Michael McKubre on Cold Fusion's rise despite political academic suppression
Having just returned from two amazing conferences featuring cold fusion, NI Week and ICCF-17, Dr. McKubre from SRI International, shared some great insights regarding the whole phenomenon of the emergence of cold fusion near market readiness now, notwithstanding the blackballing it received from academia.
By Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News
Yesterday I had a 1.5-hour chat with Dr. Michael McKubre of SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) in Menlo Park, California, USA.
I thought it went very well, covering a lot of ground and bringing up a lot of important points regarding the science of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR), colloquially referred to as "cold fusion" and its present state of pending emerging into the marketplace.
He is perhaps best known as the primary expert voice in the 60 Minutes, "Cold Fusion is Hot Again" (2009) documentary.
I had left a message on McKubre's cell phone a couple of weeks ago while he was at the NIWeek (National Instruments) conference in Austin, Texas from 5-7 August. I was hoping that I might get an update from him on how that conference was going.
In retrospect, he saw NI Week as a special occasion signifying a big change for cold fusion in which this multi-billion, international corporation with a deep reputation in the scientific community showed a strong interest and put some of their reputation behind it.
McKubre said that Dr. James Truchard's opening talk reminded him more of attending a rock concert, with 3,800 people attending, with 3 giant screens. And in that setting, it was quite a rush to have "Dr. T", as his employees who all love him call him, spend 3 minutes talking about cold fusion. "That is huge. It's the first time that cold fusion has obtained that level of attention," with 110 reporters at the conference.
NI has been supportive of cold fusion ever since Pons and Fleischmann's announcement 23 years ago. McKubre reminisced that they offered hardware and software back in 1989 to anyone who wanted to replicate.
He praised Francesco Celani's demonstration of cold fusion in action during NI Week. "He was extremely courageous to do that. Demonstrations are hard to pull off -- getting it there and running." McKubre would like to study the calorimetry more before coming to the conclusion that the demonstration was definitely overunity, but the NI LabView data that was presented gave that indication. That Celani had two supporters was also significant: NI, and Dennis Lets, who is a careful experimentalist who helped set it up. "We've tried to bring demos to other conferences, but have never pulled it off," remarked McKubre, who expects demos to improve in the future.
He was quick to point out that NI wasn't "endorsing" Celani's work, just supporting its demonstration with their equipment and booth space. "They don't tell people what to measure, or how to interpret. They only help them make their measurements."
Here's a photo from an August 5 gathering of some of the cold fusion dignitaries that attended NI Week, with Dr. T standing in the middle.
August 5, 2012
From Left to Right: Alexandros Xanthoulis, founder of Defkalion Green technologies; Frank Gorden (SPAWAR); Andrea Aparo (Ansaldo Energia); Peter Hagelstein; Dr. James G Truchard (CEO National Instruments); Michael McKubre (Stanford Research Institute); Robert Godes (Brillouin Energy); Stefano Concezzi (Big Science Director of National Instruments); Robert Duncan (University of Missouri)
McKubre departed from that conference to fly over to the International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF) 17 in Korea. He went early to train some of the Korean scientists about methods for achieving and measuring the phenomenon.
Politics of Science
McKubre pointed out several points that create a negative feedback loop against cold fusion in the academic world.
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."
McKubre didn't deny the word I used: "Conspiracy" as an accurate descriptor of the methodical debunking that took place by those whose fields, such as hot fusion, had a conflict of interest. Once the "junk science" label was applied, the dog pile phenomenon kicked in, became entrenched as a mantra, and has stuck ever since.
There are no accredited academic journals that will publish articles about cold fusion. It doesn't matter how good the science is in those papers, merely the fact their subject is cold fusion is enough to prevent their publication. It's purely politics, not science.
This blockade prevents graduate students from getting involved, because of the "publish or perish" principle of the academic world.
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.
What is unfortunate about this is that is keeps new blood out of the field.
I suggested that what needs to be done is that young students who are not in this field become activists to protest against this phenomenon to get it changed so that those who want to go into this field can, without committing academic suicide. McKubre thought that sounded like a good idea. "We need to get young people involved."
Publication in scientific journals should be based on the merits of the science, not on the politics of the topic.
Ditto for the U.S. Patent Office, which will not reward a cold fusion patent based on the topic, not the merit.
McKubre also mentioned how venture capitalists will say "come back when you have a prototype," to which he responds: "If I had a prototype, what would I need you for?"
McKubre laid down the gauntlet saying that any scientists who will investigate the field with an open mind, complete with the rigors of the scientific method, if they are honest, will be satisfied that cold fusion is real. The science is that mature. The only ones who don't accept it are the ones who haven't studied it, or whose cognitive dissonance is so great that they dare not embrace it.
McKubre's advice to scientists mirror's that of 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."
"This is so important to mankind and science; if you have any talents to bring further elucidation, you are morally bound to do it. Your choice is either to keep working on what you're doing, or change to work on this." But many are not willing to make that choice, pick up stakes, and transport to new world.
Bifurcation: Theory, Market
This year at ICCF, which McKubre has attended each year, he noticed a bifurcation -- two general directions that people are going into. One is into the theory of what is going on. The other is into come up with commercial applications. The days of proving the science seem to be largely a thing of the past. With the advances that have been made in understanding of the science, 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."
Regarding the theory, he noted that "Peter Hagelstein's theory is coming along well enough that it is useful to experimentalists." But he was reluctant to single out any ICCF presentations since they are all his friends, and he doesn't want anyone feeling left out or slighted.
Obviously, once a device is in the marketplace, that will be the full vindication of the field for the public as well as for scientists. But by then, any scientist that has held out to that long, still calling it "junk science" because they've not studied the science, will be seen as a functionary of the political machinery, not a true scientist. (My sentiments. That is not what McKubre said, but I think he would agree.)
Toward the Marketplace
McKubre said 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."
As for the price point, he said: "It's going to be cheaper than digging up coal, and blowing off tops of mountains." Another huge advantage of the technology is how long one fuelling lasts -- e.g. six months. That will provide a huge advance over present technologies that require a supply chain.
He's been tracking six companies / groups who are working to bring cold fusion to market. Three of those are not publicly known.
The company he's been most closely involved with is Brillouin, which we at PES have in #4 position in our Top 5 Exotic Free Energy Technologies listing. "They do everything right, I trust their measurements." Soon they will be delivering a unit to his lab at SRI for him to examine and test first hand. "As early as this week, [we expect to] sign a contract to [study it] and scale [it] up." Then from there, they will hand it off to world scale engineering companies.
"I don't care who wins, I just want someone to win."
"No one will be able to monopolize this. Can't do it. Won't be allowed. Has to be multi-component energy strategy. Different devices fill multiple niches."
Next Year in Missouri
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. In contrast, McKubre pointed out that the schools on the west coast of the US tend to think they already know everything, which arrogance is anathema to scientific inquiry.
From a logistics point of view, the central location will make it easier for people to travel; and the dorms will make lodging more affordable. I hope the young students hold a support rally to get the academic world to wake up and change their political policies toward cold fusion, to return it to the realm of science, where it rightly belongs -- along with any other emerging phenomenon.
There are other universities that will be sponsoring that event as well, including Purdue and Columbia. I suppose you might have heard of them?
If you wish to contact Dr. Michael McKubre, he prefers email: Michael.mckubre@SRI.com
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