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Research Program

Over the course of 5 years, ReResearch conducted more than 300 experiments testing radical claims by several research groups around the world, that nuclear effects could be observed in highly deuterated palladium in very specific circumstances.  This research, purported to show that new evidence led credence to the previously discredited claim of electrochemists Pons & Fleischmann in 1989 that highly deuterated palladium could catalyze a hitherto unknown nuclear pathway.

The new experiments claimed that very specific, but replicable conditions had been discovered that were required to trigger the effect.  A lack of understanding of such conditions, they asserted, led to the incorrect conclusions that the original Pons & Fleischman work could not be replicated and was therefore invalid. These new claims attracted significant media publicity in the Economist and on CBS’ 60 Minutes at the turn of the decade.

Having met with all of the major researchers involved, ReResearch set about replicating these claims, in conjunction with other laboratories. Two substantial pieces of research were undertaken, one of which is published in the research literature. That scientific publication can be found here.

 

 

 

The properties of materials on the nanoscale are known to differ widely from their bulk counterparts. Exploration of the characteristics of these materials is a major ongoing area of research. We intend to characterise properties of a range of materials as efficiently as possible, with a mandate to ultimately develop new products for the commercial market.

The conclusion of the research, was that anomalies very similar to those claimed were observable by our research scientists. However, we were able to trace the source of the anomalies back to subtle issues in the experimental design. For example, examination of the data in one set of experiment showed that the apparatus was prone to apparent thermal excursions even when the experiment itself was not running. Collaborating labs, also attempting replication of these effects, showed similar results. In total, across ReResearch and collaborating labs, about 1,000 experiments were performed, all of which either showed no unusual behavior or had prosaic explanations of the observations.

Consequently, after an extensive research program, we believe that the claims of new evidence supporting this controversial idea are undermined by poor experimental design and poor calibration of the apparatus.


A Few Favorites

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X-rays, however, were greeted not only with surprise but with shock. Lord Kelvin at first pronounced them an elaborate hoax. Others, though they could not doubt the evidence, were clearly staggered by it. Though x-rays were not prohibited by established theory, they violated deeply entrenched expectations. Those expectations, I suggest, were implicit in the design and interpretation of established laboratory procedures.

By the 1890’s, cathode ray equipment was widely deployed in numerous European laboratories. If Roentgen’s apparatus had produced X-rays, then a number of other experimentalists must have for some time been producing those rays without knowing it. Perhaps those rays, which might well have other unacknowledged sources too, were implicated in behavior previously explained without reference to them. At the very least several sorts of long familiar apparatus would in the future have to be shielded with lead.

Previously completed work on normal projects would now have to be done again because earlier scientists had failed to control a relevant variable. X-rays, to be sure, opened up a new field and thus added to the potential domain of normal science. But they also, and this is now the more important point, changed fields that had already existed. In the process, they denied previously paradigmatic types of instrumentation their right to that title.

In short, consciously or not, the decision to employ a particular piece of apparatus and to use it in a particular way carries an assumption that only certain sorts of circumstances will arise. There are instrumental as well as theoretical expectations, and they have often played a decisive role in scientific development.
— Thomas S. Kuhn - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions