How Big of a Story is Cold Fusion?

I usually like to look at what people are saying on the vortex-l mailing list, because I find there is a lot of interesting discussion of cold fusion-related topics there, and some smart and well informed posters contributing. I was particularly struck with a post there by Jed Rothwell, who was discussing what really was on- and off-topic when it comes to discussions about cold fusion. He said in part:

Cold fusion is a broad subject. If we overcome the opposition and cold fusion energy is used, historians, sociologists, economists and others will eventually write thousands of books on this subject, trying to explain what happened, why it happened . . .

Cold fusion is the most important discovery in the recorded history of technology. Only a few prehistoric discoveries such as fire and domesticated animals outweigh it. It will revolutionize many aspects of daily life, and many other technologies. It will force us to rethink our attitudes toward science and research, funding for research, and our ideas about where technology originates, who gets the credit, and who should get the profits. It will change history; it will change the face of the earth . . .

Needless to say, if we cannot overcome the political opposition, or if Rossi and the other researchers continue to act as their Own Worst Enemies, then cold fusion will be a forgotten footnote to history, and we will continue to blunder our way to ecological disaster and world-wide poverty with existing energy systems.

Rothwell is one of the most well known figures in the community that takes cold fusion seriously. He owns and operates the LENR/ web site which is a library of research literature in the cold fusion field that goes back to its beginnings in 1989 with Pons and Fleischmann. In his estimation, this story is one of the most important that can be told, and yet no one here needs to be reminded of the reality that relatively speaking, very few people are paying attention to it.

The topic of media coverage comes up a lot in CF discussions. Why, if this is such an important topic. are we not learning about it in the press, or hearing about it on TV, radio and the big media web sites? Jed Rothwell seems to see fault in the researchers themselves, particularly Andrea Rossi. Rothwell, while strongly convinced that Rossi has presented proof in his demos of the validity of his technology, has criticized Rossi for the quality of his experiments, and for the way he carries out his business.

Rossi, for his part, is unapologetic for his secretive approach, saying he much prefers to work in peace than to have interested parties swarming around his workplace and bothering those he is working with. When asked recently whether he thought there was a media blackout on LENR technology, Rossi responded, “I think that we have to work and to make plants which work properly. The media articles are a consequence of what happens in reality. When our plants will be working in public sites the media will report the facts.”

Rossi’s approach makes sense. So long as his work remains hidden, there will be little media attention, and he will be left alone. When he has working products that can be examined by the public, then the media can start reporting — and help him with his marketing.

What about all the others who are doing work in the LENR field? As far as I know, no one as yet has working LENR products in the marketplace, and competitive instincts seem to keep people from disclosing much about what they are doing. Without disclosures or working devices, it is hard for the media to report on much, except for what people are saying.

I think Jed Rothwell may well be correct in his estimation of the importance of cold fusion’s place in the history of science. I believe there is plenty of evidence out there that the phenomenon is real. But I also understand the media’s reluctance to focus on the topic when there is so much about it that is either hidden, or not too convincing. I think that Andrea Rossi is right when he says that properly working products in the public domain will be the drivers of media attention. When that happens, I fully expect that LENR will begin to be recognized for the highly important story that it is.