OK, we were talking about something completely unrelated (Cobalt) and a Nuclear Cold Fusion discussion broke out. (h/t Jason Calley: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/from-old-scotland-cobalt-from-sea-water/#comment-18439 ) This lead to the squabble over exactly what was causing the excess heat that seemed to be coming from a Cold Fusion / LENR device (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction). The one by Andrea Rossi called an “E-Cat” http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Andrea_A._Rossi_Cold_Fusion_Generator
So I’m off on the BING! Trail trying to figure out phrases like “heavy surface plasmon polariton” and wondering just what is a “low momentum neutron” and didn’t we already have those in low temperature thermal neutrons (that can be sent down a regular old pipe like water…)?…
All found in this link that was talking about the squabble:
Where we have a “NASA Chief” saying maybe something there, but it absolutely positively isn’t Cold Fusion, it’s this other thing by Larsen and Widom… But, as the article makes clear, it sure looks like they are saying almost the same thing with different labels…
Many of the theories have similar themes. Quite a few involve a proton from a hydrogen atom being made “invisible”, being shielded, or made electrostatically neutral by an electron. In other theories, hydrogen atoms are shrunken and turned into mini-atoms or “virtual neutrons.” Basically, in these theories the protons and their electrons (in some kind of altered form) do not experience the full repulsion of the Coulomb barrier, or are able to quantum tunnel through it. After they penetrate the barrier, a transmutation occurs in the metal (the atom gains a proton) and a large amount of energy is released. The end result is nuclear fusion at low temperatures.
The “Widom Larsen” theory is just another variation of the above. In the theory, an exotic type electron called a “heavy surface plasmon polariton” combines with a proton to form an, “ultra low momentum neutron.” This neutron can then penetrate the Coulomb barrier of an atom of nickel (or other metal) to produce transmutations and release energy. Its proponents claim that this theory does not violate any “laws” of physics, and is not nuclear fusion.
talks about the electron getting so close to the proton it’s like a “mini-atom”:
it is conceivable that, for a very short time period (e.g. 10ˆ-18 sec), a series of neutral mini atoms of hydrogen could be formed, in an unstable state, of various size and energy level, distributed within the Fermi band, which is enlarged due to the very short time (Heisenberg).
The neutral mini-atoms of high energy and very short wave length – which is in phase with the “cyclic” orbit (de Broglie) – are statistically captured be the nickel nuclei of the crystal structure with the speed of nuclear reactions (10ˆ-20 sec).
For these mini-atoms to fuse with the nickel nuclei, apart from their neutral character for surpassing the Coulomb barrier, they must have dimensions smaller than 10ˆ-14 m, where nuclear cohesion forces, of high intensity but very short range, are predominant. It is assumed that only a percentage of such atoms satisfy this condition (de Broglie).
So a very small unstable particle called a mini-atom that is composed of a proton and electron so close together as to be a neutral particle as seen from outside. Gee, rather like a neutron. Though a slow and unstable one.
Why all the fuss?
It just nagged at me that there were what looked like “word games” being played. Why? Just “spite” or “failure to accept being wrong”?
When I ran into a possible answer on “why the squabble”?
Does the Rossi device work? If so, it’s his to patent, yes?
Well, maybe not. Maybe, just maybe, if you are in charge of the definitions and he claims “cold fusion” while you redefine that to “heavy surface plasmon polariton” (even though the proposed difference in mechanism looks far more “angels and pins” than “real difference” to me…) one has a “mini-atom” where the electron gets sooo close to the proton that it’s small enough to be seen as effectively a neutral particle and slip past the Coulomb barrier. The other has the electron condense onto the surface of (something… the proton?) into a “heavy surface plasmon polariton” and make a sort of a neutron that isn’t and can slip past the Coulomb barrier.
Yeah, just what I was thinking… Sounds like the same mechanism named differently…
Patent application title: Apparatus and Method for Generation of Ultra Low Momentum Neutrons
Inventors: Lewis G. Larsen (Chicago, IL, US) Alan Widom (Brighton, MA, US)
IPC8 Class: AH05H306FI
USPC Class: 376108000
Publication date: 09/25/2008
Patent application number: 20080232532
Sounds innocuous enough… at least if you don’t know that Ultra Low Momentum Neutrons are just their way of describing what others have called “mini-atoms”…
So just WHY would a name scientist go to all the trouble to try to poach the patent on a “bogus cold fusion device” via such a redefinition game? Hmmm?….
Perhaps there is more to this gizmo than meets the eye. The actions of Mr Larson and Widom certainly raise a lot of “Dig Here!” and “Red Flags” for me…
Method and apparatus for generating ultra low momentum neutrons (ULMNs) using surface plasmon polariton electrons, hydrogen isotopes, surfaces of metallic substrates, collective many-body effects, and weak interactions in a controlled manner. The ULMNs can be used to trigger nuclear transmutation reactions and produce heat. One aspect of the present invention effectively provides a “transducer” mechanism that permits controllable two-way transfers of energy back-and-forth between chemical and nuclear realms in a small-scale, low-energy, scalable condensed matter system at comparatively modest temperatures and pressures.
1. A neutron production method in a condensed matter system at moderate temperatures and pressures comprising: providing collectively oscillating protons; providing collectively oscillating heavy electrons; and providing a local electric field greater than approximately 10.sup.11 volts/meter.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein said providing collectively oscillating protons comprises providing a metallic substrate and fully loading at least the upper portion thereof with hydrogen or deuterium.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein the Born-Oppenheimer approximation breaks down on a working surface of a substrate.
4. A method of producing neutrons comprising the steps of: providing a hydride or deuteride on a metallic surface; developing a surface layer of protons or deuterons on said hydride or deuteride; developing patches of collectively oscillating protons or deuterons near or at said surface layer; and exciting surface plasmons on said metallic surface.
and a whole lot more “claims”.
Yes, the device looks to use lasers to do the pumping instead of electrons, but the way patents are written they usually include claims to any other detail ways of doing the same thing, so a patent expert would need to sort out how broad this might be.
So if they get to claim all the basic patents, then can redefine “cold fusion” as “ULMNs”, and they have the patent on making ULMNs… well, that could be worth something…
I don’t have the needed patent skills to read that thing and know if it does, or does not, infringe on the Cold Fusion guys claims. But it sure looks to me like they are trying to claim the turf of such things. At a minimum I’d expect a big patent fight… eventually…
But what interests me most is the definitional game being played and the simple question “Why?”.
Why try to herd that Rossi device into their turf? If it’s just “junk science”, why choose to be tainted by association?… Unless it isn’t quite so much junk as threat…
or Hi-Def if folks want the higher bit rate (though less complete) version:
For me, two things:
1) I’m now much more interested in that whole Rossi device and its claimed activity.
2) Something stinks in Academia. Really really badly…