Thursday, January 07, 2016

The revolution in energy production will not be televised, either

There is something interesting going on in the realm of science. It goes by the name of "the reputation bubble" and it has discouraged scientists from working on some very ambitious projects. One of those projects is cold fusion, the idea of achieving nuclear fusion at room temperature. You might recall the "scandal" of cold fusion back in the 80's where researchers in Utah were roundly discredited for their claims of demonstrating a cold fusion reaction.

That activity in Utah created a "bad reputation" for anyone daring to work on cold fusion. Yet several organizations persisted in the research. There must be something there or those two men from Utah would not have published such a bold claim as to have witnessed a fusion reaction in their labs at room temperature.

Huw Price documents the problem of the reputation bubble here. Therein, he describes his observations of two different trajectories of scientific inquiry. One went for faster than light neutrinos. The other, for cold fusion.

I read about the faster than light neutrinos as the story unfolded, scientists were calling them superluminal neutrinos, as if it was really possible Einstein was wrong. Einstein's Relativity theories have been consistently tested and verified for more than a century and so far, I haven't seen anyone prove him wrong. I bet he would be thrilled to see someone prove him wrong because that's how science works. Being proved wrong is just part of the business of science.

I followed the story of the superluminal neutrinos over days and weeks to finally learn that there were numerous errors with the methods used to calculate the speed of the neutrinos. As far as we know, Einstein is still right. Nothing can travel faster than light.

On the cold fusion side, I see that on August 25, 2015, a US patent has been awarded and with that patent, some secrets have been revealed in order to secure it. If someone has managed to get a patent on a machine that demonstrates cold fusion, that would be news, right? I mean, we're talking about a machine that uses a fuel with more than a million times the energy density of the carbon-oxygen bond. Yet, the mainstream news is silent on cold fusion and instead is blaring day and night about terrorism.

Not only are many scientists scared to talk about and research cold fusion, so is the press. Why would the press ignore such a startling possibility? Imagine having a 1 megawatt reactor powering up your factory, all of the office space and selling any excess power back to the grid. Imagine that the reactor fits in a shipping container. That's what we're talking about and it's call the Energy Catalyzer, or ECAT. You can see pictures of the ECAT here.

There is more. In Russia, a group of scientists have managed to replicate the E-CAT, showing that output is greater than input. You can read more details here from Wired Magazine. This time it's a clean room, open source design where all the details are shared. An open source approach could accelerate research. It's also worth noting that even NASA is checking this out.

In fact, a great deal has changed in the cold fusion story since the days of the first published paper on this subject. Here is a video that covers some fairly recent developments in cold fusion. Here is a corresponding website on the same topic.

The point here is not whether the technology works at least someone thinks it works and there's a patent to protect the invention. The point here is why discourage scientists with shame from doing the work? If a scientist is willing to put time and effort into proving that a clean, abundant and cheap energy source could work, why not just let him do it? If it works out, we create an energy source that could power our civilization for centuries until the next big thing. If it doesn't work out, well, there are other options to choose from.

I believe that the lack of coverage on this story and others like it is due to the fact that it doesn't fit the narrative of the mainstream press or even mainstream science. This is evidence of a significant funding problem in how news is generated and allocated. We put a quarter in the paper machine to get a newspaper. Does that quarter pay for the paper? No. The advertisers pay for the paper. The advertisers pay for the news and have enormous sway on the content of the paper. This is true for all major media. Just ask Rupert Murdoch.

Cold fusion is just one example. Anyone who has been following the news lately of our presidential election will surely notice the lopsided coverage of the candidates running for president. There appears to be a reputation bubble in political reporting, too. Analysts have reviewed the time allotted to each candidate by the national networks and found that one candidate is getting an overwhelming share of the news time, essentially free advertising, relative to the others.

We can infer from the following facts why the major media shows so much favor to Trump:

There is a huge amount of money at stake in this election, just as much or more as in the means to energy production. Major media controlled by the very wealthiest of Americans seem to have concluded that Trump is their man and that the revolution will not be televised. If the Sanders campaign is not getting much television coverage, you can bet that a revolution in energy production would not be televised. either.

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