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[cdn-nucl-l] Arthur C. Clarke on Cold Fusion
In Sept 15 2000 Nat Post http://www.nationalpost.com/
Cold fusion could have a glowing future
Arthur C. Clarke hopeful
The Daily Telegraph
The New York Times
The world may come to rely on energy generated by cold nuclear fusion, Sir
Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction writer, told the British Association
for the Advancement of Science meeting this week.
In March, 1989, Martin Fleischmann and Stan Pons announced they had
sustained a controlled nuclear fusion reaction in a test-tube that generated
up to twice the energy that they put in.
After a media frenzy and a great deal of follow-up work on these "anomalous
reactions," scientists knocked down the report and cast doubt that cold
fusion will ever generate any useful energy.
But in a video recorded for the association, Sir Arthur criticized science
journalists and scientists for being too skeptical. At the start of the last
century, he recalled, The New York Times reported that a heavier-than-air
machine would not fly. The next day the Wright brothers took off.
Forty years ago, Sir Arthur devised laws for predicting future developments.
One of them was: When scientists say something is impossible, they are
He said he now believes that "low-energy nuclear transformations" could be
started "fairly easily." Although there were many "crooks, cranks and
cowboys" in the field, he thinks "something is going on."
He acknowledged that naive enthusiasm had been shown at the birth of the
nuclear age, when it was predicted that electricity would one day be too
cheap to meter. But, he said, environmental concerns and new energy sources
would herald the end of one carbon age, based on coal, oil and methane, and
the beginning of another.
The recent discovery of a new form of carbon, buckminsterfullerene, would
pave the way for the production of materials such as carbon nanotubes that
were 100 times stronger than any metal, yet weighing as little as plastics.
"Their impact on every aspect of everyday life will be enormous," said Sir
Arthur. "Buildings kilometres high if we need them. Land, sea and air
vehicles only a fraction of their present weight. Wouldn't it be nice if you
could pick up your car and put it in a more convenient parking place?"