Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sherlock Holmes and The mystery of Cold Fusion

I think that the first questions that Sherlock Holmes would have asked if he was investigating cold fusion would be...
Who did experiment and where did they bury the body?!

It is very easy to show that if cold fusion with reported excess heat was real, there would have been quite a few fatalities, given the lack of precautions in such experiments.

Human lethal dose is 5..10 Sieverts, equivalent to or 5..10 Grays of gamma radiation, i.e. 5..10 joules per kilogram.
1 Gray = 1 Joule of absorbed ionizing radiation per kilogram = 100 Roentgen.

Neutron radiation does 5..10x more damage than gamma radiation, so lets assume it takes 1 Gray of neutron radiation to kill, or at very least, seriously hurt human. Suppose that experimenter weights 100kg, that'll be 100 joules of absorbed neutron radiation.
Most of the deuterium-tritium fusion energy is released in form of neutron radiation, which is somewhat poorly absorbed by electrolysis cell.

You see where its going. Excess heat output of 1 watt means 3600 joules per hour, which means that there is real risk for experimenter to absorb lethal dose and die, or less dramatically, to get sick. The doses, even for short experiments, would easily exceed yearly allowance for nuclear industry workers. Worse yet, neutron activation would make equipment and walls of building themselves radioactive.

Interestingly, even one milliwatt of fusion power would make regular four-digit geiger counter that you can buy on ebay (and which counts 10 clicks a minute on background) quickly overflow and beep its "run for your life" alarm.

The conclusion is... either there is massive cover up of many deaths, or cold fusion is a hoax.


  1. Most researchers agree that 'cold fusion' is a misnomer for the phenomenon that occurs in the most recent 'cold fusion' experiments. Excess heat has been recorded in hundreds of documented experiments, but most of the research suggests a 'nuclear effect' (not exactly fusion) that produces quite a bit of energy (so it might actually be useful). However, at the moment, the process cannot be controlled to provide a steady stream of energy (but researchers are hopeful that this can be resolved soon).

  2. Well... in my opinion that phenomena is best explained by Dunning-Kruger effect.
    Any researcher who even tried to do cold fusion without radiation detector (and with no shielding) and then reported it as cold fusion... well, such a total idiot is *guaranteed* to find excess or missing energy in any phenomena (heck, he would find excess or missing change in his pocket if he tried to keep track of it). Some sort of stupidity takes place, something is measured incorrectly, and quite a bit of energy is excess or missing; some sort of violation of experimental ethics (due to lack of awareness of how experiments must be reported), and missing energy gets under-reported.