Feeds

Scientists unplug tabletop fusion

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Rusi Taleyarkhan

Readers may recall back in 2002 there was an awful fuss kicked up when Rusi Taleyarkhan announced he had achieved one of science's holy grails: tabletop fusion. The claim was met with understandable scepticism, after all we'd been here before.

The promise of limitless, greenhouse gas-free, nuclear waste-free energy was too great to ignore however, and millions of tax dollars were sunk into trying to replicate the "star in a jar" experiments.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the original announcement and four years in which nobody outside Taleyarkhan's research group has been able to reproduce the positive results.

Now, even Taleyarkhan's colleagues at his new home of Purdue University, West LaFayette, Indiana, are publicly doubting the work, Nature reports.

Purdue faculty members Lefteri Tsoukalas and Tatjana Jevremovic, along with others who wished to remain anonymous, said that since Taleyarkhan began working there he has removed the equipment they were using to try and replicate his work. Taleyarkhan has also not let anyone else see the raw data from the runs he claims produced neutrons, the scientists told Nature.

Taleyarkhan's big idea of sonoluminescent fusion involves firing soundwaves at a container of bubbling acetone "seeded" with a beam of neutrons. The theory goes that the tiny bubbles expand and then violently collapse, producing extreme temperatures as hot as the centre of the sun, thereby hot enough to fuse hydrogen nuclei provided in the mix by heavy water.

The Purdue researchers claim Taleyarkhan even tried to stop publication of their own, negative results.

Brian Naranjo at the University of California, Los Angeles, is set to add to his woes with an analysis of more recent data that suggests he didn't detect genuine fusion, but a background lab source of neutrons.

Taleyarkhan defended his findings in a 2005 episode of the BBC's Horizon strand, protesting: "My lab has been audited, my instruments have been audited, my books have been audited, the data speaks for itself."

Though the consensus is that bubble fusion is theoretically possible, without a lusty rebuttal these latest blows could sound the death knell. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?