UPDATE (See end of post)
A little over two weeks ago, we were talking about Andrea Rossi’s invitation from Senator Bruce Tarr to visit Boston to explore the possibility of eCat manufacturing in Massachusetts. Reading the tealeaves, it seems that Tarr maintained a healthy touch of scepticism but even so, the invitation was remarkable and I wondered then if we were seeing the tip of a larger movement among the power-brokers towards the possibility that cold fusion was real. Many wondered if Rossi was simply looking for investors, hoping to do a deal under the table for buckets of money in one of those tiresome over-complicated fraud stories they make up.
Today, we get another surprise. David Bernstein of the Boston Pheoenix spotted something unusual in the transcript of a Washington Examiner interview with US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Almost jokingly, he mentions cold-fusion and his hope that a solution can be found so that it can be used to produce electricity. As Bernstein notes:
It is unusual, to say the least, that a campaigning Presidential candidate would know anything about cold fusion, let alone recalling off the top of his head the university that conducted an experiment more than two decades ago. It is even odder that a campaigning Presidential candidate would voluntarily cite, in an on-the-record interview, the promise of a science considered by most physicists to be a total hoax. Frankly, you might expect it from Newt Gingrich, not Romney.
The full transcript is here and the audio is on YouTube and embedded below. Romney:
I do believe in basic science. I believe in participating in space. I believe in analysis of new sources of energy. I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with — with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can’t figure out how to duplicate it.
Listen from 3.30 on, to get the comments in context. It’s worth doing this because you will hear him chuckle as he mentions cold fusion. It left me wondering if he was making a joke. I decided he was not but cannot discount the possibility or that the remark was an error (confusing cold fusion for something else). Is this a coincidence too many? Are we truly beginning to see signs of an underlying change in the landscape? As with most things in this story, we cannot be sure. Phrased in such a light-hearted manner, if Rossi pans out, Romney can point to this record and look pretty damned smart. If the eCat does not live up to its promise, he can always say he was joking or that it was a slip of the tongue. Clever, really. He should have been a politician.
Reading some of the comments here and on Vortex got me wondering. On the one hand, his exposition sounds confused. He talks about conducting electricity and then links that to CF and U of Utah. Like others, I thought he may have meant superconductivity but decided against that because of the Utah connection. What if, however, he had recently been briefed on cold fusion, its possible implications and the current controversy surrounding it? He is not deeply conversant with hard science but is extremely good at parsing the words he needs to throw out at the appropriate time. On this occasion and put on the spot, he wants to mention superconductivity but the recent cf brief trips him and he gets the two confused. This is why he laughs and tries to cover up the hiccup. Given the nature of the subject, most people on the planet would not blink at his words so they might just disappear. To him (rightly) it is a minor fluff. It is only those of us watching closely (thank you Mr Bernstein) who notice at all.
That explanation may be a stretch. However, that cf was on his mind, complete with its links to U of U and the problems of replication (all trotted out in a confused stumble) is hard evidence that this scienceless person was briefed. Deliberate mention of cf or error, the brief on its own is pretty significant.
[With thanks to georgehants]
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