I’m sure you remember cold fusion, but do you remember gamma ray producing clouds?

Cold Fusion was first reported in 1989. The original experiment was supposed to have produced extra heat that could not be explained wiht chemistry or electronics, so naturally, fusion was considered. Contrary to popular belief, that original experiment has been replicated successfully. The problem isn’t that the first experiment produced actual extra heat and no one doing the same experiment could match that result. Rather, none of the attempts at using this experimental set up worked, including the first one. So, yes, the experiment was successfully replicated, and in all cases, nothing happened.

ResearchBlogging.org The bits and pieces that would have been relevant to cold fusion had it existed have been used and reused in a small, but global, cottage industry of cold fusion experimenters, since the original experiment and continuing to today. Very little cold fusion work since the first Fleischmann–Pons experiments has followed those original protocols, and in fact, they are quite different experiments, often looking for very different things. It is a little like this: Someone claims that Bigfoot lives in a certain forest. So, lots of people show up to find Bigfoot. Over a period of a year or so everyone realizes that the Bigfoot claim was bogus. But, there are still people looking in the forest, and some of them come back with blurry pictures of what they claim is Chupacabra. Someone else finds that the lake in the forest has mermaids, but again, the photos are blurry. And so on.

I’m mostly glad they have been doing this research though. The possibility of a “nuclear” kind of thing happening with basic chemistry is too important to totally write off just because, well, there is no evidence for it. As long as a) the total budget for this research stays below 0.00001% of the total physics and chemistry research budget for the world, and b) after a while we just stop looking if nothing is found, then that’s OK.


Unfortunately, while condition A has been met, condition B has not. They should probably stop now.

Anyway here’s an interesting story. I remember when Cold Fusion was a thing, and I remember how stridently the anti-cold fusion masses swarmed Pons and Flieishman and how unequivocally they were driven into the swamp. The whole idea of stuff that can only happen in a nuclear reactor or inside a star being done in a test tube was outrageous! We’ve finally gotten over that; we now know that tiny theoretical black holes are forming all the time in the upper atmosphere because of cosmic rays running into our earthly molecules, for example. (And people probably knew that back then. If it is true.) The point is, if someone came along within a short time after the initial unveiling and rapid beheading of Cold Fusion with anything that looked even a little like nuclear physics happening in a setting where chemists (or any other scientists) operate, stern looks ensued.

So, in 1991, when the open festering wound of cold fusion was just starting to scar over, an interesting observation was made. Previously, it had been noticed by spy planes, astronauts, etc. (people who were really really high) that blue streaks or flashes would sometimes come flying out of the tops of the larger thunder heads. In 1991 someone flying over a storm system with a gamma ray detector picked up gamma rays flying out of the clouds. As I remember this, it was in association with blue flashes. I also remember the observation being treated gingerly. Reactions from “Oh, interesting, someone should look at that maybe” to “Well, obviously you can’t get gamma rays from lightning, that’s impossible, but well, whatever, cold fusion ugh” were to be found at that time.

Since then, slowly but surely, the gamma ray bursts have been observed and confirmed and it is real. It turns out that this happens because a particularly energetic bit of lightning totally wastes some atoms and gamma rays come flying out (upwards, mainly). Indeed, if Pons and Fleishman had produced a small amount of extra heat after ablating some matter with a giant laser, that may have been believable. (but it would not have been cold, so who cares?) These gamma rays, coming out of the clouds, are not cold fusion. They are high energy reactions to high energy actions.

Anyway, there is some new research on the gamma rays that you might be interested in. Here’s the abstract:

We present the very first simultaneous detection from space of a terrestrial gamma ray flash (TGF) and the optical signal from lightning. By fortuitous coincidence, two independent satellites passed less than 300 km from the thunderstorm system that produced a TGF that lasted 70? ?s. Together with two independent measurements of radio emissions, we have an unprecedented coverage of the event. We find that the TGF was produced deep in the thundercloud at the initial stage of an intracloud (IC) lightning before the leader reached the cloud top and extended horizontally. A strong radio pulse was produced by the TGF itself. This is the first time the sequence of radio pulses, TGF, and optical emissions in an IC lightning flash has been identified.

The important finding here is that the lightning bolt that makes the gamma ray is ginormous and propagates from a very low altitude compared to what they were previously assuming.

There is also a write-up that I think is not behind a paywall HERE.

First thought to be generated at high altitudes, researchers have recently pinned down the origin of the fleeting lightning-linked bursts—one of the most energetic surges of natural electromagnetic radiation on Earth—to altitudes below 20 kilometers, in the layer of the atmosphere where most weather happens.

If only we could harness this energy!

Østgaard, N., Gjesteland, T., Carlson, B., Collier, A., Cummer, S., Lu, G., & Christian, H. (2013). Simultaneous observations of optical lightning and terrestrial gamma ray flash from space Geophysical Research Letters DOI: 10.1002/grl.50466

Photo Credit: Striking Photography by Bo Insogna via Compfight cc

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22 thoughts on “I’m sure you remember cold fusion, but do you remember gamma ray producing clouds?

  1. Please be careful to use Cold Fusion as a strawman.7

    The fact is that things are still denied, but works.
    It is even becoming industrial, and most critics simply ignore all data after 1989.

    situation need some reading.
    You may get Ed Storms Cold fusion review 2010 in naturwissenschaften.
    You may get the F&P replication by Longchampt at CEA Grenoble (one of the only exact replication, exact because done by an industrial engineer of CEA , not by a creative scientist)
    You may also get some critics of MIT and caltech paper, even if criticizing a failure is useless, at least observing the bad quality of an experiment give explanation.
    ed storms have made in 1996 a manual to replicate F&P.
    ENEA published for ICCF15 it’s work that show that crystallography state, beside impurities, loading, current density, temperature, is one of the key factor and allow controlling the success.
    By the way the notion of “lack of reproducibility ” is not honest, since even if many electrodes were not producing anomalous heat, there were some who worker all the time.

    As I explain in an article linked to the one I give you, many used arguments are absolutely strange for a scientist…
    Reading Thomas Kuhn make me understand it could not have been different since there is still no LENr theory.

    Science may only see LENR when it appear in Wall Street Journal.
    Already National Instruments have taken the train, and NIWeek2013 will be great.

    best regards, and sorry to give you so much work…

    — AlainCo — the techwatcher of LENR-Forum

  2. Interesting post. I had never heard of this before.

    Prepare for a crank onslaught over your honest description of the “state” of cold fusion. You already had one such at #1.

  3. My modest contribution os worthless…
    If I’m a crank, you will have to tell that too about Mr Truchard of national Instruments and Stefano Concezzi his big-science division direct (he was selling expensive control system for tokamak – what a fall), To aldo Proia (ex-energaya).
    Tell that To Carlo Rubbia, Violante, to Nasa GRC, to US Navy Spawar, to CEA Grenoble, to CNAM electrochemistry team, to daniel borel the founder of logitec, to Alexandros Xanthoulis a greek economist, to BARC, to Bockris, to hans gerischer, …

    You can ridicule me safely, but I’m sure that the businessmen have bone their due diligence, and other researchers were mainstream before having seen LENR.

    You have to guess why loose experiments done by inexperienced team at Caltech and MIT , with proven flaws, ware chosen as reference facing both a top electrochemis of 89, confimed by an skeptic in 91, and replicated by a CEA engineer…

    really you should read before taking a risky position.

    I imagine you have nothing to lose if you are wrong, but imagine that there is no safe position, and that both error make you lose money.

  4. Dean, there seems to be only one person who supports cold fusion.

    Anyway, I gave cold fusion more credit than most do. I expected (still expect) to get yelled at for not being meaner to it.

    I noticed cold fusion was not proposed as an explanation for mantis shrimp.

  5. If we could build a beanstalk, or space elevator, we’d have a conductive cable from the ionosphere to ground. What kind of energy would that allow us to harness? Can we measure units of energy in Mantis Shrimp? I predict a beanstalk could produce a continuous supply of power in the range of 200k stomatopods!

  6. Rossi just held another “demonstration” of his latest device. Great study in scamming. One of his defenders was so desperate to explain why he should be believed this time that he said
    “What happens inside an NI/H reactor is not of this universe.”
    As well as something about it having to be true because quantum mechanics allows for strange things. (Discussions at Starts With A Bang). How prevalent is the belief in that stuff? It does appear the true believers are quite stubborn in spite of the lack of evidence.
    No idea about the shrimp, but there certainly seems to be the possibility for a SYFY classic movie. “Mega mantis shrimp versus Octoshark”.

  7. Artor, if there are aliens watching us they are probably giddy over the folly of burning old gunk instead of …. whatever it is they would do to tap any one of the huge sources of energy that we live right inside of.

  8. Oh, there is way more than one cold-fusioner out there, Greg. One group has an office about a mile from where I live. My dad called me up to let me know about them, and got very, very upset that I would not go talk physics with them and let him know if it would be a good investment opportunity. He wanted my opinion because he figured I had a good understanding of physics. After I gave him my opinion (gently), the only thing that changed is that he now no longer thinks I understand physics.

  9. The cosmic rays speculated influence on the weather was supposed to go: LESS cosmic rays hence LESS clouds hence hotter climate.

    But there are no evidence that there are less cosmic rays than 100 years ago, or any measurable change in cloud cover. No evidence that cosmic rays influence cloud formation at the same degree than say, salt crystals.

  10. Well, there was *intriguing* work at BYU concerning Muon Catalized Fusion. However, It got shitcanned when the lead researcher diverted his time to the more pressing issue (to him, at least) of proving the existance of (the afore to never heard of outside really, really rude circles of those who ‘breath together’ ) *nano thermate* .

  11. Apparently the conclusive study of LENR?


    Note the reference to radon near the end. It sounds like they’re saying there’s an environmental contamination of radon in the vicinity of Naples. This would explain why the positive results of LENR experiments occur in Italy.

    This would mean it has nothing at all to do with the experimental device. LENR doesn’t exist, and the excess heat detected by the experiments is entirely due to the radioactive decay of radon! So if just a trace amount of radon in the environment has produced enough energy to fake LENR, just think how much energy we could get by actually collecting radon!

  12. Current Science? Interesting point made by the editors (final bolded portion my emphasis).

    All articles published in Current Science, especially editorials, opinions and commentaries, letters and book reviews, are deemed to reflect the individual views of the authors and not the official points of view, either of the Current Science Association or of the Indian Academy of Sciences.

  13. @greg laden
    you link is what ? you bough key word?

    when I make the search my resulst are very different

    you have the APS google, like china have their own google?

    about the peer review, ad ul rahman loma who wrote teh article on heat/he4 correlation metaanalysis explains that the peer review was real and implied many changes

    “Last year, the editors of the section solicited papers from
    researchers in the field of LENR.
    These papers went through two reviews, first by the special section editors and then, if the editors decided to forward the paper, by a normal peer reviewer
    assigned by Current Science.

    The anonymous reviewer of my paper was familiar with physics and not with cold fusion, and was skeptical at first.
    Yes, I modified my paper extensively in response to his critique and it is, no doubt,
    better for it.
    Apparently, he was convinced, he gave a glowing recommendation for publication.”

    Anyway some people will never admit they were fooled, by APS and Caltech in may 1989.

    others can read

  14. The link is to a search engine that scans respectable and reliable science based sources.

    These specialized search engines are common, and they are not china!

  15. I noticed cold fusion was not proposed as an explanation for mantis shrimp.

    It wouldn’t be ‘cold’ if considered on the micro-scale.

    These gamma rays, coming out of the clouds, are not cold fusion. They are high energy reactions to high energy actions.

    A high energy environment seems to exist within regions of cavitation utilized by Mantis/Pistol shrimp — Sonoluminescence in cavitation is not disclosed to be fully understood. Though initial *bubble fusion* work and results seems in question due to scientific misconduct, it is within these tiny bubbles where I’d expect such reactions may possibly be encouraged to occure while the surrounding media would still be relatively ‘cool’:

    It was realized that the temperature inside the bubble was hot enough to melt steel. Interest in sonoluminescence was renewed when an inner temperature of such a bubble well above one million kelvins was postulated. This temperature is thus far not conclusively proven; rather, recent experiments conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign indicate temperatures around 20000 K. …
    …An unusually exotic hypothesis of sonoluminescence, which has received much popular attention, is the Casimir energy hypothesis suggested by noted physicist Julian Schwinger and more thoroughly considered in a paper by Claudia Eberlein of the University of Sussex. Eberlein’s paper suggests that the light in sonoluminescence is generated by the vacuum within the bubble in a process similar to Hawking radiation, the radiation generated at the event horizon of black holes. According to this vacuum energy explanation, since quantum theory holds that vacuum contains virtual particles, the rapidly moving interface between water and gas converts virtual photons into real photons… If true, sonoluminescence may be the first observable example of quantum vacuum radiation. The argument has been made that sonoluminescence releases too large an amount of energy and releases the energy on too short a time scale to be consistent with the vacuum energy explanation, although other credible sources argue the vacuum energy explanation might yet prove to be correct.


    ^^ It is noted that such temperatures would be difficult to verify due to the opaqueness of water to various frequencies.

    I’m thinking cavitation may be a way to concentrate ‘kludgy’ energy input somewhat like ‘optically pumping’ a laser. The bottom cleanly busting out of a beer bottle due to a not-so-forcefull slap from a gloved hand might illustrate this:

    since hitting the bottle accelerates it only briefly, the pressure at the bottom of the bottle quickly returns to normal. As such, the bubbles collapse. However, they mysteriously collapse about 10 times faster than they formed in the first place. These violent reactions catastrophically crack the bottom of the bottle. The water floods out afterward.


  16. Gamma rays are produced in thunderclouds as a result of positron electron collisions and Hydrogen explosions. Hydrogen is produced via electrolysis from the water vapour in the clouds. Positive discharge to ground is positrons and originates from the top of thunder clouds, negative discharge to ground originates from the bottom of thunderclouds. Positrons are most likely produced via hydrogen explosions, extreme heat or by bombarding neutrons with more gamma rays. Could a possible chain reaction be occurring in thunder heads, that could be replicated controlled and sustained in the lab.? Is this even something worth thinking about?

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