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Zawodny Clarifies NASA Video

January 16, 2012

A few days ago, many of us saw the release of the NASA/Zawodny video as an evident shift in that organisation’s public-facing stance on ‘cold fusion’ (by whatever name). Its star, Joe Zawodny has just posted an important and personal view in an attempt to stop people jumping ahead of themselves. The core points follow from this extract:


First the disclaimers: While I do work for NASA, I do not speak for them.  [snip]

…I wish to respond to a number of things that have popped up on the web in the past few days and weeks. [snip]

…As for what people are trying to read into this video, specifically my use of the word “demonstrated”, it is my professional opinion that the production of excess energy has been demonstrated when the results of the last 20+ years of experimentation are evaluated. [snip]… I did not say, reliable, useful, commercially viable, or controllable.  If any of those other terms were applicable I would have used them instead. If anything, it is the lack of a single clear demonstration of reliable, useful, and controllable production of excess power that has held LENR research back. As a non-technical piece aimed at the general public, my limited media training has taught me that less information/detail is generally better than more. I did not produce or direct the video. While I saw the video before it was released, I did not learn of it’s release until the email started pouring in Thursday morning.

There have been many attempts to twist the release of this video into NASA’s support for LENR or as proof that Rossi’s e-cat really works. Many extraordinary claims have been made in 2010. In my scientific opinion, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I find a distinct absence of the latter. So let me be very clear here. While I personally find sufficient demonstration that LENR effects warrant further investigation, I remain skeptical. Furthermore, I am unaware of any clear and convincing demonstrations of any viable commercial device producing useful amounts of net energy. [snip]…

He then goes on to explain his position about the conduct of tests and the credibility (or otherwise) of claims. This position is the correct one for any scientist to take; it is what makes the method so powerful and stops ourselves from pulling the wool over our own eyes. This is also why science can sometimes appear glacial to those outside looking in. As our world screams along at an ever increasing rate, it pains me to see people bring the expectation of unreasonable haste to the realm of science. I personally believe that internal politics have played an important part to unduly slow the progress of cold fusion/LENR but that does not mean we should expect our scientists to jump the other way and act on everything the web spews at them just because a chunk of people believe they should. We need our scientists (as individuals) to remain sceptical, cautious and to pick their topics (and fights) according to their own goals and beliefs.

That said, the whole world should not be expected to behave as scientists do. No business would survive or prosper on that basis, no guilty party would ever be brought to book, no crazy art or risky venture that captures the imagination would see the light of day. We live our lives in a fabulous whirl of irrational chaos. We rely on scientists to save ourselves from ignorance where it matters and when they declare and introduce their results back into the mix, the whole chaotic melee becomes ever more fabulous – our imaginations stretched by an art built from truth.

In that context, I would like to thank Joe Zawodny for his clarification. In essence he is saying that we should be wary of building this story into NASA’s official endorsement of ‘cold fusion’. We should not assume it says anything about Rossi or the eCat and (in his opinion and as a potential competitor) the ‘proof’ given by the Italian inventor and others fall short of settling the matter with any conviction.

I hope that most readers will not be surprised or disappointed by such a view. I do believe that – no matter its intent – a video on the actual and potential realities of ‘cold fusion’ by NASA is significant and does indeed say something extremely important about the credibility of the field and goes beyond one person’s view on how others should see it. As a public release it will not be viewed in isolation but paired with comments from the likes of Langley’s chief scientist (here and here) and other recent NASA presentations. It is not the detail in the video (there is little of it) but its existence, its intended audience and the message it sends about the laughing-stock of science that matters. It is not an endorsement of Rossi and I hope no one here thought it was. However, anything that enhances the credibility of the field reduces the impact of inappropriate ridicule from some quarters. It is one more thing we can take into account when balancing the weight of imperfect evidence.

Taken in context with energy’s critical role in our future as a species and the need for solutions NOW! we need mavericks who will step beyond certainties to act as entrepreneurs unrestrained by the self-imposed chains worn by the method called ‘science’. A lack of definitive proof is not proof of an absence of truth. The proper position is that we outsiders simply do not know. We make our judgement calls and take an interim stance while we wait for the cards to fall. We are not naive, we are not crazy ‘believers’. Most of us are true sceptics admitting that we are unsure – willing to act on the understanding that we may be wrong. This post by the central actor in that video is a helpful addition to the information mix.

Joe Zawodny further explains why the WL theory is not mentioned explicitly in the video (this may follow from a complaining letter by Krivit). The complete post is here, well worth the read and a nod of gratitude to its author for his work and this clarification.

Posted by on January 16, 2012. Filed under Media & Blogs,Videos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

199 Responses to Zawodny Clarifies NASA Video

  1. Jack

    January 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

    If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, then how the hell could Joe Zawodny try to get a patent on such a claim, as it would be a contradiction of this philosophy. One can only draw two conclusions.(a) He has got extraordinary evidence to support his patent, or (b) he does not believe in the philosophy of extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I think they took out generalized patent on LENR so as to lay claim on any future discoveries in this field. The contradiction here is if NASA say there is little evidence supporting LENR which is an extraordinary claim and lacks extraordinary evidence then why would they be filing for patents in this area.

    • LCD

      January 17, 2012 at 1:18 am

      I believe he’s making the distinction between Rossi and LENR in general. But I understand your frustration.

    • Michael Hendrix

      January 17, 2012 at 1:47 am

      Yours is the best interpretation of the Zawodny Conumdrum.


    • daniel maris

      January 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      Jack –

      Exactly, the patent is the smoking gun here. He can’t deny it without declaring himself a cynical liar. And, of course, he hasn’t denied it, so it stands as a rock of evidence however hard the winds of scepticism blow.

  2. daniel maris

    January 17, 2012 at 4:19 am

    OK – Just a quick survey…

    How many people here contacted Zawdony by e mail following release of the NASA LENR video?

    • daniel maris

      January 17, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      Looks like nobody did…what’s the bet most of the e mails he got were from irate anti-Rossians (many fellow scientists)?

  3. Dale G. Basgall

    January 17, 2012 at 5:05 am

    I read through so many good posts, very entertaining and interesting that I can’t wait to see what next.

    • georgehants

      January 17, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Dale, the quality of most of the posts, to me, is outstanding, the crazy, extraordinary proof myth, is being seen as just another Dogma, P&F have been shown a small amount of concern, loonyman came up with a wonderful link showing that, the peer review joke could be changed away from the insane system where a couple of jealous or closed-minded twerps can block research on any unpopular subject.
      I feel that Rossi has given a great opertunity for science to see its faults and put right many of the closed-minded dogma’s and stupidities that have grown up since Descartes.
      The World is Quantum and almost nothing is known, our children are denied at the ages of about 10 or 12 the knowledge that this material World is an illusion, just so that science can make out it is “expert”.
      Rossi could be credited not just (if genuine) with bringing Cold Fusion to the World but also a long needed change in the stifling environment all great thinkers or researchers now face.

      • Dale G. Basgall

        January 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

        Good morning George; extraordinary is initself not clear, much interpritation on a personal level. I guess a more clear name for this post should have read “Zawondy explains what he meant by his NASA video”.

        From the gut and an instant feeling makes me feel relieved in some way from the NASA video. Relieved that the boost that was needed to drive serious individuals into full blown get er done research on the LENR.

        The Video was clear and a scientist as Zawodny found enough credibility in the science to invest his personal time to write a U.S. Patent application and have it filed in March of 2010. To me that is perfectly clear that in 2009 he had observed a potential in fact that drove him to write a patent application which took him most likely eight to ten months.

        You can’t write a viable patent as an inventor in simply a couple months, it develops in research paperwork and factual happenings.

        So if he wrote a patent in 2009, filed it in March 2010 is seems obvious from the gut it didn’t stop there, the research and development that is. And there is no doubt in my mind there will be a way more suprising development that will be released soon. It’s just a feeling and I think alot of us have it regarding the LENR saga 2012.

        It seems extraordinary could be used to describe 5 people setting in an octagon building within a circle 12′ in diameter. There are windows on every wall and everyone is instructed to look out of the same window from their location where they set. Within 3 minutes ask everyone to write down and describe what they thought they experienced and viewed and most likely none of the descriptions would completely match the others.

        So everyone setting in the same room within a 12″ radius looking out of the same window could possibly see and describe things differently on what they saw. Seeing is believing right!

        So extraordinary, I can’t think of anything that fit’s that description as I understand it.

        • georgehants

          January 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

          Different positive views can open the “windows” different negative views will keep every “window” permanently closed.

  4. arian

    January 17, 2012 at 5:15 am

    A possible theory for rossi reactor

  5. arian

    January 17, 2012 at 5:44 am

    Direct link
    multielectron catalysis theory A possible theory for rossi reactor

  6. Mary 'Thunder Thighs' Yugo

    January 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I can’t believe none of you have hit upon this yet (see link below)
    I found this months ago, and even the hint it gave seemed like the words of a man who fervently believes his work could change “everything for just about everyone on the planet” and that indeed his management at NASA approved it.

    Taken in context with his latest posting, it seems to paint a certain picture, indeed capturing the moment.

    • Dale G. Basgall

      January 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks Mary I missed that one, seems clear by now they must have completed more refining of the process.

      • Camilo

        January 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

        Wow, that is a very telling moment indeed. One can debate ad nauseam if he was refering to his LENR research, but, if not LENR, what else could elicit such a comment?

    • Peter Roe

      January 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      The people at ‘bench’ level in US agencies are clearly OK in the main. It is only when they achieve notable successes and these developments come to the attention of others who are not so benign, that the projects are shut down or moved under a cloak of secrecy.

      It’s not clear whether the recent SPAWAR shutdown and this sudden retraction have been instigated by top politicians acting on behalf of their ‘sponsors’ or by military types fearful of giving any leads to ‘the enemy’ (i.e., the rest of the world except Israel). The ‘national security’ reflex is deeply embedded at the political levels of government agencies worldwide.

    • Neil Taylor

      January 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      To me this is another piece of the puzzle on this scientist who seems very sincere in his statements and LENR research endeavors. It is too bad that someone(s) are now jerking him around. Where that jerking is coming from is the next big question. I think most here have a pretty good idea about that though.

      Thanks Mary for the link…

  7. CM Edwards

    January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Zowodny has been making statements of the type given in that video for some time. The only change is that this video was posted somewhere where it can be interpreted as something NASA is pursuing as an organization rather than something one of its scientists is exploring on the side with a nod from the boss.

    Clearly, not everyone at NASA agrees with Joe Zowodny.

    Oh well. Unless they come forward with contradictory evidence, or fire Joe, this denial doesn’t set LENR development back, either.

  8. Ribot

    January 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    The prof. Celani has evidence that NASA knew CF was real. The point is: If NASA knew and was silent to the public, scientists of the last 20 years should clarify their position to the people.

  9. Pekka Janhunen

    January 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    For whatever it’s worth, I have to confess something: I wasn’t very interested in CF until Rossi. The reason was not its unorthodox reputation, but simply that I perceived the phenomenon mainly as an academic curiosity which seemed difficult to confirm and whose technical utility seemed unlikely (lukewarm temperature since water was present, low COP, expensive materials, difficult controllability etc.). I thought that even if CF was real, hot fusion had better long-term chances for electricity production with its high temperature etc.

    From today’s perspective, that was quite stupid thinking. But for some reason or another it just didn’t occur to me back then that it could become a practical energy source. End of confession.

    • LCD

      January 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Pekka excellent comment. Bet you that is still what 99% of technically oriented people who have not researched the current state of the art on LENR think still today.

  10. georgehants

    January 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Pekka, it is the “curiosity” the anomaly that is gold dust in science, things that agree with current theory are interesting but totally boring.
    Nothing new can be learnt from a known and confirmed theory, except linear progress.
    It is the oddity that must be looked for and seized upon with relish that leads to wonderful breakthroughs into new knowledge.
    A simple example, at the end of the 19th. cent everything was “know” except for a couple of minor curiosities one known as the ultraviolet catastrophe, but this small clue led directly through Planks out of the box thinking to Quantum Theory.
    The oddity of Cold Fusion should have been jumped on by everybody looking for new science and that should be EVERY scientist.

    • Dale G. Basgall

      January 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      George; could linear progress as you stated as ongoing, possibly end up as “learning” by awareness and observed proof of it’s existence?

      • georgehants

        January 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm

        Dale sorry have to talk in generalities on these comments.
        Einstein magically produced the special theory with no attached proof that was the breakthrough into new science.
        From there a long process of conformation and learning of what that theory is in total can take many years, but only science within that theory will be found.
        It is the anomaly, in this case possibly finding something that is FTL that will lead to new science.
        If as is the case with The Big Bang theory or The Standard Model and many others, things that don’t fit are shoehorned into existing beliefs then all is lost, many years wasted when the clue has been there all the time

        • spacegoat

          January 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm

          Scientists in general are chasing money, the amount of which is related to quantity of published papers, which is inversely related to difficulty.

          Quirky phenomena are the the last to get investigated.

          “I have little patience with scientists who take a board of wood, look for its thinnest part, and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy.” Einstein.

          “Einstein magically produced the special theory” BTW, He did not. It had been completely worked out by Lorentz. Einstein merely added his surprising interpretation and in the process dropped the concept of the ether (that light was postulated to travel in). Perhaps a very damaging move.

          “Lorentz was the first to propose time dilation and space contraction, and Galileo was to the first to propose the principle of relativity”.

          Newton is your man for lone hard rock drilling.

  11. Harry Perini

    January 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I am one of the ten thousand who have ordered an Ecat from Andrea Rossi. When I receive my Ecat unit I will believe Rossi. Meanwhile I remain skeptical and I will cease reading this repetitive speculation.

  12. spacegoat

    January 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    forbes: Cold Fusion – Nasa says nothing useful.

    “Bingo! This hits the LENR nail on the head: “Every attempted demonstration of a LENR device that I am aware of has failed to meet one or more of these criteria.””

    ” I don’t know about you but I’m getting pretty annoyed with the silliness surrounding this three ring circus and as much as I admire the candor in his blog posting I’m wondering why Dr. Zawodny, who appears to be a thoughtful, rational, and scientific man, ever got involved with something that so neatly played into the agendas of so many zealots while saying nothing of real substance.”

    What an idiot. The video was the most important public consumption video in the history of video.

    • Peter Roe

      January 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      I think this is probably fairly representative of something we’ll see a lot of now. Pretending nothing is happening in the mainstream media hasn’t worked – too many people use the internet. So the logical next step is to move the pseudosceptic attacks from the blogs to online periodicals, and probably next, to printed and news media.

      This one is quite clever in that it tries quite hard to seem unbiased by mentioning the ‘pros and cons’ but gives itself away in its one-sided and disparaging conclusions. Much more of the same kind and worse to come I suspect, as the opposition grows in strength.

      • Peter Roe

        January 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm

        Incidentally, and off-topic, another article on Forbes says that Obama has now come out against SOPA and Protect IP, both tools that would have enabled web sites to be taken down on the basis of a simple complaint. Excellent news if true.

        • Peter Roe

          January 18, 2012 at 9:12 am

          Ignore this – it now looks like a bit of establishment spin by Forbes.

      • Peter Roe

        January 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm

        A measure of the man: From earlier Mark Gibbs articles in Forbes:

        “From the way they argue I’d guess that many of the Believers probably also wear tin-foil hats. Some of the messages I’ve received from people who appear to be in this group are astounding not just for their lack of basic grammar but for their inability to express coherent thought.”

        “…the Believers are erring in a completely opposite way. Despite a lack of solid evidence and based on the slim, unverifiable test data from the E-Cat trials revealed to date, they still just believe. They post in blogs, in forums, and on Web sites long and often impassioned arguments based on their interpretations of physics, quantum mechanics, chemistry, string theory, numerology, and maybe even the divination of goat entrails.”

        “The best explanation of why the E-Cat can’t work can be found in a terrific blog posting titled “The Physics of why the e-Cat’s Cold Fusion Claims Collapse” by Ethan Siegel, a theoretical astrophysicist.”

        “National Instruments and Cold Fusion? (Update: Disproved)” Headline, Nov 11

        “A profile such as the E-Cat’s that makes it appear the device is made from Unobtainium and that such a thing has been hyped for the last year or so warrants serious attention.”

        The above from someone who claims to want the ecat to be real!

        • JNewman

          January 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm

          Sounds like a sensible fellow. Wanting the e-cat to be real doesn’t require having a lobotomy.

    • daniel maris

      January 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      I am afraid I have to agree with your assessment. How on earth can the guy ignore the peer reviewed papers, the Amoco experiment, the NASA experiment, the NASA video, the NASA patent, Focardi’s statements, the involvement of NI in developing Rossi’s device…and a whole host of other things.

  13. georgehants

    January 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    For loonyman, following on from your Scientific American link.
    Things are changing.

    New York Times
    Cracking Open the Scientific Process

  14. Pekka Janhunen

    January 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Oil companies’ interest is to develop E-cat cars

    Theorem Assume E-cat works. Following Rossi, assume further that car E-cat takes 10 years to develop. Then it is in the interests of oil companies to develop such vehicles in due course.

    Proof After first and second generation E-cats have conquered heating and electricity, but not yet cars (because of some technical issues), there are two main options. Either (A) continue to use normal gasoline cars until E-cat cars are ready, or (B) introduce electric cars loaded from home-based E-cat electricity. In option A, oil companies continue to sell gasoline for 10-15 years, in option B not. Therefore it is in their interests to avoid their nightmare scenario B. The way to do it is to ensure that A happens, i.e., to sponsor development of E-cat cars, Q.E.D.

    • Peter Roe

      January 17, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      Sorry Pekka – I don’t really understand your reasoning. Ecat cars will be developed relatively quickly by other interests, whether or not oil companies try to time the introduction to coincide with the end of oil. Condensing rotary steam technology is available right now, with the potential to directly replace IC engines with far less design modification than is required for hybrid or electric propulsion. The existing car manufacturers could accommodate the changeover with ease, even keeping the same models they make now, but cutting fossil fuels right out of the loop.

      In any case, (A) would not be a clear-cut option for them, as nearly-free ecat energy would allow the production of substitute fuels made using bio-engineered algae and bacteria growing on waste matter such as sewage and agricultural biomass.

      • Pekka Janhunen

        January 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm

        Of course it’s a complex question and the result depends on timing. My point was that electric car technology already exists and it thus it could in principle proliferate fast: given cheap electricity at home (from E-cats) it could replace gasoline cars. But this scenario (‘B’ above) might turn out to be only an interim solution if replaced by true E-cat cars later. Since the lifetime of cars is 10-15 years, short-term solutions are not too wise. Thus option ‘A’ might be a more reasonable strategy which keeps oil companies partially happy, customers can enjoy relatively cheap gasoline and familiar technology until it finally is phased out in favour of true E-cat cars, at which point oil companies have had their adaptation time for plastic industry, asphalt replacements etc. Electric car tech companies are partial losers compared to ‘B’, but they get their share too since E-cats very likely need electric motors and batteries to accompany them. So scenario ‘A’ sounds like a relatively good compromise to me.

  15. Neil Taylor

    January 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    As I see it, the second generation of E-Cats with, electrical home generation capability, coupled with the now currently arriving electrical plug-in vehicles – all this happening in 2013 – will then begin the major adjustment process for big oil and the fossil fuel industies as they now exist into something else?

    The world cannot afford to wait for this ‘affordable life changing LENR technology’ much longer.

    If our politicians try to screw up the rollout of LENR – they can say goodbye to their gravy train jobs.

    Big oil will have to adjust to oil prices as they were back in the 60’s and they better be able to adjust pretty fast!

    Time will tell all prety damn soon…

    • Peter Roe

      January 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Agreed – home electrical power generation will be the critical development that will change everything.

      • Spyros

        January 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

        What makes you think that oil companies will surrender to their fate peacefully?

  16. Loonyman

    January 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Perhaps better to wait for some LENR tech that is proven to work befor debating the pros and cons of ecat powered cars?

    Would anyone here who believes that Rossi is going to deliver go on record with a prediction when someone / somewhere trustworthy will get their hands on an ecat for some real testing?
    ( and indeed, just to suppose he is a fraud/mistaken/deluded, how long you will give him the benifit of the doubt for?)

    • Mahron

      January 18, 2012 at 1:51 am

      I think it will come from one of the 1MW plant owners letting the press take a look. So time wise basically before the launch of the home ecat.

      If it is a fraud, there will be hope until the moment he is put in jail.

    • daniel maris

      January 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      I gave him till October 2012 in my mind to come up with something convincing. However, to be honest, I have been pretty pleased with progress since then, so I might allow him a few months’ leeway.

  17. prime3end

    January 20, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Royal Dutch Shell has a team working on LENR too. Lets hope NASA beats them to it,, let anyone win but an oil company. They’ve taken enough of our money, and our blood.