After the completion of their cold fusion success, Pons and Fleishmann went to the United States department of Energy to request more funding for further research. However, they were denied because others who had attempted to replicate their results had not been successful. Cold fusion, they concluded, was impossible and the experiment carried out by the two electrochemists was flawed. In the last blog post we discussed the details of the experiment, and today we will explain some theories as to why these false results were obtained.
A research team at the California Institute of Technology extensively attempted to reproduce the results of Pons and Fleishmanns experiment to no avail. They then attempted to implement different experimental errors to see if they could reproduce the same results. When the Caltech team did not put a stirrer in the tester cell, temperature differences within the cell led to false temperature recordings, which led to data that was similar to that of Pons and Fleishmanns data. These researchers at Caltech also suggested that the helium neutrons which suggested to Pons and Fleishmann that there was nuclear fusion transpiring could have simply been atmospheric traces of helium which are natural.
Some researchers also believe that Dr. Pons’ son, who helped by watching over the lab some days, might have turned off the electrical current briefly. This, Dr. Lewis of Caltech says, will cause the chemical reaction on the surface of the palladium to cease, and the excess deuterium to “bubble out” causing a fire hazard and thus, exhibited a pseudo-raise in the temperature of the cell.
Many even suggested that Pons and Fleishmann outright lied about their data. There was a great deal of mystery surrounding the experimental set-up, and the two electrochemists purposely shielded their experiment from testing and criticism by the scientific community. If you want to see for yourself how suspicious (or innocent) Dr. Pons and Dr. Fleishmann were, you can watch this video of the electrochemists at a press conference, addressing their critics. Notice how well they avoid the questions — it’s more like politics than science.