Friday, April 24, 2009
Last Sunday's edition of the CBS News program 60 Minutes was titled "Race
to Fusion." It was 1989, Fleischmann and Pons are shown with the "cold
fusion" test tube that would have killed them had they been right. Because
they lived, the race was called off. Michael McKubre of SRI apparently
didn't get the memo; he just kept doing it over and over for 20 years.
Lucky for him there's still no fusion, but he says he does get heat –
except when he doesn't. How does it work? He hasn't a clue, but he showed
a video cartoon of deuterium defusing through palladium and said it might
be fusion. In fact McKubre called it "the most powerful source of energy
known to man." Whew! But wait, Dick Garwin did a fusion experiment 60
years ago; it worked all too well. Garwin thinks McKubre is mistaken.
Just about every physicist agrees, so the American Physical Society was
asked to name an independent scientist to examine the claims of Energetics
Technology, according to 60 Min correspondent Scott Pelley. An APS
statement issued Wed. says this is totally false, and the APS does not
endorse the cold fusion claims on 60 Min. (Aside: This morning I thought
I should watch the video on the 60 Min web site one more time. Drat! CBS
took it off. No matter, there's a full transcript. Uh oh! The part where
CBS says the APS picked Rob Duncan to look into the ET SuperWave is gone.
CBS can change history? My God, time travel! Now that is powerful.)
Rob Duncan, vice chancellor of research at the University of Missouri, went
to Israel with 60 Minutes to visit Energetics Technologies, which claims
SuperWave Fusion will solve the energy problem. It shouldn't be necessary
to remind scientists that neither visiting a laboratory, nor peer reviewing
a manuscript, is enough. There must be independent replication of the ET
claims. Without replication, the claims are nothing. The genius behind ET
is the CVO, Chief Visionary Officer, Irving Dardik, MD. Dardik got into
cold fusion after losing his license to practice medicine in New York. It
puts us in mind of Randy Mills of BlackLight Power, another MD who says he
can solve the energy problem. Is SuperWave Fusion another scam?
A cruel FDA ruling in the Bush years was to deny to women under 18 over-the-
counter access to Plan B. Assistant FDA Commissioner Susan Wood resigned
in protest, (WN 2 Sep 05) . The policy
was expected to change in the Obama Administration, but surprisingly the
change was ordered by a federal court first. A federal judge ruled that
the policy was based solely on politics. In fact, it had been opposed by
virtually the entire staff at FDA. The new ruling extends access to 17-year-
olds. But why stop there? Motherhood‘s an even greater problem at 16 and
greater still at 15, nor would it get any easier to confide in a parent.
An op-ed in today's Washington Post coauthored by James Schlesinger, the
first Secretary of Energy, makes the obvious point that although wind and
solar power can produce as much energy as we now use, they can't be
expected to supply it when we need it. For the foreseeable future we will
require a backup source. That adds to the cost. Maybe we should be thinking
more about superconducting energy storage.