"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.