Friday, December 3, 2004
1. COLD, COLD FUSION: SO AFTER 15 YEARS, WHAT HAS BEEN LEARNED?
We've learned that DOE should stop playing games with the Federal Advisory Committee Act while shrouding its review in secrecy (WN 17 Sep 04). Beyond that, we haven't learned much. The report released this week is an attempt to summarize individual comments from 18 unidentified reviewers. The conclusions at the end of the report were: 1) "significant progress has been made in sophistication of calorimeters," and 2)"conclusions reached by reviewers today are similar to those found in the 1989 review." That's it? After 15 years we've got better calorimeters? The 1989 review called for no more cold fusion research. Good advice. Proponents now prefer "low energy nuclear reactions," but "no more" is still good advice.
2. PROLIFERATION: IRAN IS STILL MAKING NUCLEAR-WEAPONS HEADLINES.
The question is: is Iran making nuclear weapons? Nobody seems to know. Last week, WN reported that Iran said it would continue to operate 20 uranium enrichment centrifuges for peaceful research, violating a deal it had just made with European nations. The next day Iran flip-flopped again agreeing to give up the civilian centrifuges. Citing new intelligence, the International Atomic Energy Agency is now seeking access to two military locations to look for evidence of nuclear weapons development, leading to speculation that the civilian flip-flops had been a diversion.
3. PRAYER STUDY: COLUMBIA PROFESSOR REMOVES HIS NAME FROM PAPER.
We have been tracking the sordid story of the Columbia prayer study for three years (WN 05 Oct 01). It claimed that women for whom total strangers prayed were twice as likely to become pregnant from in-vitro fertilization as others; it was published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. At the time we were unaware of the background of the study, but knew it had to be wrong; the first assumption of science is that events result from natural causes. The lead author, Rugerio Lobo, who at the time was Chair of Obstetrics, now says he had no role in the study. The author who set up the study is doing five years for fraud in a separate case, and his partner hanged himself in jail. Another author left Columbia and isn't talking. The Journal has never acknowledged any responsibility, and after withdrawing the paper for "scrutiny," has put it back on the web. Nor has the Journal published letters critical of the study. Columbia has never acknowledged any responsibility. All of this has come out due to the persistence of Bruce Flamm, MD. The science community should flatly refuse all proposals or papers that invoke any supernatural explanation for physical phenomena.