In Memory of Charles Beaudette, 1930-2020
Christy L. Frazier — August 17, 2020
Our friend and colleague, Charles G. Beaudette, passed away on August 9, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. He is best-known to Infinite Energy readers as the author of the fantastic book Excess Heat: Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed. Before detailing Charles’ relevance to and impact on the cold fusion field, a brief summary of his career is in order.
Charles grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1952 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Charles always had a love of writing and while at MIT was managing editor of the student newspaper The Tech.
Charles served for two years in the U.S. Air Force after graduation, as a lieutenant during the Korean War; he taught radar operations. He started his own digital instrumentation company, Dychro Corporation, in 1958 and sold it to a computer company in 1961. From 1963 to 1973 he was a senior engineer and engineering manager at EG&G Corporation (Wellesley, MA). At EG&G he was involved in the development of the fax machine. He holds two patents on image compression, a technique used in fax transmission.
In 1973, Charles moved to Maine with his family, working as a consulting engineer and market analyst until his “retirement” in 1987. After his retirement, Charles devoted his time to writing on political and technical issues and in 1989 became interested in knowing more about cold fusion.
Charles and our founder, the late Dr. Eugene Mallove, had communicated since 1991. Gene provided Charles with much of his early introduction to the field of cold fusion. Because they were both located in New England and had MIT connections, they met numerous times in the early 1990s.
Charles began focusing on how journalists cover science stories, especially cold fusion. In 1993, he authored an essay titled “Cold Fusion and the Press,” which won a Paxton Lectureship Award from the International Association of Torch Clubs and was published in The Fall 1993 edition of The Torch (Vol. 66, No. 1, pp. 3-7).
In April 1995, Charles attended the Fifth International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF5) in Monaco, where he settled on the idea of writing a book on the topic. He writes in the Introduction to Excess Heat: “What resulted was an investigation that was undertaken to determine why there was so much confusion in the subject and to find out whether a new science did exist.”
Gene was able to provide feedback about the book, and Charles asked if our company would be the sole distributor of the book. On March 24, 2000, as Charles neared completion of the book, he and Gene signed a distribution agreement for Excess Heat. We have been proud to offer both the First Edition (May 2000) and Second Edition (May 2002) to readers. Charles self-published both editions of the book, under Oak Grove Press. Both editions were released in hardcover and paperback format. (The book is now also available in Kindle format on Amazon, and will soon be available as an e-book in PDF format in the IE digital books section of our catalog.)
Excess Heat has a Foreword by Sir Arthur C. Clarke. He writes of the book: “Excess Heat is not only a superb record of an extraordinary episode, but is also highly entertaining. The author does not hesitate to apportion blame where it is deserved—and there is enough to go around to satisfy everyone...I do not believe any unbiased reader will put down this book without feeling that something strange is happening at the fringes of physics.”
Dr. David Nagel of The George Washington University wrote the Introduction to the book. Nagel has provided an overview of his interactions with Charles, “Recollections of Charles Beaudette,” which will be published in Issue 153 of Infinite Energy.
Jed Rothwell wrote a review of Excess Heat for IE #32, in which he says, “Although this book describes a depressing history, it is not heavy handed or preachy. It is enlivened by Beaudette’s wit and serene common sense, and by his faith in the scientific method.”
In 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science took a second look at the cold fusion field. Charles offered “Response to the DOE 2004 Review of Cold Fusion Research” for IE #61.
Charles had the foresight to archive his cold fusion collection. In 2007, The Beaudette Archive on Cold Fusion was established at the J. Willard Marriott Library of the University of Utah (Salt Lake City). IE did a story about the archive in Issue 75. The register of the collection is also available online.
After serving as a trustee and member of numerous boards over the years, in 2012 Charles published The Dark Side of Leadership: A Cautionary Fable for Those Who Serve as Trustees or Directors On Not-for-Profit Boards.
Charles attended numerous cold fusion-related conferences and gave lectures (particularly in New England) about the topic. After attending ICCF18 in Missouri (2013), he went on to the 2014 Cold Fusion/LANR Colloquium at MIT. His presentation at that event, “Post-Missouri Priorities for LANR,” was published in IE #116. In this presentation, he discusses one of his lectures to a group of MIT alums—the subsequent interest one member had and the dismissal he received from the Physics Department at MIT. Charles laments that science reporters “do not have the scientific education or the background of experience that comes from a career practice in science.” He asks: “So how do they manage to make a career of reporting with a high order of accuracy (cold fusion notwithstanding) concerning new developments in various fields of science?”
Charles Beaudette will be sorely missed by those in the field of cold fusion. I will personally miss his gentlemanly ways, his precise communications and his general good-natured approach to life. I had the privilege of visiting his beautiful oceanside home in South Bristol, Maine a few years ago; recently, he and his wife Kate relocated to Brunswick to be closer to a hospital.
Charles is survived by his wife Kate Beaudette, three children (Deborah Beaudette, Carolyn Beaudette and Charles Ives Beaudette) and two granddaughters. The family obituary is online.