A REALISTIC EXAMINATION OF COLD FUSION CLAIMS 24 YEARS LATER Page: 3 of 42
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A Realistic Examination of Cold Fusion Claims 24 Years Later
Kirk L. Shanahan
On March 29, 1989, chemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons announced they had discovered an
effect whose explanation was required to lie in the realm of nuclear reactions. Their claim, and those
subsequent to it of roughly similar nature, became known as 'cold fusion'. Research continues to this
day on this effect, but what has become clear is that whatever it is, it is not a conventional fusion
process. Thus the 'cold fusion' moniker is somewhat inappropriate and many current researchers in the
field prefer the term "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR)", although other terms have been coined for
it as well. However, two salient facts are relevant: (1) these researchers still claim that said reactions do
exist, and (2) these researchers claim there is a conspiracy by the scientific establishment to suppress
their research. In recent years there have been several efforts aimed at revitalizing the image of the
field which have had some success:
- A second review of the field by the US Department of Energy Office of Basic Sciences was
conducted in late 2004, albeit with basically unchanged conclusions compared to those
presented from the first DOE review in late 1989.
- Numerous new books and survey papers have been published detailing 'positive' research
- Several government entities have voiced and given partial support for renewed LENR research.
The stakes regarding this field are perceived as being quite high. LENR advocates promise nearly free
energy arising from applications based on the effect(s), and thus indirectly promise significant
reductions in conflicts due to disputes over limited natural energy resources. Given the USDOE's
responsibilities in the energy and weapons areas, it would seem true that the DOE should have as full
and complete understanding of the field as possible.
Unfortunately, another development over the preceding several years has been the disappearance of
negative commentary on the scientific basis of the field. This has occurred because the scientific
mainline had concluded by c. 1992 that the field was an example of 'pathological science'. Due to that,
research was discouraged in the area and in fact 'cold fusion' publications were frowned upon. This only
led to the claims of suppression by advocates. In fact there is some limited truth to this statement. This
author, being one of the only remaining critics of the field, has suffered the same consequences for
attempting to publish articles critical of LENR. This is a failure on the part of the mainline
establishment, as the results developed out of the LENR research do in fact show something is
happening to produce signals which might be interpreted as supporting nuclear reactions (which is what
encourages and sustains LENR researchers), but which can also be interpreted via a set of unique and
interesting conventional processes. The focus of this document is to describe and address recent
objections to such processes so that subsequent LENR research can be guided to develop information
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Shanahan, K. A REALISTIC EXAMINATION OF COLD FUSION CLAIMS 24 YEARS LATER, article, October 22, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc828127/m1/3/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.