atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#1504: Cold fusion?

Perhaps it wasn't bunkum after all.

At the time that Pons and Fleischman's work was still credible, I said, "Hey, high-energy physicists need Porsches, too," as a way of explaining why the scientific establishment was piling on the "they're cranks!" bandwagon. While I doubted that what P&F had found was necessarily useful I figured that something had been going on in their experiment.

When the experiment couldn't be reproduced, however, I decided that they'd been wrong. Oh well. It's interesting to me, therefore, that research into this has not disappeared; apparently enough people thought there had to be something to the idea.

Cold fusion may or may not be real, and it may or may not be useful, but what I don't like from the people denying the possibility is their attitude that we understand absolutely everything about how stuff works at the atomic level.

We don't.

Okay, we have some really good theories which have been supported by experiments for decades, and which--we believe--are reasonably solid.

But not proven.

There is a difference: the law of gravitation, the laws of thermodynamics, those are proven. The conservation laws are proven. That's why they're called "laws" and not "theories" or "hypotheses". We have literal centuries of observation to back up the solidity of these rules as they have never been falsified in any respect, no matter how minor.

Compare that, then, to our understanding of atomic structure. We've only known that atoms were divisible for a period on the order of a century, and we've only been able actually to split atoms to order (more or less) since the 1940s. Man-made fusion is even more recent than that.

I think it's pretty safe to say that we don't understand everything. So it may be possible for fusion to occur at very low temperatures, and it may be possible that it happens in ways that are different--and produce different results--than it does at high temperatures. We don't know.

The good thing here is that the responsible parties have said, "This is a preliminary finding and we're not sure yet...." If P&F had been equally careful they might still be regarded as scientists today.

...and if they turn out actually to have been correct, they'd better get a Nobel for it.

* * *

Smart Cars piling up. $18,000-$20,000 for 36 MPG? The recession has people re-thinking the wisdom of this. Especially since gas now costs less than half of what it did last year at its peak price.

If you want 36 MPG it's really simple (and cheap) to get. Look for a mid-90s' Ford Escort with a manual transmission. Spend a few hundred on bringing the suspension, brakes, and tires up to spec. Even if you get reamed by a sharp used car dealer you'll be getting about 36 MPG for less than $5,000. Buy the right car and the few hundred you spend on the suspension will give you a car that runs and drives like new.

Shoot, I did it by accident but got one for $600 (after fixing it up) that only needs an occasional spark plug to run like a top.

The Smart Car business seemed--even at the time--stupid to me. People were lining up to pay a premium for a tiny car only because gas was $4 per gallon, when there were plenty of non-premium options out there that would get almost as good fuel economy and which cost less to boot. The people who lined up to buy the Prius were the stupidest, IMHO, but of course a lot of them were doing it for the bragging rights.

* * *

Denis Leary. Denis Leary is made of awesome. He's not as awesome as Chuck Norris, Buzz Aldrin, or Sarah Palin, but being #4 on that list does not make him a loser, not by a long shot.

* * *

Finally having had enough of wanting to hear certain songs from WoW other than while playing WoW, I found a utility on-line for extracting various resources from the huge MPQ files that Blizzard likes to use for game resources. Blizzard helpfully stored the songs as MP3 files so I could just dump them right to my MP3 player without modification.

That's nice.

Unlike, oh, Ultima IX. All the game resources were packed away so you couldn't do anything, and that one song that was really neat--the one for "bad" Moonglow--can't be extracted from the archive files without there being all kinds of noise in it. When I got the song out, it sounded like there was someone operating a pneumatic planishing hammer in the background. At full speed.

If a game has good music in it, I'm going to want to be able to listen to that music outside of the game. Bonus points to Blizzard--of course, they didn't do that for me; they did it for themselves, to make things easier on their programmers. But still, it works out for me, too.
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