Problems with Smith et. al. 2021?

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Liam David
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Problems with Smith et. al. 2021?

Post by Liam David »

Linked and attached is a published cold fusion paper (yes, I know) that includes seemingly reputable authors. Hendricks and Steinetz were authors of the widely-reported paper "Novel nuclear reactions observed in bremsstrahlung-irradiated deuterated metals" (https://journals.aps.org/prc/abstract/1 ... 101.044610) and its companion (https://journals.aps.org/prc/abstract/1 ... 101.044609).

The paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... via%3Dihub

One thing jumps out at me as being so obviously wrong that I wanted to get another opinion to make sure I'm not missing something. On page 5, they show a plot of cumulative neutron production versus a control. An excess of ~0.02 uSv over a background of ~0.03 uSv is reported after the 20-day experiment. On page 3, they show images of the bubble detectors used in the experiment. The maximum sensitivity among the 3 is at least 31 bub/mrem since one in the 30s is obscured. To be maximally charitable, let's say they have the highest sensitivity detector that BubbleTech offers: 40 bub/mrem ~= 3.6 bub/uSv.

The problem is apparent: how did they measure 0.05 uSv with a detector that should only produce 0.18 bubbles for this dose?

They also mention "No scenario in this testing required manual counting of more than 31 bubbles in a single detector. That many bubbles would be equivalent to a dose of 2.8 uSv.

They also claim that the expected annual neutron background is ~2 uSv, which is very different from what I've found in the literature (e.g. pg. 23 in https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/newhomero ... ic_508.pdf).


I did some additional research and found an unpublished NASA report that seems to be the long version of the paper: https://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/SmithPJelectrolyt.pdf. It was written a few months later.

Interestingly, they have a duplicate of the page 3 plot, now on page 14, except that the y-axis data are multiplied by exactly 100. This better matches their detector sensitivities, but the scaling baffles me. We have 10 uSv ~= 1 mrem, so it's unlikely to be a unit mixup.

Their analysis of CR-39 track detectors shows a ~14x increase in detected neutrons versus the control, but this doesn't line up with the approximate doubling observed using the bubble detectors.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into what could be an honest arithmetic mistake. Any thoughts?
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Electrolytic co-deposition neutron production measured by bubble detectors.pdf
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Richard Hull
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Re: Problems with Smith et. al. 2021?

Post by Richard Hull »

My response is... Cold fusion, CANR, and LENR are not dead, never were dead. They are a real phenomenon and will never be a path to energy, just a quantum dice roll in marginal and special situations where you pile on a number of interesting paths and attempts to allow one dice to be rolled with pitiable but real results. Hey! It's just quantum uncertainty playing out under controlled conditions. Interesting nuclear stuff in electrochemistry.

In 1900-1905 chemistry was the only study in radioactivity. By 1913 there was a new separate branch created called radio-chemistry. The great experimental physicist, Rutherford won his Nobel prize in Chemistry. (not his field! He was much amused) Much later, there was created nuclear physics.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.
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Liam David
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Re: Problems with Smith et. al. 2021?

Post by Liam David »

I'm not saying that cold fusion is dead--quite to the contrary. I just remain to be convinced of either conclusion. The field has unfortunately been tainted by bad science.

The paper, as written, has significant methodological and analysis issues. That was my only purpose for this post.
Last edited by Liam David on Sat Aug 06, 2022 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Richard Hull
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Re: Problems with Smith et. al. 2021?

Post by Richard Hull »

The field is certainly filled with a lot of bad work. Bad reports of Tritium and neutrons and lack there of abound. A number of well done papers have done a a number of palladium analysis before and after and found altered trace elemental isotopes. I remain a bit amazed and guarded, but positive there is no energy to be found here. The fusion seems weak. Is there some subliminal ultra slow neutron exchange mechanism? As always, time may tell the tale. Is the reaction in CANR the exact same as in a hyper velocity space (thermal) or something else unsuspected?

We know and are familiar and accept the Thermal reaction as the only way to do fusion. We see it and can prove it. As we know one way we tend to not like the thought of any alternate forms.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.
Alex Aitken
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Re: Problems with Smith et. al. 2021?

Post by Alex Aitken »

The scale on the graph in the longer paper appears to be a mistake. 0.06 is probably right.

Because the detectors used have different sensitivities some oddly specific results are possible. If a 31bub/mrem gets 1 bubble, and the background using a 32bub/mrem gets 1 bubble, why that is 0.001mrem excess radiation!

The sensitivity of the final result seems to be due to multiple detectors being used in a single experiment, T-III-E3 uses 5 of them, and every run is summed at the end, and the background subtracted (not clear on a first read how that s being done). In total I count 466 bubbles across all experiment runs. This seems honest, not error free but also not fully complete. We don't have a number of bubbles from each detector so we can't redo the mathematics completely. We also can't track potentially faulty detectors, ones that might ping thermally or due to age. There are also some odd statements, such as the efficiency of the detectors being at a maximum on their end. It's very much a 'yeah but you seem to be missing the point, please don't tell us you pointed these at the experiment' situation. :)
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Richard Hull
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Re: Problems with Smith et. al. 2021?

Post by Richard Hull »

Precisely correct! BTI bins those dosimeters. I would not trust 1 bubble or two or three. The more bubbles over any span of time is more likely to tell the tale. The early researchers tended to run their cells for Weeks!! They were looking for excess heat and not neutrons or any classic fusion debris. A number found bizarre isotopes and ratios in palladium surfaces after some runs.

It is the age old story......How good are your measurements? What instrumentation was used and how reliable and accurate was it at getting what you were looking for. There are so many areas in tight tolerance experiments where sloppiness can foul the outcome results.

I have always said, With any given data set, if tortured long enough, will ultimately admit to what you wish.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.
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