Return to the clickable list of items

180) Preserving Cold Fusion Documents

Ludwik Kowalski (October 1, 2004)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

About two weeks ago I wrote a letter to Dr. R. J. Anderson, the Director of the Niels Bohr Library. That library, located in Maryland (near the capital of USA), is the Center of History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. This item shows two original snail-mail messages and subsequent e-mail messages. My appeal to those of you who might be willing to contribute is shown at the end. Preserving cold fusion documents in a central location, particularly in the prestigious Niels Bohr Library, is worth supporting.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Dear Dr. Anderson:

I am a recently retired physics teacher interested in cold fusion. You are probably aware that the CF field is very controversial (see my letter to the editor in the last issue of Physics Today, September, 2004). I would like to know what CF materials are available in the Niels Bohr Library. More specifically, I am interested in proceedings from International Cold Fusion Conferences listed below. They are not available in most research libraries, probably because this field is not recognized as scientific. I hope that the Niels Bohr library has the proceedings because they reflect evolution of a unique scientific controversy. If not then I would appreciate information about a library, or institution, that collects and preserves such items.

Proc. ICCF1 (1990):
Proceedings of the First International Conference on Cold Fusion, (ICCF)
Mar. 1990 Salt Lake City, UT, edited by F.Will.

Proc. ICCF2
The Science of Cold Fusion, Proc. of the Second Annual Conference
on Cold Fusion
, Como, Italy, June 29-July 4, 1991, edited by T. Bressani,
E. Del Giudice and G. Preparata, Published by Societa Italiana di Fisica, 33.

Proc. ICCF3
Frontiers of Cold Fusion, Proceedings of the Third International
Conference on Cold Fusion
, Oct. 1992 Nagoya, Japan, edited by H. Ikegami,
Universal Academy Press, Tokyo.

Proc. ICCF4
Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Cold Fusion,
Dec. 1993 Maui, Hawaii, edited by T. O. Passell and M. C. H. McKubre.

Proc. ICCF5
Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Cold Fusion, Monte Carlo,
Monaco April 9-13, 1995, IMRA Europe, Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France (1995).

Proc. ICCF6
Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Cold Fusion, October 1996
Hokkaido, Japan, edited by M. Okamoto.

Proc. ICCF7
Proceedings of The Seventh International Conference on Cold Fusion,
Vancouver, Canada, April 19-24, 1998, ENECO, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT (1998).
Proc. ICCF8 (2000):
Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Cold Fusion, May 2000
Lerici (La Spezia), Italy, edited by F. Scaramuzzi.

Proc. ICCF9
Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Cold Fusion, May 2002
Beijing, China, edited by X. Z. Li.

Proc. ICCF10
Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Cold Fusion,
August 2003 Cambridge, MA, edited by P. L. Hagelstein and S. R. Chubb,
World Scientific, to appear.

CF will be part of the history of physics, no matter what conclusions are reached about the validity of its claims. Leading researchers in that field, such as Steven Jones, Martin Fleischmann, Mike McKubre, and John Bockris are recognized authorities in their disciplines.

Unable to locate the above proceedings in local university libraries, and suspecting that nobody gathers them, I would like to suggest that your library take the initiative to collect and preserve CF documents for the benefit of future generations. Scientists who attended earlier conferences might be willing to give their own copies to the library. They might even be willing to be interviewed by a historian of science.

My own involvement is recent; the only conference I attended was ICCF10, last year. But I want to become a cold fusion researcher. That is why I am going to attend the next conference in France (see With your approval, I would be willing to make an appeal urging old-timers to donate their copies of procedures to the library. Please note that such a conference is an ideal place for a historian of science to interview old-timers. Most of them are eager to talk about personal experiences in the CF field. Opportunities for interviewing some of them might not be available in a year or two.

If the library already has cold fusion materials then I would very much like to examine them after the conference. Please let me know if this is possible. Other researchers might become interested in the CF proceedings after the report from the ongoing DOE investigation is published. Attached is my modest donation to help support the library. Respectfully yours, . . .

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Dear Dr. Kowalski:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding cold fusion materials and for kind donation to the Friends of the Center for History of Physics. We appreciate both the contribution and the offer to help us obtain copies of the proceedings of the international conferences on cold fusion.

We do not have the proceedings and would be pleased to have you ask participants at the upcoming conference in France for copies on our behalf. We've checked online to determine if any one library has the proceedings for all ten conferences, and we weren't able to locate any that do. However, many university libraries have proceedings for one or a few of the conferences, and the University of Michigan catalog shows holdings for all but the first. For your research, you should be able to ask your local university or public library to obtain them for you through interlibrary loan.

I appreciate your suggestion that we conduct oral history interviews with cold fusion researchers. Unfortunately, however, the Center has limited resources to devote to oral history and a very long list of scientists to interview, including even some Nobel laureates who have not been interviewed by historians. However, we do offer grants in aid (http://www.aip.orc/history!web-arnt.htm) to historians of science who are interested in conducting interviews with scientists in their own areas of interest, and we can sometimes also offer free transcription for interviews in physics and all of its fields. In addition, the Cornell University Cold Fusion Archives has conducted some interviews.

We do have here videotape recordings of the Special Session on Cold Fusion that was sponsored by the American Physical Society in 1989. Another collection that may be of interest is the Steven Jones Papers at the Marriott Library, University of Utah. I've enclosed a catalog description of the Special Session on Cold Fusion videocassettes, along with descriptions of the Cornell University Cold Fusion Archives and the Steven Jones Papers. I've also enclosed a copy of our Application for Access form. If you would like to use the Special Session videocassettes, please complete the form and send it to us. . . .

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Prompted by the above I started thinking about another initiative; it is summarized in this e-mail message:

Dear Dr. Anderson:

Thanks for the reply. I will make an appeal and hopefully somebody will donate the entire collection to the library. I will let you know. In the letter you say that only financial limitations prevent you from sending a historian to interview one of the cold fusion scientists that I mentioned. I have a question about this. Suppose that during the conference (which I am going to attend) I find a person committed to the cause (preserving cold fusion history) and willing to donate a sum of money. Would you accept a donation which is dedicated to a particular field (but you choose the scientist)? If this is acceptable then I will start asking. Can you please indicate, based on experience, how much it costs, typically? And one more question. Is it OK if the letter I received today is shown to others. They are likely to react positively to my appeal by reading what you wrote. Sincerely yours, . . .

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Here is the reply form Spencer R. Weart, the Center's director:

Dear Dr. Kowalski, We hope your appeal succeeds; the conference proceedings would be a fine addition to the collections of our Niels Bohr Library. Certainly you can show Joe Anderson's letter, and this or any of our other e-mails, to anyone.

We are glad to help support interviews with physicists whenever an appropriate interviewer can be found. In our grants-in-aid program, we will support any qualified historian (someone with publications in history of science, or enrolled for a degree in the field) and let them choose who is to be interviewed. The first problem is thus to find the historian. I don't know any who have been studying cold fusion -- certainly it is a fascinating topic but there are so many other topics to study, and historians usually look at things farther in the past. Thus it would be necessary to advertise in the history of science community and see if we could find, for example, an underemployed postdoc who would like to do it as a job.

Oral history interviewing is surprisingly expensive. For an ongoing program in oral history, there is an incremental cost of about $750 per hour of interview to do the research, make travel arrangements, conduct the interview, and transcribe, edit, and catalog the tape-recording and transcript. Thus a typical three-hour interview would have an incremental cost of $2250. But for a new project there would also be start-up costs (hiring the interviewer and other administrative arrangements, initial research to select the best interview subjects, etc.). A minimum of $15,000 would be needed to initiate a program that would conduct in-depth interviews with several pioneers, perhaps totaling ten interview hours or a bit more. The selection of people to be interviewed would be up to the historian, but of course your advice, and the advice of others in the community, would be seriously considered. All that said, I can't guarantee we could find a suitable interviewer, but the chances are pretty good.

An alternative would be for you to find someone, not necessarily a trained historian, interested in researching and conducting the interviews as an unpaid volunteer. We could then offer guidance in how to go about it, and could probably provide some travel funding through a grant-in-aid, plus a limited amount of transcription and cataloging. If more than a few interview hours are done we'd need a bit of support for the transcription and cataloging. The problem of course is to find someone who is interested, which would probably be someone in your community, and who would at the same time interview in a thoroughly objective fashion. Sincerely, Spencer Weart

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

This item (#180) will be “advertised” on two discussion lists: Phys-L, and Newsletter. The first list is read by many science teachers; they may help to find a historian. such a person should contact me. The second list is read by members of iscmns (International Society of Condense Matter Nuclear Science); I will suggest to them how the collection of conference proceedings might be organized.

Needless to say, I am composing this item for a broader group of potential readers. Contact me if you, or somebody you know, are interested in helping the project. Keep in mind that cold fusion will certainly be considered an important episode in the history of science, no matter what the final verdict about its claims will be. My e-mail address is:


Return to the clickable list of items