Dick Smith, the Australian entrepreneur and a doyen of the Aussie Skeptics’ Society, recently offered $1m to anyone who could prove they had a LENR device capable of producing an output of 1kW or over. Asked to formalise this offer, he has now set up a website to do just that. To set the challenge on a solid foundation, he has also agreed to a press release and to link the new site from a recognised Dick Smith Net address. He is travelling on vacation at the moment so please be patient.
Originally destined for the inventor of any winning machine, the money is now promised to the institution that verifies it instead. I am not sure why an inventor would risk exposing his invention under that scheme. To counter this, DS suggests that it would be fine for the two parties to negotiate a split by mutual agreement beforehand. Now we have a situation where the initial filter is in the hands of any qualified testing body. Protective of their reputation, their good name will be worth much more than $1m but the inducement is large enough to make it worth their while looking at any credible claim that passes the first BS scan.
For the inventor, the financial reward is a down payment on the true prize – validation. Winning that will likely be worth a fortune.
Careful not to put words into DS’s mouth, my guess is that his sceptical mindset has crafted this structure. After all, he expects anyone who claims such a thing is a fraud while a credible institution can be trusted to protect their good name. My concern is to try to turn a well-motivated negative into a positive for the LENR community and (just-maybe) the world.
With luck, Andrea Rossi or Defkalion will make this challenge redundant. If not, then we need to recognise that the science born as cold fusion (whether fusion or something else) will be in a vulnerable situation. Working for over two decades in the scientific, wilderness, the achievements of the early pioneers is nothing short of miraculous but they are engulfed by a fog of nonsense that is difficult to break from.
There is a lie doing the rounds that needs to be challenged. It comes in many guises but can be reduced to the following paraphrased comment:
It has taken over two decades and millions of dollars of research and all the cold fusioneers have managed are a few dubious experiments with tiny and debatable amounts of excess thermal energy to show for it. Even if their results are real, the unimpressive outputs would not combine to heat a cup of tea never mind form the basis for an energy revolution.
The truth is closer to this:
If you were to take a lump of coal (say) and in some strange land found that it sometimes ignited and you were not sure why, you might conduct an experiment. Putting a flame to it, a few months later it does indeed catch fire. Encouraged you get another lump from the same seam and try again. This time after three months nothing happens even though (as far as you can tell) everything was the same as before. You try another and another and after a year or so you start varying the parameters one by one. You try a lump from another mine, dip it in water, stick it in a vacuum, grind it up, mix in some impurities etc, etc. Again, something seems to work but when you try again it suddenly doesn’t – another multi-month dead end. There is no doubt about the effect – you have seen and measured it – but it is difficult to prove as the years slip by and others laugh at you.
From all the evidence, it appears that LENR researchers now understand the primary reasons for the long timescales and sporadic success. They think they know why materials from the same batch did not perform equally. Some can reproduce their results on demand. Credible argument revolves around competing theories. Celani has discovered a way to make a wire sense the reaction, perhaps giving us a powerful tool for future research.
We are on an exponential curve of discovery. The idea that going from mW to kW is a leap too far, is nonsense. It would be like saying that, because it took thousands of years to notice the heat generated by rubbing two sticks together, it will take thousands more to make enough to cook with (never mind burn down the forest). We would have to be incredibly unlucky as a species for some roadblock to stop us graduating from controlled and repeatable cold fusion at small power to larger outputs. The miracle is in its existence, not its macroscopic scale. That is engineering. All indicators signal real potential and anyone who harps on about it not having made a cup of tea is a fool or twisting words to resemble a lie.
I hope that Dick Smith and others with the resources to make things happen take this thing by the scruff of the neck and make it so. Bypass the negativity. Cold fusion is not too good to be true. Science is telling us so. Buried within this prize is something worth fighting for.
If you have not invested money in Defkalion or Rossi without proof then why not give them the benefit of the doubt? Perhaps a number of small engineered refinements hard-won through thousands of quick and dirty experiments took AR from rubbing sticks to making tea. Perhaps the combination of a catalyst to make atomic Hydrogen, finding the right Ni grain size and tubercules, the best pressure and temperature range, the way to use energy bursts to control the beast – and so on – led to the seemingly impossible. Perhaps this is why so many close to him are still there. Perhaps this is what he and Defkalion are fighting over. Perhaps that is why credible organisations are not dismissing him out of hand.
Do not believe or invest until you have proof but beware the devil on your shoulder whispering that all of this is impossible or that it is too good to be true. It is not.
I fully understand why the genuine sceptics think the way they do. History is on their side and I will continue to warn people about uncritical acceptance. I consider myself a sceptic but only in the sense that the understandable secrecy surrounding this subject induces a pattern that matches those of past frauds – but only to a degree.
Dick Smith is the first skeptic with money to put it where his mouth is. He does so in a way that indicates he is open to genuine proof. If it comes, I hope he will run with what we’ve learned and, no matter what, take a calculating look at what he can do for the world through this incredible science that is destined to someday bring us in from the cold.
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