Sterling Allen interviewed Michael McKubre of SRI International, the international research lab in Menlo Park, CA in a one and a half hour talk covering a wide range of topics. McKubre, long-time cold fusion researcher, has one of the best views of the LENR or Cold Fusion field with experience to match. Allen offers great enthusiasm and good journalist skills to get information acquired and presented. Here we’ll cover some of the gentlemen’s high points of the discussion. The full report by Allen is this link.
First up is the scale of the National Instruments Week (NIWeek) convention in Texas a few weeks ago. The attendance was over 3800 people and 110 journalists registered. That size of an event is quite noteworthy for something the science establishment and academia plus the Patent Office still reject.
NIWeek stands out with Francesco Celani’s demonstration of cold fusion in action. McKubre points out, “He was extremely courageous to do that. Demonstrations are hard to pull off – getting it there and running.” This bodes well for commercial efforts. A device that can be moved and restarted at will has been a goal for over 20 years. McKubre expects demos to improve in the future, “We’ve tried to bring demos to other conferences, but have never pulled it off.”
The academic, peer review journal and science politics are significant topics in the discussion. Youth, inquiring minds, creativity and just new blood can immensely help a science field to grow, reach deeper into the physics and bring new knowledge to the world. Allen leans to the conspiracy view, but McKubre has a full career of oversight from the Pons and Fleischmann days.
Allen summarizes McKubre’s view saying, “It was initially instigated by scientific laziness. People thought that in three weeks, they could replicate what it took the foremost electrochemist, Martin Fleishmann and his associate Pons, three years to accomplish. And when they couldn’t, they assumed that it was because the recipe was bad. “We now know why they didn’t work. There are certain thresholds in the experiment, none of which were met.””
An aside – The kickback has been that no accredited academic journals will publish articles about cold fusion. Your humble writer understands this has serious public ramifications; science leadership operating in this way prevents graduate students from getting involved, because of the “publish or perish” principle of the academic world. Two decades have been lost accumulating hundreds of billions dollars in economic losses by misleading the whole of civilization. History will need to know the who and why behind the delay. End aside.
Allen says McKubre even went so far as to recommend against the maverick approach of just publishing in an alternative publication. For a starting student, who has not yet established a reputation as a serious scientist, such an approach becomes the kiss of death to ever establishing a solid reputation in the academic world. He only recommends that already-established scientists go rogue and publish outside of the accredited circles.
But now the dam of oppression is breaking up. McKubre quotes Rob Duncan, Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Missouri, who says: “Think for yourself; don’t let anyone else do your thinking for you.” And “Once you form a new opinion, speak it openly.” One can note that the University of Missouri has funded research Cold Fusion now and is pressing on. It’s a good start, but one expects the resistance to remain.
The International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF) is an important topic in the interview. McKubre has attended each the of the ICCF meetings and has noticed a division into two general directions that people are pursuing. One is the theory of what is going on and the other is coming up with commercial applications.
McKubre offers with the advances that have been made in understanding the science, that now it is not so difficult to replicate. “It is likely that the average hobbyist, with skill and technical discipline could do it. They don’t have to be in top 1% of the discipline.” That may be a surprise, but SRI offered replication hardware and software back in 1989 to anyone.
In a boost to Peter Hagelstein and those theorists on that path McKubre notes, “Peter Hagelstein’s theory is coming along well enough that it is useful to experimentalists.”
For the rest of us commercialization matters more. McKubre told Allen he is not expert in knowing what it takes to bring something to market, so he is not qualified to give a solid prediction, but he estimates that cold fusion technology could be seen in the marketplace in as soon as a year or two from now, but not this year. “There’s nothing about the science that would prevent a commercial object from coming into existence.”
On the investment needed to gain a LENR or Cold Fusion heat supply, McKubre said, “It’s going to be cheaper than digging up coal, and blowing off tops of mountains.” A major advantage of the technology will be how long one fuelling lasts. Fueling technologies will simplify current technologies that require a long and expensive supply chains.
Here’s the bait for continuing to stay alert and interested. McKubre has been tracking six companies or groups who are working to bring cold fusion to market. Three of those are not publicly known. Where Rossi, Defkalion and Brillouin are in relation to the stealth firms isn’t being stated.
In the meantime, SRI is reported by Allen to soon be signing a contract with Brillouin Energy Corporation of Berkeley, CA, to further evaluate and “scale up” that company’s cold fusion device, the Brillouin Boiler. McKubre recently independently evaluated the Brillouin Boiler and subsequently became a member of their science advisory board.
McKubre is pleased that next year’s ICCF meeting will be held at the University of Missouri. This will be the first time that the conference will be held at a university. Missouri is known as the “show me” state. Missouri’s central location will make it easier for people to travel; and the dorms will make lodging more affordable.
Other universities will be co-sponsoring the ICCF event as well, including Purdue and Columbia. Times are changing.
A special public thanks to Dr. McKubre and Mr. Allen for getting the information out.