoretical science, empirical science, and applied science, as they all do have merit. As George does, belittle the mathematician, because he consider himself to be a mathematician doing applied mathematics, is wrong. A computer is one that crank out numbers, and an applied mathematician is someone who take the general formalism from a branch of mathematics and apply it to a different field, either in mathematics, but more often to another field of science of technology, hence helping that area to push further. It is no less science and is, to my understanding, not less of a daunting task, requiring deep insight in more than one field, than what face a theoretical mathematician striding with ground breaking general formalism.

    • georgehants

      Freethinker, agree with much of your comment but am sure that most people are well aware the World is not “black and white” and very rarely imply so.
      One must start with the most obvious Facts and that means it is impossible to include every flavour of every wine in a conversation about alcohol which can lead to the mistaken idea that knowledge of wine is restricted.
      On your point regarding the different professions of scientists and applied scientists I do not in any way belittle the importance of either, I simply Factually explain that they are different professions just as a bricklayer and his labourer are different.
      Both are important and necessary but it is only the bricklayer that creates the new observable construction, no matter if he uses a modern computer or a human applied mathematician.
      An applied scientist who in any way works to find the unknown, becomes a scientist.
      Misplaced ego is out of place in any situation.
      This is a Fact that has been glossed over in science and mathematics.
      As you seem to say it is education that is most important and must be radically overhauled, I think that again is a self-obvious Fact, with all incapable and incompetent teachers being removed as quickly as possible.

    • GreenWin

      Freethinker, pardon the late reply to your thoughtful comment. I agree with re to education that teachers of PhD students should be themselves engaged in state of the art studies or research. But does this not limit our educational system to those “approved” by NSF, consensus, government etc. funding?

      A good example would be Dr. Peter Hagelstein of MIT who has been inappropriately restricted in access to funding for LENR research. Hagelstein’s case is due to his refusal to accept consensus physics or, more disturbing, demands of the military industrial complex. Read Charles Beaudet’s account of corruption at MIT for details: http://www.amazon.com/Excess-Heat-Research-Prevailed-Edition/dp/0967854830

      I also refer you to the insightful work of Dr. Henry Bauer’s, “Dogmatism in Science and Medicine” as reviewed by Ron Westrum: http://bit.ly/1WsHGPD

      “A knowledge monopoly is a school of thought whose powers are sufficient
      to crush dissent. Many means are used to reinforce the dominant
      perspective. If research is to be done, that research must support the
      dominant perspective. Research that does not support the dominant
      perspective is seen as incompetent. Since deviant research is
      suppressed, the dominant perspective’s views appear obvious and

      “Deviant research?” Is there such a thing outside the immorality of Mengele? Hagelstein seeks funds to reveal humanitarian benefit from alternative energy. Dr. Bauer points to the grave defects in the dominant perspective. I suggest these defects are the work of condescending self-appointed priests who believe they wield dominion over humanity. Nothing is further from truth.

      Andrea Rossi and his E-Cat is but one expression opposing dogmatism and knowledge monopoly. EM-drive, electric universe, time crystals, over-unity, Göbekli Tepe, morphic resonance etc. all challenge the “consensus” to think and act with a broader, more humanitarian vision.

  • Gerard McEk

    Long time ago scientists had the possibility to investiage aynthing they wanted. They had money of their family or perhaps, because their brilliancy was proven and the autorities or wealthy people were prepared to invest in them, with no sight on any result. Nowadays everything must have a purpose and lead to profit to the investors, especially in the capitalistic countries: Applied science. Any development that could jeopardize the wealth of the investors are not wanted and lobby groups will oppose. This has lead to the situation that ‘real science’, based on curiosity is dead. I hope that will change when Rossi proofs that this is wrong with an Ecat that works undoubtely.

    • georgehants

      Gerard, unfortunately by choice or necessity Mr. Rossi is caught up in your capitalistic trap, leading again to completely unnecessary delays in the open Research and implementation of this World changing technology.
      Sad days

      • Mats002

        George, you have a point about that but also consider that without the private capitalistic endavour of Mr Rossi, LENR would still be in the shadows without the hope of today.

        Then again, in a total non-capitatlistic world, Mr Rossi might have been doing his innovation anyway. But that world do not exist.

        The best we can do is go seek the truth ourselfes. In today’s world some money would help that endavour.

        • georgehants

          Mats, understood completely, I am of course fully aware of the restriction and impossible trap that capitalism puts in all areas of life, on everybody, turning them into in many cases unwilling slaves to the system of nothing but self servers, then we have those lucky enough to be born with the proverbial silver spoon or the clever ability to manipulate the system to their own selfish ends.
          As you say in a World without capitalism we would still have those many people who’s motives are the welfare of all and they should be well rewarded, but only sensibly.
          The change to a fair honest system must start somewhere and I am always looking for anybody or anything to get the ball of change rolling.

      • Gerard McEk

        Yes, it is sad that Rossi lives in the capitalistic world and if he wants to live, he needs money. Maybe if he would not had to fight against the corrupt Italian community, he would have been rich and wouldn’t have needed capital of others. The question is though, would he have started his seach for LENR if he would have been rich? Is his aim to become rich or to do something for humanity, or both? It all depends on individual, community and many other factors if something blossoms, not just of the community in which you live. I am happy that for Rossi the factors were such that he invented the Ecat and let us hope that this leads to a LENR breakthrough soon.

  • Zephir

    The “basic research” represents brake of actual progress long time already.
    Even Ernest Rutherford – a discoverer of atom nuclei – had fought
    against cold fusion and transmutation experiments and he destroyed
    carrier (and research) of multiple scientists with his stance.

    In 1922, Wendt & Irion, two chemists at the U of C, reported
    the results of relatively simple experiments that consisted of exploding
    tungsten wires with a very large current pulse under a vacuum inside of
    flexible sealed glass “bulbs.” A huge scientific controversy erupted
    because Wendt & Irion claimed to have observed the presence of
    anomalous helium inside the sealed bulbs after the tungsten wires were
    blown, suggesting that transmutation of hydrogen into helium had somehow
    occurred during the “disintegration of tungsten.”

    After announcing their results at a regional American Chemical
    Society meeting held at Northwestern University in Evanston, widespread
    global media coverage in the form of breathless newspaper headlines
    about “transmutations of elements” triggered a response from the
    existing scientific establishment in the form of a very negative
    critique of Wendt & Irion’s work by Sir Ernest Rutherford that was
    promptly published in Nature. Sadly, Rutherford resoundingly won the
    contemporary debate; he was believed. Wendt & Irion, mere chemists
    and comparative nobodies from the University of Chicago, were not. They
    were crushed by the withering blast from Rutherford. After 1923, Wendt
    and Irion abandoned their exploding wire experiments and turned to other
    lines of research. Sadly, Gerald Wendt died just a few years later;
    Irion then left the University of Chicago to teach chemistry at a small
    Midwestern college. No other researchers at Chicago continued their line
    of inquiry.

    • The problem is not “vested interest” but academic conservatism, even the one one previous revolutionary who endured similar opposition.
      The man who insulted the inventor of quasicristals, was himself one who was insulted by his peers when younger.
      the one who ridiculed the idea of Laser, was himself ridiculed.

      I’m sorry, but problem is not money.
      sometime money helps, when it push crazy greedy or mostly ambitious guys, to fund somethig forbiden like LENR.

      the problem is not basic science vs capitalisme.

      it is academic conservatism, small money by government funding, peer review, careers…
      big money on the opposite goes either to shor term investment, or to crazy disruptive ideas.

      there is anyway a problem with disruptive innovation, because when a skunkwork team have found, like Kodak, a crazy disruptive innovation, the boss may say “please wait we have make as much money as possible with past innovation, or that our competitors enter the new market”.

      This is where strategies like the one of LENR-Cities are useful.

      Proble is not capitalism, it is crony capitalism and state money, because both are conservative.

      there is an exception, with militaries.
      They have practical problems, dire needs to innovate, terrible competitors, so they can innovate like any greedy capitalist, to save their blood.
      Another exception is crazy projects, like Apolo or a war. thos eprojects are not rational, but they put pressure on technology to solve problems. No conservatism is tolerated there.

      the problems with basic science, is not it is basic (greedy capitalist can wait for decades like cats waiting for the mouse), it is that it is academic.

      basic science works well in government grant when it is to go somewhere predictable, probably useless, with known need, known budget, and no risk.
      If there is risk, even positive risk, it does not work.

      • Omega Z

        It’s not actually crony capitalism.
        It’s cronyism. Period. It is through out society.
        If you want to be a movie star, you best have a family member who already is. Otherwise, you may spend you life as a dishwasher.

        Much of society is about who you know and not what you know.
        Become President in the U.S. and you have 28K people to appoint to be head of agencies. Friends, Family & Acquaintances(FFA). Who intern determine who to fire & hire(FFA). Then when there is a problem, No one is qualified to fix it. The only jobs where you’ll find people who know what they are doing is Jobs that(FFA) didn’t want.

  • Mark Underwood

    MIC = Military Industrial Complex

  • Mike Henderson

    Modern pharma companies will never give us a pill that fixes obesity. They make too much money providing pills for second-order effects like diabetes, blood pressure, depression, …

    The invisible hand doesn’t work, either.

    • Omega Z

      It should be stated that Big pharma will never give us a pill that fixes obesity. Your correct in that they have a vested interest of the status quo. However, It could come from some obscure privately funded lab. They have a vested interest in profits from an untapped market..

      Welcome to the free market system. Due to the possibility of a competitor producing such a product, Big pharma will invest into the research of a pill that fixes obesity. You know, there is already a cure for obesity. It’s called physical activity. If you take calories in, you need to expend them. This cure has many benefits that improve health without nasty side effects of a pill.
      As to the established oil, coal, and power interests. If they had the key, they would sell LENR energy. These companies sell product. They don’t really care what that product is as long as they have one to sell. There’s many Corporations that sell product today that has nothing to do with what they sold decades ago.

      There are several Oilco’s that have investigated/researched LENR. They were merely not able to produce anything beyond small amounts of excess energy. LENR hangs on tight to it’s secrets.
      Elon Musk merely saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor. An area where he is on equal footing with the Big auto industry. That means he is also faced with the same constraints.

      Waiting for someone to produce cheaper more efficient electric motors and lighter cheaper higher energy dense battery technology. There’s also the need for new factories to build all them as well as a greatly expanded electrical energy infrastructure, Decades in the making.

  • Owen Geiger

    Check out The Truth About Cancer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqJAzQe7_0g

    • Skip

      You beat me to it. Thanx for posting this…

  • Brokeeper

    I just upvoted the “Recommended” vote just above the first comment. It is nice.

    • bachcole

      Thanks. I did it. (:->)

  • Daniel Maris

    For those who don’t know, Ridley was educated at the hyper-elitist Eton College, a bastion of the anti-science bias in British society, and moves in the circles of the super-rich. Moreover he is no friend of alternative energy options (from Wikipedia):

    “Ridley is a forthright proponent of fracking.However he has been found to have breached the Parliamentary Code of Conduct by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards for failing to disclose in debates on the subject personal interests worth at least £50,000 in Weir Group,which has been described as, ‘the world’s largest provider of special equipment used in the process’ of fracking.” “

    • Roland

      This minor caveat is reflective of the role of corporations using Canadian, and other’s, universities research labs as their lapdogs in the name of economizing the cost of maintaining the institutions. Less and less basic science, more and more NDAs muzzling researchers ability to share information and findings, more and more burying of results, to our general detriment, that confound corporate agendas.

      While academia has often served to suppress unconventional ideas corporately funded research at universities does nothing to counter this insidious trend.

  • GreenWin

    Many thanks to those who have commented. I thought Ridley’s article reflective of the E-Cat’s struggle for acceptance – particularly by government and academic science. While some LENR has benefited from a modicum of military funding, since Pons and Fleischmann it has remained an underfunded pursuit of the private sector.

    To address a few of the comments: Ridley is a scientist with a PhD in zoology from Oxford, a Fellow of the Academy Medical Sciences and Royal Society of Literature. He is arguably a product of the ivory tower he castigates. Ad hominem attack is typical of narrow minded views that have retarded LENR/cold fusion research these past twenty five years.

    Neither Ridley nor I suggest leaving all innovation to the private sector – rather, do not prohibit research outside the dogma of basic science. This is a “less myopic government” approach that spreads tax revenue across a broader base of research. As Zephir points out we have too many instances of dogma crushing legitimate curiosity into anomalous effects. And we have the oft-cited failure of the hot fusion boondoggle (currently ITER) which has spent hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds producing no useful energy. It is fair I think to cite fusion is a prime example of ivory tower failure.

    Perhaps worse is Time Magazine’s sleight-of-hand inclusion of Industrial Heat with alternative hot fusionists. Nothing is further from truth. There are some in the towers who refuse to acknowledge their failures. Instead, they craft a new tale casting themselves as pioneers and keepers of the Grail.

  • GreenWin

    Bill, I don’t think Ridley criticizes education. Clearly, many startups are initiated by graduates with innovative ideas. And not all education is publicly funded. If I recall, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start his software business.

  • Omega Z

    80% of innovation comes from outside academia and is done with no government help.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    And how much of this “basic research” is a decoy to distract us from real discoveries

    (like the TT Brown effect). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifEgGMFK-VU

  • GreenWin

    National labs are publicly funded. Always will be. Along with myriad agencies such as EPA, NOAA, NNSA, etc. Mark, you should meet our old friend “Quax” aka Henning Dekant. Though his website is defunct – he was once a vocal mallard on LENR. Thanks for your comments!

  • Ridley’s article is not bad. Kevin Kelly’s ‘What Technology Wants’ that he quotes is my favourite book describing the evolution of technology and life as pieces of a larger puzzle. I guess Ridley’s upcoming book “The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge” is based partly on it.
    The fact that innovations mostly are made in private companies while governmental innovation funding goes to academic institutions is a well known discrepancy, and often discussed, at least in Sweden. And Kelly’s/Ridleys picturing innovations as something that seeks its inventor is reinforcing that view. Furthermore, the digital society with internet will accelerate this process further since more ideas are connected, and faster all over the world.
    It seems, however, that academic research is better at finding and building the theories behind inventions made through trial and error, and I believe this will be the case also with LENR. What Ridley possibly misses out is that private companies use those theories to develop their innovations further. This might not be seen when measuring the outcome from research funding, since the results occur in private companies, but it’s extremely important, and will be so also in LENR – only when there’s a clear theoretical understanding of LENR, effective development of a variety of LENR based technologies will be possible.
    Another detail that Ridley misses out, when mentioning e.g. the environmentally problematic shale gas technology, and that Kelly emphasises, is that humanity still has an important role to shape and ‘raise’ technological innovations, even if we cannot stop them from occurring.

    • Omega Z

      80% of innovation comes from outside academia. There’s an understandable reason for that.

      Academic- Life’s great, why change it.
      The Masses- Life’s miserable, I need to find a better way.
      You can be sure it was the guy digging ditches by hand who dreamed of a machine that he could operate to do it.

      • good point.

        note that comfortable life is sometime good for some boring job that money will not do, like measuring all…

        One big competence of academic that nassim Nicholas taleb noticed is the ability to write history where they have done the job.


        • Note that I have been very negative in the previous answers.
          there is some good side, under some condition with riskless life like tenured academic.
          the problem is that there is a negative change since few decades, with too much risk.

          when you have a riskless life, like was Lavoiser and his tax job, like Eisntein as patent officer, or F&P as retired (Fleischmann) or wealthy (pons), you can take crazy risk to get great achievement .

          this is the “barbel” strategy as Taleb explain :
          have very safe foundation for your wealth/happiness, and take crazy risk that cannot destroy the safe part.

          but there is conditions.
          first there should be no negative consequence from your risk of failure. This is no more true for academic, especially the young, who can have a career ruined , no chance of peer review, of funding, of political influence.

          In fact current dependence of scientists on political opinion and money should cast much doubt on any consensus, and even on results.
          People here moan on “money”, but academic money mean fraud and bias.
          Money does not make engine that explode, convincing.
          Money make stupid theory, a consensus in academic domain.

          another condition for crazy research to be done by “protected people” (retired, rich, tenured, Nobel) is that you have enough resource to do them (competence, money, INFORMATIONS).
          if funding is blocked and you cannot self-fund, if you cannot hire competence because they are afraid, if you cannot read good papers because peer review is blocked…
          even if you have a safe job, you cannot study cold fusion , EmDrive or solar climate seriously.

          so safety is good if it allows you to take risk.

          the problem today is that the incentive are anti-innovation.
          you are punished for failure and even for dissidence, more than thanked for success.

          this is not true in the industry, where there is more and more “senior fellows” executives who have a budget they can spend on finding alien invasion, if they find it credible, because they have been hired to be innovative, and the boss know he will not be fair.

          this is why senio fellow research in private sector (skunkwork,!) is often more innovative.
          Nasa was so, but organization like Nasawatch or GSVIT are very toxic for innovation.
          basically any control , beside hiring a good guy, and limiting budget to reasonable share, is evil.

    • GreenWin

      Thanks for your comments Mats. You make a good point noting academic theory will follow invention. Theory leads to engineers improving the invention. Indeed this is how much of the 19th-20th century industrial revolution evolved.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    For what it’s worth, I had a fortune cookie that said:

    “Accident is the mother of invention.”

    But this reminded me that actually, in the case of F&P a theory (right or wrong) did precede the discovery. It took weeks of charging the cathode before the effect was seen. Yet, there are some in hindsight who flatter themselves by suggesting that F&P’s approach was somehow unsophisticated because of the replication difficulties (similar to the first transistors).