Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Submarines, Silent and as Strange: Like Cold Fusion?

The reason truth seems stranger than fiction is because action's precursor has often been government scenario analysis. The reason submarines seem so mysterious is because they are often instruments of stealth or deception.

The cold fusion energy story began in March 1989. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, electrochemists working at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, announced they had created fusion using a battery connected to palladium electrodes immersed in heavy water. The claim of room temperature energy creation stretched credulity of most scientists, as the press told us.

In February 2002 the U.S. Navy revealed that its researchers had been studying cold fusion on the quiet more or less continuously since the debate started (about 12 years). This work was carried out at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, where the idea of generating energy from sea water—a good source of heavy water—may have seemed more natural than at other laboratories. Then, last August, in a small hotel near M. I. T., in Cambridge, about 150 engineers and scientists met for the Tenth International Conference on Cold Fusion. Over the years, it seems, a number of groups around the world had reproduced the Pons-Fleischmann excess heat effect, yielding as much as 250 percent of input energy.

Researchers at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command used infrared video imaging of palladium electrodes as excess energy was released. It turned out that the heat is not produced continuously over the entire electrode but in hot spots that erupt temporaily at the surface. The researchers also recorded curious mini-explosions on the surface. I'm surprised," Dr. Stewart C. Prager, a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin, said in 2004. "I thought most of the cold fusion effort had phased out. I'm just not aware of any physics results that motivated this." The Navy just convinced the DOE to fund more research.

What does this have to do with submarines? Some expect anything the media publishes to be accurate, timely and complete. Fat chance. Gray matter matters.


At 3:30 PM, Blogger jeff said...

Submarines tend to be at the forfront of new propulsion methods - especially the ones that seem to do more with less.

Nuke and AIP/Stirling come to mind.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Vigilis said...

Jeff, you are a creative thinker!

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Vigilis said...

Any scientists out there thinking of a close analogy for these effects? I sure can. Beat me to it.


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