My meta-comments to a paper
Dedicated people are workaholic, therefore a Cold Fusion paper that appeared Sunday (Oct. 21, 2012) had strong echoes on the Web, some 7 long discussion threads on the LENR groups have appeared in less than 12 hours.
It is about the paper “Cold Fusion Gets a Little More Real" by Mark Gibbs from Forbes:
This publication of this paper was triggered in great part by the third part reports recently published by Defkalion Green Energies on their Forum site.
The title speaks about “real”, in the body of the paper, Gibbs speaks about his hope that cold fusion or LENR exists in a form that is actually useful. And he has confessed on the Web that his
interest has always been in useful cold fusion.
The same idea was expressed in the Motto of my ineffective Open Letter to ICCF-17
“I will believe you that Cold Fusion exists when you will show
me a boiler for two eggs, working with Cold Fusion”.
(Prof Ioan Silberg, R.I.P!)
On my turn, I confess that I have a total empathy for this idea. From the very start, Cold Fusion was presented as the dominant energy source of the future, not as an earth-breaking scientific discovery revealing some deep secrets of the Universe.
The comments coming from our communities have emphasized that the very existence of Cold Fusion –now LENR- is beyond any doubt, an existing bunch of phenomena – excess heat being definitory for them. I agree 100% with this. The word useful was not very welcome. In some way implicitly it is considered that excess heat if it exists and can be measured reliable – it is good for something anyway...
It was also stated that the results that have now impressed positively the author, are actually surpassed by many results from the glorious past of cold fusion- and that is still discussed.
I mention here that recently – in my paper about Efficiency and LENR I have expressed some doubts about the realism of the “Science First” approach to the problems of LENR. Similar fields do not have a complete theory, empirical data cannot be eliminated and it is not well understood how those phenomena work.
An essential difference –say to HTSC- is that it is rather well known how when and why it does NOT work- when this bad thing happens. For CF/LENR this is a complete mystery and the low reproducibility has no causal explanation except my poisoning hypothesis that is ignored on a large scale for good reasons. It is not possible in practice to choose the ideal solution- establish first science, work out a perfect theory for LENR and then, use the predictive and the guiding powers of this theory improve the results- as intensity, reliability, controllability etc. till you have a fine energy source. If this is not possible, then scientific discovery has to be combined with trial and error, science has to be mixed with technology developed with incomplete science...
The world progresses many time via negative discoveries and the Gibbs paper helps us to re-discover three of them:
1) Real is NOT always useful
2) Excess heat is NOT an energy source. It is much less.
3) Technology is NOT applied science. It is much more
Let’s examine what these ideas mean for LENR.
Useful needs additional, chosen characteristics or features beyond existence. I have told many times that Pd- D cold fusion in electrolytic cells is not useful, it will not lead to a technology and even will not contribute much to the understanding of what happens in/on the cathode. I was not lynched for that and this is so encouraging that I will repeat the statement.
Usefulness is a concept oriented toward humans. Defkalion, the company that caused the Gibbs paper is very much interested in science but they want to make heat generators for the people, diminishing the energy bills to values orders of magnitude (1, 2?) compared to the present values.
And nobody will call them populists if and when they succeed to do this on a planetary scale. Useful is more important than real.
For solving this problem they use as much science they can, but also technological principles and engineering rules and products, old and new. And a lot of mathematics including in the control part.
In the real world it happens that for obtaining, maintaining developing and diversifying the useful, this must be profitable too.
Excess heat: during the relatively old times when Andrea Rossi
has made a series of experiments I have written a lot- on this blog about why excess heat is a necessary but not sufficient condition to be an energy source. You can find easily all these here: http://egooutpeters.blogspot.ro/2012/05/my-way-to-lenr-truth.html
But it is a lot to read, therefore better have a fictive discussion
with your home heater and ask it: what are you able to do?
Technology is not (only) applied science: in this case this means that if I am in total shameful error and tomorrow a genius comes and builds a flawless theory- “The LENR Science” we still will need many kind of knowledge added to it..
See please my paper:
http://egooutpeters.blogspot.ro/2011/08/technology-mon-amour.html and understand that I am very fond of technology
and I want that it should be appreciated at its real value, not as something intellectually inferior to science.
If you agree, OK, if not than you have probably never worked in the development of a technology and please read these:
If you create a technology, buy one or have to learn one at your workplace and will be paid according to how well you can use and, perhaps, improve it, you will meet and have to understand the followings, LENR being seen as a special case:
Know Where: for the majority of “normal” technologies ‘where’ is obvious or trivial but for LENR it is the clue and the start of science I am proud to being the first to claim “Topology First”
However the where problem is not settled, surface vs. bulk, matter vs. voids, special places called NAE (nuclear active environment) have both supporters and deniers. A good word for this situation is the antinomy of consensus...
Good signs for the future: Ed Storms is constantly improving his theory of good active voids and has published yesterday a paper
Describing the application of the Scientific Method to demonstrate the theory. Defkalion speaks about vacancies as the place where the nuclei can be put to work if you treat them brutally enough.
Know What: usually this is the most scientific factor of a technology. The phenomena that are exploited and put to generate some value are described by the adequate science
giving a realist model. Applied science starts here- if it can.
Experiment and actual practice verifies and re-verifies the scientific truth. Value is human; truth is more abstract both are human endeavors. In our world saturated with insoluble problems value has priority, we need more and faster fine Hyperions than elegant and bright equations. But on longer term we need both.
Know How: typically this is what we had added to science, from healthy good practices to little, sometimes dirty tricks. Experience is decisive here; the good technologist is a fast, serious, creative
builder of the specific know-how. Many times you learn to fly during fall from the nest. A steep learning curve is the mark of the expert.
To tell that the field of scientific/technical research is disputed between those who know and those who learn, is an exaggeration. However it is actually a Pareto type truth, 80% real, and 20% inapplicable or false.
The Fathers of the Certainties vs. the Sons of the Questions.
Two different species, however hybridizable. I am an almost “pure” learner and it is my pleasure to tell that I am happy that I could survive and function with a minimum amount of certainties, mostly ethical ones, with secular roots.
The situation in the LENR field forces all of us to be learners of the know-how. This was especially true for Defkalion’s scientists, genuine newcomers who succeeded to convert a temporary and transient ignorance in a competitive advantage. Again this leads to the idea that for LENR Know How Not is more important than its positive counterpart.
Know Why- that is the peak of science-in-technology, the proof of deep causal understanding. The aim of both science and technology, a title of noblesse. It will be attained for LENR to
But I don’t dare to predict when.
Please do not forget Know Who- the people who do the job. When you get a revelation of this, even as partial and sill uncertain as had Mark Gibbs when he wrote this paper, let the world know it because the human factor is decisive for all technologies but especially for the revolutionary ones.