Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Happy Birthday, Cold Fusion!

It's now been 23 years since Cold Fusion was born, and each year the pseudo-scientific advocates of that discredited piece of anaq troll around and claim that they've made it work. Like clockwork, this time of year, they amble about the media saying that limitless energy is within our grasp, if only we pour more money down the hole. Meanwhile, real fusion makes actual progress.
It was today, 23 March, in 1987 that Stanley Pons of the University of Utah announced the "invention" of Cold Fusion. They didn't do so through scientific channels, but instead by having a press conference before anyone could verify their results. Two years, and 4.5 million dollars later, the government finally listened to the scientific community, who were very sure the results were full of bull. A 4.5 million dollar lesson in why science by press-release is a bad idea™.

I took a picture of the building cold fusion was `invented` in while I was in Utah. I tried to visit the lab itself, but they'd long since torn it out and renovated it. Most of the chemistry faculty were reluctant to talk about that sad bit of history. Behind the building, in this picture, you can see the Salt Lake City Olympic stadium - a project that went considerably better, I might say!

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