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Submission + - Martin Fleischmann, Seeker of Cold Fusion, Dead at 85 1

derekmead writes: Fleischmann, 85, passed away on August 3 at his home in England. A brilliant electrochemist, he’s left behind an oddly bifurcated legacy: one of hope that cold fusion could still be possible, and one of caution to researchers who think they’ve solved the equivalent of alchemy.

Fleischmann and Pons’s experiment is legendary: by dropping their cathode into water and running current through the system, the pair theorized that hydrogen atoms released by the water would then be absorbed by the palladium cathode. They further predicted that the loose hydrogen atoms would fuse with those in the palladium, releasing energy. They famously reported results that showed their jar water heating up far beyond what would be expected from the electrical input or from a chemical reaction, and thus they concluded that it must have been the result of nuclear activity. That assertion blew up in the media, with every major outlet reporting on it at the time. Unfortunately for the two, their results could never be replicated by outside sources.

An New York Times obituary explains the backlash thus: "One of the first hints that the news was too good to be true, skeptics said, was that both scientists were alive. Had there been as significant a nuclear reaction as they claimed, critics argued, they would have been killed by the radiation. Scientists around the world then tried, without success, to replicate the experiment. Panels for the American Physical Society and the federal Energy Department soon discredited their findings."
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Martin Fleischmann, Seeker of Cold Fusion, Dead at 85

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  • But of course, those reputable institutions with billions of USD in research grants into hot fusion managed to quickly discredit him.
    They had NO interest in properly replicating his findings.
    In the 20+ yrs after, all that hot fusion research gobbled over 10 billion USD and still has no expectation of making hot fusion happens.
    If 100 million USD was put into cold fusion we'd already have that a commercial reality, because cold fusion has much smaller technical hurdles.
    Right now there are 4 initiatives aiming

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