University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Graduate Student Seminar

Friday, February 12, 2021
12:15pm – 1:15pm

Storrs Campus

Prof M. Gai, Department of Physics, University of Connecticut

Cold Fusion: What have we (and the white house) learned from this historical scientific blunder

Cold Fusion, a "discovery" announced in a press conference at the University of Utah, on March 23, 1989, is now recognized as the world most embarrassing scientific blunder. But at first it had seven weeks of glory (including Congress and the White House). Announcements of confirmations at Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Los Alamos National Lab and other institutes worldwide, in Italy, Japan, USSR, etc. soon followed. The strong theoretical backing and indeed encouragement by Physics Nobel Laureate Julian Schwinger and his colleague at Harvard, Nobel Laureate Norman Ramsey, placed "Cold Fusion" on seemingly solid theoretical ground. The prospect of MIT applying for a patent on "Cold Fusion", as announced by MIT provost John Deutsch (later Head of the CIA), led a confused nation into celebrating a new future with endless cheap green energy contained in a jar of "Cold Fusion".

On May 2, 1989, in the historical meeting of the American Physical society in Baltimore, I reported the results of our Yale-Brookhaven collaboration, on the lack of the required neutrons and Nate Lewis of Caltech reported on lack of the much-touted excess heat. The two of us together (with others that followed) unambiguously demonstrated that "Cold Fusion", as claimed by many, does not exist.

I will review the so-called scientific claims and my personal story, as experienced by a young Assistant Professor at Yale. My mentor Professor D. Allan Bromely, the Science advisor to President H.W. Bush, Sr., reported to Congress and the White House the results of our Yale-Brookhaven measurement, and later, I led the only existing collaboration between a skeptic (myself) and a cold fusion advocate (Steve Jones of the Brigham Young University)-- the final nail that hit the jar.


Prof. V. Kharchenko

Physics Department (primary), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UConn Master Calendar

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