Hacking the Atom Comments

Hacking the Atom: Explorations in Nuclear Research, Vol. 1


"Well Researched and a Finely Told Story"

After finishing Hacking the Atom, my first response is Wow! It was extremely well-written, and surprisingly easy to follow. I say surprisingly, because even though the overall story did not always follow a straight timeline, Krivit moved back and forth very well. It was like each story started from the beginning and reached a conclusion, then Krivit moved on to the next story, and all of the stories together painted a whole picture. I also liked that he did not open with an opinion of what was real and what was not real, he let the reader come to his or her own conclusion. Well done. Krivit is what I would call, with high praise, a "digger." I don’t know how he found some of the information he did. Many researchers stop when they find enough information to support what they want to find. A digger does not stop until he/she finds the truth, whatever it may be.

This book also hit a personal note for me. Krivit wrote about a number of the researchers applying for patents. In the 1990’s, as part of my job as a document classification reviewer, I spent time at the US Patent and Trademark Office, reviewing patent applications that were in nuclear areas to determine if they needed to be held under a secrecy order. (I have a degree in Nuclear Engineering and worked for one of the Federal agencies.) I reviewed a number of patent applications that were for so-called "cold fusion" processes and this brought back memories for me. Buy the Book
By Fletcher Whitworth, Maryland

"Fascinating Science, Fascinating Human Story"
I thought the book was so impressive. This is complex science, and yet I felt that the prose and the approach was accessible for someone like me, who has an interest in science but not the advanced education of a physicist. I think part of that readability is due to the authors' use of "characters" and the interpersonal squabbles/differences of opinions, etc that are detailed in the narrative. This really gives the science a human face, which can be missing from work like this. I also didn't realize that the term cold fusion was not accurate (LENRs being the proper name)! I did have to read slowly in order to absorb some of the more difficult concepts, but felt amply rewarded by the later chapters that delved into the concepts more in depth. This feels like a very important work. Buy the Book
By Ashley Shelby, Minneapolis - St. Paul, Minnesota

"A Scientific Detective Story That Debunks "Cold Fusion" and Exposes Narrow-Thinking Scientists Who Worshipped It"

What a surprise Hacking the Atom turned out to be. It was an iconoclastic reading experience, a detective story in a meticulously researched timeline. The book destroyed my assumption that modern scientists would never preach what they want to believe if those beliefs excluded contrary scientific facts and data.

In Hacking the Atom I learned how scientists, physicists, and Ph.D.s of all stripes can be just as narrow thinking as true believers of any political persuasion. My science quotient is low, so some of the equations and charts in the book were beyond my ken, but I don’t think they could or should be dumbed down. The good news is that my ignoring the graphs and formulae did not get in the way of understanding the real story.

Except for a Nicola Tesla biography last summer, the last scientific book I had in my hands probably was eighth-grade physics in 1959. No problem. Author Steven B. Krivit approached the history of "cold fusion," as an investigative reporter, debunking the bunk and bringing the phenomena of low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) investigation into the open as a legitimate area of research.

Finally, in the best tradition of Sherlock Holmes, Krivit ends by discovering the fraudulent data that kept the erroneous idea of room temperature, "cold fusion" on life support. By fronting for cold fusion, a handful of scientists kept the hot, proven phenomena of LENR out in the cold for too long. This clique of powerful narrow-minded academics across the world continued to worship fervently at, "The First Church of Cold Fusion."

As a former prosecutors' spokesman, I read Krivit's 480-pager as a talking indictment of short-sighted, federal money-seeking academics and at least one shadowy government employee as part of a version of "RICO a' la' physics." (RICO, the federal Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, is designed to attack organized crime, allowing prosecutors to seek prison and substantial civil penalties for ongoing criminal enterprises and those who run or work in them.)

The loose conspiracy of true believers who kept their boots on the neck of LENR are another chapter in history's encyclopedia of closed-minded scientists and program managers. They believed so fervently in their cold fusion theory that they refused to open their minds or face facts. Theirs was… "the unscientific method."

Editor Michael J. Ravnitzky knew my forensic background and said I might like the book. He got a copy into my hands and he was right. Whether you're a scientist, or a civilian as I am, this book can be a good read. Buy the Book
By Richard Lavinthal, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

"I came to the book as a skeptic, but am forced to admit that my skepticism was misplaced."

Most people think they know the story of cold fusion—it’s promising beginning and ignominious end. But in fact we don’t know it at all.

The story most of us have picked up through vague cultural osmosis is that in 1989 two researchers, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, announced to the world that they had invented a limitless source of energy. Fusion power at room temperature, using an apparatus so small that you could store in a closet. The world press went mad for a few weeks, proclaiming that Fleischmann and Pons had begun a whole new era of technology, with limitless power available from almost nothing. Until it turned out not to be true.

No one else could duplicate the experiment, the best physicists in the field declared the theory to be improbable, the whole thing collapsed in shame and ignominy and the world moved on.

But that’s not actually what happened. In fact the history of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions began in the 1920s and continues through today. The experiment has been repeated hundreds of times, dozens of theories (ranging from “intriguing” to “insane”) have been proposed to explain the effect, including one by Albert Einstein.

Steven Krivit’s meticulously researched book documents this near-forgotten history. It is at once a riveting story and a rigorous work of research. An amazing, outrageous tale and a scientific treatise that a layman can follow. It charts the labyrinthine world of “Cold Fusion” research, revealing big chunks of scientific history that most of us were totally unaware of. It’s a story that seems so unlikely that we would doubt it ever happened if the author hadn’t documented everything so painstakingly. A whole huge cast of improbable and unforgettable characters were involved, the research and the story took astonishing turns. And in the end, perhaps we at last the glimpse truth of what Fleischmann and Pons accidentally discovered. Spoiler alert: It isn’t fusion. But it is amazing. Buy the Book
By James Thomson, Maryland

"This is by far the best information and explanation on the subject of LENR"
This is by far the best information and explanation on the subject of LENR, formerly wrongly called "cold fusion." Not only is the subject and history explained but the actions of many individuals who shaped the history, good or bad, are made known. For the first time I feel I know the past and present state of the subject.  Buy the Book
By Patrick N. Keller, Ridgecrest, CA

"Read This Book"
This book is written for general audiences; a background in science or engineering is not required to understand or enjoy it. It describes the painstaking research that led to an understanding of what was really happening in the reactions originally dubbed "cold fusion," and the scientific infighting that delayed progress in the field. Anyone interested in what might be the most important scientific discovery of the last thirty years should read this book.  Buy the Book
David M. Drury, Ph.D., Wisconsin

"Extremely Interesting and Informative"
I found your new book "Hacking the Atom" extremely interesting and informative - not only because of the raw physics involved, but also because of the tortured pathway of scientific progress revealed. Thank you for a significant contribution to our scientific culture! Buy the Book
John A. Gowan, San Luis Obispo, CA

"A Ringside Seat at the Scientific Conflict of the Century"
The book provides the requisite scientific foundation to be credible, but most readers, with or without training in science should enjoy the engaging "whodunnit" journey this book offers. The book also provides a massively comprehensive archive (It's got over 50 pages of references, appendices, definitions etc!) of the personalities and incidents involved, as the field continued to develop under the radar over the last 27 years. These include legitimate scientists, who perhaps didn't realise they were in denial that the data did not look like fusion, who were attracted to the prospect of selling limitless energy, and the inevitable scammers, eager to make a quick profit. Read More
Nick Palmer, Jersey, U.K.

"Very good overview on the topic, in plain English"
Written in plain English, and dispassionately for the most part, Hacking the Atom is an excellent overview of the history of "cold fusion"/LENR research (for the period described in this volume). An effort has also been made to provide definitions and general background (again, in layman's terms) on the phenomena. Despite having large elemental swaths dealing with foreign research aspects conducted by scientists overseas, a lot of the historical narrative has an "Americana" flavoring to it---including hubris, con artists, fraud, unprofessional reviews of submitted papers, bad journalism and journalists, guns, as well as out-and-out innovative ideas all thrown into the mix. Read More
P.J.P., U.S.

"Imagine"
I have been following Steven Krivit for last 5 years, reading his work at New Energy Times. Popularizing science is something commendable, and even more so when it comes to such an arduous topic as nuclear physics. I have read only the first chapters of the book at this moment, and I feel as excited as if I were reading a novel. In my dreams, all of us will have in the future a LENR device at home, that will be a quantum leap in human history. We are on the way, and Krivit is showing us the path. Read More
Lorenzo Garcia, Spain

"Historical recount and devious intrigue that reads almost like a mystery novel" Most valuably, Krivit demonstrates very effectively how slowly and painfully prevailing research paradigms shift in a hotly debated and controversial field like LENR. He deftly recreates the uneasiness of researchers as they faced mounting experimental data that they could not explain. Hacking the Atom is impressive for its historical and scientific accuracy, as well as its readability. Krivit strikes a delicate balance between historical recount and devious intrigue, transforming what could have been a dry and technical narrative into something that reads almost like a mystery novel. The result is a deft examination of a complex topic that was a true pleasure to read. Read More
M.P., "atom_user," U.S.

"This book resolves a major scientific controversy"
Krivit's book is part explanatory popular science and part technical investigation. It is also a deep-dive into inner workings of human dynamics underlying a scientific paradigm shift al la Thomas Kuhn. LENRS offer great promise as a clean, radiation-free nuclear energy technology that could be suitable for use in commercial applications ranging from small battery-like devices to large power plants. The book begins in early to mid-1990s when LENR researchers at major U.S. universities as well as at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other academic institutions in Japan were observing seemingly inexplicable arrays of nuclear transmutation products in electrochemical cells. Read More
Collectivist, U.S.

"Non-fiction scientific writing at its best - and an amazing story"
If you're anything like me, there's nothing you like doing more on a Saturday night than curling up with a 500 page book on the new science of low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR). Sounds like a snore, you say? Au contraire, mon frère. "Hacking the Atom" by Steven Krivit is a breezy read, as entertaining as it is educational. "Hacking the Atom" explains why LENR phenomena are actually not due to cold fusion, but rather a whole other set of nuclear processes. Basically this book depicts the development of a new field of science, giving readers a look behind the scenes at the science, the drama, and the personalities involved. Highly recommend for geeks and non-geeks alike. Read More
Steve Altes, U.S.