Some Thought Provoking Issues
Copyright © 2000-2005 by Brian Fraser. All rights reserved.
updated 2-11-05i

A good theoretical picture can truly light the way for a researcher. It can predict new phenomena and explain known ones. It can assist greatly in implementing a new technology; dead ends can largely be avoided and promising avenues can be explored directly without wasting excessive time,  money, or other resources. But new theories, despite their potential usefulness, are often strongly resisted by people who have preconceptions about what is "known to be true" and which they place beyond examination (and if you think scientists have a monopoly on this one, just visit your local church and try discussing some of the ideas in Make Sure of All Things ). People not only acquire beliefs, beliefs can also acquire people. Getting people around these blind spots takes an enormous amount of effort and persistence, as they usually have no interest in being confused with more facts (it is like arguing with the town drunk). One way I try to take the frustration out of this is to offer people ideas that are personally relevant and interesting. If I can make learning fun, they will educate themselves automatically.

You have already seen a few "fun" sections at this site. This is another one, except it is a bit more on the serious side. In the section below, I hope to offer some interesting topics that could benefit from a fuller development of the ideas and concepts that I have outlined here in various articles. 

Table of Contents:

Cold Fusion, Remediation of Nuclear Waste, etc.    (Updates  12-13-015-4-02,   8-21-02,   RFI 12-13-022-27-04    11-11-06 )
Evidence for Equivalence of Thermal Space and Electron Space
Energy from massless particles?
Ray guns, Nuclear Isomers, Rydberg Atoms 
Melted volume increases, but internuclear distance decreases. Why? (11-11-03a)
Melted atoms or a melted aggregate? (1-1-05)
Return To Scriptural Physics Home Page


Cold Fusion, Remediation of Nuclear Waste, etc.

"Cold fusion" came onto the world scene in 1989 with the now famous announcement by Dr. Martin Fleischmann and Dr. Stanley Pons. At first there were doubts about the phenomena they described, but cautious scientific credibility seemed to have been achieved by about 1995. The term "cold fusion" was recognized as a misnomer and alternative terms like "Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions", "low-energy nuclear reactions", "electronuclear chemistry", etc. were proposed. The effect is still not very well understood and the topic remains controversial, but the problems of reproducibility are gradually being worked out.

Needless to say, "the institutionalized, atherosclerotic science of the precision mound-builders" J would like to ignore the whole thing. But the political and economic implications of this phenomena were nothing short of stupefying.  If atomic energy can be released by a low energy process and with relatively simple, inexpensive equipment, then a source of cheap, non-polluting, robust (high-power) energy becomes readily available to every nation and every person. Such a source could inexpensively light our cities, power our factories, transportation systems, and water treatment plants. It could power our cars, heat and cool our homes, and do many other things that we take for granted nowadays. And if this type of energy could be converted directly into electric energy (like photocells do with light) then airplanes could use powerful and efficient electric motors and never run out of fuel while in flight. The possibilities just seemed endless.

Of course, I was wondering how to view this announcement myself. To me it was inconceivable that these experiments were converting the extremely stable primary mass of the atom into another form. That would normally require energies of hundreds of millions of electron volts or fantastically high temperatures (1013 Kelvin). If the effect was real, there must be some other way. In  Advanced Atomic Energy Converters  I had presented the concept of "excess mass". I suggested that the "primary mass" of the atom was simply twice the atomic number. The actual mass was simply this amount plus an "excess mass" that had a different character (similar to isotopic mass). If the "cold fusion" experiments were tapping into this "other" kind of mass, the theoretical problems might be circumvented. The article also suggested that heavy elements are built up in interstellar space by a low energy process involving neutrinos. So I began to wonder if the reverse could also be true. Could a low energy process extract this energy? The heaviest elements even decay spontaneously. Maybe the lighter, more common ones just needed a special environment.

Most cold fusion experiments use hydrogen in some form (usually water, hydrocarbons, or hydrogen gas). I regarded the element hydrogen as peculiar in that I expected its mass to be 2 amu, but instead it is only 1. In other words, hydrogen has barely made it into the Periodic Table. Could hydrogen be some kind of mediator between fully atomic rotational systems (atoms) and systems that are not fully atomic like the neutrino, or even the photon? (See Update 12-13-01 below.) It did not seem likely that atoms, could in one step, convert a stable, compound rotational system into a much simpler form like the photon. But the conversion of  part of a compound rotational system into a massless rotational system, which then converts to a photon or ordinary linear kinetic energy seemed to be much more likely. And it would be even easier if the isotopic mass had a rotational character that was (somehow) more like the photon than that of the atom.

The section on the Atomic Spin System in Intuitive Concepts in Quantum Mechanics shows how the 4p and 2p rotational systems might be incorporated into the atom. The relationship to the double 2p rotational system of the photon is also implied and somewhat suggests how a photon converts to mass and vice versa. The article also attempted to extend the periodicity rules of the Periodic Table "backwards" into the realm of subatomic particles. This produced a couple of families of subatomic particles. Of special interest here is one three-member group that has a neutrino, a stable but massless neutron, and an unnamed particle that is one rotation less than hydrogen, and probably also massless and stable. This raises the following questions:

1. Could this hypothetical massless neutron be a participant in the cold fusion experiments? One accusation leveled against "cold fusion" is that it "does not produce neutrons". Yet it does  transmute elements into non-natural elemental abundance ratios. Could a massless neutron be an answer to one part of this puzzle? Such a neutron would not be detectable by conventional neutron counters. Copious quantities of them would probably not have detrimental biological effects either, although this is not known for certain. (Note that massless particles still have a deBroglie wavelength)

2. Could the Unnamed Particle, {1,1,1}, the closest subatomic particle to hydrogen, likewise be involved in cold fusion?   Randell Mills of Blacklight Power ( ), for instance, postulates the existence of a "hydrino" and describes it as "lower energy atomic hydrogen"  and "smaller-than-normal hydrogen atoms". Interestingly, the Unnamed Particle, whose existence is suggested by "backwards" extension of periodicity, is in the neutrino family, and is only one rotational magnitude below actual hydrogen. The words that Mills uses are pretty close to a decent description. (It is very unusual that two researchers, using very different methods and very different starting points, end up needing what is apparently the same yet-to-be-discovered particle. This definitely needs to be investigated!) See Update 12-13-01 below.

3. The intrinsic spin structure of the excess atomic mass ("isotopes") needs to be elucidated. All that seems to be known at this point is the 4p and 2p spins, and various compound structural combinations thereof. The theoretical picture for isotopic mass needs to support a  nature that is somewhat foreign to the basic atomic intrinsic spin system. It could be foreign structurally or foreign in the space/time sense. Ideally, it would be of the sort that shows the properties of mass only when it becomes associated with another rotational system that is already effective in three dimensions (like the atom).


The role that electrons play in these experiments also needs to be investigated. Consider, for example, a 1929 report of a fascinating experiment done by Alfred Coehn, professor of physics at the University at Göttingen, Germany:

"Coehn saturated one end of a palladium wire with hydrogen gas. He found that under the influence of a voltage placed end to end on the wire, the hydrogen inside the wire migrated along the length of the wire." (Excess Heat: Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed, Charles G. Beaudette, 2000, p.32)

This discovery was applied more recently in the cold fusion experiments by Giuliano Preparata:

"Giuliano Preparata presented a report of his new palladium with heavy water electrolyte experiment at the ICCF-6 meeting in October 1996. It is a large volume cell with a fine wire Pd cathode that runs, zig-zag, up and down progressing around the inside the wall of the flask. The platinum anode is located at the center of the cell. What is unique about the experiment is that two power supplies are used to operate it. One is connected to the anode and cathode to drive current through the electrolyte as is conventional. The other is connected to the ends of the cathode wire. During the course of the experiment, it maintains a current along the length of the palladium wire.

This current serves to enable high loading of deuterium into the cathode. The reader will recall that the loading had to be greater than 0.9 ratio of [D/Pd] atoms, and that was difficult to get. Usually, the palladium sample had to be sorted to find those that would "accept" high loading. Preparata uses this second current to obtain high loading. By avoiding the sorting and selection process for palladium, he claims to have obtained 100% reliability in building Fleischmann and Pons types of cells." (ibid., p.207; see also p. 74, 224-225)

Preparata ran about 50 similar experiments and observed the same result. The Preparata device produced a [cathode material] power density of 100,000 watts per cubic centimeter. For comparison, a fuel rod in a nuclear reactor has a power density of about 500 to 1000 watts per cubic centimeter. (ibid. p. 256-257)

It is well known that hydrogen can diffuse into metals like palladium, titanium, nickel, and others. It is also obvious that hydrogen can diffuse into empty, open space. When matter moves through open space, its energy of motion is described mathematically as KE=1/2mv2 . What is probably not so obvious is that space can move through matter, and that its energy of motion is described by an equation of the same form,  UL=1/2Li2 , because it is exactly analogous to motion of matter in space. This kind of space has to be rotational, rather than linear, however. That means it acts like a particle (an electron) and can be moved around inside a wire under the influence of an electric field, a phenomenon commonly known as electric current.

In the Preparata device, deuterium at first migrates into the palladium, but as the palladium loads up, the deuterium has an increasing probability of migrating back out. The presence of the "electron space" apparently changes all this. The electron motion may have the effect of sweeping the deuterium off the inner surface of the palladium, and of distributing it more uniformly throughout the bulk of the material. Very high current densities are required however. ( )

Electrolytic cells can also be used to transmute elements. My impression from reading the literature is that transmutations may be occurring in anything that could broadly and loosely be called "an electrolytic process" particularly when run at high current densities, and higher than normal temperatures and pressures, and with or without electrodes that can absorb hydrogen. Electrolytic cells usually run on direct current but they could probably also run on alternating current and still produce transmutations. The transmutation effect might be just as common as electrode sludge. "Expensive-to-worthless" transmutations should be relatively easy. I would expect that heavy elements would convert to lighter ones, and radioactive elements to non-radioactive ones.

The latter point is especially worth investigating. An ordinary 1000 megawatt nuclear reactor will produce in one year an amount of strontium 90 equivalent to the radioactivity of 3000 kilograms of radium (3 x 106 Curies; one Curie is 3.7 x 1010 decays/sec). Storage of such a dangerous substance is expensive and its long term safety will always be questionable. Neutralization on site is far preferable to storage.  (see also )

So electrons, as  particles "less-than-atomic",  do play a role in these cases. And electrons are present in matter even if not in the form of a current. It is possible that they may somehow participate directly in the conversion of isotopic mass to energy.


There is an overwhelming amount of information on the Internet about cold fusion. Many original papers can be found at:
(Cold Fusion Times)

For those who want a thumbnail sketch of a few interesting ideas, I would suggest browsing the following links (please keep in mind my interests here are theoretical, not commercial):

Potassium Carbonate Electrolysis cells

"Take water and potash, add electricity and get - a mystery", By Robert Matthews, Science Correspondent

Absolutely Not Cold Fusion (MLP) By imrdkl, Jun 3rd, 2003   (WO 00/25320 patent info)   (H2 diffusion through nickel tubing, no electrolysis)   (Experiments of Jean-Louis Naudin)

See also Example of electrolytic CFP below.

("New method for the reduction of titanium dioxide  which is set to replace the conventional Kroll process...")

Hydrogen gas cell  (Randell Mills)

"Randell Mills --New Energy and the Cosmic Hydrino Sea", Art Rosenblum, Infinite Energy, Issue #17, p. 21-35

"THE COLLAPSE OF MATTER, Excess Heat Generation, Fractional Hydrogen Formation, and Nuclear Reactions in a Gaseous Plasma", Arnold G. Gulko, Infinite Energy, Issue #34, p. 9-15

Hydrogen gas cell  (Les Case)

Dr. Les Case
P.O. Box 495
Greenland, NH 03840 USA
Voice: 603-772-9200, FAX 603-772-9200

Patterson Power Cell™  (electrolytic)

CETI - Clean Energy Technologies, Inc. (Dallas, Texas)
Voice: 214-982-8340, FAX 214-982-8349

Good Morning America transcript (ABC-TV, June 11, 1997):  

See Infinite Energy issues: Vol 3, No.13 and No.14 (1997), pages 14-15 "Radioactivity Amelioration Summary", Clean Energy Technologies, Inc.

Transmutation / Remediation of radioactive elements (electrolytic; alternating current)

Cincinnati Group, LENT-1 reactor, Stan Gleeson (Thorium Becomes Titanium & Copper)
(LENT-1 reactor ) (some references)  (conversion of tungsten into silver, barium, tin, chromium, etc.) ("Where Did the Thorium Go?")  (a letter to President Clinton)   Good Morning America transcript (ABC-TV, June 11, 1997 (Cincinnati Group; Patterson process)    (Global Deactivation of Radiation Corp. )   "Transmutations of Nuclear Waste", Robert A. Nelson, 2000
   "DOE should pursue accelerated radioactive waste decay", 
Glen E. Benedict, Nampa, retired nuclear engineer, 2003

See Infinite Energy issues

 Vol 3,  #13&14 (1997), pages 5,13-32 (ABC News; Clean Energy Technologies; Cincinnati Group;Robert Bass; R.T. Bush)

 Vol 3,  #15&16 (1997), pages 18-23 ("Operating the LENT-1 Transmutation Reactor: A Preliminary Report", Hal Fox, Shang-Xian Jin)

 Vol 3,  #17 (1997/8), pages 52-53 ("LENT-1 Latest Technical Results", Cincinnati Group)

 Vol 4, #20 (1998), pages, 26-30 ("Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions and High-Density Charge Clusters", Hal Fox, Shang Xian Jin;  see also pages 21-22)

 Vol 4, #22 (1998), pages 20-21 ("Aqueous Arc Experiment: Results Presentation", David Marett)

 Vol 4, #23 (1999), pages 16-22 ("Non-Stellar Nucleosynthesis: Transition metal production by DC plasma-discharge electrolysis using carbon electrodes in a non-metallic cell", H.E."Chip" Ransford )

 Vol 4,  #27 (1999), pages 34-39 ("Nuclear Transmutation Reaction Caused by Light Water Electroysis on Tungsten Cathode Under Incandescent Conditions", T.Ohmori, T.Mizuno )

See also Brian Fraser's Adventures in Energy Destruction .

Some interesting facts about Spent Nuclear Fuel:

  • DOE estimates that by the year 2000 there will be over 42,000 metric tons of Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF), enough to cover a football field with a layer 15 feet thick of stacked fuel rod assemblies. There will be over 80,000 metric tons by 2020.
  • One metric ton requires over three million years to decay to the level found in natural uranium ore.
  • A 1000 Megawatt boiling water reactor uses about 175 fuel rod assemblies per year. About 30 metric tons of spent fuel is off-loaded every 18 months per reactor, and initially produces 1.5 Megawatts of afterheat per metric ton. The assemblies are stored "temporarily" in special water-filled concrete and stainless steel lined pools at the power plant site so that they can cool for 5 to 10 years. But because reprocessing of commercial SNF raised proliferation concerns, and also was never economically viable, these pools have become de facto storage facilities for SNF. There has been no permanent disposal facility or method in the United States since the first commercial reactor went on line in the early 1960s. The pools now use even denser stacking of spent fuel assemblies and the safety concerns have become even more serious. And since the events of September 11, 2001, most people are convinced that a pile of thousands of tons of this stuff is not a good thing to have around anymore.

Advantages of CANDU® Reactors (heavy water, natural uranium)

There is a growing belief that DOE has long considered nuclear waste (and radioisotopes in general) to be valuable material rather than "garbage" or "waste". This would explain DOE's obvious reluctance to use simple, inexpensive processes to destroy nuclear waste, and to prefer storage instead.

Joseph Papp's Noble Gas Engine (US Patents   3,670,494,   3,680,413,    4,428,193 )

Various News Media Report New DOE Review of Cold Fusion  
Various News Media Report New DOE Review of Cold Fusion (March 20, 2004)
DoE To Revisit Cold Fusion,  Charles Choi  (Apr 02, 2004)
New studies of cold fusion prompt an official review, Kenneth Chang NYT  (March 25, 2004)
DOE Warms to Cold Fusion (Toni Feder)
US Department of Energy warms to Cold Fusion (Toni Feder)
"America's Worst Nightmare:
Cold Fusion Technology Enables Anyone To Build A Nuke From Commonly Available Materials"  (August 2004, p. 74-79)

Conventional Technologies

Petroleum alternatives Discover magazine Vol. 24 No. 5 (May 2003) "Anything into oil"    (Changing World Technologies)   (Lewis Cass Karrick, article)    (Lewis Cass Karrick, patents)   (Thermochemical Conversion (TCC) of Livestock Manure. . .)

Ethanol to hydrogen (catalytic conversion)   (Lanny Schmidt, University of Minnesota),1282,62439,00.html

"Excess" hydrogen from electrolysis

Mizuno, T., T. Akimoto, and T. Ohmori. Confirmation of anomalous hydrogen generation by plasma electrolysis  in 4th Meeting of Japan CF Research Society. 2003. Iwate, Japan: Iwate University

Directories and publications: ,  (good source for original articles) 

For a little bit more about "excess mass" see Advanced Atomic Energy Converters at this website.

Recommended Reading: , A Student’s Guide to Cold Fusion, Edmund Storms, (January, 2003) This is "a guide" to CF work with overviews about anomalous energy production, anomalous nuclear products,  theory, comments, and an extensive bibliography with 249 references. If you are a serious researcher in the CF field, this publication is a good place to start.

The Rebirth of Cold Fusion: Real Science, Real Hope, Real Energy, S. B. Krivit, N. Winocur, 2004


UPDATE 12-13-01: There are some experimental indications that ordinary hydrogen (protium) may be a necessary participant in the deuterium/palladium cold fusion cells. Researchers have noticed that neutrons and excess heat are observed only after a long period  (many days) of electrolysis, and that these effects often occurred when the cell was replenished with new electrolyte. It is also known that heavy water tends to absorb ordinary water vapor from the air (and other sources) and so with time, these cells acquire a certain amount of protium as a contaminant. The presence of this ordinary hydrogen might be a trigger for the "bursty" production of neutrons and heat seen in these cells. To investigate this possibility, Tadahiko Mizuno, et al., devised an experiment that electrolytically loaded a palladium wire with pure deuterium in a heavy water cell  for three hours, and then transferred the wire to a light water cell and resumed electrolytic loading with protium.

Neutrons were detected with the following setup:

Neutrons were measured with three external He3 detectors placed above the cell. The detectors were calibrated with a standard Cf292 neutron source (2.58 x 104 decays/s). To reduce noise, the detector was covered by electromagnetic shielding. After calibration, neutrons and noise were distinguished by covering one of the detectors with a 0.5 mm thick Cd film. The background count was 0.008 +/- 0.003 c/s.

Neutron emissions were observed in five test cases out of ten. In one case neutron emissions were seen after 50 minutes of light water electrolysis but "in other runs neutron emission was observed immediately after light water electrolysis commenced. . . total neutron count ranged from 105 to 106, and emissions generally lasted 10 ~ 200 s. All cases were marked by a characteristic high level of neutron emissions at first, which gradually declined."  The authors conclude: "The reaction we observed came about after alternating absorption of deuterium followed by protium, and the reaction appears to be highly reproducible, reliably generating high neutron emissions." (The intent of this experiment was to generate neutrons, not power.  But in case you are wondering,  a commercial nuclear reactor generates about 108 neutrons per watt of thermal power.  See Quantum Physics . . ., R. Eisberg, R. Resnick, 2nd ed. (1985) p. 607)

(For further details see "Neutron Evolution from a Palladium Electrode by Alternate Absorption Treatment of Deuterium and Hydrogen", Tadahiko Mizuno, Tadashi Akimoto, Tadayoshi Ohmori, Akito Takahashi, Hiroshi Yamada, and Hiroo Numata, Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. Vol. 40 (2001), pp. L989-L991, Part 2, No. 9A/B, September 15, 2001. A shorter version of the paper appears in Infinite Energy, Vol. 7, Issue 40 (2001) p. 69-70.)

UPDATE  5-4-02: A review of a list of several experiments published by Dr. John Dash, et al., at Portland State University showed the following about the Cold Fusion Phenomenon (CFP):

"Looking into this list and reading these papers, we notice that their experiments have been done with electrolyte H2SO4 in D2O, cathodes of Pd, Ti, and Ni, and anodes of Pt. This shows that the CFP revealed in these data sets have occurred in metal/D+H systems. . . . In the analysis, it has become clear again that H and D participate together in the events of CFP, generation of excess heat and transmuted nuclei, and shaping pits or craters by explosion of droplets of melts in the surface layer. . . . Now it is becoming further clearer that CFP is not primarily related with d-d fusion reactions in solids but related with reactions occuring in transition-metal hydrides and deuterides by some catalytic effects of unknown agent(s) . . ." (CFRL English News No. 30 (201. 12. 10) Cold Fusion Research Laboratory, Dr. Hideo Kozima)


In my view, the bare essentials of the electrolytic Cold Fusion Phenomenon include the following:

1. The presence of  "excess mass". This can be provided by isotopes (like deuterium), or heavy elements (like tungsten), or probably any radioactive element (including thorium and uranium ). It may be supplied by the electrolyte or by the electrode. See Advanced Atomic Energy Converters for a more complete discussion about "excess mass."  

2. The presence of electrons. The experiments showing transmutation effects seem to work best at high current densities (about 2 to 5 amps/cm2; 0.8 to 1.5 for tungsten ) and higher than normal temperatures. Hundreds of volts (instead of just a few volts) may be required to reach these current densities.  The cathode emits light and so the process has been called "glow discharge electrolysis" or "incandescent electrolysis", "plasma electrolysis", etc. RF shielding and decoupling techniques are used to suppress the radio frequency emissions which can interfere with instrumentation. In atmospheric pressure cells, a reflux condenser can be used to condense the steam produced and return it to the cell as water.

3. The presence of ordinary hydrogen (protium). I suspect that hydrogen or the hydrogen-like subatomic particle described above may be involved in massless particle conversions that facilitate these reactions.

4. The use of a hydrogen absorbing cathode (Pd, Ni, Ti, Zr, etc) seems to be preferred. But ultrapure carbon electrodes work too, as do gold and tungsten.  The latter is preferred because it has a high atomic weight, has a high melting point, and is easily obtained from a welding shop or hardware store. Surface effects on the electrodes appear to be very important. In one case, a wrong polarity hookup may have prepared a Pd electrode for better results. (The Cincinnati Group actually uses alternating current in its cell that has zirconium electrodes. For more on pure carbon experiments see "Production of Metals from Non-Metallic Graphite, Edward Esko,  )

Here is an example of electrolytic CFP:

"When a tungsten cathode is electrolyzed at high power, it exhibits an intense reddish-purple glow discharge, and emits radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic waves. In some cases powerful excess heat, ranging from 60 to 140 watts is generated, and substantial amounts of new elements are formed, including Fe, Cr, Ti, Ca, Ni, C, Re, and Pb. This has been observed with many different electrolyte solutions including Na2SO4, Na2CO3, NaClO4, K2CO3, KNO3, Rb2CO3, CsCO3, Ba(NO3)2 and Ba(ClO4)2. . . . In an Au/H2O electrolysis system, considerable amounts of Hg, Kr, Ni, Fe and , in some cases, Si and Mg were produced on and in the electrode. . . . This suggests that the excess heat reaction might be enhanced by employing as electrode material a metal with a large atomic number . . . . In this respect tungsten (W) would be one of the most favorable electrode materials because it has a large atomic number and resistance to high heat.  For this reason, we selected W as the working electrode material. . . . large amounts of excess heat were generated in every test, the yield being virtually the same whatever electrolyte was used. . . . Energy efficiency, output as a percent of input,   was 150 to 220%, mainly in the range of 180 to 200%. . . . the excess power of 200 watts was generated from a W electrode of only 0.5 cm2."  ("Nuclear Transmutation Reaction Caused by Light Water Electroysis on Tungsten Cathode Under Incandescent Conditions",   Infinite Energy, Vol 4,  #27 (1999), T.Ohmori, T.Mizuno; pages 34-39 )

See also Potassium Carbonate Electrolysis Cell above.

There are also gas plasma versions of these experiments. Note the use of atomic hydrogen and tungsten in this article: "J.L. Naudin Claims to Extract Free Energy Using Moller's Atomic Hydrogen Generator (MAHG)", also Thermacore's non-electrolytic experiment with nickel tubing and hydrogen gas described below.

Some of the "cold fusion" experimental setups are simple enough to be constructed and demonstrated by a high school chemistry/physics student working under professional supervision (there are hazards due to high voltages,  hot corrosive solutions, explosive gases, ultraviolet radiation, some radioactivity, breakage of glass, etc). Such demos are good lessons in chemistry, instrumentation, elementary calorimetry, attention-to-detail, safety, and scientific sleuthing. (See Brian Fraser's Adventures in Energy Destruction )

In general however, CFP is a field for electrochemists, materials scientists, and nuclear engineers.  Standard analytical techniques and tools of materials science and nuclear engineering are useful for detecting elemental transmutations. These include Electron Probe Micro Analysis, Auger Electron Spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF, WDXRF, EDXRF, XRMF), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS), inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), Neutron Activation Analysis, Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, and of course the usual alpha, beta, and gamma radiation detection, neutron counting, etc.

UPDATE  8-21-02: The military is also showing interest in CFP:

"By the Second International Conference on Cold Fusion, held at Villa Olmo, Como, Italy, in June/July 1991, the attitude toward Cold Fusion was beginning to take on a more scientific basis. The number of flash-in-the-pan ``believers" had diminished, and the ``skeptics" were beginning to be faced with having to explain the anomalous phenomenon, which by this time had been observed by many credible scientists throughout the world. Shortly after this conference, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) proposed a collaborative effort involving the Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center, RDT&E Division, which subsequently has become the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego (SSC San Diego); the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake; and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The effort's basic premise was to investigate the anomalous effects associated with the prolonged charging of the Pd/D system and ``to contribute in collegial fashion to a coordinated tri-laboratory experiment."  . . . It is time that this phenomena be investigated so that we can reap whatever benefits accrue from additional scientific understanding. It is time for government funding organizations to invest in this research." (Dr. Frank E. Gordon, Head, Navigation and Applied Sciences Department, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego)

See Technical Report 1862, February 2002, "Thermal and Nuclear Aspects of the Pd/D2O System". This report is "Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego, SSC San Diego, San Diego, CA 92152-5001. P.A. Miller, CAPT, USN Commanding Officer R.C. Kolb, Executive Director"

Volume 1: A Decade of Research at Navy Laboratories (S. Szpak, P.A. Mosier-Boss, Editors)   

Volume 2. Simulation of the Electrochemical Cell (ICARUS) Calorimetry  

UPDATE  11-11-06:  "Extraordinary Evidence", by Bennett Daviss and Steven Krivit,  New Energy Times, Nov 10, 2006,

"Scientists at the U.S. Navy’s San Diego SPAWAR Systems Center have produced something unique in the 17-year history of the scientific drama historically known as cold fusion: simple, portable, highly repeatable, unambiguous, and permanent physical evidence of nuclear events using detectors that have a long track record of reliability and acceptance among nuclear physicists."

The article describes a fast method of loading Pd by using "co-deposition, combined with the application of external electric and magnetic fields". "The required 1-1 ratio of deuterium to palladium is achieved almost instantly. . . . Minutes, or even moments, after co-deposition starts, the cells show such signature evidence of nuclear reactions as anomalous amounts of tritium, low-intensity x-ray radiation, and increased heat."   The setup uses plastic CR-39 detectors. The article has good photos and drawings,  plentiful details, and hints for creative experimenters and student projects.

The use of electric and magnetic fields raises another question: do the fields have an effect on spin, and do those effects have anything to do with the ease of energy production or the difficulty of reproducibility? Or do the fields simply stir up the surface chemistry (so to speak)?

Molecular hydrogen, for instance, consists of a mixture of ortho-hydrogen and para-hydrogen. It may be desirable, say, in an experiment unrelated to "cold fusion", to convert this mixture into para-hydrogen. But the conversion is not readily obtained by cooling. "To bring about the conversion more rapidly, a catalyst may be introduced. The gas chemisorbs on the surface of the catalyst as atoms, and the atoms, and their nuclear spins, recombine at random; in due course the equilibrium populations are attained. Interconversion can also be brought about non-dissociatively by bubbling the gas through a solution of a paramagnetic species. The species gives rise to a magnetic field that is inhomogeneous on a atomic scale, and this field can induce the relative reorientation of nuclear spins (as in singlet-triplet transitions between electronic states . . .)"  (Molecular Quantum Mechanics, Atkins and Friedman, 2005, 4th ed., p.355-356)

It would be easy to say that the fields and conditions in the above set-up are not of the sort that can alter spin. But we know something very unusual is going on in these experiments. The possibility of "spin effects" is another "loose end" that needs to be investigated. Catalysts and magnetic fields have been used in other   "cold fusion" experiments with interesting results. See Update 2-27-04 below.


Request For Information (12-13-02): Updates 12-13-01, 5-4-02 suggest that both protium and deuterium may be involved in the "cold fusion" phenomena and that they must be present simultaneously. Apparently, the early experiments used either light water or heavy water but not a deliberate mixture of both. The ones that used heavy water had protium as an eventual contaminant. The ones that used light water of course always had a tiny amount of deuterium (0.015%) present. Although both approaches produced excess heat,  the experiments were hard to reproduce and the heat output was (usually) nothing spectacular. This suggests two obvious experiments:

1. Cold fusion with "enriched water".   Enriched water would be a 50:50 mixture of light water and heavy water (or a least a few percent of heavy water). A representative experiment would electrolytically load a palladium wire (or rod) with both hydrogen isotopes using any of the conventional techniques. The object of the experiment would be to answer the following questions: 

a. Does this arrangement produce excess heat (or neutrons, or other indicators of cold fusion)?
b. Does the heat appear at relatively low loading ratios( say .5 instead of 0.9 H:Pd) ?
c. Is the heat production hard to control? (Please use CAUTION here.)
d. Is a "heat-after-death" phenomenon observed with this type of experiment?

2. Cold fusion inside a protium/deuterium "transistor". Such a device would consist  of two hydrogen absorbing rods (or wires), one loaded with deuterium, and the other loaded with protium. The rods are removed from electrolysis and then joined end-to-end ( spot welded ?) so that there is a junction between the deuterium rod and the protium rod. An alternative procedure would be to load one rod in a special electrolytic setup so that one half would load with protium and the other half with deuterium.   Electrical connections are then made to the two ends and to the middle of the assembly. Electron current is sent in from the ends of the rods to the center, where it is withdrawn by the center electrode. The object of the experiment would be to answer the following questions: 

a. Does electromigration cause the protium and deuterium to meet in a localized region near the center connection?
b. Is excess heat produced in this region?
c. If there is a reaction, can it be switched off by momentarily reversing the current?
d. Is the reaction easily controlled, or is there still a "heat-after-death" phenomenon?
e. Is switching speed affected by using metals like aluminum which have low hydrogen capacity but high hydrogen mobility?

A quick search (on the Internet) did not find any information on this kind of experiment (or the other types that use activated carbon/palladium, or ceramic proton conductors). My impression is that investigators have been guided by an incorrect theory and have been careful not to mix the two hydrogen isotopes. If you know of any experiments like the above (with positive or negative results) please send me an email.

Update 2-27-04: It is now well established that hydrogen can have anomalous effects in quite a variety of systems:

Electrolysis has also produced success using nickel cathodes with a H2O containing electrolyte ... platinum with D2O... and titanium with D2O .... Increased temperature ... applied RF energy ... and laser light... appear to enhance the effects. Use of voltage sufficient to create plasma ... in the electrolyte has been found to generate a variety of anomalous nuclear reactions when palladium, tungsten or carbon ... is used as the cathode.

Anomalous effects have been seen during a variety of chemical reactions when deuterium is present.... Sudden heating of titanium charged with D2 ... or cooling of titanium in D2 gas ... results in neutron emissions. Many chemical reactions involving deuterium have been reported to generate neutrons, including the setting of Portland cement. Nuclear effects have also been reported to involve biological systems in the presence of both D2O ... and H2O.... Although the number of nuclear events is small in these environments, conventional theory would have none produced.

Hydrogen is also found to be nuclear active in some environments. Anomalous effects are produced by specially treated nickel surface when exposed to hydrogen gas ... Nickel, when it is repeatedly loaded and deloaded using hydrogen gas, appears to produce tritium .... Hydrogen can also produce transmutation products and detectable energy .... Even tritium, when reacted with finely divided titanium ... experiences a change in its decay rate.  A Student’s Guide to Cold Fusion, Edmund Storms, (January, 2003), p. 5-7

Around 1993 Thermacore performed an interesting non-electrolytic experiment. It used 6 meters of nickel tubing immersed in 0.6 molar potassium carbonate solution in a vessel pressurized with nitrogen to suppress boiling. The insulated vessel was heated with an external heater (35 watts), and finally stabilized at  215  ° C above the 18  ° C lab ambient. The nickel tubing was then pressurized with ordinary hydrogen to 70 atm (about 1000 psi). Subsequently, the temperature rose to  301 ° C above ambient,  at which point the nickel tubing  was vented to atmosphere to prevent activation of the vessel's relief valve. Subsequently, the temperature began dropping back down. No electrolysis was involved in this experiment. 

A control cell with sodium carbonate solution gave only a weak effect. Unfortunately, no comparisons were given for a cell with rubidium carbonate solution.  

Mizuno, et al. have "observed neutron emissions from pure deuterium gas after it was cooled in liquid nitrogen and compressed under a magnetic field! The neutron count, and duration of the release, and the time of the release after treatment all fluctuated considerably. Neutron emissions were observed in ten out of ten test cases. Normal hydrogen alone yields no neutrons." (Infinite Energy, Vol. 10, Issue 56, July/August 2004, p. 37,38; 39;  Tadahiko Mizuno, Himoro Kenichi, Francesco Celani, "Neutron Emission from Low-Temperature D2 Gas in a Magnetic Field")


One field that needs intense and immediate investigation is the electrolytic neutralization of high-level radioactive waste, a process that I have  called "the profitable destruction of energy" J . (Actually, the indications are that such a process would produce energy, as well as tons of valuable non-radioactive metal-rich sludge that could be processed by a mining company.) Neutralization could be done on-site at the nuclear power plant. This would be far safer than transporting tens of thousands of tons of highly radioactive waste from sites all over the country to a very expensive storage facility like that planned for Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Furthermore, storing the waste does not actually get rid of it. A storage facility will still have to be monitored for thousands of years. On-site neutralization is by far the most sensible, safest, and least expensive alternative. (See also Brian Fraser's Adventures in Energy Destruction .)

"Science progresses funeral by funeral."
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light,
but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Max Planck, A Scientific Autobiography, translated by Frank Gaynor, 1949, p. 33

Evidence for Equivalence of Thermal Space and Electron Space

The article above  suggested that there is a kind of equivalence between the phenomena of moving mass through space and moving electrons through a mass. It also pointed out that the energy equations take the same form. In effect, heating up a mass causes more space to be added to the space/time ratio that we call mass. This will cause it to increase in volume (expand) as well as increase in temperature.

There are still other effects that suggest an equivalence between electron space (rotational) and thermal space (linear). Consider this note from electrochemistry:

"The electron flow from one electronic conductor equals the inflow to the other; that is, a purely chemical reaction (one not involving net electron transfer) can be be carried out in an electrochemical cell. Such net reactions in an electrochemical cell turn out to be formally identical to the familiar thermally induced reaction of ordinary chemistry in which molecules collide with each other and form new species with new bonds. . . .Thus, from an overall point of view . . . this net cell reaction is identical to that which would occur if one heated hydrogen iodide and produced hydrogen and iodine by a purely chemical, or thermal, reaction."  Modern Electrochemistry: Ionics, Vol 1, John O'M. Bockris, Amula K.N. Reddy, 1998, second edition, p. 10-11 (emphasis is in the original text)

The idea that the electron is rotational space is consistent with the insubstantial nature of electric current and the flow of heat (there is no motion of a "fluid" in the usual sense of the word). It also allows electrons to move at speeds comparable to that of light inside a wire and to be extremely responsive to ultra high frequency alternating currents. The idea that rotational space can move through matter, just as matter can move through open space, also suggests a different way to explain superconductivity at cryogenic temperatures. (The problem of explaining superconductivity is actually one of explaining resistance, not conduction.) See also: E x B Motion Couplers

Energy from massless particles?

The discussion of the Atomic Spin System  showed that the periodicity of the Periodic Table is based on four integers: 1,2,3,4. The integers 2,3, and 4 are used twice each and account for two rows each in the Table. But the integer 1 is used only once, and accounts for only one row. This latter characteristic breaks the overall periodicity pattern. However, we found that the periodicity could be extended "backwards" and that when this was done, "less-than-atomic" (subatomic) particles were the result, and were all based on the integer 1. These particles were all massless. They are of interest to us here because they may be involved in the characteristic phenomena of "cold fusion", namely, excess heat, anomalous power, and nuclear transmutations.

But first of all, what is a particle? For our purposes, a particle is a space/time (or time/space) ratio that is characterized by intrinsic rotation. Anything with what physicists call "intrinsic spin" is a particle. That includes familiar particles common to our environment like photons, electrons, neutrons, and atoms. It also includes their inverse space/time counterparts (anti-matter or mesons) which, from our standpoint, have strange properties like very short life-times and low mass, and which pass through our environment at the speed of light.

Besides intrinsic spin, space/time (or time/space) ratios can have another property of interest: intrinsic translation. Whereas intrinsic rotation is a change of direction, intrinsic translation is a change of position. It arises out of a property we could call "extensionality". This latter property has three independent ways  of manifesting itself (three dimensions). Because the ratio has three dimensions, and because the ratio of space to time is a speed, we infer that space and time are coupled as a speed in three dimensions. We recognize this as the expansion of the Universe and the progression of time. Because space and time are extensible and involve multiple units, we can distinguish one from another. We have the ability to say that a particle is "here and not there" (in space or time).  This leads to concepts of "location" and "separability". But if we reduce our view of space down so much that we can see only one unit, any identical particles "inside" this space cannot be distinguished from each other by their position in space. They can, however, be distinguished by another sort of relationship.

As I have explained in the article on Advanced Stellar Propulsion Systems, time is three dimensional like space. A particle therefore has a position in coordinate time as well as in coordinate space. In general, locations in coordinate time would have no relationship to a location in coordinate space. But if all entities in the Universe are space/time (or time/space) ratios, then space and time never really occur in isolation. It is this coupling through a ratio that allows us to describe one in terms of the other. Such a description produces seemingly non-intuitive concepts like non-locality,  non-separability and indeterminacy—properties that seem to be just opposite of the spatial ones. Such a description also requires mathematical tools that have "infinite reach" from the spatial standpoint. Hence, we end up using mathematical constructs like Schrödinger's wave equation, Heisenberg's infinite matrices, Feynman's infinite path integral method, the energy-based, non-trajectory description of the Hamiltonian, and so forth. These methods have only scalar contact with the spatial system and the magnitude thus available must be given an interpretation consistent with this limitation (such as a  probability, or a distance, instead of a location).

The combination of a rotational entity moving linearly also results in "wave properties" from our perspective  The "inverseness" of the ratio leads to the Uncertainty Principle (i.e., greater certainty in one component requires less certainty in the other).

Well, now that you know what a particle is and how the Universe portrays them J, let's find out what sort of energy is associated with various types of particles. A good starting point is Einstein's energy relation:

E2 = (pc)2 + (mc2)2  

where E is energy, p is momentum, m is mass, and c is the speed of light.

Mathematically this equation looks like vector addition of two orthogonal components (remember the Pythagorean theorem from highschool trigonometry?). Taken separately, we see that E = mc2 for massive particles (like atoms) and  E = pc for massless particles (like the neutrino and photon). We are of course interested in knowing the space/time dimensions of these terms. The dimensions of energy and mass were worked out in the discussion of the Hamiltonian. The dimensions of p (momentum) can be worked out from simple equations like p = mv, an expression for mechanical momentum. The space/time dimensions for each term are summarized in the  following table:

Symbol Name Space/time
C Factor Energy Term
E energy t/s c0 E
p momentum t2/s2 c1 pc
m mass t3/s3 c2 mc2

Note that energy, momentum, and mass are all t/s terms raised to a power, and that as we go down the table the powers progress as 1, 2, and 3. We see that momentum could be viewed as energy in two dimensions, and that mass could be viewed as energy in three dimensions. We also see that there is a c factor, and that its exponent is dependent on the dimensional distance to the energy term. For instance, the ratio for energy has an exponent of 1 and the ratio for mass has an exponent of 3. The exponent for c to relate the two terms must be the difference, hence, c2. ( we saw this before in the equation E=cB, where the electric field (one-dimensional) is related to a magnetic field (two-dimensional) by a factor of c).

A couple more formulas of interest are the de Broglie expression for massless momentum:

p = hbar16.gif (879 bytes)/l

and the energy expression for a photon in terms of its frequency:

E = hf

You will recognize hbar12.gif (837 bytes) and h as Planck's constant. Their usage is slightly confusing to the uninitiated. The constant hbar12.gif (837 bytes)  (called "h cross" or "h bar") is actually h/2p. Its dimensions are those of angular momentum (in space/time terms that would be  t2·s/s2 ) They are both called "Planck's constant" by physicists because to them it is usually obvious where to apply the 2p factor .  The dimensions for the de Broglie expression (pl = h) therefore are ( t2/s)s = t2·s/s2 .     The dimensions for photon energy (E=hf) are apparently  t/s = (t2·s/s2) ( 1/t). The reason for the "1" in the numerator instead of "s" is not clear. Everything in this scheme is supposed to reduce to a space/time or time/space ratio. Possibly, linear extensional space might not have the same representation as rotational space. Or it could just be that this scheme has some dimensionless numbersjust plain, ordinary counting integers.  (revised 8-15-07)

You can see from the table that "massless momentum" is no more mysterious than mass or energy, and is in fact  midway between them dimensionally. But if you are like most people, you still might not feel intuitively comfortable with this. The main problem seems to be that most people lack solid answers to the questions: What is mass? and What is inertia?

This was explained in fair detail in the article Advanced Stellar Propulsion Systems. Mass is effectively an intrinsic spin system that moves "anti" to the outward expansion of the general progression of space/time. The latter tends to move entities to increasing spatial and temporal separation. Gravitation opposes this motion in all three linear dimensions in space. Hence, gravitating particles are moving together. The motion is caused by the intrinsic spin of the particle. Yes, I know that classically you cannot just add angular motion directly with linear motion. But in this case the motions are intrinsic. They are not motions of something, they are motions inherently. At this level, the Universe apparently does not distinguish between an intrinsic change of direction (spin) and an intrinsic change of position (translation). They are just magnitudes and can be added together without any problem. If the Universe is expanding outward at the speed of light (c), then the intrinsic rotation has to move inward at twice the speed of light to achieve the motion that we call gravitation. Note that this implies a zero (a reference magnitude) for rotational motion. Note that it also implies that a factor of c will appear in the various equations of physics that describe fundamental phenomena as seen from a gravitationally bound system like the one we inhabit.

Out of this comes an explanation for inertia. I have two ways of explaining inertia to people. The first is easy to grasp (literally) but slightly misleading at first. But let's try it. Hold a toy gyroscope in your hand. You'll notice that as long as the rotor is not spinning, you can move the "dead" gyro just like any other object, say a book. You can move it translationally or rotationally and there is nothing unusual about it. You could put it in a small box (say a lunch box) and you would not be able to tell whether there is a "dead" gyro or a book in the box. But when you spin the rotor up to a fast speed, the behavior of the gyro becomes quite different from that of a book. The gyro acquires angular momentum, and this momentum resists a change in direction. You will have no trouble moving the gyro translationally,  but you will find that it resists being turned in a plane that is perpendicular to the plane of the rotor. If you put this spinning gyro into the lunch box, you could easily tell whether the box has a book or a gyro in it. In fact if you were to give such a box to someone who knows nothing about gyros, it would seem to have very strange properties!

The spin on the gyro has nothing to do with the intrinsic spin of atoms. This kind of spin is a thing with a spin, not an intrinsic spin itself. The point of the illustration is that we could say the spinning gyro has a kind of inertia: inertia of direction (this is not a term physicists use L) It resists being turned, even though it seems to be stationary. What we are really trying to understand is the more usual kind of inertia: inertia of translation.

So let's try the second illustration. Picture a garden hose with a fast stream of water issuing out from a nozzle. If you touch this stream with your finger, you'll find that it is stiff ("a stiff stream of water"). If you slow down the flow, you will find that it can be more easily deflected. The stream has momenturn and it resists a change in direction, even though it is not rotating. Let's say now the nozzle is changed to a special type that sprays a disk of water instead of a stream. If the water was moving fast enough, we could probably bounce a toy ball off this disk. The momentum is now operative in two dimensions instead of one, and again resists a change in direction, even though it is not rotating.

We cannot stretch this illustration any further and so at this point we'll have to switch to atoms with intrinsic spin. These too have momentum. They are moving linearly at the speed of light (the motion is "anti" to the outward expansion of space). They too will resist a change in direction. But atoms are moving, not just in one dimension, but in all three simultaneously (gravitational motion). Consequently, they resist a change of direction in any direction. And like the gyro-in-a-box, the atoms seem to be stationary and motionless.   We humans have the same type of motion and so these atoms seem to "stay put" like everything else around us, even though it is all moving inwardly at the speed of light, like everything else on the planet. It is this resistance to a change of motion that we call inertia. Thus, inertia is really just a fundamental type of momentum, but it operates in three dimensions instead of two.

So now you should have a better feel for massless particles (neutrino class). They are intrinsic spin systems just like atoms, except that they are not quite atoms, and lack one dimension of the gravitational motion. The "unoccupied dimension" can, of course, take any orientation relative to our environment. Consequently, massless particles always move at the speed of light relative to a gravitationally bound system.  Their motion at the speed of light, regardless of their energy, creates a problem for physicists because massless particles of different energies can take the same trajectories and can be distinguished only by their momentum, not by their speed or paths.

The inherent energy of a massless particle will be less than that for a massive particle by a factor of c as explained above. Still, this is pretty energetic. And this type of energy might be easier to tap into because of a simpler spin system. The electron and positron have one-dimensional spins and can annihilate on contact. The complex spin systems of atoms, on the other hand, cannot align in such a way as to annihilate and so atomic combinations are quite stable. Massless particles are somewhere in between these extremes. If they can annihilate, they might not do so instantly, but could have a considerable half-life as a metastable association. Such an association would ultimately have one of two possible outcomes. Either the combination will produce energy or it will produce mass. There is not enough "stuff" to produce both.  Hmmm . . . that is beginning to sound like the "cold fusion" experiments.

The true signature of these experiments was excess heat or anomalous power. Such phenomena acquired an indisputable factual basis by about 1995 (at least for anyone who actually looks at the evidence). The underlying cause of this excess power is not known and has been the subject of intense research and speculation for several years. The energy densities are so high that there is no way to explain the power chemically (a postage stamp sized piece of palladium foil can produce as much energy as a 60 ampere-hour car battery or enough energy to turn a kitchen electric spiral burner cherry red for more than twenty minutes). Hence, researchers have felt that some form of "nuclear energy" is involved. But there were essentially no neutrons, and no deadly radiation that customarily accompanies such nuclear reactions. The whole thing just seemed to be too perfect:  abundant atomic power without the mess and hazards of conventional nuclear reactions!

Later, nuclear transmutation products were found in the electrodes from the electrolytic cells. These were non-radioactive materials like iron, chromium, copper, tin, titanium, platinum, and lead where none had existed before. They had a non-natural ("anomalous") isotopic composition and were present only in electrodes that had been run in cells that produced excess heat. It was also discovered that the radioactivity of materials like thorium and uranium could be neutralized by an electrolytic cell. These too would  produce non-natural isotopic distributions of metals like copper and titanium, along with the disappearance of the uranium and thorium, but there was no appreciable excess heat. It seemed that the experiments could be configured to yield one or the other, but not both.

Furthermore, a "heat after death" phenomena made its appearance early on. After a cell that was producing excess heat was turned off electrically, it would continue to produce excess heat (lots of it!), even after it evaporated all the electrolyte. Something energetic seemed to have a finite lifetime in these cells. The appearance of anomalous power after the cells had been turned off raised serious concerns about how to control scaled up versions of these cells.

The institutional physics community was saying that these researchers were claiming to get "something from nothing" and  that such claims violated the well established Conservation of Energy/Mass principle, which no physicist in his right mind would give up without extremely compelling evidence. But if you remember your physics history, scientists had a problem like this before. There is a radioactive phenomenon called beta decay. The overall reaction has a definite energy, but the beta rays showed a spread of energies. This seemed to violate the Conservation of Energy principle and to get around this awful problem, Wolfgang Pauli  proposed in 1930 that the "missing energy" was being carried away by a massless, uncharged particle that was essentially undetectable. Scientists did not feel comfortable at first with the proposition that there was a particle that could not be detected, and which existed for only one special purpose. But we know this particle today as the neutrino.

So when I hear "something for nothing" and "violation of Conservation of Energy" I naturally think of "massless particle". But it is not just the neutrino. According to the presentation on Atomic Spin Systems, there are apparently five such massless particles:  the electron, positron, neutrino, massless neutron, and an Unnamed Particle. One or more of these are probably involved in the production of the "excess heat". But my view is that they seem to be mediators in a conversion process, not the actual source of the energy.

Remember that problem with massless particles? Massless particles don't "stay put."  They always move at the speed of light, at least when in free space. They are not going to linger in an electrolytic cell for minutes or days or a couple of months (as seems to be required by these experiments). We need to discover the rules that govern the movement and "identity maintenance" of massless particles.

We could start with the photon. The photon can retain its identity after traveling through millions of light years of space. Ordinary light can also travel through a transparent solid like glass and emerge intact. Some materials are not transparent to ordinary light, but are transparent to light of other frequencies, say infrared or X-rays. From this we could infer a general clue: light needs an open dimension for its rotational system and another open dimension for its linear motion to persist as light. If it does not have both, the light will be stopped and will be forced to release its energy. The photon will lose its identity and cease to exist.

What about neutrinos? They interact extremely weakly with matter. "Such particles would pass through the sun with very little chance of collision. The thickness of Pb [lead] required to attenuate neutrinos by the factor 1/e . . . [0.37] is about 1020 cm, or 110 light-years of Pb!" (The Atomic Nucleus, Robley D. Evans, 1955, p. 547). Our Earth sees a continual flux of neutrinos, but most go right on through at the speed of light, and retain their identity as well. Apparently all materials have the required open dimensions for this particle, and that makes them very hard to work with. And of course, that is exactly the problem we are trying to solve!

What about the Unnamed Particle?  Its spin system is more atom-like than the neutrino.  Inside matter, such a particle would tend to merge its spin system with the atomic spin system, except that the additional spin complexity could delay such a merger for a significant amount of time.  Eventually though, matter would absorb these particles, just as it does more quickly with positrons. Unlike electrons, they become scarce and inconspicuous. What is unknown, and likely relevant to the "cold fusion" experiments, is the question of whether or not hydrogen and the Unnamed Particle are interconvertible under certain conditions. The question arises because the stable isotope of hydrogen has a mass of only one a.m.u. instead of two, and this suggests a spin system that is slightly closer to a massless particle than would be expected.

What about electrons? My own view is that electrons can  exist in a massless form and move through interstellar space just like photons or neutrinos. But when they hit something, the whole picture changes. Electrons seem to retain their identity in the new environment, but they also acquire a charge. The charge produces a small mass effect and allows the electron to come to rest in our environment and be manipulated by electric fields in a laboratory apparatus. What could be called "free electrons" are also found in metals, such as copper. These electrons ( those inside a good conductor) seem  not to be charged. Unfortunately, modern theory in this area is full of contradictions. The electrons in a copper wire must be tightly bound to a positive charge (the nucleus) to give an electrically neutral solid, but yet be extremely loose so that a mere volt or two can produce currents of thousands of amperes. Yet, such a wire does not bristle with static electricity:

"A wire is electrically neutral (to a excellent approximation at least) whether or not it is carrying a current. It exerts no Coulomb force on a charged particle in its vicinity." 

"Another implication of the above analysis is that any departure from electrical neutrality of a current-bearing wire, as observed in its own rest frame, must be very small indeed, or else the electric force on a moving charge outside the wire would completely swamp the magnetic force." Special Relativity, A. P. French, 1968, p. 234, 259

These electrons have a magnetic effect, but no electrostatic effect. Furthermore, a wire's resistance is inversely proportional to the cross-sectional area of the wire. If such electrons were charged, they would move to the surface of the wire and the behavior of the electric current would show different characteristics.  We must conclude that there is such a thing as an uncharged electron, and that in a terrestrial environment, they are found, not in open space, but only inside conductors. (See related information)

This leads to a suggestion that charge can control where a particle is allowed to move. An electron can move from a conductor into open space if it acquires a charge. Otherwise it is confined to a solid. Charge somehow alters the availability of open dimensions. (insulators, we will surmise, do not have the requisite linear or rotational open dimensions for electron motion, regardless of whether the electron is charged or uncharged)

That leads to the next question. What kind of particles can accept charges? The photon apparently cannot accept charges, nor can the ordinary neutron. But electrons, positrons, and atoms can accept charges. This leaves us wondering about the neutrino-class massless particle group, which is in-between these two groups. Presumably, the neutrino and the Unnamed Particle could accept a charge, but the  massless neutron could not.

A negative charge on the otherwise featureless neutrino would make it act like an electron. A charged electron and a charged neutrino would almost certainly manifest differences in mass when in free space, but no such differences have been apparent to particle physicists.  Of the two, the charged electron is the only one that exists observationally.

This leaves us with the default conclusion that if there is such a thing as a charged neutrino, it must exist only inside matter. There, it would be observationally equivalent to the electron, which would explain why physicists have not been able to identify it as a distinct and different entity. Its "open dimension" situation would be opposite to that of the electron. Motion in open space (the reference system) is available to the electron only if it has a charge, but motion in open space is available to the neutrino only if it does not have a charge.

This would be a very convenient conclusion for the "cold fusion" experiments. The neutrinos can "stay put" and would not fly off at the speed of light. The electric current in the electrolytic cells may involve both neutrinos and electrons. In space/time dimensions neutrinos are midway between mass and energy (see table above) and might be involved in a mass-to-energy conversion process. Not all "cold fusion cells" are electrolytic, however. Some, like ceramic proton conductors, operate at elevated temperatures (a few hundred Celsius).  But as brought out in the note just prior to this article, electron space (rotational) , thermal space (linear), and now neutrino space (rotational), may all be equivalent for these purposes.

The table (above) suggests that both massive and massless particles can be converted to energy. But the conversion process is not intuitively simple and obvious. Consider an example given in most textbooks on conventional nuclear physics. Helium is created by fusing two hydrogen atoms and two neutrons into a helium atom. A relatively large amount of  energy (28.3 MeV per helium atom)  is released in the process. Yet when we add up the mass of the starting materials and compare that with the mass of the final helium atom, we are left wondering, what exactly, got converted to energy.  The mass of two hydrogen atoms +  two neutrons = 2 x 1.0078252 + 2 x 1.0086654 or 4.0329812 atomic mass units (C12 basis). The mass of the final helium atom is  4.002603. Note that the end product, helium, is less massive than the total mass of the "parts" taken separately. The difference is 0.0303799 a.m.u. This so-called "mass deficit" appears externally as energy. The explanation, from the standpoint of nuclear theory, is that the helium atom is more stable than are the separate parts, and therefore requires less "binding energy" to hold the parts together. This now unneeded potential energy is cast aside into the environment and does not appear as mass in the helium atom.

What is so strikingly apparent in this situation is that most of the mass is accounted for, and has not been converted to energy, but has remained as mass. Only 0.7 per cent (i.e., 0.0303799 / 4.0329812) of the mass of the starting materials is released as energy.

According to nuclear theory, atoms can be fused together and release energy provided the final product is less massive than iron (or more generally, iron, cobalt, or nickel). This is the so-called "fusion" process. It is also possible to split a massive atom apart and have it release energy, provided that the initial atom is much more massive than iron. This is the so-called "fission" process.

An example would be the symmetrical fission of uranium (92U238). The average binding energy per nucleon (usually read from a graph in most physics textbooks) for this atom is about 7.6 MeV. A symmetrical split would produce two atoms of mass 119. These in turn have an average binding energy per nucleon of about 8.5 MeV. The difference in energy between the uranium and its fission products is thus 238 x 7.6 = 1810 MeV for uranium itself versus 2 x 119 x 8.5 = 2023 for the fission products. That is a difference of about 213 MeV. The split takes the mass of the products downwards towards the iron group. The resulting less massive atoms are more stable than the large uranium atom. The unneeded "binding energy" is again cast aside into the environment and appears first as kinetic energy and finally as thermal energy.

Again, only a small fraction of the total mass is converted into energy. The full mass of the uranium atom has a mass, in energy units, of about 238 x 931.5 MeV. In symmetrical fission, a mere fraction (213/(238 x 931) appears as energy. In this case, about one tenth of one percent of the mass of the (fissioning) uranium is converted to energy.

The mass unit that gets converted to energy is less than one percent of the ordinary mass unit ( 1 a.m.u or 931.5 MeV). For nuclear theory this does not present a problem, because the "binding energy" is just potential energy and is not quantized into units of atomic mass. But in my view, there are no "parts" to the atom,  no binding energy is needed, and so the explanation used in the nuclear model is not available in this situation.  Atomic mass seems to come in units of 2 a.m.u (primary mass) or 1 a.m.u (secondary mass). Now we seem to have a need for a very small mass unit, which is also "discardable" or "non-essential" in some sense, and which can apparently be positive or negative in magnitude when it is associated with an atom.

Could some type of charge meet these requirements? As things stand now, this seems to be an open question. The current belief in physics is that charge is another fundamental quantity like mass, space, and time, but the fact that charges have no independent existence and are always found to be attached to something (an electron, an atom, etc.), seems to contradict this belief. Wherever they appear, they are always associated with an existing intrinsic spin system. That suggests the existence of electrical, magnetic, and mass effects depending on whether the charge is distributed in one, two, or three dimensions, respectively (or whether the charge itself is multi-dimensional). Charges can be transferred from one spin system to another (as in electrolysis) and can also be neutralized. And that, again, suggests an ability to transfer, as well as transform, small units of mass, and maybe even do it by electrical means.

It also seems that nuclear reactors, nuclear weapons, and the "cold fusion" experiments are not tapping into the type of power process that powers the stars. That process is based on whole primary mass units and is therefore hundreds of times more powerful, and much more difficult to initiate. We know of only two types of "atomic" power processes. As mentioned above, one is based on E = mc2 and the other is based on E = pc. The one that mankind has been using, actually seems to be the latter and not the former.  

One thing is clear. Easy access to atomic energy through simple means like electronuclear chemistry will yield both stupendous benefits as well as horrific consequences for our civilization.

"God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He
chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things
and the things that are notto nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him." (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV)


Ray guns, Nuclear Isomers, Rydberg Atoms

Hold out your hand and put a dime on the  tip of your finger. An American dime weighs about 2.3 grams. Now imagine putting this same weight of a different and special material into a "ray gun". If you fire this ray gun, it will emit an extremely intense gamma ray pulse. The pulse will look something like a lightning bolt, except far more powerful. It will release the energy equivalent of two and one half thousand-pound bombs.

Sound far fetched? Scientists have been working on the basic technology during the last few years:

X RAYS IN, GAMMA RAYS OUT. A laser is a machine for pumping energy (electrical, light, chemical, etc.) into a medium (liquid, gas, solid, etc.) whose atoms subsequently relax in a concerted way, producing coherent light. One of the obstacles to creating an x-ray or gamma laser is the inability to pack enough energy into the medium and have it sit there long enough until it can be extracted under the right circumstances. One candidate medium for the job is isomeric hafnium. In nuclear physics isomers are nuclei that have the same number of neutrons and protons but differ in that for one nucleus one or more nucleons (protons or neutrons) are placed in an excited state. Physicists . . . begin with a sample (prepared at Los Alamos) of a metastable (31-year lifetime) isomer of Hf-178 with 4 participating nucleons, possessing a stored energy of 2.5 MeV. Then, like a transistor triggered by the merest of gate signals, the isomer material can, with the input of some x rays (amounting to only 1.6% of the output energy), produce induced gamma emission (IGE); thus x ray energy is stockpiled in the Hf and later extracted at higher gamma-ray energy. The emitted rays are not coherent, however, so this is not yet an example of gamma lasing. (C.B. Collins et al., Physical Review Letters, 25 January 1999)

For more articles see:
"First Light for a Gamma Ray Flashbulb" (Science, Vol 283:769-770, 5  Feb 1999)

Superbomb ignites science dispute
Pentagon advisers challenge experiments behind nonnuclear weapon

"Isomer Wars", Laura Durnford, 27 October 2003

"Tapping the power of isomers", Laura Durnford (Hans de Vreij), 20 October 2003

"The Ultimate Laser", Ivan Amato, 27 Jan 1999

The energy storage capability for Hf-178 is reported  variously as 1 billion joules per gram, 2.5 MeV per atom, and 0.05 exawatt per gram. What does that all mean in common terms? What is one billion joules? How much energy is in a gram of Hafnium at 2.5 MeV per atom? First, we go to a physics handbook and look up some conversion factors:

1 Joule = 1 watt-second
1Kilowatt-hour = 3.6 x 106 Joule
1MeV = 1.602x10-13 joule
1kt TNT =  4.184 x 1012 J  = 2.61x1025 MeV
Avagadro's number 6.023 x 1023   atoms/mole

For the one billion joules we have:

(1x109J) (1KwH  /3.6 x 106 J) =  277.8 kWh 
or about 556 kitchen toasters running for 1 hour

To convert that to tons of  TNT we use the following:

(1x 109 J) /  (4.184 x 1012 J/kt)
= 0.239 x  10-3    kiloton
= 0.239 x   ton
= 478 lbs. of TNT

And so now you know how to convert the kilowatt hours on your electric bill to TNT equivalents! J But what does the 2.5 MeV per atom come out to? 

atomic wt Hf178  = 178
number of atoms in 1 gram Hf178  = 6.023 x 1023   atoms/ 178
= 3.38 x 1021 atoms/gram

total MeV per gram at 2.5 MeV per atom
= 3.38  x 1021 atoms/gram x 2.5 MeV/atom
= 8.46  x 1021 MeV/gram

TNT equivalents
= (8.46  x 1021 MeV) / (2.61x1025 MeV/kt)
= 3.24   x10-4 kt
= 0.324 x 10-3   kt
= 0.324 tons TNT
= 648 lbs. of TNT

So we could say, roughly, that the energy in one gram of  the "charged up" isomer of Hf178 is the equivalent of about 500 lbs. of TNT. A 1000 lb. General Purpose aerial bomb has an explosive content of about 555 lbs. ( and, in case you are interested, about 20% of the explosive power is expended in shattering the steel case).  A dime weighs about 2.3 grams. So our hypothetical ray gun would emit a gamma ray burst into the atmosphere with energy greater than that of a 2000 pound aerial bomb.  You would NOT want to hold this thing in your hand and pull the trigger when it is set on ANNIHILATE!

And what about the 0.05 exawatt? All it means is that the energy can be emitted extremely quickly, even faster than light from a flashbulb. It does not just dribble out over a period of time like light from a flashlight ( 0.5 watt ).  A 134 horsepower automobile engine can deliver energy at the rate of 100 kilowatts (100 kJoules per second). An exawatt is 1018 watts, or a billion billion watts. So that represents extremely fast energy delivery!

Also, note the distinction between an isotope and an isomer:

nuclear isotopes: These are atoms that have the same atomic number (and therefore the same chemical properties), but different mass. Nowadays, they are in the news a lot over concerns about nuclear waste, dirty bombs, contamination with "radioactive iodine", cesium 137, strontium 90, etc.

nuclear isomers: These are atoms that have identical mass and atomic number, but different energy states. They decay by emission of gamma rays  (usually). You rarely see references to them in popular literature. In the Handbook of Chemistry of Physics, they are listed in the isotope tables and have an m after the mass number.

atomic isobars: These are atoms that have identical mass but different atomic number. You will hardly ever see references to them by this term.

Nuclear isomers are usually quite unstable from our standpoint. They quickly emit gamma rays and go to the ground state. But they are slightly long-lived from the perspective of the atomic world and so they are called "metastable". Some unusual ones like Hafnium 178m, have a half-life measured in years. Tantalum 180m has an unusual distinction in that its metastable isomeric state has a half-life of over one thousand trillion years:

. . . Ta-180m carries a dual distinction. It is the rarest stable isotope occurring in nature and it is the only naturally occurring exawatt material. The actual ground state of Ta-180 is 1+ with a halflife of 8.1 hours while the tantalum nucleus of mass 180 occurring with 0.012% natural abundance is the 9- isomer, Ta-180m. It has an adopted excitation energy of 75.3 keV and a halflife in excess of 1.2 x 10^15 years.

Well, you have probably guessed that I am really not trying to write an article about ray guns. Rather, my intent here is to offer some insights into atomic structure in a way that is accessible and interesting to a general science audience. Studies on nuclear isomers show that the nucleus has a shape. Normally, the shape of the nucleus is pretty much spherical. But in the case of nuclear isomers, it is deformed into a football (or water melon) shape:

Energy traps in atomic nuclei
A small proportion of atomic nuclei can form highly excited metastable states, or isomers. Of particular interest is a class of isomers found in deformed axially symmetric nuclei; these isomers are among the longest-lived and have the potential to reach the highest energies. By probing their properties, insights into nuclear structure have been gained. The possibility of stimulated isomer decay may ultimately lead to new forms of energy storage and g-ray lasers.  (Nature 399, 35 - 40 (1999) © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

"Hyperdeformed nuclei even more distorted than superdeformed nuclei have been found in recent experiments at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. When two medium-sized nuclei collide off-center, they can fuse into a highly-spinning, distorted nucleus which then sheds its rotational energy by emitting a series of gamma rays. In the past few years, researchers have found numerous examples of superdeformed nuclei, football-shaped particles with a 2-to-1 long-to-short axis ratio. But in recent experiments at LBL's 88-Inch Cyclotron, even more oblong (3-to-1) nuclei have apparently been produced. . . . One might expect such highly spinning nuclei to fragment immediately into two smaller pieces. Instead, a very small fraction of the hyperdeformed nuclei remain intact and merely get rid of their spins by emitting gamma rays. "(D.R. LaFosse et al., to appear in Physical Review Letters, 26 June 1995.)

"The predominate decay mode of excited nuclear states is by gamma-ray emission. The rate at which this process occurs is determined largely by the spins, parities, and excitation energies of the decaying state and of those to which it is decaying.  In particular, the rate is extremely sensitive to the difference in the spins of initial and final states and to the difference in excitation energies. Both extremely large spin differences and extremely small energy differences can result in a slowing of the gamma-ray emission by many orders of magnitude, resulting in some excited states having unusually long lifetimes and therefore being termed isomeric. . . . Some excited nuclear states represent a drastic change in shape of the nucleus from the shape of the ground state.  In many cases this extremely deformed shape displays unusual stability. . . . The possibility that nuclei may undergo sudden changes of shape at high rotational velocities has spurred searches for isomers with extremely high spin which may also be termed shape isomers."  ("Nuclear Isomerism", McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Physics, 2nd ed., 1993, p. 892)

See also "Cranked Nuclei" ,

This picture is consistent with the intuitive model of the atom that I have proposed elsewhere ( see The Atomic Spin System). It consisted of two 4p rotation systems ( two two-dimensional intrinsic spin systems) and one 2p rotation system (one one-dimensional intrinsic spin system). Because the 4p spin system is two dimensional, and not one-dimensional like the 2p system, it can accommodate high energy (consistent with gamma rays) in a tiny location. A working hypothesis here is that the gamma ray photons acquire an additional rotation (possibly temporal), and this gives them a gravitational-like motion which allows them, in effect, to stay "attached" to the atom. But gamma rays, like all photons, consist of a pair of one-dimensional rotations (2p) whereas the "nucleus" consists of a pair of  two-dimensional rotations (4p). This association therefore does not have the characteristic stability of atoms in the non-isomeric state, and the trapped gamma rays can "de-rotate" and resume their journey as free photons.

The single 2p atomic rotation can likewise trap photons, but they are of much lower energy (in the microwave, instead of gamma ray, range). And, as you might expect, there is a change in the size of the atom (huge in this case). This is easily seen in what are called Rydberg atoms. They are atoms that have been given some additional energy (principle quantum number, n, around 30 to 50) but which remain below the first ionization level. Here is a quick sketch presented in terms of the nuclear model of the atom:

The preferred internal energy state of a cold atom is the state with the lowest energy (i.e. the ground state). Laser radiation can promote the atom to higher-energy states, or even remove the electron altogether by the process of photoionization. High-energy states, in which the electron is barely bound, are known as Rydberg states, and these have many remarkable properties. For example, the electron is very far from the nucleus.

If we label each state by its principal quantum number n, where n is large for Rydberg states, then the characteristic radius of the electron's orbit around the nucleus scales as n2, increasing from ~0.05 nm for the ground state to over 100 nm for a state with n = 50. The size of such an atom is comparable to the smallest feature on a modern integrated-circuit chip.

In contrast, the energy needed to remove the electron from the atom scales as 1/n2, decreasing from several electron-volts for the ground state to about 5 millielectron-volts for n = 50. Due to their small binding energy, Rydberg states tend to be very fragile and sensitive to external perturbations such as collisions or electric fields.  ( "Ultracold plasmas come of age", Physics in Action: March 2001 )


From the birth of quantum theory in 1925 to this day . . . a universally satisfactory reconciliation of quantum theory with classical physics has yet to be discovered.

Recently experimentalists have joined the quest by opening a new window on this forbidding territory. The focus of their attention has been a class of objects known as Rydberg atoms, named after nineteenth-century Swedish physicist Johannes Robert Rydberg. These are ordinary atoms in which the outermost electron has been promoted to an immensely large orbit. (To gain some idea of just how large that orbit is, you may imagine that by analogy, a Rydberg solar system would look like the real one, except that Pluto would somehow have been pushed out a thousand times farther from the sun than it is now.) Rydberg atoms occur in nature, but they are extremely delicate--even a small disturbance can tear the distant electron from its orbit and leave behind the positively charged rump of the atom (the ion). ("The Philosopher's Atom",  Hans Christian von Baeyer, Discover Magazine, November 1995, )

Rydberg atoms are so big that they are at the boundary that separates the quantum world from the classical world. The boundary appears to be about the same size as one Natural Quantity of space and therefore might offer an additional clue about how to determine this magnitude. In my view, all physical entities are space/time ratios. Neither the space nor time in that ratio can go below one unit. When the spatial portion becomes one unit, all further variation must be in time. Viewing this temporal behavior from a spatial reference system is what gives the quantum world its characteristic weird behavior. The Rydberg atom is right on the edge, and that is what makes its technical properties so interesting.

Also note that the addition of energy causes the size of the atom to increase, just as it did in the case of the "nucleus" with nuclear isomers, except in this case the one-dimensional spin system cannot store the energy in a form that is as compact as a two-dimensional spin system. Hence, Rydberg atoms are huge.

In summary, the existence of nuclear isomers, Rydberg atoms, and the words that nuclear physics uses to describe them (size, shape, spin) suggest that an intuitive model of the atom can be based on combinations of  intrinsic rotation (a space/time ratio that is a change of direction instead of position, and which may be either spatial or temporal). A simple, clear model can lead to rapid advances in our knowledge of the atomic world and its application to modern technology. (See also Some Thoughts about Intrinsic Spin, The Photon Spin System, and The Atomic Spin System )


A Matter-Wave Interferometer for Large Molecules
Physics News Update, Number 579 #1
"this type of interferometer experiment will be useful in studying the borderland between the quantum and classical worlds." "Strontium-76 is one of the Most Deformed Nuclei"

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Melted volume increases, but internuclear distance decreases. Why?

It is common knowledge that when a liquid cools and turns into a solid, there is usually a change in volume. Liquid water, for example, will expand when it changes into ice. Melted paraffin, however, will contract when it cools and turns into solid paraffin. This is easily seen by filling two small beakers with liquid water and melted paraffin. When they are each cooled to solidification, the water (ice) will have a slightly raised center (showing that it expanded) but the solidified paraffin will show a depressed or indented center, showing that it contracted. The pattern for most substances is that they expand when heated, and so the liquid is more voluminous (less dense) than the solid.  Water is an obvious exception. So are the metals antimony and bismuth, which expand rather than contract when they solidify.

Regardless of what happens to the volume, we would at least expect one thing to always be true: if the substance expands, then the average distance between molecules (or atoms) should increase. If the volume gets smaller, then the average distance should decrease. Although this makes perfect sense, nature does not always accommodate our expectations. Crystalline potassium chloride   (a common dietary salt substitute) when melted, will increase in volume some 17%. That the "fused salt" has greater volume than the solid crystal at the same temperature might not be a surprise to most people. But it is surprising that the average distance between ionic centers is 326 picometers for the solid form, yet only 310 for the liquid form. The liquid is more voluminous but has smaller distances between its atomic constituents. The distances are measured by X-ray and neutron diffraction.

The following tables illustrate this situation with some common ionic salts:

Table 5.9
Internuclear Distances in an Ionic Crystal and the Corresponding Fused Salt

Distance between Oppositely Charged Ions (picometers)

Salt Crystal, m.p. Molten Salt
LiCl 266 247
LiBr 285 268
LiI 312 285
NaI 335 315
KCl 326 310


Table 5.10
Volume Change on Fusion

Substance % Increase of Volume on Fusion
NaCl 25
NaF 24
NaI 19
KCl 17
CdBr2 28
NaNO3 11

(Partial tables from Modern Electrochemistry: ionics,
John O'M.Bockris, Amulya K. N. Reddy,
2nd ed, 1998, p. 611, 613 )

The authors are themselves puzzled by this:

"There is another important fact about the melting process. When many ion lattices are melted, there is a 10 to 25% increase in the volume of the system (Table 5.10). This volume increase is of fundamental importance to someone who wishes to conceptualize models for ionic liquids because one is faced with an apparent contradiction. From the increase in volume, one would think that the mean distance apart of the ions in a liquid electrolyte would be greater than in its parent crystal. On the other hand, from the fact that the ions in a fused salt are slightly closer together than in the solid lattice, one would think that there should be a small volume decrease upon fusion. How is this emptinesswhich evidently gets introduced into the solid lattice on meltingto be conceptualized?" (Modern Electrochemistry: ionics, John O'M.Bockris, Amulya K. N. Reddy, 2nd ed, 1998,   p. 611-612)

"Such "volumes of nothingness" must be present to account for the large increase in volume upon fusion while at the same time the internuclear distance decreases (see Tables 5.9 and 5.10)" (Bockris, ibid., p. 619)

". . . this space is counterintuitive to the internulcear distances given by X-ray or neutron diffraction. The internuclear distances found in molten salts are smaller, not bigger, as might be thought from the increase in volume." (Bockris, ibid., p. 620)

Explanations are offered for this diffuculty, but they seem to boil down to little more than a restatement of the problem in terms that make it look like a solution.

I am interested in this problem because I seek answers to the following questions:

1. Does this behavior shed any light on the equivalence of thermal space and electron space discussed above?

2. Does the "metric coupling"  between the quantum world and our world change at the melting point?  (Is a rotational dimension changing into a linear dimension, thereby creating more volume, but reducing the measured interatomic distance?or something like that)

3. Is this behavior a property of the aggregate, or a property of the atoms individually?  Should we be speaking of "aggregates of melted atoms" or "melted aggregates of (unchanged) atoms"?  Does something basic and fundamental about the atom (or molecule) change abruptly at the melting point?  Or does the aggregate simply "jiggle itself apart" due to thermal motion (the current view)?

Other articles that may be of interest:
New conductor stands the heat
15 October 2003
"Mercouri Kanatzidis and colleagues at Michigan State University have discovered that a non-composite material made of ytterbium, gallium and germanium can also exhibit zero-expansion behaviour. Moreover, the new compound conducts electricity, whereas previous zero-expansion materials were insulators. Furthermore, the effect is observed over a wide temperature range - between 100 and 400 Kelvin."

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Melted atoms or a melted aggregate?

The previous article has raised a question about whether the phenomenon of melting is a property of atoms and molecules individually or a property of the aggregate as a whole. Asked differently, do atoms  themselves have a state called solid, liquid, gas? Or should solid, liquid, and gas be terms that describe the state of the aggregate (the relationships between constituent atoms or molecules)?

The concept of "liquid atoms" probably sounds kind of silly to many physicists. But we think of a plasma as a collection of ionized atoms.   Along the same line of thought, might a liquid be a collection of "liquid atoms" (or liquid molecules)?

What about other properties, like the Curie point? That is the one, remember, where you hang the ball bearing from a magnet, then heat the ball bearing up with a blowtorch, and when the ball reaches the Curie point, it loses its magnetic properties and drops off. Is the loss of magnetism best explained by changes intrinsic to the atoms themselves, or by changes in the aggregate (the relationships between atoms)?

What about the concept of critical temperature? This is "the maximum temperature at which a gas (or vapor) may be liquified by application of pressure alone. Above this temperature the substance exists only as a gas." (Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia)   Again, the concept of an atom that is intrinsically in a "gaseous atom" state seems quite viable here.

Ordinary evidence suggests that "liquid atoms" and "solid atoms" could coexist together.   A textbook example is what happens when small blocks of lead and  gold are left in contact with each other for a long period of time. When they are finally separated, it can be seen that some of the gold has migrated to the lead block and some of the lead has migrated to the gold block. Again, this is consistent with the idea of "liquid atoms" (mobile atoms) existing in a lattice of mostly "solid atoms".

According to this concept, during melting, an aggregate starts out with mostly "solid atoms". As the material is heated, more atoms transition to the "liquid atom" state. When these predominate over the "solid atoms", the aggregate falls apart (melts). It now has chunks of "solid atoms" floating around in a sea of "liquid atoms".  As the temperature is raised still further, all the atoms eventually enter the "liquid atom" state. This would mean that the aggregate is intrinsically liquid in this condition; application of pressure alone cannot turn it back into a solid.  In this respect it would be like the critical temperature for a gas, which cannot be liquified if it is above its critical temperature.

There are some tantalizing hints that the liquid/solid states of matter might behave in accord with such a concept.:

GALLIUM CLUSTERS ARE TOO SMALL TO MELT. Nanoscopic clusters of gallium atoms, consisting of as few as 17 atoms, melt at much higher temperatures than bulk gallium, according to recent research at the Indiana University. The observation runs counter to theoretical expectations of melting points for small clusters. In fact, current theory suggests that the melting point should fall as a cluster size is reduced, and that nanoscopic lumps of many materials should be liquid at room temperature. In previous work, the researchers (Martin Jarrold, 812-856-1182, ) discovered similar trends in the melting of tin clusters, but did not observe melting transitions directly. Instead they monitored the shapes of small clusters to determine their state. In the recent experiment, the researchers launched the gallium clusters through a high pressure collision cell where they were heated in collisions with a helium buffer gas. By monitoring the portion of dissociated clusters that exited the collision cell, the researchers could directly determine the clusters' melting temperatures. While bulk gallium melts at 303 K, thirty-nine and forty atom gallium clusters melt at about 550 K, and seventeen atom clusters show no sign of melting at temperatures as high as 800 K. No theoretical framework currently exists to explain the high melting temperatures of gallium clusters. The researchers explain that their measurements may have important implications for nanotechnology and material science. In particular, nanoscopic clusters may not sinter at low temperatures if they don't melt as predicted by established theory. (G. A. Breaux et al., Physical Review Letters, 31 October 31) PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE, The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News, Number 661 November 11, 2003 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and James Riordon

One thing that is apparent here is that the melting point of the aggregate and the melting point of the atom would  not necessarily be the same thing. This may require two different concepts of what defines "melting".

I tried to investigate this idea and was surprised to find out how little is really known about the liquid and solid states:

"there is no generally accepted theory for melting in three dimensions (3D) at an atomistic level. . . . after millenia of metallurgy and common observation, there are empirical rules, some mean field theories, and some more microscopic theories, but it is fair to say that the problem remains poorly understood."

"No comprehensive theory for the melting points of materials has ever been proposed. The best thing we have is a "rule" that was devised by F. A. Lindemann in 1910.3 Lindemann was inspired by the recent publication of Einstein's theory on the heat capacity of materials" (Melting of Plutonium: Learning from Neutron Diffraction, )

Some years ago I thought experiments   that could shed light on this issue would be relatively easy to perform. Find a solvent/solute system such that the behavior of the heat capacity of the system could be investigated as the temperature was swept upwards through the melting point of the solute. The ideal solute substance would have a fairly large change in heat capacity at its melting point, and the solvent should not have a boiling point (or freezing point) near the temperature of investigation.  Once the substance is dissolved (solute), it no longer exists as an aggregate. If there is any abrupt change in heat capacity (or even a heat of fusion effect) at the melting point of the (dissolved) substance, then it must be due to changes in the properties of the molecule, not the aggregate.

Heat capacity should be fairly easy to measure. A small constant flow pump could feed a small tube equipped with an inlet thermocouple, a resistance wire that serves as an electrical heater, a turbulent flow section, and an outlet thermocouple. Heat capacity can be calculated from flow rate, inlet temperature, heat input, and outlet temperature. Heat capacity is normally somewhat temperature dependent, but all that is needed is an indication that the heat capacity undergoes a somewhat abrupt change at the melting point of the soluteone that is not seen in a system using pure solvent. For that matter, if you have access to a good chemical/chemical engineering library, you can probably find all the information you need just by consulting some tables and illustrations of heat capacities for suitable solvent/solute systems.

Unfortunately, the experiment with gallium described above suggests to me that things are not this simple.  I would be interested in any thoughts or observations readers may have on this issue.

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