Feeds

Scientists unplug tabletop fusion

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.