Fusion: Moving From Hot to Cold

I was interested to read a letter to the editor in the Washington Post today written by former Princeton Plasma Physics Lab physicist, and now US Representative from New Jersey, Rush D. Holt in response to George Will’s recent Washington Post editorial urging support for the US fusion program.

Congressman Holt writes in favor of Will’s position on fusion, saying:

With strong, sustained investments in alternative energy sources such as fusion, we as a society could have a nearly limitless source of energy. Mr. Will mentioned that the race-to-the-moon space program had a military immediacy and a fire-in-the-sky glamour that kept the public’s and the government funders’ attention, but achieving practical fusion energy would be even more significant in terms of science, engineering and relevance to our quality of life. If we want to be true to the United States’ historical greatness, we must return the word “investment” to our political vocabulary, and we must commit to long-term investments in important programs such as fusion, as the United States used to do.

There has been plenty of scorn heaped on the field of LENR/cold fusion by proponents of hot fusion over the decades, but I can’t help thinking that at some point things will change if the case for LENR becomes undeniable. I can’t imagine that the entire physics community will be in a state of permanent hostility to LENR/CF. Surely honest, intelligent and well-trained scientists will be able to recognize the reality of a new discovery, and will want to get involved in understanding, exploring and developing a new field of research.

I wonder would a new realization would do to current national and international government programs? Would they adapt or disband to the new reality? Rush Holt speaks above about the importance of government investment in programs that would be able to enhance citizens’ quality of life. I would expect there would be a high level of interest and excitement from the public if LENR/CF is finally recognized as a viable and superior source of energy production, and if so, there will surely be a clamor for bringing it forward rapidly so it can make a real difference in people’s lives. If the key research and development is taking place in private industry will there be a place for government involvement — and what might that be?

There are far more questions than answers here, but I think it’s interesting to consider how a transition from hot to cold fusion might go.