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RE: [cdn-nucl-l] Arthur C. Clarke on Cold Fusion
I agree with your statements on Arthur C. Clarke's ideas on cold fusion.
Just because the New York Times said heavier-than-air flight was impossible
did not mean it was so; just because Sir Arthur says cold fusion will work
doesn't mean it will.
"After all, the government was putting quite a bit of money into
powered flight projects."
Governments were not putting much money into aeronautical research at the
time of the Wright brothers. Langley received some support from the US
military for his attempts (which came close to success) on the Potomac
River, but the Wrights had a difficult time getting support/interest even
when they had a successful flyer. They were brilliant, methodical and
determined men who pursued powered flight as a singular objective, funded by
their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio.
I think that cold fusion stirs in people a romantic longing for the days of
the Wrights, Edisons, Benz's and Bells of the world. It was a time when
creative individuals could develop huge leaps in technology or science.
These were relatively simple devices or processes that did not require large
numbers of people or huge budgets to develop (though Edison had quite a few
people working for him at his Menlo Park lab). Many, if not most, of the
simple or basic technological advances have been accomplished. This isn't
to say that there isn't a role for the solitary inventor, or that there
aren't things yet undiscovered or not devised that individuals can
accomplish. Far from it. But I have heard it said that if Edison were
alive today he could not accomplish anywhere near the equivalent of the
advances he made, simply because much of the simple stuff has been solved or
developed, and any technological advances are now much more complex and
sophisticated (and hence require much more intellectual effort per advance).
So I wonder if Sir Arthur is not whistfully longing for an earlier time,
hoping that a small team of chemists can outwit the world's physicists.
Maybe there are still some simple revolutionary discoveries to be made, but
surely they are now few and far between.