The following post has been submitted by Justin McCarthy
A lone inventor announced that he had an invention that would change the world forever. It involved heating up metal to extreme temperatures with some special gasses. It involved unknown reactions which the inventor couldn’t fully explain how it worked. When the invention turned on, a ton of extra heat came off, making the process dangerous and violent. He announced it would soon be available on an industrial scale.
A lot of other people tried to reproduce his inventive process, because they understood the world changing nature of his invention. Huge amounts of money were at stake here. They failed. A number of industrialists bought the licensing rights, and could not produce his effect, even with the inventor’s description and help. They declared him a fraud. He had taken their money, they couldn’t reproduce the effect, and they sued him in court. His name was vilified, and the press laughed at him.
He couldn’t explain accurately why it worked for himself, but failed to work for them. He continued to work on his technology, now scorned and labeled a fraud. He changed his technique of heating metal with special gas, and the nature of when he added and removed chemicals, trying to get to a repeatable process. He announced he had a new- better process, and would sell it to the highest bidder. It was better, more repeatable, and had a higher quality product.
The world declared him a fraud, and insisted his invention was impossible, and it defied the known laws of physics. He was known as a con artist. In frustration, he started his own company and began to create and sell the stuff himself.
The above is not the Rossi story- it is the story of Henry Bessemer, who invented the first technique for making steel in mass quantities. Before this, only cast iron was available which would fracture and crack in larger structures, killing those in boats, on trains, or in buildings which had exceeded the limits of the material technology.
Henry Bessemer brought about the beginning of the steel age, and forever changed the face of the modern world.
If we look at the history of Bessemer, we can see he began his experiments to improve the quality of steel in 1854, and in 1856 figured out the magic of blowing oxygen through the hot metal to oxidize impurities and remove them. This technology was not licensed in the United States until 1863, and was first demonstrated industrially in 1867. Andrew Carnegie came in and started investing, and the huge Iron Works called “Edgar Thomson Steel” began production in 1875.
We can see from this history, even with the world’s largest investors and backing, it took around 20 years from the first invention to the mass production of the technology. Similar to Rossi, they had numerous setbacks, and he had extreme difficulty gaining acceptance as something other than a fraud.
The Bessemer process was made obsolete in 1968 when a better process came along that offered finer control of the inner chemistry of steel.
Does history repeat itself? Possibly. It is certainly strange that more than one hundred years ago a similar saga played out, with the same stakes, the same lawsuits, and almost the same players.
Advances in technology are difficult to reproduce, and even more difficult when most of the world doubts they are possible. If history does repeat itself, we can say it will take around another 20 years for this to really be mass produced, as we are just beginning the lawsuit era over fraudulent claims, which happened to Bessemer around 1857.
Most of the above information came from “Stuff Matters” by Mark Miodownik. I highly recommend this book to any follower of cold fusion, as it talks about the difficulty of material technology and there are numerous stories that parallel that of the cold fusion saga. Also check out the following links: