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Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 12:11:07 -0500

To: correspondent

Before we completely write off cold fusion, let us at least do some constructive thinking and not ourselves be "instant decision" skeptics.

Obviously cold fusion is highly improbable in normal circumstances since in probability there is never a 100% probability, else it would be a certainty and not statistical) or else it would be occurring widely in chemistry, and would long ago have been noted.

So let us examine HOT fusion, and why it has to be HOT in the first place.

In a solution, obviously there is a great entourage of ions and molecules, bonding reactions, etc.  There is also Brownian motion, so small things are in violent motion already. However, as two deuterium ions in a deuterated solution approach each other (say, from random Brownian motion), the two like charges increasingly repel, providing the well-known Coulomb barrier.  So the real problem in the normal chemical solution is that the two deuterons cannot each reach the strong force region of the other, because of the Coulomb barrier. Hence no chemical element transmutations normally, because of one thing and one thing only: the Coulomb barrier.

Hypothetically, then, there are only two ways to produce that desired transmutation and form a new nucleus.  One way (the hot fusion way) simply adds sufficient kinetic energy to one of the particles, with the other as the target, so that the sheer brute kinetic energy (and therefore "high temperature") of the impinging particle is so great that the Coulomb force is sufficiently overcome for the projectile to approach through the Coulomb barrier into the strong force region of its target.  If it reaches the strong force region well, then the two particles form a "quasi-nucleus", temporarily "bound together", but still not a full nucleus because of energy disbalance etc.

In hot fusion, many (even most) of these quasi-nuclei then fission prior to making a "decay" action (spitting out a particle, flipping a quark, emitting a photon, etc.) to form a legitimate nucleus.  A few, however (that may have made a closer approach and be a little better bound in the quasi-nucleus state) do make the transition, undergoing a transitioning reaction to decay into a full, bonafide nucleus.

And that is the overview of the main scheme of hot fusion, at least in colliding particles and colliding beams.

The only reason on God's green earth for all the high energy (high temperature) is simply to overcome the Coulomb barrier sufficiently to form that quasi-nucleus. The actual process of "fusion or no fusion" occurs after the quasi-nucleus stage.

That is the first hypothetical method by which fusion can be accomplished, and it has been developed and experimentally proven for decades now, and is very well known and completely accepted. It is "good solid science", and no one in his right mind can argue with it!  It also isn't very practical for future power plants, as several decades and several billions of dollars have shown.  Most estimates in response to the question, "When will usable fusion electrical power systems be available and in use?" is still "Maybe in the next 50 years".

However, hypothetically there is a second (and very different) path remaining, that could conceivably provide that quasi-nucleus.  That is, if the Coulomb barrier can be eliminated or reversed MOMENTARILY, for sufficient duration, then by random chance and Brownian motion some of the like-charged ions (in the assumed absence of the Coulomb barrier or its reversal into an attractor) will approach each other sufficiently close to each get within (be drawn into) the strong force region of the other, forming a quasi-nucleus.  Once a quasi-nucleus is formed --- by whatever means --- then hot fusion already tells us how the behavior and reactions go from there.  Many or most of the quasi-nuclei would fission apart again before full fusion occurs. However, some would successfully make the usual decay reaction into a full nucleus, just exactly as in hot fusion from the quasi-nucleus stage on.  The "hot" in hot fusion has nothing at all to do with the second phase (decay from the quasi-nucleus), but only with ACHIEVING the quasi-nucleus in the first place.

So far this "reversal of the Coulomb reaction" is still totally hypothetical. So now the question becomes, is there any solid scientific evidence that such reversal of the Coulomb barrier can be done in nature? In short, what we are asking is, can reactions run absolutely backwards temporarily (in time-reversed fashion), so that LIKE CHARGES MOMENTARILY ATTRACT AND UNLIKE CHARGES MOMENTARILY REPEL?  If the answer is "No!", then one can forget cold fusion and write it off; it isn't going to happen.  If the answer is "Yes!", then cold fusion must be possible if everything can be arranged correctly to get the "reversed reactions" situation so that quasi-nuclei will be formed by the SECOND hypothetical method.

More than 600 reported successful cold fusion experiments have occurred worldwide, in many labs, by many recognized experimenters (more than 100, in several nations.  But also difficulties have plagued the experiments, etc. So the question of good replication still remains, and continued open-minded skepticism is warranted.

I personally ASSUMED such little zones (where reactions run backwards temporarily) do occur, and published example nuclear reactions in 2000 which could result, including results which did match many of the common results reported by the cold fusion experimenters.  We also explained strange instrument anomalies experienced at China Lake for some years in electrolyte experiments, where nuclear counters "read" repeatedly in the otherwise proven absence of nuclear radiation (this was fairly extensively tested).

But one should also go outside the cold fusion experiments altogether, because of the replication difficulties there.  The question remains: Is there strong evidence elsewhere that such "reaction reversal zones" do form in solutions, and -- if so --- is the duration of such length that quasi-nuclei would have a decent probability of forming in the temporary "Coulomb attractor" situation?

The answer is "Yes!" 

But of all things, the experiments and work are in thermodynamics, under the general direction and stimulus of D. J. Evans at the Australian National Laboratory and other colleagues of his. 

Let me explain the gist of that work. 

First, modern thermodynamics is based on statistical mechanics largely. 

In the base subject, statistics are subject to transient fluctuation, else the situation would be deterministic and not statistical.  So the statistics do fluctuate, as is well-established in science. Evans and Searles placed these transient fluctuations in the thermodynamic statistics of the production of entropy on a very solid theoretical basis, then extended it to several different applications. Later Crooks further generalized the theorem as well.  Experimental investigations of course were ongoing, and confirmed the statistical fluctuations.  So far, one has not said anything too startling! The cogent observation to be made is that the statistical phenomena do fluctuate, and in one of these temporary fluctuation zones the reactions really do run backwards, producing negative entropy rather than positive entropy. That is now on a solid basis, both theoretically and experimentally.

However, in July 2002 Wang, Evans, et al. published a fundamental paper containing rather shocking experiments of potentially great importance. They showed such "reversal zones" (my old assumed terminology) or more accurately, transient fluctuation zones at the cubic micron level and lasting for up to two seconds (some even longer!).  In water, e.g., a cubic micron contains some 30 billion ions and molecules, etc.  So what we have now is the experimentally established proof that, under certain conditions, reversal (transient fluctuation) zones can and do occur in solutions in zones of up to 30 billion ions and molecules, where negative entropy rules temporarily and reactions are indeed reversed!

That means that we can now -- under certain conditions -- have the formation of temporary zones in electrolytes where the Coulomb barrier temporarily is reversed, and does become a Coulomb attractor.  While much additional experimental work obviously remains to be done, this is a very strong and totally independent confirmation of the POSSIBILITY of cold fusion.  I.e., of the possibility of the formation of quasi-nuclei WITHOUT using all the high kinetic energy and high temperature to forcibly (by brute force) drive the particles together in spite of the Coulomb barrier.

In short, now there is some independent evidence (though much work must still be done) not even intended for fusion work, that does show the necessary elements existing to permit the SECOND hypothetical method of controlled fusion -- without all the high energy and temperature.

The paper referred to with those experiments and their results is:

G. M. Wang, E. M. Sevick, Emil Mittag, Debra J. Searles, and Denis J. Evans, "Experimental Demonstration of Violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics for Small Systems and Short Time Scales," Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol. 89, No. 5, 29 July 2002, 050601.

The editors of Physical Review Letters kindly sent me a copy of that paper at my request, so I do have a copy of it.

Other papers I mentioned or referred to are:

D. J. Evans, E. G. D. Cohen, and G. P. Morriss, "Probability of second law violations in Nonequilibrium steady states," Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol. 71, 1993, p. 2401-2404; "Erratum", ibid., Vol. 71, 1993, p. 3616.

D. J. Evans and D. J. Searles, "Equilibrium microstates which generate second law violating steady states," Phys. Rev. E, Vol. 50, 1994, p. 1645-1648.

Gavin E. Crooks, "Entropy production fluctuation theorem and the nonequilibrium work relation for free energy differences," Phys. Rev. E, Vol. 60, 1999, p. 2721-2726.

D. J. Searles and Denis J. Evans, "The fluctuation theorem for stochastic systems," Phys. Rev. E, vol. 60, 1999, p. 159-164.

D. J. Searles and D. J. Evans, "The fluctuation theorem and Green-Kubo relations," J. Chem. Phys., Vol. 112, 2000, p. 9727-9735.

D. J. Searles and D. J. Evans, "Ensemble dependence of the transient fluctuation theorem," J. Chem. Phys., Vol. 113, 2000, p. 3503-3509.

D. J. Evans, D. J. Searles, and E. Mittag, "Fluctuation theorem for Hamiltonian systems: Le Chatelier's principle, Phys. Rev. E., Vol. 63, 2001, 051105/1-4.

To characterize the environmental exchange situation utilized in these fluctuation experiments, we quote Blau:  "[There are many theorems] that tackle the statistical nature of fluctuations. Specific forms of the various theorems depend on which thermodynamic parameters (temperature, volume, and so forth) are held constant, whether the system is prepared in an equilibrium state, and other factors.  The transient fluctuation theorem tested by Evans and coworkers applies to systems in a constant-temperature environment and initially at equilibrium."  Steven K. Blau, "The Unusual Thermodynamics of Microscopic Systems," Physics Today, 55(9), Sep. 2002, p. 19-21.  Quote is from p. 19-20.

D. J. Evans himself, in one interview, remarked that this work will have a substantial effect on chemistry.  Please note that, so far as I have seen, none of his work is connected at all with cold fusion, but with thermodynamics and with the question of production of positive and negative entropy.

The wider investigation of chemical solutions --- and the implications or potential implications of proven statistical fluctuations in their reaction directions -- would indeed seem to be a legitimate and open area of scientific inquiry.

Very best wishes,

Tom Bearden.