Derek Shannon sent me a link to this great video.
This video is a few years old, but still seems like an incredible lesson in not jumping the gun when it comes to fusion claims!! Maybe worthy of a post? I see the title as “Inviting Scientific Skepticism: Lessons from….”
Nuclear Fusion Documentary
On the one hand, it is very easy to distance focus fusion from sono and cold because for those two fusion at all was controversial. Dense plasma focus fusion has at least passed the test of accepted fact. But net energy with advanced fuel is an even more extraordinary claim, requiring even more extraordinary proof. Anyhow, the doc is so educational about the scientific process, and a great jumping off point as to how these past controversies will inform how FoFu results are measured and evaluated in a way that they are rock solid!
I will embed this movie in our site somewhere along with our emerging section on instruments.
For now, a discussion of topics covered in the video:
As to the scientific process, I don’t see why these were such “scandals”. They were interesting questions, and appeared to be working at first, and then found not to be. They had to be tested. Chalk another one up to the “journal of negative results”. So the scientific method worked, and “oops, my bad.” But why the freak out like some sort of evil was being done?
The doc says that after the sonofusion stuff was published, there was a “storm of criticism” - people saying it was “unready for publication”
“Ultimately, many scientists felt the results should never have been published at all”
WTF? How untransparent. How are people supposed to find out if something works or not? I agree with the Science editor (Don Kennedy). Publish it and then let it face the tests. Also found this comment of his at 26:15 interesting:
Fusion research is a heavily contested field, both because there are reputations to be made and because the amount of federal dollars spent on it is quite large and people want their share of that research support. So don’t ever expect this to be a peaceful domain in science. It’s not gonna be.
Also, I found it funny that the frame of the movie is “will this guy get a nobel prize or not?” and “is a shortcut to fusion possible or not?”
These aren’t helpful questions. The first is just about scientists’ vanity, reputation, status. The second can’t be answered this way.
The frame FFS wants to promote is not “which scientist will get a nobel”, but rather “what’s the best problem-solving protocol for the most challenging science/energy question of our time?”
The way these guys (and many others) tell the fusion story, it’s always a cautionary tale for scientists not to get too excited about their work, and not to dare divert funds from other more reputable projects (which have their own share of criticisms).
And the “shortcut” question. The last line of the doc is
But for now, all we can say is that the dream of a shortcut to unlimited clean energy forever, must remain just that, a dream.
MUST it? Based on one falsified experimental approach?