Sunbeams From Cucumbers
by Richard Milton
He had been eight years upon a project for
extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers.
No other scientific endeavor has consumed so much
talent, so much cash and so many years of sustained effort as the
race to harness the power that makes the sun shine.
pounds (and dollars, rubles and yen), more than four decades of
research and the careers of thousands of physicists have been
expended on the search for a nuclear reactor that will generate
limitless power from the fusion of hydrogen atoms.
There are gray-haired professors with lined faces
still poring intently over the equations they first looked at
eagerly with bright young eyes in the 1940s and 1950s. They will go
into retirement with their dreams of cheap, safe power from fusion
still years in the future, for the obstacles in their paths are as
formidable now as ever.
Fusion is the process taking place in the sun's core where, at
temperatures of millions of degrees, hydrogen atoms are compressed
together by elemental forces to form helium and a massive outpouring
of energy in the thermonuclear reaction of the hydrogen bomb.
It is not difficult, then, to imagine how people who have invested
their talent and their lives in the quest to tame such forces are
likely to react when told that fusion is possible at room
temperature, and in a jam jar.
Hydrogen atoms repel each other strongly - so strongly that no known
chemical reaction can persuade them to fuse. There are, though,
heavier isotopes* of hydrogen, such as
deuterium, which together with oxygen makes heavy water and which
under the right circumstances can be made to fuse in nuclear
reactions. When they do so, they release energy.
Atoms that have the same number of protons -atomic number -but
different mass numbers.
However, the only circumstances so far under which hydrogen atoms
have been persuaded to fuse have nothing in common with the measured
calm of the laboratory bench but are more like a scene from Dante's
Inferno. In the center of the sun and other stars, the atoms are
squeezed by cataclysmic gravitational forces to form a plasma of the
nuclei of hydrogen atoms at a temperature of millions of degrees.
These high temperatures kindle a self-sustaining reaction in which
hydrogen is "burnt" as the fuel.
The scientific world was thus astonished when, in March 1989,
Professor Martin Fleischmann of Southampton University and his
former student, Professor Stanley Pons of the University of Utah,
held a press conference at which they jointly announced the
discovery of "cold fusion" - the production of usable amounts of
energy by what seemed to be a nuclear process occurring in a jar of
water at room temperature.
Fleischmann and Pons told an incredulous press conference that they
had passed an electric current through a pair of electrodes made of
precious metals - one platinum, the other palladium - immersed in a
glass jar of heavy water in which was dissolved some lithium salts.
This very simple set-up (the Daily Telegraph later estimated its
cost as around £90 [$144 U.S. currency]) was claimed to produce heat
energy between four and ten times greater than the electrical energy
they were putting in. No purely chemical reaction could produce a
result of such magnitude so, said the scientists, it must be nuclear
fusion. Further details would be revealed soon in a scientific
Both scientists are distinguished in their field, that of
electrochemistry. But in making their press announcement they were
breaking with the usual tradition of announcing major scientific
discoveries of this sort. The usual process is one of submitting an
article to Nature magazine which in turn would submit it to
qualified referees. If the two chemists' scientific peers found the
paper acceptable, Nature would publish it, they would be recognized
as having priority in the discovery and - all being well - research
cash would be forthcoming both to replicate their results and
conduct further research.
But the two scientists perceived some difficulties. First, their
paper would not be scrutinized by their exact peers because the
discovery was unknown territory to electrochemists and indeed
everyone else. It would probably be examined mainly by nuclear
physicists - the men and women who had grown gray in the service of
"hot" fusion. This would be like asking Swift's "Big Endians" to
comment objectively on the work of "little Endians."
It is not that "hot" fusion physicists could not be
trusted to be impartial, or were incapable of accepting experimental
facts, but rather that they would be coming from a research
background that would naturally give them a quite different
Fusion Hot and Cold
From The Coming Energy Revolution
by Jeane Manning
(Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group,
Fusion is the opposite of fission, although both processes start
with atoms. Atoms are the tiny building blocks that make up all
matter. An atom consists of a nucleus, which is made up of
pro-tons and neutrons, and electrons, which form a cloud around
the nucleus. Different atoms contain different amounts of
protons, neutrons, and electrons, and form different types of
Fission is the splitting of an atom's nucleus, such as by
bombarding it with neutrons. This releases a great amount of
energy. An atomic bomb and a nuclear power plant both use
Fusion is the joining together of atomic nuclei. Hot fusion,
which is said by some scientists to be what energizes our sun,
uses a form of the lightest element, hydrogen.
Textbooks teach that temperatures reaching millions of degrees
Fahrenheit are needed before the positively charged hydrogen
nuclei can overcome their natural repulsion toward each other,
since like charges repel - think of what happens if you attempt to
bring the north poles of two magnets together. If the hydrogen
nuclei do come close enough together, they form something
different - helium nuclei. In the process, tremendous amounts of
energy are released.
Instead of using super-heated gas, cold fusion seems to be based
on the reaction of a metal such as palladium, which has large
spaces between its nuclei, and a liquid form of hydrogen called
deuterium. The deuterium seems to move into the spaces within
the palladium in the same way that water moves into the open,
absorbent surface of a towel. While no one disputes the fact
that the metal absorbs the deuterium, cold-fusion proponents
cannot prove that the reaction which follows the absorption is a
Cold fusion is not without problems. For example, one of the
byproducts of cold fusion is the radioactive gas tritium, a rare
form of hydrogen. As one new-energy organization has noted, cold
fusion introduces concerns about radioactivity, and even a low
level of radiation can eventually lead to environmental and
There was also the problem of money.
a working fusion reactor - hot or cold - will be providing the source of
energy that mankind needs for the foreseeable future: perhaps for
hundreds of years. The patents involved in the technology, and the
head start the patent owners will have in setting up a new power
industry, will be worth many billions of pounds in revenue. It is
potentially the most lucrative invention ever made. With such big
sums at stake, the scientists' university wanted no future ambiguity
about who was claiming priority, and hence encouraged them to mount
a very public announcement.
In the end, the two scientists agreed to a press conference that
would stake Utah University's claim to priority in any future patent
applications, followed by publication of a joint paper in their own
professional journal, The Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry.
There followed a brief honeymoon of a week or two, during which
newspaper libraries received more requests from the newsroom for
cut-tings on fusion than in the previous twenty years, and
optimistic pieces about cheap energy from sea-water (where deuterium
is common) were penned to keep features editors happy. All over the
world, laboratories raced to confirm the existence of cold fusion,
although many scientists were unhappy at the lack of scientific
detail and at having to learn about such an important event from
television news and the popular press.
What these researchers were looking for, with their
£90-worth of precious metals stuck in test tubes, were one or more
of the key tell-tale signs that would confirm cold fusion. When two
deuterium nuclei fuse they produce either helium and a neutron
particle or tritium. So, if fusion really is taking place, it should
be possible to find neutrons being emitted, or helium being formed
or tritium being formed. It should also be possible to detect energy
being released, probably as heat, that is greatly in excess of any
electrical energy being put in. (Of course, if the cell does not do
this it is of no use as a power source.)
Despite the experimental difficulties it was not long before
confirmations were reported. First were Texas A & M University, who
reported excess energy, and Brigham Young University who found both
excess heat and measurable neutron flow. Professor Steve Jones of
BYU said his team had actually been producing similar results since
1985, but that the power outputs obtained had been microscopically
small, too small in fact to be useful as a power source.
One month after the announcement the first support from a major
research institute came when professor Robert Huggins of
California's Stanford University said that he had duplicated the
Fleischmann-Pons cell against a control cell containing ordinary
water, and had obtained 50 per-cent more energy as heat from the
fusion cell than was put in as electricity.
Huggins gained extra
column-inches because he had placed his two reaction vessels in a
red plastic picnic cool-box to keep their temperature constant. This
kitchen-table flavor to the experiment added even further to the
growing discomfort of hot fusion experts, with their billion-dollar
By the time the American Chemical Association held its annual
meeting in Dallas in April 1989, Pons was able to present
considerable detail of the experiment to his fellow chemists. The
power output from the cell was more than 60 watts per cubic
centimeter in the palladium. This is approaching the sort of power
output of the fuel rods in a conventional nuclear fission reactor.
After the cell had operated from batteries for ten hours producing
several watts of power, Pons detected gamma rays with the sort of
energy one would expect from gamma radiation produced by fusion.
When he turned off the power, the gamma rays stopped too. Pons also
told delegates that he had found tritium in the cell, another
important sign of fusion taking place.
Pons estimated that the cell gave off 10,000 neutrons per second.
This is many times greater than the rate of background level of
natural radioactivity, but is still millions or billions of times
less than the rate of neutron emission that one would expect from a
fusion reaction - a puzzle which Fleischmann and Pons acknowledge as a
stumbling block to acceptance of their phenomenon as fusion by any
However, despite the reservations, the assembled chemists were
ecstatic that two of their number had apparently scooped their
traditional rivals from the world of physics, and had, in the words
of the American Chemical Society's president, "come to the rescue of
This was perhaps the high-water mark of cold fusion. Scores of
organizations over the world were actively working to replicate cold
fusion in their laboratories, and although many reported
difficulties a decent number reported success. And by the end of
April, Fleishmann and Pons were standing before the U.S. House
Science, Space and Technology commit-tee asking for a cool $25
million to fund a centre for cold fusion research at Utah
Then things began to go wrong. First, some of the researchers who
early on announced confirmation of cold fusion now recanted, citing
faulty equipment or measurements.
Next, an unnamed spokesman for the
Harwell research laboratory - the home of institutional nuclear
research in Britain - spoke to the Daily Telegraph saying that:
... we have not yet had the slightest repetition
of the results claimed by professors Martin Fleischmann and
Stanley Pons. Of the other laboratories around the world who
have tried to replicate the Pons-Fleischmann result, all but one
have recanted, admitting that either their equipment or their
measurements were faulty.
We believe our experiments are much more careful than
those con-ducted by others. Perhaps for that reason we have been
unable to observe any more energy coming out of the experiment than
was put in.
And by the time the American Physical Society had its annual meeting
in Baltimore in May, the opponents of cold fusion were gathering
strength. Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist from the University
of California at Santa Barbara, received rapturous applause from the
physicists when he declared,
"We are suffering from the incompetence and
per-haps delusion of doctors Pons and Fleischmann."
It was, however, a chemist, Dr. Nathan Lewis of the
California Institute of Technology, who got the loudest applause.
Lewis told the delegates that after exhaustive attempts to duplicate
cold fusion, they had found no signs of unusually high heat. Nor did
they detect neutrons, tritium, gamma rays or helium.
By late May, the headlines in both the popular press and the
scientific press were beginning to carry words like "flawed idea"
when the biggest blow of all hit supporters of cold fusion. Dr.
Richard Petrasso of the Plasma Fusion Center of the
ultra-prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented
the results of a series of intensive investigations into the
Fleischmann-Pons experiment. The fundamental data put forward by the
two men, said Petrasso, was probably a "glitch." The entire gamma
ray signal in the Fleischmann-Pons experiment, he said, might not
have occurred at all.
"We can offer no plausible explanation for the
feature other than it is possibly an instrumental artifact with
no relation to gamma ray interaction," he told the same
reporters who had clustered around Fleischmann and Pons only two
Dr. Ronald Parker, director of MIT's Plasma Fusion
"We're asserting that their neutron emission was
below what they thought it was, including the possibility that
it could have been none at all."
Thus within two months of its original announcement,
cold fusion had been dealt a fatal blow by two of the world's most
prestigious nuclear research centers, each receiving millions of
pounds a year to fund atomic research.
The measure of MIT's success
in killing off cold fusion is that still today, the U.S. Department
of Energy refuses to fund any research into it while the U.S. Patent
Office relies on the MIT report to refuse any patents based on or
relating to cold fusion processes even though hundreds have been
If Dr. Parker had left his statement there, it is likely that the
world would never have heard of cold fusion again - or not until a new
generation of scientists came along. But having been so successful
at discrediting MIT's embryonic rival, he decided to go even further
and openly accuse Fleischmann and Pons of possible scientific fraud.
According to Dr. Eugene Mallove, who worked as chief science writer
in MIT's press office, Parker arranged to plant a story with the
Boston Herald attacking Pons and Fleischmann. The story contained
accusations of possible fraud and "scientific schlock" and caused a
considerable fuss in the usually sedate east-coast city.
When Parker saw his accusations in cold print and the
stir they had caused he backtracked and instructed MIT's press
office to issue a press release accusing the journalist who wrote
the story, Nick Tate, of misreporting him and denying that he had
ever suggested fraud. Unfortunately for Parker, Tate was able to
produce his transcripts of the interview which showed that Parker
had used the word "fraud" on a number of occasions.
It then began to become apparent to those inside MIT that the
research report that Parker and Petrasso had disclosed to the press
in such detail was not quite what it seemed; that some of those in
charge at MIT's Plasma Fusion Center had embarked on a deliberate
policy of ridiculing cold fusion and that they had - almost
incredibly - fudged the results of their own research.
The MIT study announced by Parker and Petrasso contained two sets of
graphs. The first showed the result of a duplicate of the
Fleischmann-Pons cell and did, indeed, show inexplicable amounts of
heat greater than the electrical energy input. The second set were
of a control experiment that used exactly the same type of
electrodes, but placed in ordinary "light" water - essentially no
different from tap water.
The result, for the control cell should have been
zero - if cold fusion is possible at all, it is conceivable in a jar
full of deuterium, but not in a jar of tap water. Any activity here,
according to current theory, would simply indicate some kind of
chemical, not nuclear, process.
But the MIT results for the control showed exactly the same curve as
that of the fusion cell. It was the identical nature of the two sets
of results that depicted so graphically to the press and scientific
community the baseless nature of the Fleischmann-Pons claim and that
justified MIT's statement that it had "failed to reproduce" those
claims. It was these figures that were subsequently used by the
Department of Energy to refuse funding for cold fusion and by the
U.S. Patent Office to refuse patent applications. And it is these
figures that are used around the world to silence supporters of cold
But MIT insiders, such as Dr. Eugene Mallove, were deeply suspicious
of the published results. It is usual for experimental data to be
manipulated, usually by computer, to compensate for known factors.
No one would have been surprised to learn that MIT had carried out
legitimate "data reduction." But what they had done was selectively
to shift the data obtained from the control experiment, the tap
water cell, so that it appeared to be identical to the output from
the fusion cell.
When this fudging of the figures became public, MIT came under fire
from many directions, including members of its own staff. Eugene
Mallove announced his resignation at a public meeting and submitted
a letter to MIT accusing them of publishing fudged experimental
findings simply to condemn cold fusion. A number of critical papers
were published in scientific journals culminating in the paper
published by Fusion Facts in August 1997 by Dr. Mitchell Swartz in
which he concluded,
What constitutes "data reduction" is sometimes but not always open
to scientific debate. The application of a low pass filter to an
electrical signal or the cutting in half of a hologram properly
constitute "data reduction" but the asymmetric shifting of one curve
of a paired set is probably not. The removal of the entire steady
state signal is also not classical "data reduction."
In the restrained and diplomatic language of scientific publications
this is as close as anyone ever gets to accusing a colleague of
outright fiddling of the figures to make them prove the desired
Beleaguered and under fire from every quarter (except the other big
hot fusion laboratories who simply became invisible and inaudible)
MIT backed down. It added a carefully worded technical appendix to
the original study discussing the finer points of error analysis in
calorimetry.* It also amended its
earlier finding of "unable to reproduce Fleischmann-Pons" to "too
insensitive to confirm" - a rather different kettle of fish.
Measurement of the amount of heat absorbed or released in a chemical
Although MIT changed its story, it was its original conclusion that
stuck, both in the public memory and as far as public policy was
concerned. The coup de grace was delivered to cold fusion when the
U.S. House committee formed to examine the claims for cold fusion
came down on the side of the skeptics. "Evidence for the discovery
of a new nuclear process termed cold fusion is not persuasive," said
its report. "No special programs to establish cold fusion research
centers or to support new efforts to find cold fusion are
Just where does cold fusion stand four years after the original
The position today is that cold fusion has been
experimentally reproduced and measured by ninety-two groups in ten
countries around the world. Dr. Michael McKubre and his team at
Stanford Research Institute say they have confirmed Fleishmann-Pons
and indeed say they can now produce excess heat experimentally at
will. Many other major universities and commercial organizations
have also confirmed the reality of cold fusion.
U.S. laboratories reporting positive results include
the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
(these were the two U.S. research establishments most closely
involved in developing the atomic bomb), Naval Research Laboratory,
Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, Naval Ocean Systems Center and
Texas A & M University. Dr. Robert Bush and his colleagues at
California Polytechnic Institute have recorded the highest levels of
power density for cold fusion, with almost three kilowatts per cubic
This is thirty times greater than the power density
of fuel rods in a typical nuclear fission reactor. Overseas
organizations include Japan's Hokkaido National University, Osaka
National University, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Nippon
Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, which has announced that its
three-year research program has "undoubtedly" produced direct
evidence of cold fusion. Fleishmann and Pons are working for the
Japanese-backed Technova Corporation, a commercial cold fusion
company based in France. Eugene Mallove left MIT to become editor of
Cold Fusion magazine.
The Japanese government, through the Ministry of International Trade
and Industry (MITI) has announced a five-year plan to invest $25
million in cold fusion research. The Electric Power Research
Institute (EPRI) in California has spent some $6 million on cold
fusion already and budget-ed $12 million for 1992. In addition, a
consortium of five major US utility companies have committed some
$25 million for EPRI research.
Some of these research funds are being spent not only on developing
a large-scale reactor vessel for use in public utilities but also,
because of the inherent simplicity and relative safety of cold
fusion, the development of a cheap miniature version for use in the
office and even in the home. Even as Harwell and MIT proclaim their
impossibility, prototype ten kilowatt cold fusion heating devices
are already under test and are likely to find their way to market in
the near future.
It is not only the organizations with a vested interest that come
out badly from the story of cold fusion. The press, especially the
scientific press, has acquitted itself poorly. Nature magazine
showed how reactionary it can be with coverage that ranged from
knee-jerk hostile to near hysterical. Its most intemperate piece was
an editorial column in March 1990 headlined "Farewell (not fond) to
Cold Fusion," which described cold fusion as "dis-creditable to the
scientific community," "a shabby example for the young," and "a
serious perversion of the process of science."
Some sections of the national press were also quick to ridicule
Fleischmann and Pons and wrote pieces that have now come back to
haunt their consciences.
Steve Connor, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said
"the now notorious breakthrough in 'cold fusion'
only two months ago astonished scientists worldwide, promising a
source of limitless energy from a simple reaction in a test
tube. Mounting evidence suggests the whole notion is a damp
Connor went on to ask "how two respected chemists
could apparently make such a blunder?" He provides an answer with
the suggestion that Fleischmann and Pons were the victims of
"pathological science" - cases where otherwise honest scientists fool
themselves with false results.
It is, of course, always fun to read about a good scandal,
especially when the detractors who are so free with scorn get their
come-uppance so poetically. But the aspect of the cold fusion affair
that interests me most is why - exactly why - some scientists felt an
overwhelming need to sup-press it, even to the extent of behaving in
an unscientific way and fudging their results.
Money is the most
obvious answer, but somehow unsatisfying; they may well have wanted
the big research funds to continue to roll in year after year, but
that cannot be the whole story. By enthusiastically embracing this
possible new field, any of the world's fusion research organizations
could have increased their research funds, rather than lost
Injured pride is also plausible - men and women are often driven to
extremes of behavior by such feelings, even including murder and
suicide. But it is hard to see exactly how and why the feelings of
hot fusionists should be so hurt by a simple scientific discovery.
Some interesting clues to this extraordinary behavior come from
examining the reasons that several of the institutions themselves
gave publicly for wanting to suppress such research during the
development of the affair.
The first sounds perhaps the most reasonable. John Maple, a
spokes-man for the Joint European Torus project at Culham,
Oxfordshire, the world's biggest fusion research centre, told the
Daily Telegraph that a discredited cold fusion might produce a
backlash that would damage the funding prospects of hot fusion.
People in the street often don't know the difference. They confuse
cold fusion, which we think will never produce any useful energy,
with the experimental work we are doing at Culham, involving
temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees, which is making
These sound [like] very understandable fears, but look a little
closer at the logic underlying them. The people in the street
(that's you and me) "can't tell the difference." The difference
between what? The difference between hot fusion (which is real) and
cold fusion (which John Maple and his colleagues say is not real).
Investigations Continue Despite Ridicule From
Cold fusion work continues. Technology Forecasts & Technology
Surveys reports that, in spite of allegations that there is
nothing to the observations, a number of labs continue to be
intrigued by the unexplained parts of the phenomenon. They
report that 50 U.S. labs and 100 labs in other countries are
running tests, 60 groups in ten countries have reported results,
some of the groups have claimed observation of more than one of
the three generally accepted requirements for nuclear fusion,
and some tests have produced as much as 600 times more heat than
would be accounted for by the input of electrical power.
- Technology Forecasts & Technological Surveys
Vol. 22, No. 9, page 11
But surely, the issue is not whether we, the public,
can tell the difference between a nuclear process that is real and
one that is not, but whether we, the public, should be asked to
entrust mil-lions of pounds of research funds to people who appear
resistant to accepting the reality of a process such as cold fusion,
for which there is substantial evidence and which may in the long
term produce energy far more cheaply than the hot fusion process.
At quite an early stage in the affair, Harwell nuclear research
laboratory began to worry about fusion becoming the province of
Members of the public were apparently telephoning Harwell
and asking for advice on how to perform cold fusion experiments.
"I have had many odd calls from people," a
spokesman told the Daily Telegraph in April, "saying they are
going to set it up at home to make it work. One house-wife
claimed that she already had supplies of heavy water and was
asking me for details of how to set up the experiment. I had to
tell her it would be extremely unwise."
The paper then costed the experiment at £28 [$44.80]
for some platinum, £31 [$49.60] for the palladium, £6 [$9.60] for
some lithium chloride and £18 [$28.80] for the heavy water. With a
few pounds for batteries, test-tubes and the like, the total could
come to as little as £90, leading the paper to suggest that concern
was mounting for the "retired professors, cranks and housewives" who
they thought might be joining the race to produce fusion on their
It is, of course, touching for Harwell to be so concerned about the
safety of the man and woman in the street, but I see another
worrying part of the explanation in this amusing reaction. Anyone
who interests them-selves in cold fusion is immediately labeled as
belonging to a group that has either lost its marbles or never had
any in the first place - "retired professors, cranks and housewives."
Since we, the people in the street, pay many millions
each year to fund Harwell, it seems not unreasonable that members of
the public should be able to telephone to enquire on scientific
matters without being ridiculed, patronized or told, in effect, to
mind their own business.
It was not long before Europe's most senior fusion scientist, Dr.
Paul Henri Rebut, director of the JET laboratory at Culham (cost,
£76 million [$121 million] a year) was offering a word of advice to
the man and woman in the street while also, curiously, disclaiming
any supernatural powers.
"I am not God, and I don't claim to know
everything in the universe. But one thing I am absolutely
certain of is that you cannot get a fusion reaction from the
methods described by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons."
Dr. Rebut clinched his argument with a single
decisive stroke. "To accept their claims one would have to unlearn
all the physics we have learnt in the last century." Well, we
certainly wouldn't want one to have to do that, would we?
Equally illuminating were the remarks of Professor John Huizenga,
who was co-chairman of the US Department of Energy's panel on cold
fusion and who came down against the reality of the process. In a
recent book on the subject, Professor Huizenga observed that,
"the world's scientific institutions have
probably now squandered between $50 and $100 million on an idea
that was absurd to begin with."
The question is, what were his principal reasons for
rejecting cold fusion? Professor Huizenga tells us:
"It is seldom, if ever, true that it is
advantageous in science to move into a new discipline without a
thorough foundation in the basics of that field."
When you consider that his committee's sole function
was to advise whether or not research funds should be spent to
investigate an entirely new area of physics/electrochemistry, and
that this statement is one of his principal reasons for deciding not
to invest such research funds, his re-marks take on an almost
It is unwise to invest research funds in any new
Unless we already have a thorough foundation
in the basics of that new area?
How could anyone ever get any money for
research out of Professor Huizenga's committee?
By proving that they already know everything
there is to know?
Cold fusion is the perfect exemplar of the taboo
reaction in science.
it runs entirely counter to intuitive
expectation produced by the received wisdom of physics
it is a discovery by "outsiders" with no
experience or credentials in fusion research
its very existence is vehemently denied, even
though Fleischmann and Pons have demonstrated a jar of water
at boiling point to the world's press and television
it is inexplicable by present theory: it
means tearing up part of the road-map of science and
starting again - "unlearning the physics we have learnt."
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