I'm moving this discussion from where it is uselessly off-topic to where it is merely useless and off.
QUOTE(Milton Roe @ Sun 18th October 2009, 10:23pm)
QUOTE(Abd @ Sun 18th October 2009, 5:57pm)
This has nothing to do with the undertow. Be warned. Danger, wild-eyed fringe science, this nut case is going to try to set up a nuclear reaction in his kitchen, some time within the next two months.
Don't worry. The radiation levels are so low and so non-penetrating, most of it, that it takes extreme measures to even detect them. A dosimeter near the experiment would register nothing, you have to put the damn thing right inside the cell, within a millimeter of the cathode where the reaction takes place, to see anything. Except for a few stray neutrons, at levels low enough that with the most sensitive electronic detectors, they had a terrible time showing that it was even above cosmic ray background. Deep in a mine in Italy. That there truly was any neutron radiation at all was only shown conclusively by very recent studies published first in 2008, and that hasn't been widely confirmed. Except for some very low-cost experiments, including some done by amateurs, and only published on-line to my knowledge. That work began in 2007, before the neutron results were known, but ... as the results were being analyzed, and once they knew what to look for, the experimenters looked, and, sure enough, they found some characteristic neutron tracks. Enough to be sure that it was above background? That I don't know, but the SPAWAR work was definitely above background.
Why? None of this makes sense.
If you're fusing 4 D's into one Be-8 which then fissions, each alpha gets (let me see) something like 23.8 MeV. Which makes them hotter than you'll ever see from alpha decay, and up there with helium nuclei from a small cyclotron. Range in air should be on the order of (let me see) about 26 cm, or 10 inches.
Yes, you have the energy right. The most common response to Takahashi Be-8 theory is that the alpha radiation (which is observed, that is, it is believed that the charged-particle radiation coming from CF cells is alpha) is not copious enough or hot enough. However, the helium is indeed produced at that Q value. You have given the range of the alphas in air. They are not generated in air, they are generated below the surface of a layer of palladium deuteride. So in order to reach a detector, they must travel through that material plus the electtrolyte plus a window of the cell plus, if the detector isn't built into the cell, another window for a Geiger counter.
More than hot enough to rip through a mica Geiger counter window (which after all is designed let in 4-5 MeV alphas), and to show up in all the ways that alphas show up normally.
They aren't that hot by the time they would reach the Geiger counter.
Because of the obvious hypothesis that the damage to the radiation detectors is chemical, from the electrolyte, they have run the cells with a thin mylar window; the charged particle radiation is much reduced, but still present. It may help to look at the cell geometry a little. The surface of the palladium-deuterium deposit must be exposed to the electrolyte. What they find with the CR-39 that is immediately next to the cathode is that there is no damage where the cathode is in actual contact with the CR-39, but it's on either side. (The cathode in this experiment is a wire, typically gold or silver, on which the palladium and deuterium are deposited.) (They don't get any radiation or other anomalous effects if they use copper cholride instead of palladium chloride in the electrolyte.)
But these alphas are partly stopped by paladium, you say!
Well, no. First of all, that's what your fine division treats-- you can even see fission fragment tracks from fissile materials if you spread it out in thin layers THAT way (that was historically how fission was first really truly confirmed, after it was suspected chemically).
Sure. But in that case, the radiation is being emitted from the fissile nucleus at random locations in the layer, whereas in this case, none, or very little, is being emitted from the surface itself. It's a surface effect, but it actually happens (if this theory is correct) in the transition zone, below the surface.
The other thing is that this theory has essentially all the heat coming from kinetic energy of these alphas, so in that sense there are so many of them that they're thick as flies. A sample of warm paladium should emit roughly as many alphas as the same size sample of plutonium-244, used in radiothermal isotope heat generators because most of its "heat" is from alpha emission. It's plenty alpha-hot anyway. Even the surface generates a lot of alphas at those powers, and here you are postulating alphas of 4 times nomal energy.
The level of heat is, in these codep cells, quite a bit below the level from that in a radiothermal isotope heat generator. Look, your argument is decent, as a first stab at this, but it's already known that palladium deuteride, when the effect is operating, generates heat and helium at the right Q value, i.e., following Storms' metanalysis, 25 +/- 5 MeV/He-4. The right amount of heat is there, that's known, and it's correlated with the helium, i.e., what's left from those alpha particles if they are all captured and lose their energy as heat, so the question is only the physical profile, how far they travel before they have lost all their energy -- or enough of it to not penetrate a detector window.
Let me put it another way: the Americium-241 in your household smoke detector works by ionizing air with 5.4 Mev alphas. It's not hard to detect or make a useful instrument out of, and yet there is only about a quarter of a milligram of Am-241 in there. At 4e4 decays per second that's about 34 nanowatts if I haven't missed a decimal. And your powers are what?
I don't know the figure for these cells. It's low, these cells aren't optimized for power output. The SPAWAR group do calibrate their CR-39 chips with radiation from sources; the Galileo project replications used Am-241 from smoke detectors.
In that detector you have, okay, 250 nanograms of radioisotope. In the CF cell, you have deposited on the wire on the order of 25 milligrams of palladium, but the palladium is not the radiation source, the radiation comes from a tiny effect; I'd have to look up what level of energy is generated in these cells. I expect to see some temperature differential, but only a few degrees C at most, under peak conditions. And I might not even see that. The calorimetry used in modern CF experiments is sensitive in the milliwatt range. There have been assays of electrodes, bulk electrodes, where they dissolved the palladium and measured the helium found, that's one of the pieces of evidence for it being a surface or transition effect. My recollection is that most of the helium was found within 25 microns of the surface. (Roughly half the helium ends up in the electrolyte initially, and in outgas, the rest is trapped in the cathode, apparently.)
Ahem. "No improvement" is undefined. No improvement in what respect? QED is more accurate, so the issue is quantitative, and the whole point of Fleischmann's work was to test the boundary, the limits of the difference. You are simply repeating, Milton, the assumption he was testing, attempting to falsify. Your assumption was also his, he's reported, he expected to find no difference within his experimental error. He was wrong. Or right, depending on your perspective.
QED is more accurate, but the math, apparently, is horrific.
Yes, but it reduces to simpler math within the limit of weak fields, which we have here. Special relativity is more accurate than Newtonian mechanics, but there's no point in using it to analyze the impact of a baseball or even rifle bullet. The math is harder, but the differences don't make enough difference that your equipment can see it.
You are assuming the answer in your analysis of the question. I'll repeat it: what you have said was indeed the conventional wisdom. Fleischmann knew it, and knew the arguments for it. He was looking to measure an upper bound for a difference between QED and QM, and he did believe that it would be his measurement error, i.e., the difference would be undetectable. Because of all the flap later, people have often assumed he was after energy generation. That's not what he says. He was dong basic research into the boundary between QM and QED. What he found had potential energy implications, and university legal got involved, he has said that he was years away from publishing.
Note, the calculations have been done. Takahashi's theory predicts, from field theory math, fusion if a certain configuration appears. That configuration, at first glance, seems preposterously rare, I've had this discussion. But it isn't outside possibility, it isn't the fifty orders of magnitude problem that was asserted about cold fusion. The condition is that two deuterium molecules, not raw deuterons, are confined in a single cubic lattice space, and it only has to exist for under a femtosecond. The calculation of what would happen in that space involves, in addition to the palladium, four protons and four neutrons, as four deterium nuclei, plus four electrons, and the possible screening effect of those electrons. Takahashi refers to a "condensate," and that would be a Bose-Einstein condensate. Note that there was a paper by Kim published a few months ago in Naturwissenschaften on a Bose-Einstein condensate theory of cold fusion, this is clearly considered possible.
But I'm really with Jed Rothwell who says he doesn't understand theory and doesn't care. I might understand theory a little better than him, which would merely mean that the depth of my confusion might be greater. What matters to him and what matters to me is that there are known experimental effects from palladium deuteride at high deuterium packing ratio, and non-nuclear explanations start to get much hairier than a simple theory that, indeed, the condensed matter environment is catalyzing nuclear reactions. It's almost certainly not straight deuterium fusion, for all the reasons you would know: wrong branching ratio, thus no neutrons. A nuclear reaction can't have a single stable product because of conservation of momentum. So if it's deuterium fusing to helium, where are the gamma rays to conserve momentum? Multibody fusion was proposed early on, but rejected because of the supposed rarity upon rarity. Experimentally, though, it was shown that the condensed matter environment did, indeed, increase multibody fusion cross-section. So the question is "how much?" Not whether or not it happens. The difference between QM and QED is clearly measurable, i.e., it's necessary to do those more complex calculations to explain experimental results. Frankly, that's what I recall being taught by Feynman, that QM was a damn approximation and to get accuracy of prediction for complex environments was much more difficult. That was almost fifty years ago, Milton.
So what's the point? Non-use of QED introduces errors of parts per million in spectra, and it isn't even used to analyze "hot fusion," where the energies are far arger and the fields are similar.
"Spectra." Plasma or other environments where the multibody effects can be neglected. Higher energies? Plasma. But if you take hot particles and used them to bombard palladium deuteride, the predictions break down, and more fusion is seen than expected.
Paladium has a higher Z, to be sure, but it doesn't matter if has to get out of the way long before D hits D. You can't wave your hands and create an electrostatic screen at distances far smaller than Pd or D atoms...
You have this image of d hitting d. That's not what happens! Rather, if the Takahashi theory is correct, we'd have four deuterons and associated elections, which will have some screening effect, in a tetrahedral configuration. As with the Oppenheimer-Phillips reaction, the deuterons would be polarized, with neutrons in toward the tetrahedral center and protons out, so the deuterons would approach more closely than with random orientation. At some point, the neutrons would get close enough for the nuclear binding force to take over. With the OP process, when this happens (bombardment of a high-Z nucleus with deuterons of insufficient energy to fuse, but the neutrons get captured anyway), the protons are expelled, ripped from the neutrons. But here there are more complications, there is a larger nucleus formed from the four neutrons being attracted, there are electrons involved and even possibly the palladium nuclei with their positive charges that would tend to create a small force toward the tetrahedral center.
What Takahashi predicts, regardless, is that the TSC, if it forms, will fuse 100%. So the whole reaction rate issue, from his math, boils down to how common the TSC configuration is. From intuition, it would be rare, very rare. But the apparent fusion observed is very rare. So the issue becomes "how rare!" Quite simply, all we know is that helium is being synthesized, there is heat evolved, and there is radiation.
And what I'm planning to do is demonstrate this; in the field, it's well known, it's not controversial (there were attempts to be skeptical of the charged particle radiation results, Kowalski, an amateur experimenter, retired physics teacher, published a criticism of the SPAWAR results, claiming that it must be chemical damage, but he was effectively answered. Chemical damage and other hypotheses, such as damage from dendrites, simply don't explain the behavior with controls and various conditions tested, and completely fails to explain the triple-track results showing neutrons, on the back side of the detectors. That's why, in March, when there was a presentation on this at the American Chemical Society meeting of the neutron findings, it created such a flap, with some physicists starting to say, "Well, maybe.... that looks like a nuclear reaction, all right."
You will remember the fiasco of Julian Schwinger, who came up with a cold fusion explanation toward the end of his career, and by the time they unpacked all that complicated math, they found out that he had forgotten to include a coulomb potential term.
Yeah, of course fusion goes like shot without that. But it does in ordinary QM also.
I wouldn't rely on any standard explanations of what happened in 1989-1990. Lots of people made mistakes, on all sides. Edward Teller came up with his own theory, immediately. Probably wrong. Suppose Takahashi is right. It means that all the complicated theories about Mossbauer-like transfer of fusion energy to the lattice were probably wrong. It means that the neutron Widom-Larsen theory is probably wrong. But as I tried to insert in the CF article, there is no theory that has been asserted that meets all the necessary criteria as enumerated by Storms. Storms might be wrong about that, too! I've asked him about Takahashi. He thinks there isn't enough radiation seen, but there are reasons to think that his analysis on that might not be deep. On the other hand, this guy is very smart and has been working in the field for twenty years. He thinks, also, that codeposition is difficult, and I'm not sure why, except that he may have tried it once and ran into some problem.
I asked a whole collection of CF researchers about Takahashi's theory. The objections were similar to yours; however, when I asked for a quantitative analysis, i.e., what energies would be expected after the alphas traversed so much palladium deuteride and so much electrolyte, nobody knew. It was all "seems unlikely," which, of course, applies to the entire field! It seems unlikely, but ... there are those damn experiments!
In any case, Takahashi's Tetrahedral Symmetric Condensate theory, developed out of experimental evidence that multibody fusion, shown in studies of fusion cross-section using deuteron bombardment of palladium deuteride targets, did occur at rates far higher than predicted by "normal low energy quantum methods," involves the use of quantum field theory calculation techniques, and his published work (under peer review, and covered in reliable secondary sources, if anyone cares about WP standards) predicts, from the calculations, that a particular configuration of two deuterium molecules (not "deuterons"), caused by deuterium gas entering solid-state confinement prior to the dissociation into deuterons that takes place in the palladium lattice -- so this only happens at the surface -- would collapse and fuse within a femtosecond to form Be-8, which then immediately fissions to form two energetic helium nuclei. The theory does explain many of the puzzles about cold fusion, but it is only one of many competing theories at this point.
I'm sorry, but it sounds like pathological science. You should be able to explain (or Takahashi should) in small words why QED is necessary to understand any of this.
Why should I be able to explain? Do you think I can follow his math? I can't. I asked Mathsci to look at it. Basically, he refused. He's convinced it's all pseudoscience so why should he task his brain?
This is what I can report for sure: Takahashi's theory has been published under peer review, more than once. It was considered credible enough that it was mentioned in the Naturwissenschaften paper by the SPAWAR group on the neutron triple-track findings, as a possible explanation for what's happening, i.e., what might be generating particles with sufficient energy to trigger secondary fusion reactions, which is what they propose as an explanation. I.e., the hot alphas, indeed, would be expected to cause secondary fusion reactions, and, this time, it's hot fusion, with the expected branching ratios, so there are neutrons. There would also be nuclear transmutations, and, Milton, I assume you know that there are many reports of such transmutations, it's one of the effects that Storms considers established.
I write about theory because it's fun, and it's nice to have some possible explanation. But if there was no "possible explanation," I'd be even more interested in the experiments. Wow! Create an unexplained physical phenomenon on your workbench! How often does one get to do that?
I really DGAF about the theory. My intention is to demonstrate radiation and other phenomena from a simple chemical process, apparently not difficult once you know how to do it, the formation of a thin layer of palladium deuteride at high deuterium concentration, and, in so doing, I'd only be replicating what's been done already by many researchers. What's actually happening at the atomic and nuclear level, I won't be able to observe; I'm interested in what would be visible with cheap integrating radiation detectors, and a cheap microscope, and a cell design that makes it possible to directly observe the cathode while also monitoring radiation, and with a piezo detector that will generate pressure wave information, i.e., sound. I want to make a video of a reaction taking place, with sound (which may require processing to bring it into the audible, it's high-frequency from the reports I read). From the publications, there are what appear to be melted spots that appear in the deposited palladium, and IR imaging studies, from the back of a foil cathode, show transient spots (winking on for a moment) that are substantially elevated above the general temperature of the electrolyte and the cathode. I've asked researchers, I've found no evidence that anyone has previously looked seriously in visible light, but if palladium gets hot enough to melt a small spot, there should be visible light, a flash, and this should correlate with the pressure waves, quite likely.
I'm not going to be monitoring instantaneous alpha radiation (I would if I could), because it's far more difficult under the conditions, it is such low penetration.
See discussion above. There is no reason why anything that makes 24 MeV alphas at any point should have low penetration. This amouts to an ad hoc assumption that fusion in Pd does not occur except at an equivalent depth of metal equal to 26 cm of air. Well, why is that? More handwaving about how the lattice has to be JUST thick enough that we never see hardly any of these hot alphas.
Well, we do see hot alphas. Allphas lose their energy at a certain rate, average, per thickness of given substance. I don't have numbers, but they won't make it far in the electrolyte. I think the numbers are cut down drastically by six microns of polyester. (Two orders of magnitude? I should get all this together for a paper on it.)
You are inspiring me, Milton, to try to seal a Geiger detector to the cell wall, so that there is just the cathode wire against the mica. From the other work, it should indeed be possible, with that configuration, to detect radiation immediately, which would be quite valuable. But I wouldn't be able, probably, to visually image that cathode surface, unless I do much more complex cell design. And for my purposes, finding some characteristic visual effects from the formation of nuclear active environment is the goal.
Remember, I'm designing kits and I want to sell them. I need to sell them, or the materials, at least. I don't think it's a speculative business, seriously, my investment will be small, perhaps a few thousand dollars, with which I might be in position to sell hundreds of kits at very affordable prices, for those who want to do such an experiment. One CF writer, who strongly dislikes the idea of selling kits for profit -- he'd want them to be given away by a nonprofit -- has said, nevertheless, that he'd probably buy one to try it. Jed Rothwell thinks it's all too hard and won't prove anything. Maybe he's right, but he might also be wrong, I think it's easier to get a small effect than he things; all his work and support has been toward work that might lead to significant energy production, and my approach is almost the opposite. I'm scaling down, not up, scaling down to keep the costs very low for each cell. You might say I'm making cold fusion toys. And I'm after the kids, the next generation, for one of the big problems with CF is that the major researchers are dying off, they are old, they were ready to retire in 1990, the researchers that need to have approval couldn't afford to be associated with cold fusion. You know the reputation! It's been documented and amply covered. Your career was toast if you tried to continue with cold fusion research.
I think it's a fascinating story, myself, dramatic, full of human interest, etc. There are heros (and heroines, at least one, hey, Pamela Mosier-Boss is such a babe!) and villains, hundreds of millions of dollars spent trying to scale it up, with some scientific progress from it, but no cigar on scale-up, and billions of dollars spent on hot fusion that was very, very threatened in 1989. You know, it's fascinating. One of the most common criticisms I've seen is the claim that this must be bogus since with twenty years of research, they still can't make a cold fusion home hot water heater. Well, with forty years of heavily funded effort, still no net energy generation from hot fusion. Of course, it's a difficult problem! But so is scaling up cold fusion. And whether or not it's useful for energy generation has nothing to do with the science, only with science funding.
If we mix a little beryllium (or less toxic carbon or oxygen) into the Pd, any alphas should give us the standard neutron spallation reaction from these light elements, a reaction used in neutron generators. So you don't have to see the alphas if they're deep. Any impurity from light isotopes and they should be producing neutrons like mad (even if it's 1 neutron per every 100,000 alphas, if you calculate numbers of alphas from the heat, it's still enough neutrons to fry you, if you have any C-13 or 0-17 in there at all).
Now, there is a useful comment. Really. You'll get credit for it if I find anything based on it. Simple, I mix a little beryllium chloride (probably) into the electrolyte. I haven't checked, but it might simply codeposit at a certain ratio. I might have to layer it, but I'd also expect that the beryllium would impede loading. The percentage might be critical, and it would probably have to be pretty small. Still, getting a few more neutrons would be very significant. With my present plan, I might not see significant neutrons, even if I use the boron-10 converter and some neutron moderator before it. The neutrons, by the way, are thought to be roughly 10 MeV neutrons.
I strongly suspect that the alpha radiation would come in bursts correlated with flashes of light, however. Neutrons are detected in these experiments, but the levels are very low, and I'm not going to be running the cells for as long as the runs where they find, with a 1x2 cm detector, about 10 neutron tracks. (Background is about 1 track). However, those are with raw CR-39 detectors. I'm going to try to amplify that neutron signal with a Boron-10 neutron converter screen. Expensive little piece of purified isotope... but I got a donation of enough to do the job.
Think about it. I was studying nuclear physics when I was under twelve years old. I thought I'd be a nuclear physicist. I went to Caltech and sat with Feynman and Pauling. Then I became a musician and did a lot of very different stuff. Here I get to try to do something that may be tantamount to watching and recording tiny thermonuclear explosions. I'm describing what I'm doing to a whole community of experimenters, and it's quite possible someone will do it before I do, but I might be the first person to actually see one of these things. I'd call that fun. Now, what did you do today?
I got a patent granted in Australia for a new self-cleaning cat litterbox.
Today. Do you do something like that every day? I'm impressed. You have one very lucky cat. Or are a lucky cat-owner. I probably have a cheaper solution: don't clean the litter box until it becomes necessary, and, with practice, it isn't necessary very often, and it keeps my soon-to-be ex-wife out of my apartment as a side-benefit. But the kids don't like it, so.... you can't please everyone. Let me know when your litter box is available.
That puts me one step closer to world domination in this field. So be nice. At this rate, I think the world will probably hear about me before it does you.
Of course. There are a lot more cat-owners than kids interested in running a nuclear reaction in their room. But I was really thinking about what you've done that's interesting, not merely what would be profitable. I'd probably make more money being a greeter at WalMart. Well, maybe, maybe not. If I sell a thousand kits and make $50 on each one, it's not shabby, and that might be a year's sales. Maybe. But I'm not starting by pouring fabulous sums into inventory. I'll be buying the chemicals in batches sufficient to sell kits at a profit and still not motivate my buyers to go and buy the chemicals themselves. I'm simply buying more than I'll need for a modest series of experiments myself, and then I'll be selling these materials to recover my own costs. I'm not selling cold fusion. I'm just selling stuff and materials and equipment kits that are designed to show known experimental effects. I won't be making any claims that aren't solid. And if someone can find an explanation for the effects that isn't nuclear, great! But I'm kinda skeptical about that.
Of course, I might not find anything at all, that's what I'm being warned, but the people warning me (besides pure skeptics who generally reject the peer-reviewed literature and who seem to be unaware of it) are CF experimenters who worked with the very difficult bulk palladium method of Pons and Fleischman, notoriously chaotic and sensitive. From the Galileo project replication, I know that it can be done with reasonable reliability, maybe even 100% with uniform design and care in handling the materials, and once I have that design, and it works, the parameter space can be varied to optimize it for my purposes (maximum impression, minimum cost). And neutrons are impressive, if you can get them and detect them. Because the SPAWAR experiments actually were not optimized to detect neutrons, they were an accidental finding, I think that I may be able to up the detected neutrons by methods you can easily imagine and some of which I've described. They aren't detecting but a small fraction of the neutrons, whatever accidentally causes a carbon nucleus to fission in the CR-39 material.
Nobody has ever taken my approach before. It was probably impractical with the P-F method, way too difficult, way too unreliable. Recent developments have also made the field far more respectable.
The doorbell just rang and it was a postal carrier with a registered mail from France. It's my LR-115 radiation detector sheets. Kodak Pathe makes them, if anyone is interested. Expensive. But I can cut the sheets into tiny pieces that are individually cheap. The good news today: I'd been told, after much discussion, that I could get a sample of the Boron-10 neutron converter screen, a couple of square cm, for free with my detector order. He gave me 20 sq cm. That's enough for 10 1x2 cm pieces. I'll have enough for my own experiments (2 should be plenty, one is actually enough) and I can sell the rest, to help raise the money to buy a full screen (8x20 cm). So, in terms of inventory value, I've already made a profit.... of about $100. Shall I celebrate? Maybe I should wait until I actually sell some.
What is all this about? This is about life after Wikipedia. From my work on-wiki, I was exposed to a lot of research, I became somewhat familiar with it. I also made contacts in the CF community, because I thought it was silly to write about a field and not talk to experts in the field. I gained a little credibility there, from my work on-wiki. I wasn't aiming to use that other than to get help with finding sources for Wikipedia, but ArbComm decided my talents could be put to better use, and I agree. I'd rather do science and educate on the cutting edge of science, than write about it for a project and community that don't, generally, give a fig. i think Pcarbonn, also banned from cold fusion until this December, came to the same conclusion. Civil POV-pusher, supposedly, banned because he, off-wiki, wrote in a published article that he was trying to make the WP article reflect the state of the peer-reviewed literature, rather than what was often in media sources that simply regurgitated what was said in 1989-1990. Aha! Battlefield mentality! Ban!