Series Summary

Explorations in Nuclear Research

Series Summary

An investigative journey through hidden nuclear science
Hacking the Atom: Explorations in Nuclear Research, Vol. 1
The new science of low-energy nuclear reactions (1990-2015)
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Fusion Fiasco: Explorations in Nuclear Research, Vol. 2
The behind-the-scenes story of the 1989-1990 fusion fiasco
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Lost History: Explorations in Nuclear Research, Vol. 3
A precursor to modern research in low-energy nuclear reactions (1912-1927)
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Steven B. Krivit's Explorations in Nuclear Research three-book series describes the emergence of a new field of science, one that bridges chemistry and physics. The books give readers an understanding of low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) research and its history and provide a rare behind-the-scenes look at the players and personalities involved. The books present the results of in-depth historical research and draw on formerly inaccessible archives to describe what occurred in the research that has been mistakenly called "cold fusion."

LENRs are non-fusion-based nuclear reactions that can occur at or near room temperature. "Cold fusion" is an erroneous hypothesis of nuclear fusion reactions that occur at or near room temperature. For 100 years, most scientists have thought that nuclear reactions could occur only in high-energy physics experiments and in large nuclear reactors. The research discussed in these books shows otherwise: Nuclear reactions can also occur in small, benchtop experiments.

As of December 2016, the publication date of this series, the wider scientific community does not recognize LENRs as valid science, not even when distinguished from the erroneous idea of "cold fusion." Most scientists and science journalists are reluctant even to speak or write about the subject for fear of being associated with what they believe is pathological science. The stigma, sadly, is well-deserved. The reputation of the field suffers from the behavior of a few scientists who have been promoting fraudulent schemes and who refuse to relinquish their notion of room-temperature fusion. For these reasons, approaching the subject is extremely challenging for newcomers and nonspecialists. Land mines are easy to encounter; confusion is common. These books were written precisely to address that gap.

A plausible, logical explanation for LENRs, published in peer-reviewed journals, has been available for a decade, yet it has been understandably difficult for many people to grasp. The Widom-Larsen theory, which does not violate laws of physics, can explain most of the reported experimental phenomena. Despite the fact that the theory relies on conventional science, it requires understanding multiple disciplines, including plasmonics, condensed-matter physics, particle physics and quantum electrodynamics. It uses arcane mathematics, describes dynamic nucleosynthetic networks, and is based on collective many-body effects. For these reasons, the theory has been difficult to follow, particularly for scientists who lack access to a team with broad expertise. For the first time, Hacking the Atom helps make the Widom-Larsen theory accessible to readers who have a general understanding of science.

With the aid of charts and diagrams, three chapters in Hacking the Atom divide each of the major aspects of the theory into simple components, explain the concepts in ways that scientists and nonscientists can understand, and show the relationships among these components.

The primary aim of these books is to inform science and technology enthusiasts, journalists, decision makers, scientists, and investors about the facts and fallacies of the subject.

The secondary aim is to document the facts through interviews with living witnesses and newly uncovered archival documentation to provide a useful, authoritative, scholarly historical reference for the subject, to benefit science educators, science historians, and other scholars.

A third aim is to provide useful and accurate material for coursework in science ethics, science sociology, and research integrity programs, many of which have relied on largely erroneous, grossly incomplete, and outdated accounts of the subject.

Each of the three books in this series stands alone, covering a distinct period of scientific exploration.

Hacking the Atom, written for scientists and non-scientists alike, covers the period from 1990 to 2015 and explains how changes to atomic nuclei can occur with low-energy methods. The book reveals the hidden story of how the science initially and erroneously called "cold fusion" continued to progress slowly but incrementally after its near-death in 1989. The book shows that 100 years of chemistry and physics is not wrong but is incomplete and that there is something new and exciting in the physical sciences.

Hacking the Atom:
  • Explains why LENRs may lead to a new form of nuclear energy without harmful radiation.
  • Shows why LENRs are not based on "cold fusion" but are instead based on weak interactions.
  • Gives examples of experimental evidence of isotopic shifts and elemental transmutations that confirm LENRs as real nuclear reactions.
  • Provides an easy-to-follow tutorial on the Widom-Larsen theory, a plausible explanation — which does not violate laws of physics — for the experimental observations.
  • Provides clear explanations for the lack of dangerous radiation from the experiments.
  • Explains the basis for the stigma as well as the root causes for the lack of progress in the field.
  • Provides case studies of surprising behavior by scientists, ranging from zealotry to outright fraud.
  • Does it all in an easy-to-follow chronology and an engaging, page-turning narrative.
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    Fusion Fiasco, written for scientists and non-scientists alike, covers the period from 1989 to 1990 and tells the most accurate and complete story of the 1989 to 1990 "cold fusion" conflict. Relying heavily on archival records, the book documents one of the most divisive scientific controversies in recent history. The book explains why credible experimental LENR research emerged from the erroneous idea of room-temperature fusion, as claimed by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons at the University of Utah.

    Fusion Fiasco:
  • Presents the first look behind the scenes at what actually occurred in the 1989 Department of Energy "Cold Fusion" review.
  • Reveals details of a little-known but crucial scientific workshop that took place at the National Science Foundation headquarters in 1989.
  • Describes, for the first time, Edward Teller's prescient insight about these reactions, based on what he learned at that NSF workshop.
  • Shows evidence of confirmations of neutrons, tritium, and excess heat from around the world within months of the Fleischmann-Pons announcement.
  • Reveals that Nathan Lewis, credited with debunking Fleischmann and Pons' excess-heat measurements, never published a scientific paper with that critique.
  • Provides evidence, courtesy of Frank Close at Oxford University, that shed new light on the accusations that Fleischmann and Pons had manipulated a gamma-ray graph.
  • Clarifies facts regarding the accusations that Steven Jones, at Brigham Young University, had pirated Fleischmann and Pons' ideas.
  • Clarifies facts regarding the accusations that Pons' graduate student, Marvin Hawkins, had stolen Fleischmann and Pons' lab books.
  • Reveals the origin of the erroneous idea that "room-temperature fusion" produces helium-4 as its dominant product.
  • Reveals how scientists with vested interests in prevailing scientific ideas used their influence to deny and hold back the new science.
  • Reveals the key behind-the-scenes roles that physicist Richard Garwin played in the "cold fusion" conflict.
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    Lost History, written for scientists and science historians, covers the period from 1912 to 1927, and explores the story of forgotten chemical transmutation research, a precursor to modern low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) research. The book tells the story of century-old research that has been absent from the scientific dialogue for a hundred years — research that is surprisingly similar to events in the modern era.

    In the formative years of atomic science in the early 20th century, at the same time that Niels Bohr introduced his model of the atom, and when nuclear science belonged to chemists and physicists alike, some scientists reported inexplicable experimental evidence of elemental transmutations. Papers were published in the top scientific journals of the day, including Physical Review, Science and Nature. Prominent scientists around the world participated in the research. The research was reported in popular newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times and Scientific American. The book relies heavily on published journal papers.

    The experiments, using relatively simple, low-energy benchtop apparatus, did not use radioactive sources, so the results defied prevailing theory. This, coupled with the fact that the experiments were not easily repeated, caused most scientists by 1930 to dismiss the entire body of research as a mistake.

    This history of research was omitted from historical references — until now. With the benefit of hindsight, and in light of modern low-energy nuclear research (LENR) and theory, this lost history, after a 60-year hiatus, is told here for the first time. Lost History is the first book that provides critical analyses of the original published scientific papers of the transmutation experiments performed between 1912 and 1927. This book reveals the fascinating story of these experiments and provides significant insights about our understanding of the history of physics, chemistry and nuclear science.

    Lost History chronicles the following events that have been either forgotten or misreported:
  • From 1912 to 1914, several independent researchers detected the production of noble gases: helium-4, neon, argon, and an as-yet-unidentified element of mass-3, which we now identify as tritium. Two of these researchers were Nobel laureates.
  • In 1922, two chemists at the University of Chicago created helium using the exploding electrical conductor method.
  • In 1924, a German scientist accidentally found gold and possibly platinum in the residue of mercury vapor lamps that he had been using for photography.
  • In 1925, scientists in Amsterdam carried out a similar experiment, but starting with lead, and observed the production of mercury and the rare element thallium.
  • In 1925, a prominent Japanese scientist reported the production of gold and another metal that was later identified as platinum.
  • In 1926, two German chemists pumped hydrogen gas into a chamber with finely divided palladium powder and reported the transmutation of hydrogen into helium. One of them later tried to dismiss the results, but he was never able to completely explain the data as a mistake.
  • Contrary to nearly all accounts that credit Ernest Rutherford with the first nuclear transmutation — of nitrogen to oxygen — the credit belongs to a researcher who was working under Rutherford.
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