A few days ago, I posted this entry on cold fusion in relation to Stanley Pons and Martin Flesichmann. I received quick responses from a few readers and it made me wonder what it is about cold fusion that generates such prompt responses.
Cold fusion is an electric topic that draws attention due to the possible applications of the theory. As wired.co.uk journalist David Hambling noted, the idea of cold fusion is an attractive one – he says “the dream of cold fusion is that it brings cheap, unlimited energy from devices that can be built in a garage.”
This is a dream that John Bockris, professor in the physical sciences whose claims about cold fusion caused controversy and secured the 1997 Ig Nobel Prize, probably pursued.
Dr. Eugene Mallove wrote that Bockris was “one of the top two or three electrochemists of the 20th century. . .Bockris and his student protégés pioneered many of the current directions in electrochemistry.”
Bockris studied cold fusion and nuclear transmutation. In 1992, he published his work under the title “Cold Fusion” or “Condensed Matter Nuclear Reactions”. This work drew criticism from the scientific population. This instance was not so much a case of hype in science as it was part of a continuing paradigm shift in terms of what areas of study were considered acceptable in science at that time.
A lack of consensus within the scientific community, can alter the trajectory of research. In the case of cold fusion, the attempt to shift the paradigm to support for the theory, for the most part, failed. It continues through a small groups (like the Martin Flesichmann Memorial Project) and individual researchers.
It’s ability to enter normative science, or not, is determined by the strength of the consensus. I doubt that support or agreement on cold fusion is going to happen, at least not anytime soon.