Switching Priorities in Retirement

Ludwik Kowalski

One of the advantages of retiring (in 2004) was that my second priority--research-- suddenly became my first, as it was before I started teaching (in 1969). What I am exploring now belongs to a field known as cold fusion. Most of you probably remember the discovery announced--by Fleischmann and Pons--twenty years ago. It was via a press release, not via an article in a scientific journal. That was a big mistake. Another mistake was to claim that the unexplained excess heat they discovered resulted from “cold fusion” of two atomic nuclei. Their attempt to prove emission of neutrons was soon discredited, resulting in the proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

I am a nuclear physicist who also accepted the prevailing view that the cold fusion claim was unjustified. My renewed interested in the field was triggered by reports presented at a professional conference in 2002. I became aware that cold fusion research had not stopped after the devastating blow of the early 1990s,and that the evidence for some kind of a nuclear effect is mounting.

In August 2003, at the 10th International Conference on Cold Fusion, I had a chance to speak with several leading cold fusion researchers, including Martin Fleischmann. Many of them were Ph.D.-level scientists and recognized experts in their sub-disciplines. Fleischmann, for example, has been a Fellow of the Royal Society, an honor given only to the most distinguished scientists. The author of over 200 scientific papers, Fleischmann won the Royal Society of Chemistry's medal for Electrochemistry and Thermodynamics in1979. He was president of the International Society of Electrochemistry (1970-1972) and in1985 was awarded the Palladium Medal by the U.S. Electrochemical Society.

The so-called “cold-fusion episode” is unprecedented in many ways-- especially from the point of view of sociology.It will become an important part of the history of science, no matter what is eventually accepted or rejected. Future generations will be puzzled by undeniable scientific discrimination -- manuscripts written by qualified scientists are often rejected by editors of leading scientific journals without being sent to impartial referees.

Hopefully, my constantly-updated website with many observations, comments and summaries (http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/) will be useful to them, and to all those who might now be interested in details. It is my hope that anyone writing a book about cold fusion will use my website as a source for leads and information. In fact, I would be very happy to assist the writer.

Ludwik Kowalski, Mathematical Sciences