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infinite energy

"Cold Fusion Night at the Movies"
(Originally Published July-August, 1999 In Infinite Energy Magazine Issue #26)
by Eugene Mallove
Some 250 to 300 souls made their way on May 26 to a large ballroom in the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Marriott Hotel to experience "Cold Fusion Night at the Movies"--the Boston-area premier showing of two frontier films, both with cold fusion themes. On a clear, bright evening, beginning at about 6:00 p.m., the elegant room began to fill with area students, a scattering of professors from MIT and elsewhere, cold fusion and new energy researchers, New England-area Infinite Energy subscribers, and cognoscenti of New England-area film-making.

The venue was at the very perimeter of the sprawling MIT campus. Not on campus, mind you, but at its edge; in the past we had had quite enough of hurdles and problems associated with having anything so heretical and threatening to the MIT establishment as discussions of cold fusion. It was easier to simply rent a room at the very accommodating Marriott Hotel. Seating was provided at no additional cost for 600 (beyond the nominal target of 400), in the event an overflow crowd arrived. The organizers were even prepared to run a second showing, had there been a standing-room-only crowd, with a line of folks queuing up who could not get in.

Shown successively on a massive, imposing 9 x 12 foot rear projection screen draped in blue were MIT Professor (retired) Keith Johnson's 90-minute techno-thriller Breaking Symmetry and Infinite Energy's own 70-minute video documentary, Cold Fusion: Fire from Water. Both films were projected at high-luminosity from digital tapes. The stereophonic sound system was of Bose components. From a booth inside, Infinite Energy's staff sold books, magazines, and the newly-packaged video. This may well have been the first time in film history that both a documentary film and a fictionalized film treatment bearing on the subject of the documentary were shown on the same venue near the time of both films' debuts.

Posters in the hallowed halls of MIT and in stores and film-oriented niches in the Boston area had for some weeks advertised this "Cold Fusion Night" event. One imagines the dismay or glee of the naysaying MIT professors who might have glanced at the numerous posters that read:

"Enjoy an unprecedented Cold Fusion film double-header with this Boston area premier presentation of works by MIT Professor Keith Johnson and distinguished MIT alumnus Dr. Eugene F. Mallove."

"Professor Johnson's feature length thriller Breaking Symmetry will entertain as surely as Dr. Mallove's documentary, Cold Fusion: Fire from Water, will educate on this controversial and often misunderstood field. Please join us for an evening of fun and enlightenment!"

The admission fee was a bargain (certainly by Star Wars standards) --only $5.00, with free admission for students with college ID's.

Cold Fusion: Fire from Water had earlier (April 29) been introduced to an audience in the Washington, DC-area at the Bethesda, Maryland Conference on Future Energy. Producer-Director Christopher Toussaint of Free Spirit Productions then had introduced this video to the receptive and appreciative audience.

Some of the lead actresses and actors in Professor Johnson's movie attended "Cold Fusion Night," as did some of those who had worked hard on the film. Prof. Johnson and his architect wife Franziska Amacher (a co-producer of the film) had returned only the day before from the Cannes Film Festival in France. There Breaking Symmetry had been showcased. Distribution in the U.S. for Breaking Symmetry is still being negotiated as are foreign distribution rights. Professor Johnson has expressed some interest in the home video market, but he is more attracted to the idea of theater distribution first.

Unlike Breaking Symmetry, anyone can today purchase Cold Fusion: Fire from Water and view this documentary in the comfort of their home. Both films touched, in small part, on the delicate matter of fudged data in a 1989 cold fusion experiment performed by an "Institute" in the Boston area. In Cold Fusion: Fire from Water, the allegation is explicitly tied to the MIT Plasma Fusion Center Group's farcical experiment that was only analyzed (and fudged to look "null") after a "Wake for Cold Fusion" party had been held (see IE issue No. 24.) Though Johnson's film mentions such fudging and, in fact, depicts the very fudged curves that Eugene Mallove had revealed, the setting of his story is at a famous Boston area "Institute." His self-funded production was shot both at Boston's Wentworth Institute of Technology and in the surrounds of MIT-- so it is not clear which "Institute" is referenced, even as a fictionalized locale. However, it must be said that Wentworth has no fusion laboratory, to my knowledge!

Dr. Mitchell R. Swartz of the Cold Fusion Times attended "Cold Fusion Night," bringing with him an armload of his newly published book, Fusion and Other Nuclear Reactions in the Solid State: Vol. 2. Calorimetric Complications. This excellent work, replete with revealing color graphics, deals with the contested MIT PFC calorimetry experiment of 1989. In his book, MIT graduate Dr. Swartz states of the key offending MIT PFC published figure, "The graph should be retracted because of its prolonged--and unwarranted--negative impact on science and engineering in the United States of America."

Some interesting background to all this: When MIT Prof. Keith Johnson asked for a response to his request to film Breaking Symmetry on the MIT campus, his requests were totally ignored by the MIT authorities --even though the MIT News Office and an aide to MIT President Vest had been given a script of the film in advance.

In honor of the Marriott showing and the promise to donate net proceeds to a Student Cold Fusion Research Fund, a $500.00 check has been sent to the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, even though the sales of tickets to the event did not exceed the expenses to put it on. Perhaps EECS Professors Hagelstein and Smullin, who are involved in cold fusion investigations, will help direct this small fund. The explicit instructions accompanying the gift are that this donation is to be used to offset the cost of supplies for students wishing to conduct cold fusion experiments. Since at least twenty identifiable MIT students attended the showing on May 26, there is certainly a local opportunity. Students attending also included those from Harvard, Brown, Northeastern University, UMASS and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

Soon after the May 26 event in Cambridge, and on much shorter notice, Eugene Mallove was invited to lecture and show Cold Fusion: Fire from Water at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. This he did on June 2 at GIT's student center. A much smaller audience attended (about twenty students and professors), but the invitation was much appreciated. Perhaps from now on cold fusion events on or near campuses should not be held at the end of the academic year, when students' thoughts are on graduation, passing examinations, and generally winding the term down.

Mallove was told by the GIT cold fusion event organizers that these Lyceum Series lectures (run by a committee of the Student Government Association) had recently included ex-Clinton Administration spokesperson George Stephanopoulis (promoting his multi-million dollar tell-all book), controversial TV show host Jerry Springer, comedian Tommy Davidson, and even sex advisor "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer, whose popular topic might be said (loosely) to fall within the area of hot fusion. Those lectures were mobbed. Seeming to command more interest than Cold Fusion: Fire from Water was the John Travolta movie, "Primary Colors," which was playing over the common area cable feed in the GIT student center outside the lecture hall where Gene Mallove spoke. Let's face it, cold fusion just doesn't get the easy breaks! It is a difficult road to follow, no matter what well-executed artistic productions our field has to offer.

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