Infinite Energy Magazine
Hidden Brooks of Knowledge and Strength, Evidence of High Energy Particles in LENR Experiments, and Nature’s Inaccurate Reporting of the Bubble Fusion Controversy
My Dad, Charles F. Chubb, Jr., grew up in a place called Hidden Brook Farm. Although my Dad told me there was an actual Hidden Brook on Hidden Brook Farm, nobody, including my grandfather who named the farm, had any idea where to find it. The fact that the place was so beautiful and filled with life but at the same time was named after a mysterious brook that no one could find, I think, is very similar to the way that I think scientists should view science. Like the way my father’s family loved Hidden Brook Farm, despite the fact that they couldn’t find the “hidden brook” that gave it its name, true scientists love science but really don’t know how to identify it, completely, when it takes place. Like the “hidden brook,” great, new science can be elusive. It can remain hidden for many years. In doing science, we are supposed to acquire knowledge. But, in all honesty, we really can never be sure of what we know. We intuitively sense we are on the right track, just as at my Dad’s home we sensed that there was this magical brook but it always remained hidden.
A remarkable coincidence is that if it weren’t for Hidden Brook Farm and my father, it is entirely possible that neither Talbot Chubb (my uncle) or I would have become involved with cold fusion (CF). The reason is that Hidden Brook Farm is where my Dad first started to play with electronics and radio. If he had lived somewhere else, this might have never happened. The point is that my Dad has loved science, and the best aspects of science, since he first started to “play” with science as a child. And his love and enthusiasm for science has been contagious. Talbot saw his older brother, Charles, playing with science. And he fell in love with the process. My Dad continued to play with science all through his working life, both at home and at work. And seeing my Dad’s love for science, I fell in love with it also.
My Dad’s love for science and knowledge inspired him to go to Princeton University to study physics. My Dad’s love for Princeton and physics inspired both Talbot and me to go to Princeton University also and to study physics. And both of us ended up at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) as a result of my Dad’s guidance. In particular, Dad initially suggested to me when I finished graduate school that NRL might be a good place to work. Dad made this suggestion based on the fact that the research at NRL is extremely broad in scope and that, as a consequence, if I decided to work there, potentially I would be able not only to work on different projects but to become involved with new and different areas of science. Initially, because I had been so focused in my research as a graduate student, I felt it would be more appropriate to work in a temporary position at Northwestern University. While I was there, I came to appreciate the excellence of a comparable research effort at NRL in my area of research and after three years, I decided to take a second temporary position—this time, at NRL—doing very similar research. At the end of three years, when it was necessary for me to find a new position, I decided it was time for me to become employed permanently. At this point, Talbot (who had been involved with NRL for almost 40 years) helped me to find a position at NRL and (as my father had suspected might take place) I did change my course of research. What is somewhat remarkable is that in my new position, I actually started to collaborate with Talbot. Six months later, Pons and Fleischmann made their announcement about cold fusion. The rest is history.
An important point is that in order to be truly creative in science, it is necessary to feel free to do the right thing at the right time. Research cannot be forced. For true research to take place, there must be enough freedom for scientists to be confident that it is possible to do new, creative things and to allow this to happen in an environment of respect and trust. For many years, in many of the national laboratories, this was allowed to happen. Each of these bastions of intellectual integrity and science, in the truest sense, should have been viewed as the kind of place, like Hidden Brook Farm, where true nurturing of creativity is allowed to take place.
It is sad to say that at the present time, lack of funding and interest has been destroying these kinds of environments. However, in these institutions and at universities, to a limited extent, “Hidden Brook Farm” environments still exist. Individuals who have experienced and appreciated the form of nurturing that can go on in these environments, in the truest sense, are fortunate. I think these individuals, because of the experience, can also be viewed as true sources of knowledge, wisdom, and strength. These individuals, because of their dogged insistence on excellence, searching and finding the truth, and integrity are the truest “hidden brooks” in the quest to do really great science.
In the Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (CMNS) field, there have been a number of such “hidden brooks.” In what follows, I am going to single out two particular individuals, Stanislaw Szpak and Brian Josephson, whom I especially feel should be viewed in this way. But in very general terms, I think that anyone who has been involved with the CMNS field, after a sufficient period of time, has become a kind of “hidden brook” of truth for someone else who has not been aware of what has been going on. As “hidden brooks” of truth about the subject, all of us have a duty to speak forthrightly and truthfully, each in our own way, to people that we believe will listen to us talk about the subject.
When real science takes place, sometimes the unexpected can be so unexpected that it really can be startling. The good news is that what was presented by Frank Gordon and Pamela Mosier-Boss of the Space Naval Air Warfare Systems Center, San Diego (SPAWAR, SSC), at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Conference—which was held July 31 to August 3 in Washington, D.C.—is so startling that I sincerely believe that not only will what they presented be remembered, but I truly think what they presented will have an impact. In particular, some of the more prominent members of the Department of Defense (DOD) and its industrial partners were present at this particular conference. (Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of the DOD, was scheduled to give the keynote address of the conference, during a banquet held on August 2. But he was unable to attend because of a last minute change in his schedule, apparently resulting from a last minute request by Senator John Warner and other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he meet with them to provide testimony about issues related to the ongoing events in Iraq and Lebanon. He did this the same day he was scheduled to speak at the NDIA conference.) Unfortunately, it is sad to say that Stanislaw Szpak, an important individual who played a pivotal role in much of the work associated with what Frank and Pamela presented, was unable to attend because of health-related issues that prevent him from traveling long distances.
Stan Szpak is a truly outstanding scientist. As I said, like all great scientists, Stan is a “hidden brook” of knowledge and creativity. He stands along with Martin Fleischmann, Stanley Pons, Melvin Miles, and Yoshiaki Arata as one of the true giants associated with cold fusion and the emerging field of CMNS.
Besides being truly innovative in guiding the effort and with directing and suggesting new, innovative courses of study associated with the work at SPAWAR, Stan Szpak has, in the best tradition of science, followed through with forthright scientific conviction. He has persistently made sure that bona-fide scientific results, involving an extremely controversial field, have been promulgated through presentations at meetings, publications in conference proceedings, and brought to the forefront through more widely-recognized established channels of communication: mainstream, refereed, scientific journals and technical reports.
As a participant in the ten-year long effort sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), I can personally attest to the fact that had it not been for Stan Szpak’s determination and persistence, many of the most important results associated with this effort (which involved work at the Naval Air Warfare Center, SPAWAR, and the Naval Research Laboratory) would not have been made available to the public. I commend Stan for doing a tremendous service not only to our country but to science in general.
Frank Gordon and Pamela Mosier-Boss should also be commended for their persistence. Frank has created the kind of bastion of intellectual integrity where truly great science can take place. Because of the limited financial support, since 1997 there have been many periods of time when both Pamela and Frank have been forced to perform research with Stan, without pay, during evenings and other times when they would normally have been with their families, while being paid during normal hours for doing work on other projects. In the face of extremely difficult circumstances, these three people (Stan, Frank, and Pam) have continued to work and publish their results in established journals, in circumstances in which the area of research is considered a pariah form of science. These efforts, to say the least, not only have been potentially damaging to their careers and families, but, in more general terms, to their well-being.
What is truly astonishing is that because of the persistence by Stan, Pam, and Frank, not only have they developed and perfected a procedure for initiating low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) on demand, they now have found evidence for an entirely different form of CMNS effect. Evidence of this new effect was presented at the NDIA conference. It involves the apparent emission of high energy particles from LENR that are initiated when palladium (Pd) and deuterium (D) are electrolytically deposited on the surface of a metal, in the presence of a magnetic field. The particular procedure that is the basis of their experiments has been developed during the last 17 years and is documented in more than 15 separate refereed publications, and in an important 2002 report that was prepared for the ONR (SPAWAR Technical Report 1862, Thermal and Nuclear Aspects of the Pd/D2O System, Vol. 1: A Decade of Research at Navy Laboratories, S. Szpak and P.A. Mosier-Boss, eds., Space Warfare Systems Center, San Diego, CA, 92152-5001), which is available on-line at: http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/MosierBossthermaland.pdf).
As I discussed in my report concerning the important scientific results that were presented during ICCF11 (IE #59), since the Pd and D are simultaneously deposited onto a metal in their procedure, they are able to achieve high values of the loading parameter x (defined by the ratio of D to Pd atoms), in relatively short periods of time. As a consequence, a number of the major difficulties can be avoided associated with the techniques that make use of the loading procedure developed by Pons and Fleischmann, in which excess heat is initiated after D is loaded into a Pd lattice in sufficient amounts that x approximately approaches unity (i.e., when 1 D per Pd atom is present). In the Szpak/Mosier-Boss procedure, no loading of a lattice is involved. Instead, Pd and D are co-deposited onto a substrate. Empirically, they have observed that they are able to reproduce the excess heat effect in short periods of time (involving several minutes), as opposed to the considerably longer periods of time (involving many tens and even hundreds of hours) that have been found to be required (when the effect is even observed at all) in experiments that make use of the procedure followed by Pons and Fleischmann.
Previously, they have observed the evolution of extreme changes in temperature over very small regions (tens to hundreds of microns), sporadic emission of soft X-rays, tritium, anomalous changes in the surface morphology (involving distinct dendritic growths and crater-like structures) of the substrate surface/co-deposition region of their samples, and correlations between these changes with the appearance of anomalous materials.
The new development that was so impressive in the results that Pam presented most recently is the discovery by the SPAWAR team that in the presence of a relatively weak magnetic field (~.1 Tesla), their device appears to exhibit the kinds of low level alpha (and other charged particle) radioactive emissions that are present in uranium. In particular, Mosier-Boss showed pictures of particle tracks that were found in CR-39 detectors that had been placed in the immediate vicinity of their electrodes. (CR-39 detectors are made from sheets of a particular kind of plastic. They are used routinely to detect charged alpha particles and protons.) Although it is possible, through detailed studies of the tracks in these kinds of detectors, to distinguish between alpha particles and protons and to determine their energies (see http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/Roussetskicrtrackdet.pdf), these kinds of studies have not been carried out yet. However, even a cursory examination of the tracks indicates that they are the result of the kinds of emissions that routinely occur from uranium. Mosier-Boss explicitly showed the similarity between the tracks from these kinds of emissions and the tracks that they observed in their experiments, using images of CR-39 detectors that had been exposed to radioactive emissions from uranium.
Not only was Pamela Mosier-Boss’s talk truly excellent but where and how she presented the material was entirely memorable. It occurred at a break-away session, open to the general public, where people who were truly interested could attend without being compelled to pay the $500 admission fee, simultaneously at a time when other important, topical technical talks related to new and innovative energy technologies were being presented to audiences involved with DOD Research and Development (R&D). The setting, which was a large, elegant auditorium in one of the more expensive, famous hotels (Marriott Wardman Plaza Hotel) in Washington, D.C., was also quite memorable. The bad news is the fact that her work is not being supported at this time by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), although ONR did support the work until 1997. However, it seems obvious that this situation must and will change.
In the same break-away session, Professor David J. Nagel, from the George Washington University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, provided an overview of the LENR field. Professor Nagel first discussed his unique perspective of the field. [See an article by Professor Nagel in this issue, p. 13.] He began monitoring scientific developments in cold fusion immediately after the initial announcements and has continued to do this. An important reason for this is that as the head of the Condensed Matter and Radiation Science Division at the Naval Research Laboratory between 1985 and 1998, he was involved with managing many programs in a number of fields that are directly related to the disciplines that are now known to be important in CMNS, including theoretical, computational, and experimental condensed matter physics, X-ray/particle detection, nuclear physics, and weapons research. As a consequence, he has developed an extremely broad range of interests and extensive technical knowledge of many of the techniques and procedures that are required to conduct CMNS experiments. He also funded a limited amount of work related to CMNS while he was at NRL.
During his talk, Nagel presented not only a nice summary of the most important effects, but he also provided a useful, philosophical perspective associated with the history and the reasons that it has been so difficult for the field to be accepted by most mainstream scientists. He provided information—for the first time at a major public gathering of people who have not been involved with the field—about the various programs that NRL, ONR, SPAWAR, and the Naval Air Warfare Center have been involved with, related to CMNS. He also provided recommendations for further work, including a proposal for a specific plan of research, based on his experience in managing research at NRL, that he suggested would provide a sustainable level of effort (over five years) involving a sufficiently broad, but focused, group of scientists, based on an appropriate level of funding (approximately $10 million per year).
Steve Krivit has prepared a more detailed article about the conference for the September 10 issue of New Energy Times. See his editorial about the conference, reprinted in this issue of IE (p. 62).
As I said, there have been a number of people who have been “hidden brooks” of knowledge and wisdom, besides Stan Szpak, who have been involved with CMNS. In a certain sense, the information provided by anyone who has been involved for a long enough time can become a kind of “hidden brook” of knowledge for people who have not been involved. In a very real sense, an important reason for this is that just to stay involved requires a degree of fortitude, commitment, and integrity that (because of the terrible break-down in communication) is unusual because of the risk of potential ridicule and hardship.
One individual who is now taking a leadership role in exposing and publicizing injustices associated with the manner in which mainstream science and Nature magazine, in particular, have portrayed controversial issues, in a more general sense, is Nobel laureate Brian Josephson. Because of the potential harm to his stature and professional standing that may result, Professor Josephson is to be commended and admired for his forthright and ethical stands on a number of issues (including cold fusion, earlier misconceptions about continental drift, meteorites, plate tectonics, the paranormal). The honorable integrity that he has shown in these endeavors is truly admirable. His example serves as a “hidden brook” of strength for science, in general terms, and for CMNS, in particular. I have rarely seen such a commitment to what I believe is one of the most important aspects of science. Gene Mallove certainly had this kind of commitment. Talbot Chubb and I seem to share a similar kind of integrity and admiration for it, with respect to CMNS. But for us, the risks have not been as great as they have been for Professor Josephson.
As I mentioned in IE #57, shortly before he was murdered Gene Mallove played an important role in informing Brian Josephson about the terrible breakdown in communication that has occurred in issues related to cold fusion and the relevant science. Subsequently, Brian Josephson became actively involved in speaking out about past errors and indiscretions associated with the field. Both Gene and Brian acted with principle and idealism: forthrightly, they raised key ethical questions about the scientific process associated with cold fusion. Brian’s subsequent actions, in my mind, are the actions of a true “hidden brook” of knowledge and strength. He should be commended for what he has done.
In particular, during the first week of July 2004, forthrightly and with great integrity and risk to his own stature in the academic world, Brian Josephson gave a presentation during the 18th gathering of Nobel laureates, in Lindau, Germany, titled “Pathological Disbelief.” (http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/JosephsonBpathologic.pdf). In this lecture, not only did Professor Josephson identify key elements of the breakdown in the communication process associated with cold fusion but with why it has taken so long for the debate to be resolved. He also examined these issues in relationship to other areas where comparable breakdowns in the scientific process have occurred. This lecture is truly memorable. In it, Professor Josephson isolates human bias, based on the notion of defining a level for tolerance of the unexpected, associated with a form of Bayesian analysis that illustrates that as a fundamental consequence of probability theory and events, when information is presented that has a finite probability of being valid, as the probability of it being valid is reduced, through preconceived biases, even slightly different views can, in a probabilistic sense, during a repetitive sequence of experiments become dominant. As a consequence, earlier misconceptions can be the basis of particular decisions, regardless of what is presented. In his lecture, Professor Josephson cites a number of examples of this phenomenon. These include the evolution of the scientific process as it has related to continental drift and plate tectonics, meteorites (where the purported effects have been accepted), the paranormal, and cold fusion (where in both cases, the effects have not been accepted). The associated argument, mathematically, can be shown to apply in virtually all decision making processes, not only to those associated with science. This kind of effect not only occurs in “risky science” but in many arenas, including the success of “sound bites” in political campaigns. In his lecture, Professor Josephson summarizes the underlying idea in the following words, “We think that we think clearly, but that’s only because we don’t think clearly.”
These are truly profound observations, as they relate to basic ideas associated with communication, and they have played an important role in the breakdown in communication about cold fusion. Professor Josephson forthrightly has also applied these ideas to the debate (or lack of debate), associated with recent editorial comments in Nature magazine about bubble fusion. This debate focuses on experiments that are only tangentially related to CMNS, but the lessons, which are related to the communication of ideas related to CMNS, are quite real. In particular, although Nature is widely viewed as being one of the more important journals, it should be remembered that this magazine is not associated with any scientific society, which is not the case for most of the archival scientific journals, associated with societies like the American Physical Society (APS).
This fact has important consequences, especially in new and potentially risky areas of science, because although Nature is viewed as an important journal, the editors of this journal are not selected based on criteria defined by a body of scientists. Instead, a different procedure is used, based on criteria associated with scientific knowledge, scientific journalism, and related issues, motivated by the idea that Nature should be a trend-setting publication and that this journal should be widely read. As a consequence, non-scientific bias can become part of the editorial process.
In a certain sense, in contrast to Nature’s staunch, recalcitrant stance about alternative forms of fusion, in the March 8, 2002 issue of Science, the editors appear to have reported that it might be possible for an alternative form of fusion (which was the starting point of the bubble fusion controversy) to take place as a result of an exotic form of unstable (cavitation) bubble formation and collapse. But it is important to remember that although Science took a somewhat more heroic stance about this article, because the editors of Science do have a responsibility to an “association” (the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS) for what is published in Science, this stance, as it related to this particular article, probably would have carried greater weight in a different journal, involving support by a professional society.
In particular, although potentially quite real, the effect reported by Taleyarkhan et al. in this 2002 issue of Science (and reproduced subsequently) for most scientists (and especially for members of the AAAS) was also both quite inconsequential and potentially controversial. However, it is also important to view the associated events in an appropriate context: employees of either Nature or Science are not required to be associated with a scientific society that has members whose livelihood and representation of the relevant science is tied to how the society responds to scientific dialogue associated with particular scientific events. In the physics community in America, such a society requires that meaningful dialogue (or lack of dialogue) about these subjects is most conveniently found at meetings of the APS and through information provided by its journals, and this kind of dialogue, with respect to cold fusion (and CMNS), simply has not taken place yet.
As a consequence, Nature sometimes can publish material that can be very controversial (which can be both useful and harmful). This includes the material that appeared in 1989 by Steven Jones and his colleagues, concerning their work in cold fusion, as well as earlier material by Benveniste concerning the possibility that water might have a memory (which has been widely discredited). For the same reason, staff members of Nature can make mistakes and, arbitrarily, they can choose to not publish material that its’ editors believe is either not important, or irrelevant. In this context, John Maddox decided, quite arbitrarily, that material by Benveniste might be relevant, material by Steven Jones and his group also might be relevant, but that the material by Pons and Fleischmann appeared to be so bizarre that he thought he should not publish it. The sad comedy of the events involving Pons and Fleischmann and Jones is that it was widely believed that what they were trying to examine involved effects that were related to each other. More sad was the media frenzy. What is truly great is that people like Professor Josephson are taking part in dissecting, analyzing, and understanding what has been taking place.
Professor Josephson has gone much further. He has been monitoring the basis of very strong statements by the editorial board of Nature concerning Rusi Taleyarkhan. He has suggested that this particular group is biased and is promulgating deceptively disguised innuendo in the information about Taleyarkhan’s funding, as a result of partial truths. Part of the problem here reflects the fact that Josephson’s views reflect an honest scientific perspective, while Nature’s do not. Nature is driven by a profit motive. Nature does not necessarily seek the truth. Its editors and editorial board want their magazine to appear to have stature, but they also want the magazine to earn money. The most complete sources of information are archival articles that appear in scientific journals. Through these sources of information, it is possible to record and document errors that will not be remembered otherwise. Hopefully with time, through these kinds of efforts, these errors will be recognized. It is only by bringing to the forefront these transgressions can the editors of magazines like Nature respond to them since alternative forms of response (associated with the normal scientific process) do not seem to be appropriate since most physicists simply do not understand that cold fusion might result from known processes.
In particular, John Maddox made terrible decisions editorially with respect to Nature’s publication policies both with respect to cold fusion and Benveniste’s work. His effective embargo of further articles on either subject damaged not only Nature but his colleagues, including David Lindley (who has received considerable criticism by me, in particular in IE #66). Because of the limited amount of information available to him at the time, David Lindley unfortunately was simply incapable of dealing with the relevant science. Most recently, beginning with the June 20 issue of Nature, seriously flawed statements have appeared about the possibility that Taleyarkhan may have squandered funds provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA). In fact, an important role of DARPA is to fund potentially risky research, in support of possibly important scientific discoveries. In this case, it is not clear if DARPA’s funding supported the work being carried out by Taleyarkhan and his colleagues, involving a re-investigation of bubble fusion, but even if it did, the fact the funding may have been used in this way is entirely justified within the context of DARPA’s role in supporting scientific research. Further confusion has resulted because the allegations were raised by a competitor, S. Puttermann, and it is not at all clear if he has provided an objective assessment of the situation.
As I suggested, Brian Josephson should be regarded as a true “hidden brook” of knowledge and strength. He has been re-investigating and analyzing how Nature has been reporting (or mis-informing) the news about these developments. Further details about this can be found at:
The spirit of science, ethically and most profoundly with respect to basic ways to communicate it and encourage people to be involved with it, are truly captured in how people deal with it, and through the idealistic manner that people like Stanislaw Szpak, Brian Josephson, Stanley Pons, Martin Fleischmann, John Bockris, Melvin Miles, Yoshiaki Arata, Mitchell Swartz, Giuliano Preparata, Julian Schwinger, Charles Chubb, Talbot Chubb, and Eugene Mallove have dealt with contentious issues. All of these people have had such enthusiasm and love for the process of doing really good science, and expressed such a love of science and its mysteries, that it is truly a pleasure to single out these individuals as being true “hidden brooks” for the most important source of knowledge and strength: a love for the unknown, based on logic, ethics, and the best of things that truly count. All of these individuals should be admired and remembered for their love and respect of the scientific process. This is profoundly important and reflects a sense of goodness that transcends time. The examples of courage and strength that have allowed these people to deal with the unknown will last and be revered as long as we remember the lessons of what they have done: to love science, with integrity always, to seek the truth always, and to be willing to admit mistakes when they occur. Science is a life spring, always. The “hidden brooks” in our lives reflect these basic truths.