Fusion Fiasco Comments

Fusion Fiasco: Explorations in Nuclear Research, Vol. 2

"Very Interesting and a Winner in Many Ways"

Fusion Fiasco is very interesting and a winner in many ways. It uses clear and straightforward language to bring to light a complex and important but mostly misunderstood event in science history and its detrimental legacy: the what, how and why are brought to light.

The book is a jewel for people who appreciate the predicament humanity is in trying to escape global warming, and have an interest in the science and engineering of alternate energy sources. It is also an eye opener to what happens to the way some scientists think and act, i.e. their politics, when research-funding and potentially very large patent money and fame is involved. It could serve as the basis of a course for how the mix of: greed over funding and patents, reputation, pride, prejudices, administrators, lawyers and the regular news media, can make a make a terrible mess. Bad technical assumptions were also at the core. Some were explicit but thought to be too obvious to argue with, or investigate thoroughly. Some were rather hidden or unconscious and of course not explored at all.

From previous reading on the subject, especially, Hacking the Atom, I was aware that there was a very complex history at the beginning of what was initially incorrectly and tragically named "cold fusion." The history is not straight forward. Fiasco is a good term for it. It is like an enormous knot, the size and complexity not understood till this book. To give a complete and accurate account, a very large amount of research and effort, plus a keen mind with balanced, non-prejudicial judgement was required.

The book does great service to the field of alternate energy, by replacing gossip and assumption with fact and history. It makes it possible to restore LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) to the list of potential alternate-energy candidates. Now enlightened by the technical aspects of the author's book Hacking The Atom and freed from the popular prejudice against "cold fusion," I very much think that LENR is an alternate energy candidate that should be much more vigorously pursued. Buy the Book
By Patrick N. Keller, Ridgecrest, CA

"A blow-by-blow account of what happened"
Fusion Fiasco gives a blow-by-blow account of what happened behind the scenes before and after the announcement of "cold fusion" by Pons and Fleischmann. It was a battle between established science and new results, between theoreticians and experimentalists, with millions of dollars of research grants at stake. The author describes how the established scientists and theoreticians successfully denigrated the new results, secured their funding, and set back scientific advancement by decades. The book provides further evidence that science has degenerated from a search for knowledge and truth into a search for funding. Everyone involved in scientific research should read it. Buy the Book
By David M. Drury, Ph.D., Wisconsin

"I recommend this book"

Fusion Fiasco is the second book in a triology about Low Energy Nuclear Reactions research history. It is a very dark volume, as Krivit proceeds methodically, meticulously and comprehensively to engage in a form of what I would term “autopsy review” of the cautionary tale--what happened during the intial heady days of 1989 with the Pons and Fleischmann announcement of “cold fusion” and its subsequent extended, ugly aftermath.

The book is well written and the segments are bite-sized—despite this, the book was difficult for me to read as I was getting a full-frontal “God’s eye view” of the clash between experimental science and pathological science. Fusion Fiasco fills in many gaps in the history of what took place beyond the TV and newspaper headlines coverage of the LENR effort of 1989, and subsequently. Krivit does history and his readership a great service by not accepting contempornaeous newspaper accounts of what took place during tense scientific society meetings as “gospel,” and actually demonstrates the mastery (of a motivated scholar seeking the facts) of going back to original videotape or audio recordings to get the accurate rendition(s) of what actually took place, and what was said, and by whom.

The reader learns from Krivit’s dispassionate telling that the pathological end of things was highly politicized (millions of federal dollars at stake related to fusion research, physicists versus electrochemists, etc.) and in the end, there were no winners on either side of the debate. And indeed, experimental science in the field of LENR was set back perhaps decades. As it turns out, many of the most vocal critics of Pons and Fleischmann’s work had not themselves accurately reproduced the experiments in set-up, nor did they even have a good understanding of the phenomena involved.

In the print version of this volume that I am reviewing, the diagrams and illustrations were all clear, and in black-and-white. Germane political cartoons are also extant, helping to flesh out Krivit’s history narrative. Buy the Book
By P.J.P., U.S.

"Hidden History of 1989 'Cold Fusion' Debacle Revealed"
Pons and Fleischmann's excess heat data was likely measured correctly. They were also correct in their idea that heating process was nuclear - it just wasn’t fusion. By late October 1989, Dr. Edward Teller, ‘father’ of first U.S. Hydrogen bomb, thought that Pons and Fleischmann had discovered a little-understood nuclear process that could operate in ordinary electrochemical cells. Bizarre absence of deadly hard radiation indicated to him that Pons and Fleischmann's puzzling results probably weren’t caused by a fusion process. After seeing all the ERAB panel's data, he further speculated that the underlying process was very likely nuclear and possibly catalyzed by a "neutral particle of small mass and marginal stability" that was somewhat akin to a neutron. Krivit reveals how Teller's prescient insights were ignored by DOE ERAB panel and effectively buried for 27 years. Read More
By Lewis Larsen, Chicago, U.S.

"An amazing story and enlightening book"

I just finished devouring this book. What a great story this is. I'm so glad Krivit persevered in the face of all that intransigence and denial. This book brought back a swarm of memories.

In March 1989, I was a documentary film producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I had been assigned to cover the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Moments before I was to get on a plane to go to Alaska, my boss told me instead to go down to Utah. What could be a bigger story than that, I wondered? I got to the University of Utah too late for the infamous press conference but chased after Stanley Pons after he had given a lecture in Indianapolis. I booked myself into the seat beside him on the flight home to Salt Lake City. We talked all night on the red-eye flight, drinking Jack Daniels, and I told him this: "If you guys think you're right, if you sincerely believe that someday you will be vindicated, then think of us (the CBC crew) as the document of record, the inside story of what happened during the early days."

For the next several years, we followed the story as best we could and filmed Pons and Martin Fleischmann in the U.S. and later, when they moved to France. But I never knew the end of the story – until Krivit wrote it.

I suffered a knowledge deficit in terms of physics and chemistry and was therefore (like most of the media) forced to take what people said at face value. In the chaos of daily news, there is no team of science advisors standing by to explain things. But even if there had been, this was all (as Krivit so vividly points out) new science, so even the wise old hands would not necessarily have been able to tell fact from supposition. Although I was there for much of the craziness Krivit describes, all I could see at the time were surface effects (pun intended). I never knew the background intrigue.

Krivit's investigation confirms that the behavior of the scientists whom the Department of Energy asked to provide an objective review was unprofessional and dishonorable. I always suspected as much, but Krivit's research told me all kinds of things I never had a chance to verify in the frenzy of the times. In fact, it was worse than I thought. I am so happy see that that Krivit stuck with this amazing story. He certainly pulled no punches, which I'm glad to see. It is an enlightening book. I can't wait to read the next installment. Buy the Book
Jerry Thompson, Raincoast Storylines Ltd. and author of Cascadia's Fault (2012).