Cold fusion, the ability to generate nuclear power at room temperatures, has proven to be a highly elusive feat. In fact, it is considered by many experts to be a mere pipe dream -- a potentially unlimited source of clean energy that remains tantalizing, but so far unattainable.
However, a recently published academic paper from the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego throws cold water on skeptics of cold fusion. Appearing in the respected journal Naturwissenschaften, which counts Albert Einstein among its distinguished authors, the article claims that Spawar scientists Stanislaw Szpak and Pamela Mosier-Boss have achieved a low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) that can be replicated and verified by the scientific community.
Cold fusion has gotten the cold shoulder from serious nuclear physicists since 1989, when Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann were unable to substantiate their sensational claims that deuterium nuclei could be forced to fuse and release excess energy at room temperature. Spawar researchers apparently kept the faith, however, and continued to refine the procedure by experimenting with new fusionable materials.
Szpak and Boss now claim to have succeeded at last by coating a thin wire with palladium and deuterium, then subjected it to magnetic and electric fields. The researchers have offered plastic films called CR-39 detectors as evidence that charged particles have been emerging from their reaction experiments.
The Spawar method shows promise, particularly in terms of being easily reproduced and verified by other institutions. Such verification is essential to widespread acceptance of the apparent breakthrough and is an important precursor to scientists receiving the necessary funding to fuel additional research in the field.