On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science

By David Goodstein | Go to book overview

Five
The Cold Fusion Chronicles

On December 6-9,1993, the Fourth International Conference on Cold Fusion took place in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. The event had all the trappings of a normal scientific meeting. At least 250 scientists took part, mostly from the United States and Japan (hence the site in Hawaii), with a sprinkling from Italy, France, Russia, China, and other countries. More than 150 scientific papers were presented, on such subjects including calorimetry (a measurement of how much something warms up when you put a given amount of heat into it), nuclear theory, materials, and so on. The founders of the field, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, were in attendance and were treated with the deference due their celebrity status. At the time, they were carrying out their research in a laboratory that Technova, a subsidiary of Toyota, had built especially for them in Nice, on the French Riviera. At the meeting, it was announced that the Japanese trade ministry, MITI, had committed $30 million over a period of four years to support research on what was delicately called “new hydrogen energy,” including cold fusion.

Contrary to appearances, however, this was no normal scientific conference. Cold fusion had become a pariah field, cast out by the scientific establishment. Between its practitioners and “respectable” science there was virtually no communication. Cold fusion papers were almost never published in refer-

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On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • One - Setting the Stage 1
  • Two - In the Matter of Robert Andrews Millikan 29
  • Three - Bad News in Biology 51
  • Four - Codifying Misconduct:Evolving Approaches in the 1990s 59
  • Five - The Cold Fusion Chronicles 69
  • Six - Fraud in Physics 97
  • Seven - The Breakthrough That Wasn't Too Good to Be True 107
  • Eight - What Have We Learned? 127
  • Appendix - Caltech Policy on Research Misconduct 135
  • Acknowledgments 147
  • Notes 149
  • Index 155
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