Physicist Claims First Real Demonstration of Cold Fusion

To many people, cold fusion sounds too good to be true. The idea is that, by creating nuclear fusion at room temperature, researchers can generate a nearly unlimited source of power that uses water as fuel and produces almost zero waste. Essentially, cold fusion would make oil obsolete.

However, many experts debate whether money should be spent on cold fusion research or applied to more realistic alternative energy solutions. For decades, researchers around the world have been simply trying to show that cold fusion is indeed possible, but they´ve yet to take that important first step.

Now, esteemed Physics Professor Yoshiaki Arata of Osaka University in Japan claims to have made the first successful demonstration of cold fusion. Last Thursday, May 22, Arata and his colleague Yue-Chang Zhang of Shianghai Jiotong University presented the cold fusion demonstration to 60 onlookers, including other physicists, as well as reporters from six major newspapers and two TV studios. If Arata and Zhang´s demonstration is real, it could lead to a future of new, clean, and cheap energy generation.

In their experiment, the physicists forced deuterium gas into a cell containing a mixture of palladium and zirconium oxide, which absorbed the deuterium to produce a dense “pynco” deuterium. In this dense state, the deuterium nuclei from different atoms were so close together that they fused to produce helium nuclei.

Evidence for the occurrence of this fusion came from measuring the temperature inside the cell. When Arata first injected the deuterium gas, the temperature rose to about 70° C (158° F), which Arata explained was due to nuclear and chemical reactions. When he turned the gas off, the temperature inside the cell remained warmer than the cell wall for 50 hours, which Arata said was an effect of nuclear fusion.

While Arata´s demonstration looked promising to his audience, the real test is still to come: duplication. Many scientists and others are now recalling the infamous 1989 demonstration by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, who claimed to produce controlled nuclear fusion in a glass jar at room temperature. However, no one – including Fleischmann and Pons – could duplicate the experiment, leading many people to consider cold fusion a pseudoscience to this day.

But one witness at the recent demonstration, physicist Akito Takahashi of Osaka University, thought that the experiment should be able to be repeated.

“Arata and Zhang demonstrated very successfully the generation of continuous excess energy [heat] from ZrO2-nano-Pd sample powders under D2 gas charging and generation of helium-4,” Takahashi told New Energy Times. “The demonstrated live data looked just like data they reported in their published papers [J. High Temp. Soc. Jpn, Feb. and March issues, 2008]. This demonstration showed that the method is highly reproducible.”

In addition, researchers will have to repeat the experiment with larger amounts of the palladium and zirconium oxide mixture in order to generate larger quantities of energy.

Google Joins MIT in Search for Earth-like Planets


“When starships transporting colonists first depart the solar system, they may well be headed toward a TESS-discovered planet as their new home.”

George R. Ricker, senior research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT

Google has joined MIT scientists who are designing a satellite-based observatory -the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)- that they say could for the first time provide a sensitive survey of the entire sky to search for earth-like planets outside the solar system that appear to cross in front of bright stars. Google will fund development of the wide-field digital cameras needed for the satellite.

“Decades, or even centuries after the TESS survey is completed, the new planetary systems it discovers will continue to be studied because they are both nearby and bright,” says George Ricker,  leader of the project.

Most of the more than 200 extrasolar planets discovered so far have been much larger than Earth, similar in size to the solar system’s giant planets (ranging from Jupiter to Neptune), or even larger. But to search for planets where there’s a possibility of finding signs of living organisms, astronomers are much more interested in those that are similar to our own world.

Most searches so far depend on the gravitational attraction that planets exert on their stars in order to detect them, and therefore are best at finding large planets that orbit close to their stars. TESS, however, would search for stars whose orbits as seen from Earth carry them directly in front of the star, obscuring a tiny amount of starlight. Some ground-based searches have used this method and found about 20 planets so far, but a space-based search could detect much smaller, Earth-sized planets, as well as those with larger orbits.

This transit-detection method, by measuring the exact amount of light obscured by the planet, can pinpoint the planet’s size. When combined with spectroscopic follow-up observations, it can determine the planet’s temperature, probe the chemistry of its atmosphere, and perhaps even find signs of life, such as the presence of oxygen in the air.

The satellite will be equipped with six high-resolution, wide-field digital cameras, which are now under development. Two years after launch, the cameras–which have a total resolution of 192 megapixels–will cover the whole sky, getting precise brightness measurements of about two million stars in total.

Statistically, since the orientation of orbits is random, about one star out of a thousand will have its planets’ orbits oriented perpendicular to Earth so that the planets will regularly cross in front of it, which is called a planetary transit. So, out of the two million stars observed, the new observatory should be able to find more than a thousand planetary systems within two years.

In fact, if a new estimate based on recent observations of dusty disks is confirmed, there might even be up to 10 times as many such planets.

Because the satellite will be repeatedly taking detailed pictures of the entire sky, the amount of data collected will be enormous. As a result, only selected portions will actually be transmitted back to Earth. But the remaining data will be stored on the satellite for about three months, so if astronomers want to check images in response to an unexpected event, such as a gamma-ray burst or supernova explosion, “they can send us the coordinates [of that event] and we could send them the information,” Ricker says.

Because of the huge amount of data that will be generated by the satellite, which could launched as early as 2012, Google has an interest in working on the development of ways of process that data to find useful information.

Regardless of the funding for the satellite, the same wide-field cameras being developed for TESS could also be used for a planned ground-based search for dark matter in the universe–the invisible, unknown material that astronomers believe is more prevalent in space than the ordinary matter that we can see. Some of the unknown dark-matter particles must constantly be striking the Earth, and the plan is to train a bank of cameras inside tanks of fluid deep underground, to detect flashes of light produced by the impacts of these dark particles. Ricker’s Kavli group is participating with MIT physics professor Peter Fisher’s team in this new physics research initiative.

The electronic detectors for the new cameras are being developed in collaboration with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. The lab’s expertise in building large, highly sensitive detectors is a significant factor in making possible these unique cameras, which have no moving parts at all. If all goes well and funding is secured, the satellite could be launched in 2012 with NASA support, or even earlier with a private sponsor.

Nearest star’s wobbles could reveal Earth’s twin


Another Earth may be orbiting the star next door, and we could detect its presence within a few years, a new study argues. A telescope trained permanently on Alpha Centauri should be able to pick up the slight stellar wobbles induced by a small, rocky, Earth-like planet.

Alpha Centauri lies just over 4 light years away and is the closest star system to the Sun. It appears to be a triple system, with two Sun-like stars orbiting each other relatively closely (about 23 times the Earth-Sun distance). The two stars have high concentrations of heavy elements, which is characteristic of stars that are born surrounded by dusty, planet-forming discs.

Previous computer simulations suggested terrestrial planets probably formed around one or both stars. That is borne out by the work of Javiera Guedes at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), US, and colleagues, who have gone a step further and worked out how to detect such planets.

“If our understanding of terrestrial planet formation is at all correct, then there should definitely be terrestrial planets orbiting both members of the Alpha Centauri binary pair,” team member Greg Laughlin of UCSC told New Scientist.

What’s more, any such planets might boast the conditions thought to be necessary to support life. In the team’s simulations of planet formation around the smaller star, Alpha Centauri B, an Earth-like world often coalesced in or near the star’s habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface.

Finding these planets could be time-consuming, but it does not require any new techniques, they say. They suggest using the “radial velocity” method, which looks for spectral signs that a star is wobbling due to gravitational tugs from an orbiting planet.

Calm atmosphere

The method has discovered most of the 228 known exoplanets. But until now, it has turned up only giant Jupiter-like planets, which produce relatively large wobbles in their host stars.

“Our aim is to find rocky planets by muscling up the same technique that has been so successful in finding more massive planets,” says team member Debra Fischer of San Francisco State University in California, US.

Laughlin realised that Alpha Centauri B was an exceptionally good target for this method, in part because it is a calm star. The atmospheres of most stars of its type churn more violently, which would obscure the slight movement caused by orbiting Earth-like planets.

And because it is so near to Earth, Alpha Centauri B is very bright. That means astronomers can rapidly capture a precise spectrum of its light, which is ideal for measuring small Doppler shifts due to terrestrial planets.

Faint signal

Even so, the researchers think they will need several years of data to smooth out random noise in their observations to be able to spot the faint signal of another Earth. That’s because a terrestrial planet would cause Alpha Centauri B to wobble at speeds of only about 10 centimetres per second.

Laughlin and his team will start to monitor Alpha Centauri in May, using a 1.5-metre telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. As well as searching for planets, their observations will be used to analyse the stars’ natural oscillations, which could reveal details about their internal structures.

‘Test tube universe’ hints at unifying theory

Test tubes

A “universe in a test tube” that could be used to assess theories of everything has been created by physicists.

  • Time is running out – literally, say scientists”
  • Are we missing a dimension of time?
  • Are dark forces at work in space?
  • The test tube, the size of a little finger, has been cooled to a fraction of a degree above the lowest possible temperature, absolute zero, which is just over 273 degrees below the freezing point of water.

    Does one of these test tubes hold a baby Universe?

    Inside the tube an isotope of helium (called helium three) forms a “superfluid”, an ordered liquid where all the atoms are in the same state according to the theory that rules the subatomic domain, called quantum theory.

    What is remarkable is that atoms in the liquid, at temperatures within a thousandth of a degree of absolute zero, form structures that, according to the team at Lancaster University, are similar those seen in the cosmos.

    “In effect, we have made a universe in a test tube,” says Richard Haley, who did the work with Prof George Pickett and other members of the “Ultra-low Temperature Group.”

    The Holy Grail of physics is to establish an overarching explanation to unite all the particles and forces of the cosmos. But one of the complaints commonly levelled at a leading contender for a “theory of everything”, called string theory, is that it is impossible to test.

    But now, according to the study in the journal Nature Physics, it may be possible using the universe in a test tube. “It was a serendipitous discovery,” says Haley.

    The equations used to describe this superfluid turn up in many other branches of physics. “For instance, the internal structure of the superfluid mirrors very closely the structure of space-time itself, the ‘background’ of the universe in which we live,” says Haley.

    “Consequently the superfluid can be used to simulate particle and cosmic phenomena; black holes, cosmic strings and the Big Bang for instance.

    “This is great for testing theories, since the equations describing helium-3 are well-established enough to say that it is the most complex system for which we already have the ‘Theory of Everything’,” Haley continues.

    “If the analogous experiments don’t work in helium-3, then it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board (or computer) with your latest pet theory.”

    Since the pioneering work of Albert Einstein, the quest for a theory of everything has depended on combining theories of the very small (quantum theory) and the very large (relativity).

    One of the strangest features of such theories is that they require the universe to have more than three spatial dimensions to unify our picture of all forces and all matter. One promising candidate is supersymmetric string theory, in which ripples on strings are interpreted as particles. But, to their surprise, physicists found five superstring theories. Now the Lancaster experiments provide new insights into the phenomena predicted by these theories.

    For the past three decades it has been known that strings are one member of a bigger class of objects called branes, which exist in higher dimensional space, that could be extended in more than one dimension – from strings of one dimension, to membranes of two dimensions, to those of p dimensions, dubbed p-branes. Moreover string theories and p-branes are facets of one underlying 11-dimensional M theory, which suggests that we live in a brane world: a four-dimensional surface, or brane, in a higher dimensional mixture of space and time.

    People and most particles move in the brane, while the higher dimensions provide a framework to unify all forces, from gravity to those that act between atomic particles. While experiments have begun to highlight cracks in the current best theory, called “the standard model”, there is evidence that M theory’s extra hidden dimensions could be revealed next year when a Geneva atom smasher – the £4.4 billion Large Hadron Collider – begins experiments. But the Lancaster team offers another route to address this impasse.

    One idea is that a collision between a brane and an antibrane could have triggered the Big Bang itself. This can now be simulated in superfluid helium within the little test tube.


    The World As I See It -An Essay By Albert Einstein


    “How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving…

    “I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.

    “My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a ‘lone traveler’ and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude…”

    “My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader. In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates; force attracts men of low morality… The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.

    “This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor… This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!

    “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man… I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”


    Support NASA funding!


    Ask your Senator to support the Mikulski-Hutchison amendment

    Follow the link above to automatically email your senator. Auto sends to the correct senator based on the state you choose.

    The U.S. Senate is about to vote on the NASA funding for next year. They may also consider an amendment by Senators Mikulski and Hutchison adding $1 billion to the NASA budget, allowing for full support of missions of science and exploration. This is your chance to take a stand in support of a space exploration program that brought us the Mars Rovers, Cassini-Huygens, New Horizons, and other exciting missions. Write your Senators today! Ask them to support the NASA budget and vote for the Mikulski-Hutchison amendment.

    Science should be ‘as exciting as science fiction’ says Hawking


    CAMBRIDGE, England (AFP) – British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking revealed his desire on Monday to make “real science as exciting as science fiction” as he publicised a new book for children about the cosmos.

    “It is easier to explain things to children because they have open minds and are eager to learn,” he told reporters at the prestigious Cambridge University, where he is a professor.

    “George’s Secret Key to the Universe”, the first book in a planned trilogy, explains the workings of the solar system, asteroids, black holes — one of Hawking’s favourite topics — and other celestial bodies with the help of a set of young heroes.

    It will be released in French on Thursday, and in English a week later, and is set to be sold in 29 countries. The second book in the trilogy will be published next year.

    The book was written with his daughter Lucy, who came up with the idea, and Christophe Galfard, the first Frenchman to write a doctorate thesis on Hawking’s observations.

    “Our aim is to make real science as exciting as science fiction,” Hawking said.

    Lucy Hawking, a journalist and writer, told the press conference that one of her father’s common refrains was, “That’s too much science fiction, we do science fact.”

    The trio wanted to “provide a modern vision of cosmology from the Big Bang to the present day,” without presenting it as magic, Galfard said.

    “All of what we see (in the universe) corresponds exactly to what has happened already,” he added.

    The sole element of fiction in the book involves Cosmos, a supercomputer that opens a door allowing George and his friends to travel into space aboard an asteroid.

    “I don’t know of any other book quite like ‘George’s Secret Key to the Universe’,” Hawking, 65, said.

    “I think we may be unique.”

    Hawking, who is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University — a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton — suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

    He was diagnosed with the muscle-wasting motor neuron disease at the age of 22. He is in a wheelchair and speaks with the aid of a computer and voice synthesizer.

    His work has centered on theoretical cosmology and quantum gravity, looking at the nature of such subjects as space-time, the “Big Bang” theory and black holes.

    In April, he experienced weightlessness for the first time, on a zero gravity flight, on a modified jet that flew a rollercoaster trajectory to create the impression of microgravity.

    Asked about the choice facing the heroes in his book — saving the world from global warming or finding another planet that is habitable for humans — he said that, like George, he would opt to focus on both.

    “I’m very worried that global warming might become self-sustaining and the temperature might continue to rise even if we cut (carbon) emissions. I hope we have not reached that point yet but it is urgent,” he said.

    “I think the human race doesn’t have a future if we don’t go into space. We need to expand our horizons beyond planet Earth … Sooner or later, disaster such as an asteroid collision or nuclear war, could wipe us all out.”