Some thoughts about muon-catalyzed fusion as it relates to cold fusion:
I’ve mentioned before (here and here) one of the main challenges of explaining cold fusion. In conventional nuclear fusion, nuclear energy is transformed into the kinetic energy of a few (usually 2 or 3) very-fast-moving particles. But if cold fusion is a real thing, then the nuclear energy would seem to be transformed into something else. The reason we know this is, very-fast-moving particles create radiation (I mean neutrons, gamma-rays, etc.), and people have looked for it and found that there is very little of it (see here). For example, some people have been doing cold fusion experiments for many years, without dying of radiation poisoning. Well, I mean, I’m not an expert, but they don’t look dead. So, this is the mystery of the missing radiation. The mystery has been approached in sensible ways and in nonsense ways, and in this post I’ll give some examples of both. Edmund Storms’s “hydroton theory” will be my nonsense example.
In this earlier post, I introduced Yeong E. Kim’s Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) theory of cold fusion. According to this theory, when you pack lots of deuterons into palladium, they condense into a BEC, which makes nuclear fusion possible, and then the fusion energy is collectively absorbed by the BEC, thus explaining all the mysteries of cold fusion. In my earlier post I said that the two biggest problems with the theory are: (A) The deuterons do not actually condense into a BEC; and (B) Even if they did, it would not help explain cold fusion. I already blogged about (B) here. Today I will talk about (A). I have changed my mind: Although I suspect that deuterons would not condense into a BEC, I don’t know enough to say for sure! 😛
In this post I’ll mainly just summarize Kim’s argument. If anyone reading this is a BEC expert, please comment (or better yet write a guest post, just email me) with your opinion!
For those who haven’t been following along, cold fusion is a set of disputed experiments, in which there is (allegedly) indirect evidence that nuclear fusion is occurring, under circumstances where it seems impossible for nuclear fusion to occur. One problem: Everyone knows that when nuclear fusion releases energy, the energy usually winds up as the kinetic energy of fast-moving particles, but such particles are not seen in cold fusion experiments; the only energy that anyone sees is heat energy. This leads us to the lossy spin-boson model of cold fusion, which says that the fusion energy gets directly transferred into creating a billion phonons in a single phonon mode. It seems crazy, but the authors (MIT Professor Peter Hagelstein and collaborators) have produced intricate arguments in favor, which I have been gradually working my way through over many blog posts.
Anyway, here is another post on some details of the theory: Why cooperative effects over large volumes are not really helpful for making this reaction more likely to start.
Readers of this blog (if any exist lol) may notice that I’m on my sixth post about the lossy spin-boson model without really writing the model down. You’ll have to wait a bit longer, sorry! This post is more background.
Here I’m chronicling my progress in conceptually understanding the “lossy” part of the “lossy spin-boson model”. It is discussed most clearly in the paper “Energy Exchange in the Lossy Spin-Boson Model”.
As described in the last post, I want to understand this paper, “Including nuclear degrees of freedom in a lattice Hamiltonian” by Peter Hagelstein and Irfan Chaudhary. It’s an important ingredient in the lossy spin-boson model of cold fusion. I will summarize what I said in the last post and expand on it in light of ensuing discussion and clarification from PH.
In the previous post, I introduced Kim’s Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) theory of cold fusion. I said that the two biggest problems with the theory are:
- At room temperature, the deuterons cannot condense into a BEC.
- Even if the deuterons condensed into a BEC, they would not undergo nuclear fusion, for the same reason as usual: Because the Coulomb barrier prevents them from getting close enough.
In this post I will just talk about #2. So for the time being, please assume for the sake of argument that the deuterons really do condense into a BEC. The question is: Will that make the Coulomb barrier problem go away?
Yeong E. Kim at Purdue and colleagues have proposed that, in cold-fusion experiments, the deuterons condense into a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC). In this state, he says, they can fuse, and then the energy is collectively absorbed by the BEC. (If you’re not familiar with BEC’s, here is a very simple introduction for non-physicists, and I’ll explain more as we go.) According to him, this theory meets all the theoretical challenges of explaining cold fusion.