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Comment: Re:Answer, in brief: (Score 1) 556

by __u63 (#38721416) Attached to: Can NASA Warm Cold Fusion?

I think there are few who have taken the time to do a cursory investigation of the subject who would have the slightest objection to the claim that Nature and Science have editorial biases against studies on the subject, even those individuals who believe that the work that has been done is complete nonsense. The claim is simply not a controversial one.

I don't think it would be a problem if you didn't waste your time reading non-peer-reviewed papers on LENR. The field will no doubt move forward without you (or not move forward, if it's bunk).

What is fascinating to me about this exchange, in an anthropological sense, as one observing experimentalists (perhaps you're one), is that I'm not even convinced myself that the LENR stuff is real. I'm simply intrigued by the possibility that those folks might be onto something, and there are no ties to academia or fears for my reputation to dissuade me from investigating the truth of the matter. Similar resistance was shown in the scientific community to the advent of the telescope, to the invention of the airplane, and, apropos enough, to the possibility of nuclear fission. That there were fads relating to polywater and so on does nothing to detract from this.

Comment: Re:Answer, in brief: (Score 1) 556

by __u63 (#38719950) Attached to: Can NASA Warm Cold Fusion?

Your request for evidence from peer-reviewed journals raises a catch-22 of which you're no doubt already aware: only a small number of journals will publish papers on the subject. For this reason the request can be dismissed as not being made in good faith. Anyone who is genuinely interested in determining whether there is something to the LENR claims will have to go to the lenr-canr.org site, if only because it's one of the few places that has made anything available. arxiv.org is another (for pre-prints), and then there are Naturewissenschaften and other European journals.

I would hardly recommend "Infinite Energy" as a source of experimental data; obviously no one who is serious would.

People seem to be willing to resort to all kinds of rhetorical devices to try to bat away this nuisance of a subject. It suggests to me that they're afraid it might gain traction.

Comment: Re:Answer, in brief: (Score 2) 556

by __u63 (#38707626) Attached to: Can NASA Warm Cold Fusion?

If you read a pre-print of the Widom and Larsen paper, you'll see that one of the main points of the paper is that the signature is different. What you're describing is the the signature of a H+H or D+D reaction. What they're claiming is that inverse beta decay is occurring and that there are a number of decay chains in which the gamma rays are being absorbed by the same mechanism that is causing the electron capture. Whether this is plausible or in the realm of fantasy is something that goes beyond my level of knowledge at this point.

But finally, it's pointless to proceed from first principles to argue that this isn't fusion. You have to look at evidence, and by this I mean *all* of the evidence, even if it's not something you've been trained in, such as calorimetry. The early objections to the calorimetry data were hasty and cavalier, in my opinion. If you look at the calorimetry and the ash (e.g., small amounts of tritium or helium-4 well above error) and the NAA or SIMS spectra, which show indications of transmutations, and conclude that what is going on cannot be attributed to a chemical reaction, you're left with three other possibilities: (a) the combined set of evidence is in error and the experimentalists are incompetent; (b) there's a nuclear reaction of some kind going on; (c) there's something that's neither chemical nor nuclear that is yielding power densities on the same order as that of a nuclear reaction.

It's fine to require a high burden of proof, but defaulting to option (a) is intellectually lazy, in my opinion.

Comment: Whether he's right or wrong, he's right (Score 1) 232

by __u63 (#36388344) Attached to: Why the US Govt Should Be Happy About Wikileaks

Whether Mike Nelson is right or wrong in some principled sense (I haven't read the article), the fact of the matter is that the US government came out looking pretty good after the release of the Wikileaks documents, no doubt contrary to the wishes of Wikileaks itself. People all over the world consult those documents and draw conclusions from them about their own rulers, suggesting that they feel the documents are a credible-enough source of information for using in that vein. The New York Times has remarked that the cables are well-written and in some cases fairly insightful. The US government no doubt see an interest in discouraging such disclosures in the future, but I wouldn't be surprised if there has been a collective sigh of relief now that the worst of it has come to light.

On the matter of principle, I'm personally an advocate for a free press and for full disclosure. But it seems to me that Wikileaks was motivated to disclose documents that put civilians in jeopardy of retribution by armed thugs, not with some grand principle in mind, but out of mere spite. As much as we like holding (often unaccountable) governments accountable, let's also defend the idea of responsible journalism.

Comment: Re:not sure who they represent (Score 1) 385

by __u63 (#35770400) Attached to: No U.S. Government Shutdown This Week


I seriously doubt any of us have much in common with any of them.


Well said. It's agonizing to watch a group of ideologically motivated congressmen hold something important like this hostage in order to advance a set of narrow interests or to make a point. One longs for retribution to fall from the skies and some gnashing of teeth after all of this, if there is justice.

Comment: Re:They obviously didn't poll any state government (Score 1) 199

by __u63 (#35741260) Attached to: Amazon Named the "Most Reputable Company"

The question at issue isn't what is in Amazon's corporate interest. It's whether Amazon merits the "most reputable company" designation that has been given it, in light of the fact that its business model basically involves evading state sales tax, which any company that sells out of a physical location is required to collect. That is a controversial business model, at a minimum.

Pursuing shareholder value and behaving reputably are obviously different things.

Comment: Re:Simplistic view (Score 5, Insightful) 278

by __u63 (#35708736) Attached to: RIAA/MPAA: the Greatest Threat To Tech Innovation

Voter apathy is merely a symptom of a larger problem -- a legislative system that decentralizes decision making so much that elected officials are accountable only to their local constituencies and large campaign contributors and a legal system that is focused on the minutiae of rules and processes and that is all too content to lose sight of the bigger picture. We should accept low voter turnouts in the US as a given for the time being and try to work out a system that will optimize responsible decision making on the part of elected officials.

Re the subject of this article -- until IP law is revised, the RIAA/MPAA will basically have free reign to do silly things. US IP law is badly broken, something we've been complaining about on Slashdot for years. It will not be revised until there is sensible campaign contribution reform and an organized grassroots political movement.

Comment: Re:ok, here goes.. (Score 1) 575

by __u63 (#1822614) Attached to: French revolt against Prime Meridian
I agree with your sentiments. I'm saddened to see any group alienated, even when peoples' intentions are light-hearted. As someone who spent 10 months in France as an exchange-student, I can safely say, that while I may not agree with every step taken by the French government (nor those taken by my own), I found the people I met to be very genuine and humble.

Eric Walker
Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser