Low Energy Nuclar Reactions Presentation Appendix 2 .pdf

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Content:
Low Energy Nuclear Reactions and the Sociology of Science......................3
Science Publication and Patenting activity in LENR.....................................6
Conclusion..............................................................................................10
References..............................................................................................11

2

Low Energy Nuclear Reactions and the Sociology of Science

Our presentation focused on the LENR phenomenon as a possible example of a double-boom
cycle as described by Ulrich Schmoch. However, it may also be useful to examine the case
through the prism of Thomas Kuhn’s theories on scientific revolutions and Giovanni Dosi’s ideas
on technological trajectories. It should be noted that whether or not LENR is actually a scientific
possibility is not relevant to this paper. Due to the current lack of evidence for cold fusion, we
remain agnostic on the subject.

At present, it is impossible to say whether there is genuine scientific merit in the concept of
LENR. The scientific ‘establishment’ seems satisfied that LENR is at best an irrelevance and at
worst outright fraud, in spite of the anomalous results that have been recorded in the experimental
research. There are several reasons put forward for the rejection of the existence of cold fusion,
the most serious of which is there is no support for its existence in current nuclear theory. If
LENR were proved to occur, a revolution would be required - not unlike the Copernican
Revolution cited by Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – whereby a new theory of
nuclear science would have to be adopted. Hence it is much easier for the scientific community to
reject the anomalies and characterise them as experimental errors or pathological science, and
indeed Kuhn would probably argue that they are right to do so as LENR currently lacks
credibility. In the absence of further supporting evidence and a plausible theoretical basis for the
claims of cold fusion, advocates of LENR will not be able to change the current perceptions of
their peers.

If the proponents of LENR are correct, then we are looking at a situation outside what Kuhn
describes as ‘normal science’, as cold fusion breaks the scientific ‘rules’ that limit the acceptable
solutions that currently exist in nuclear theory. Instead, we may be looking at a period that Kuhn
describes in chapter VII of SSR, where new theories are put forward in opposition to the existing
paradigm to explain the anomalous findings. Kuhn claims that such anomalies are generally
known for a long time and the resulting ‘crisis’ is consequently not a surprise. In the context of
LENR, the original experiments were carried out 20 years ago – arguably a long time in modern
science – but there is little sense of a crisis in nuclear theory that requires a ‘retooling’ in the
field. Later we will briefly consider possible implications of this observation.

3

In chapter VIII of SSR, Kuhn identifies a series of stages that are typical how of the scientific
community deals with a crisis. He states that anomalies come to be more widely recognised and
more attention is devoted to it by the eminent authorities in the field. This results in discontent
with the present paradigm being expressed, and ultimately scholars come to view resolving the
anomaly as core to their discipline. This process finally opens the door for the new theories that
have been developed to explain both previous findings and the new anomalous findings. Kuhn
states that such crises are always resolved in one of three ways. Either the anomaly can ultimately
be explained within the existing paradigm (‘normal science’ prevails), the anomaly cannot be
explained but this failure is blamed on the lack of adequate tools to tackle the anomaly, or a new
candidate for paradigm emerges and may ultimately be adopted.

With regard to the LENR case it is to be observed that either we are very early in this process of
identifying a new paradigm, or we are still within the realms of ‘normal science’ if the cold fusion
research turns out to be fundamentally flawed. It is noteworthy that the third possibility that Kuhn
describes, that of labelling the anomaly as such and blaming it on inadequate technology, is not
really a course that this story can take as this path would still require the abandonment of some
fundamental elements of existing nuclear science which holds LENR to be impossible.

We have observed that the anomalous findings of LENR were announced in 1989 – thus allowing
what we would argue is considerable amount of time in terms of modern science for these
findings to be conclusively proven or disproven. However, the issue still has not been resolved,
and we feel that this is where the notion of a ‘research failure’ becomes important. Kuhn has
argued – with extensive historical evidence – a clear trajectory for the adoption or rejection of
new scientific paradigms. However, we would like to raise the question whether this trajectory is
hampered by science as practiced in the 21st century.

Kuhn’s path to a new paradigm is contingent on many factors, but among the most important are
that eminent authorities in the field turn their attention to the existence and cause of anomalous
findings, and that scientists are willing to openly express discontent with the existing paradigm.
Without these happenings, anomalous findings such as LENR will remain fringe science and will
never attract the talent or finance to address the anomalies conclusively. This seems to be what is
happening with LENR, with only a few serious scientists engaged in research, along with many
cranks and pseudo-scientists whose efforts discredit the field. This begs the question, why have
the ‘heavyweights’ of nuclear research not addressed the issue of cold fusion? As we have argued
elsewhere, the principal reason appears to be reputational risk. The most important – and arguably
the only – currency in scientific research is the academic reputation of the scientist. It is

4

unsurprising then that any ambitious or successful academic will shy away from working in a
field that is as tainted as that of LENR. In spite of the massive potential economic benefits that
may accrue if the technology is proven, it is a risk that the vast majority of scientists are unwilling
to take. This also leads us to reflect that in previous eras when science was carried out by wealthy
gentlemen catering to their own scientific curiosity, research in any promising or interesting area
could take place. The scientific profession of today however relies on external funding rather than
personal wealth. Thus we end up in a situation whereby those who forego their reputations to
research LENR are unable to receive the necessary funding, while leading researchers who may
have access to greater funds do not dare to risk their reputations by working in such a tainted
field.

Having considered LENR in the context of Kuhn’s ideas, we will turn briefly to those Dosi
introduces in his paper, 'Technological paradigms and technological trajectories'. As the name
suggests, this paper is fundamentally focused on technology rather than science and at present
there is no satisfactorily proven LENR technology. However, Dosi makes some interesting
observations that can be applied to our case study. Firstly, he observes that when a technological
‘trajectory’ is well established, it may be extremely difficult to switch from that to an alternative
one. In the field of nuclear fusion, where billions of euro have been invested in single fusion
reactors (a minimum of €10 billion is to be invested in the ITER programme in France) it is clear
that nuclear engineers have a large intellectual investment in the current technological approach
to generating nuclear fusion energy which may make switching to a new technological paradigm
quite difficult for them. Furthermore, Dosi observes that the frontier of progress in the alternative
paradigm may be far behind that in the current paradigm, and this again is certainly the case in
the field of nuclear fusion. While LENR offers the potential for almost unlimited amounts of
energy, the technology for exploiting this possibility is in its infancy (as one would expect for an
unproven technology) whereas technologists have been considering how to utilise conventional
fusion energy for many decades. Switching to a new technological paradigm would render these
years of effort waste – an unpleasant possibility for those who have made the investment.

Dosi also observes that “[it] is doubtful whether it is possible a priori to compare and assess the
superiority of one technological path over another”. Again, this may be the case with fusion
technology. If LENR proves to be feasible, the enormous amount of research effort and
expenditure that has been dedicated to conventional fusion technologies will prove to be only of
academic benefit. However it was clearly not possible in this instance to compare the benefits of
investing in the theoretically feasible but technically challenging fusion projects such as ITER
with the far simpler but theoretically unsupported cold fusion technologies.

5

A final relevant observation from Dosi’s paper is his emphasis on the role played by ‘public’
forces in determining the establishment of a particular technological trajectory. He cites semiconductor and computer technologies as two fields that were heavily influenced by military and
space programmes in the 1950s and 1960s. He characterises these programmes as ‘powerful
focusing mechanism[s]’ driving these fields towards ‘defined technological targets’, as well as
providing finance and expertise in R&D. This involvement of public forces is echoed in the case
of LENR by the recent revelation that the US Navy has been pursuing a research programme in
cold fusion for several years. This revelation coincided with renewed interest in the field and the
US Navy’s involvement has brought not only new research findings to LENR but also brought
some much-needed scientific respectability.

Science Publication and Patenting activity in LENR

When querying a US Patent Office database for the patents related to the “cold fusion”
phenomenon, the results come back in hundreds. This may lead to the mistaken assumption that
the patent activity for this science field is very high, contrary to what was stated in our
presentation. However, more carful inspection of the initial results reveals that the high numbers
can be explained easily, as the term “cold fusion” is also used in the computer science and web
development domain as a name for application server and software language similar to ASP or
PHP. Therefore, the search had to be narrowed using more terms related to this technology in
particular, such as ‘heat’, ‘energy’ and ‘nuclear’, to differentiate LENR associated patents from
the rest. An important assumption is that the description of a patent from the LENR field will
contain these terms in the text. When the search is formulated this way, only 9 patents were
retrieved that have been approved by the USPTO, dating from a period extending from 1997 to
year 2007. These patents were all checked manually to determine their relevance to our field of
interest and to avoid a possible miscount. None of these awarded patents claim to deal directly
with LENR – rather the descriptions relate to chemical processes for which the patent seeks to
protect methods and apparatus. An example of this is US patent 5,770,036, “Method of
maximizing anharmonic oscillations in deuterated alloys”. It is not obvious from reading the
abstract or indeed the rest of the patent, but this is an attempt to patent a process that the applicant
hopes can be used for cold fusion. The other eight examples of awarded patents are similar in
avoiding explicit mentions of cold fusion (aside from in the references section of the patent).

6

It seems likely that the purpose of avoiding explicit references to cold fusion is to circumvent the
US Patent Office’s refusal to process applications based on the ‘science’ of cold fusion. In 1997,
Bailey and Fox claimed that the US Patent Office had refused patents on over 300 applications
that directly referenced the words ‘cold fusion’. Japan, they claim, had already granted over 100
patents in the area of cold fusion by that time. They further claim – as we do – that US inventors
were forced to disguise their LENR patents as other types of technology and cited US patent
5,018,180 (Energy Conversion Using High Charge Density) as an example. Interestingly, this
patent was not detected by our own search and raises the question of exactly how many ‘covert’
patents in the area of cold fusion have evaded the policy of prohibition applied by the USPTO.

The nine occurrences that we detected in our own search are hardly enough to establish a visible
trend. Two patents in 1998 and then only one patent per year in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005,
2006 and 2007. This is in stark contrast to the 549 patents for nuclear fission for the same period
(with a peak of 125 patents in 2007) where a trend line can be formulated without much
difficulty. Searching with the terms “low energy nuclear reaction” and “LENR” did not give any
result or returned patents that were already found using the previous search terms.

We also looked for LENR patent activity at the European Patent Office. It should be mentioned
that the EPO search engine is a “beta” version and therefore the results may not present the true
state of the mater. Furthermore, the search engine is not as consistent as those of the Japanese or
US patent offices. For some patents in the search results it presents only title and abstracts, while
for the others in addition it displays the patent’s description and claims. Using the same search
terms as in the readjusted USPTO search previously described, the EPO displayed 5 patents
relevant for LENR field. One patent was awarded each year in 1991, 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2004.
It is interesting that the patent claim from 1991 came from US airplane manufacturer and defence
contractor Boeing, and one from 1993 came from Japanese imaging company Canon.
Furthermore, when the search term is “low energy nuclear reaction”, all 4 results are valid for the
LENR field and all have US applicants. It seems that US researchers are circumventing the
USPTO ban on cold fusion patents by instead filing the patents at the EPO. In the event that the
USPTO were to subsequently reverse their decision to refuse patents of cold fusion technologies,
these researchers would have protection in place for their discoveries.

For comparison with the number of LENR patents found via the EPO we can consider the number
of patents related to nuclear fission, which in EPO for the period 1997-2007 is 73.

7

Finally, we present the analysis of scientific papers published in the area of LENR/cold fusion.
The analysis was performed by querying the Science Citation Index for the terms “cold fusion”
and “low energy nuclear reaction” and presenting the results by year. Figure 1 shows the years
and published articles for the first search term. We excluded the articles and papers related to
“muon catalyzed” cold fusion, because it represents another field of electrochemical experiments
and it is not within the scope of our paper.

Figure 1 - Source: Science Citation Index
The search had 1853 results and most of them were published in the beginning of the 1990’s
before patent activity had begun. This behaviour resembles one of the characteristics of
Schmoch’s “double-boom” cycle where he states that publishing activity precedes the patent
applications. On the other hand, when observing the articles for “low energy nuclear reactions”

8

we can note that the number of published papers increased after year 2000, although the total
number of publications is only 33. These search results are presented in the Figure 2. Here we
should bear in mind that serious researchers and scientist involved with cold fusion ‘rebranded’ it
as LENR in this time period and this would explain the growth of publications using this
terminology during this period.

Figure 2 - Source: Science Citation Index

9

Conclusion
In this appendix to our presentation we have sought to elaborate our idea that the case of LENR
could be an example of a ‘research failure’, a situation where a ready market exists for a
technology but due to what are essentially sociological issues in the practice of science, the
research that could make the technology feasible is not being pursued by mainstream science. We
also argue that the structure of scientific practices at this time may make it less likely than at
previous times that successful or ambitious scientists will risk their reputations in pursuing
research in what has become a pariah field of study. This in turn has implications for Kuhn’s
ideas of how scientific paradigms can be challenged and replaced.

Secondly, we have sought to systematically document the technological and scientific publishing
trajectory of LENR by means of searches in the EPO and the USPTO for patent activity and the
SCI for publishing activity. We have demonstrated the difficulties that US innovators encounter
in seeking patents in the cold fusion field, but our findings come with two caveats. Firstly, we are
not expert at searching patent databases – therefore it is unlikely that we found more than a
fraction of relevant patents, especially in the EPO. Secondly, as we have argued, US inventors are
deliberately obscuring the LENR nature of their patent activity, so without technical knowledge
and a lot of time, it will be impossible to establish the true number of ‘covert’ cold fusion patents
that have been granted by the USPTO.

In the field of scientific publishing, we note that the steady decline in ‘cold fusion’ publishing is
beginning to be countered by a rise in ‘LENR’ papers. We would argue that the increase in LENR
publishing is more important than the numbers alone would suggest as the use of the term
‘LENR’ typically represents an attempt by ‘serious’ scientists to move the debate away from the
severely tainted associations of cold fusion.

10


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