The Making of a Scientific Controversy
On March 23, 1989, two noted chemists called a press conference at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The announcement they made was staggering. The scientists, Martin Fleischmann and B. Stanley Pons, claimed to have produced controlled nuclear fusion at room temperature in a test tube. "It was," one scientist asserted, "as important as the discovery of fire."
Front pages of newspapers, as well as the covers of Time and Newsweek, immediately brought the public the news: the result of a relatively simple experiment could soon provide the world with the safe, clean, and dependable energy that had been the dream of mankind for centuries.
Ironically, only thirty-five miles away from Salt Lake City, Steven Jones of Brigham Young University had been experimenting with cold fusion but was finding that it could not produce energy in sufficiently large amounts for practical use.
Jones had earlier learned of the Fleischmann and Pons claims and had, Jones thought, reached an agreement with the University of Utah scientists to release both results simultaneously. The March 23 announcement ignited controversy not only over whose experiments were correct, but also over whether nuclear fusion was actually occurring or if the results were due to other, possibly unknown, factors.
Cold Fusion is the story of that (as yet unresolved) controversy. It is a tale of scientific discovery and intrigue, of experiments done around the world that continue to contradict each other, and of politics among scientists, universities, and the U.S. government. It is also the story of how cold fusion may yet prove to be the solution to many of the world's energy problems. There is evidence that cold fusion is occurring in laboratories and, possibly, even in the mantle of the earth, which could well account for the movement of continents as well as the enormous energy released by volcanoes. The question is, where do we go from here? Cold Fusion attempts to provide that answer.