Cold Fusion: Fact or Fantasy?


When Professors Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons made their initial announcement about cold fusion in 1989, the scientifi c community was unusually open toward incredible discoveries.  A few years earlier a team of scientists had announced the discovery of high temperature superconductors.  Alex Muller and Georg Bednorz were considered outsiders in the area of superconductor research, their laboratory had no reputation in the fi eld, and they provided no theoretical explanations.  These facts, combined with previous failed attempts by dedicated superconductor researchers, caused the announcement to be received with skepticism.  However, within a few short weeks nearly every replication of the experiment was successful and improvements had been made (Nowotny & Felt, 1997).  In an almost parallel set of circumstances, Fleischmann and Pons, neither of whom were specialists in the fi eld of nuclear physics, announced their extraordinary results with no theoretical underpinning.  But at this point the stories diverge.  Most of the efforts to replicate their experiment failed and the furor died almost as quickly as it started (Simon, 2002).

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