Michael C.H. McKubre*
November 12, 2014
This is a brief and personal report of my recent visit to Norway. Somewhat out of the blue in May 2014 I was invited to Norway by a man I did not know, Nils Holme, with the following request: “Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences (NTVA) and The Norwegian Society of Graduate Technical and Scientific Professionals (Tekna) have appointed a program committee for a half-day seminar on LENR to be held in Oslo in November this year. I am honored to chair the committee, and I am writing to ask if you would be willing to give a presentation at the seminar.” My first inclination was to decline. Norway is a long way away from anywhere I would likely be at that time, and, like the U.S., Norway is energy rich—awash with North Sea oil—a seemingly unlikely candidate as a research partner in LENR. Nonetheless, the credibility and relevance of the Nordic countries has been greatly enhanced recently by the activities of Mats Lewan, Hanno Essén and the late Sven Kullander in their pursuit and technical due diligence of Andrea Rossi’s technology. Powered by curiosity and personal vanity (“The program committee feels strongly that your contribution would indeed strengthen the seminar and the credibility of our message. We really hope to see you in Oslo!”), a date was set, November 5, 2014, which happened to coincide with the 36th anniversary of my employment at SRI—the only job I have ever held.
My host, Nils Holme, met me at the Oslo airport with the sign “LENR” and transported me to my hotel. In the 45-minute drive and during the next day in a delightful tour around inner Oslo it became very clear that Nils was an extremely sincere and capable person with a very serious purpose. [Nils’ education was in Nuclear Engineering. He has broad engineering experience and was formerly head of Norway’s Defense Research Establishment.] As an added and unexpected bonus, one of the speakers on the program for November 5 was Hanno Essén and Nils and I met Hanno for dinner on November 4. I was very curious to meet the man and quiz him further about his experiences with Rossi. Since I had just completed a somewhat critical review for Infinite Energy (#118, also online) of Essén et al.’s recent report of the 31-day Rossi “Lugano” test, I wondered what my reception would be. I should not have worried. Hanno turned out to be an extremely solid scientist—skeptical about almost everything (as is appropriate for the past Chair of the Swedish Skeptics Society) but very well grounded, decent, honest and forthright. On the whole our dinner meeting was very encouraging. I asked Hanno what he thought of my IE review of their paper and he said, “I thought it was fair.” I thought, “You can’t do better than that”…
The half-day seminar the next day was a real pleasure to attend and participate in. The format was unusual. There were four speakers, two Swedes, one Norwegian and me. The Swedes [Sten Bergman of Stone Power AB, formerly of ABB, and Hanno Essén of the Department of Mechanics, KTH, Stockholm] spoke in Swedish, the Norwegian [Øystein Noreng, an economist with a broad and impressive background including Professor of the Norwegian Business School] spoke in Norwegian and I spoke in English. The audience, about 60 people of mixed backgrounds and interest and an essentially capacity crowd, followed the transitions with aplomb. With the help of Google Translate I was pretty much able to follow the slides along. Sten Bergman spoke about the LENR field from an energy industry perspective, Hanno Essén spoke about his experience with the various Rossi replications, I spoke about the 25 year history of cold fusion/LENR/CMNS at SRI, and the up-to-date status of Brillouin Energy’s latest technical progress, and Øystein Noreng spoke about economic and other challenges of bringing any kind of LENR technology to the marketplace. Following the talk the four speakers formed a panel steered by Nils Holme. In general I have found panel discussions to be somewhat vacuous and given the language issue I was not all that hopeful. I need not have worried. The panelists were logical, well informed, informative, succinct and coherent. Nils obviously has done this sort of thing before and steered us very professionally.
Towards what, you might ask? It was really only during the panel that the purpose fully emerged. Why was I there? NTVA and Tekna had formed a committee, organized a symposium and invited participants with a specific purpose in mind. As I noted above, the economy of Norway is underwritten to a very large degree by the adventitious presence of oil and gas off their coast. Their civil society has become reliant on something that did not require a lot of work from most citizens. The question of course is what happens when the oil runs out or, unthinkably, what could happen if an alternative primary energy source were to become competitive with oil and gas as fuels? The far-sighted Scandinavians, both Nations and Corporations, are looking to hedge against this possibility. It would seem that at least some realize that the only way they can stay fully informed of developments is by becoming engaged. Scientists are very reluctant to sell their hard won ideas even for cash and would much rather collaborate with fellow scientists in an exchange of ideas. This is how we progress. What was being attempted here in Oslo was an educational exercise (unknowingly) to counter the seeds strewn at the APS meeting of May 1, 1989, that had poisoned the minds of educators and researchers alike. The object was to inform the possibility that Martin Fleischmann was right (and, by implication, Randy Mills, Mel Miles, Francesco Piantelli, Les Case, Yoshio Arata, Andrea Rossi, Tadahiko Mizuno, Defkalion, Brillouin and a host of others afterwards). I believe what my hosts would like to see is at least one active, productive research project established in a Nordic country (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark) that would allow this community to “pay to play” in the LENR/CMNS world and thus be prepared for any sudden advances. A secondary purpose would be to train young people to be the next leaders of any ensuing technology.
This is a reasonable and rational approach that I certainly support. Let me say that more strongly. Any major country or company that does not engage now, or soon, runs a serious risk of missing the start of the revolution and being trampled. That is not to say that I know that LENR will contribute significantly to primary power generation in any form in the near future, or that I know how. But having studied the field closely now for more than 25 years (more than 35 years if you count our earlier studies of the Pd-D system for other reasons), nothing I know stands as significant impediment to this achievement, and the hoped-for goal of the “good guys” appears to be rapidly approaching. For a long time now corporations have been “lining up to be second” — afraid of the stigma, afraid to be left behind, but with insufficient courage to go first.
With this in mind the Norwegian strategy of “hedging” seems to be entirely appropriate with no risk attached and very little cost associated. In the worst case young people can be trained in relevant disciplines of physical sciences and physics that will have high value in a wide range of applications and implementations. In the best case Norway, Sweden and whichever Nordic country chooses to be involved can position themselves to be at or near the front of the coming wave.
I would gratefully like to thank my hosts Nils Holme, Hans Haakon Faanes and Bjørn Borgaas, and my fellow presenters and panelists Sten Bergman, Hanno Essén and Øystein Noreng for intensely interesting discussion and the opportunity to experience a beautiful new city and part of the world. Stay tuned.
 Much more significantly, November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day, my favorite celebration growing up as a child in New Zealand and to this day. Guy Fawkes was a Roman Catholic dissident. On that date in 1605 Guy Fawkes planted sufficient gunpowder in the basement of the English Parliament to blow the place sky high (see the movie “V for Vendetta”). He was caught, captured, tortured and sentenced to be hanged drawn and quartered. For some reason he is strongly celebrated in the British Commonwealth with fireworks and the burning of the “Guy” — Mr. Fawkes in effigy. This presumably was as a salutary warning against attempts to overthrow the establishment but some say that Guy Fawkes was the only person to enter Parliament with the right idea. The date seemed perfect for the start of a mini-revolution.
 A conspicuous exception is my old friend Sidney Kimmel who did have the courage to go first, possibly too early, but possibly let down by a rather stodgy research mentality and insufficient pursuit of the unique understanding of Energetics.
*Dr. Michael McKubre is Director of the Energy Research Center of the Materials Research Laboratory at SRI International. He received B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry and physics at Victoria University (Wellington, New Zealand). He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Southampton University, England. Dr. McKubre joined SRI as an electrochemist in 1978. He is an internationally recognized expert in the study of electrochemical kinetics and was one of the original pioneers in the use of ac impedance methods for the evaluation of electrode kinetic processes. Dr. McKubre has been studying various aspects of hydrogen and deuterium in metals since he joined SRI in 1978, the last 25 years with a close focus on heat measurements. He was recognized by Wired magazine as one of the 25 most innovative people in the world. Dr. McKubre has conducted research in CMNS since 1989.