This concerns news that is somewhat dated. I have not seen it previously reported on Daily Kos but if it has been I apologize for stepping on somebody's toes. Beginning January 2011 Mr Rossi has put on a series of demonstrations of his device. Several of them have been fiascos. And each one of them had been completely stage-managed by Rossi himself. Understandably he has been under much pressure to allow a third party review of his technology. He finally agreed to do so and the result, flawed as it is,Indication of anomalous heat energy production in a reactor device, was released this past May 16.
Detractors have had their say but this report appears to represent a potential milestone on the road to replacing fossil fuels. It is brief, contains little hard science, and I think it deserves to be read by anyone who wishes to keep abreast of potentially game-changing energy technology. It concerns a precise measurement of the energy input to and output from Mr Rossi's reactor. It was signed off by seven university professors representing at least four different institutions.
Naturally the objections to this report have been many, strenuous and for the most part valid, and obviously need to be dealt with. In the interest of saving us all some time I present what I think is a reasonably objective summary of the objections and counter-objections below the fold.
1) It is just a black-box demonstration. My son, of whom I am justifiably quite proud, is in physics at Harvard. He doesn't care a whit for a black box demonstration. Black box means that Mr Rossi has yet to let anybody look inside his reactor nor has he yet described in any detail what it is composed of and how it works. When my son publishes a paper he puts in enough detail that a similarly talented and equipped physics team ought to be able to reproduce the results. He says that is how science is supposed to work.
Problem is Mr Rossi is an entrepreneur working for himself. As far as I know, if he applied for a patent for a cold fusion device he would receive a form letter stating Cold Fusion technology is not recognized as scientifically valid therefore not patentable. Assuming he is not a fraud (an assumption I am for the moment choosing to make), millions of dollars could be riding on when and how he chooses to reveal his intellectual property. Whether his immortal soul is imperiled by his choosing to delay the revelation is a matter between Mr Rossi and his god.
2) It was not an objective third party review. I assume that Mr Rossi chose the ones he was going to allow to review his device. And naturally people object that the lead author in the report is one Giuseppe Levi, a professor who has been involved with Rossi since at least 2011. That does not sound too objective. Two of the others are Swedish professors who visited Rossi's lab in 2011 and had mildly positive things to say about Mr Rossi's technology at the time. They expressed an interest to be invited back to review the reactor more thoroughly and Mr Rossi invited them back. I'm not sure whether using these two individuals represents a violation of objectivity or just reflects the sort of collegiality that is expected as science progresses. The other four individuals have no apparent connection to Mr Rossi.
So there are reasons to suspect the impartiality of the review. Nevertheless seven academics signed off on a report that indicated their concensus that anomalous energy is being produced. Considering the professional disaster that would ensue if they knew or should have known that the reactor was a fraud, it is hard to imagine why they would do so.
3. They failed to measure the output energy properly. The previous version of Mr. Rossi's reactor allegedly produced temperatures just above the boiling point of water. The energy output was calculated using the throughput of water and the temperature of the steam. This created enormous difficulties in that if any unboiled water was exiting the device along with the steam, this would hopelessly corrupt the calculation. It was very difficult to prove that the steam was dry and the skeptics raised hell as they should have. The current device appears to produce temperatures above 600 degrees Celsius. The device cannot be water-cooled because that would shut it down. To design the plumbing that would use superheated steam or hot oil to carry the heat away involved a new layer of technology that Mr Rossi apparently chose not to involve. So Mr Rossi just set the reactor up in an open space, and he (they) employed a special camera that is designed and sold to measure all the heat radiation that is being produced by some device. A presumably verified set of calculations is then performed to arrive at the device's power output. My guess is that the lab company wouldn't design and sell such a camera if there wasn't scientific agreement that its function is valid. There were a few objections as to the precise way the camera was deployed,but I think the skeptics understood that these issues would have resulted in a lowered output reading and would have underestimated the power.
4) They failed to measure the input power properly and were thereby hoaxed by Mr Rossi. The reactor functions by using a certain amount of electrical energy input to produce an anomalous amount of heat. The reviewers used clamp on devices to measure the amount of power being drawn by the reactor. It was immediately pointed out that the power cord could have had an extra lead or two placed within that may have allowed extra current to be drawn that would not be noticed by the meter.
So that could constitute the hoax, because the reviewers failed to cut the cable and count the leads. Of course if they had the entire fraud would have come crashing to an immediate halt, and Mr Rossi would have been taking an enormous risk of having his whole enterprise end then and there. Would he have been willing to take such a risk? Hopefully we will soon find out.