Cold Fusion entered the headlines again at the end of January. A small bottle only 4 inches long and filled with ordinary water and microscopic palladium-coated beads seems to generate many times more power than the small amount of electric current plugged into it.
However, the initial instrument readings are enough to grab the interest of engineers at a handful of major companies and at least two university laboratories are investigating the phenomena.
Quinton Bowles, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri in Kansas City admitted, "It appears on the surface that it works, but no one knows why."
The little bottle is known as a Patterson Power Cell, named after its inventor, James A. Patterson, a 74-year-old chemist who lives in Sarasota, Fla. Dr. Patterson has turned his power cell over to a start-up Clean Energy Technologies, Inc. in Dallas, headed by his grandson, James W. Reding, 26. Mr. Reding is reticent, except to say that CETI is negotiating to licence rights to two utilities that he declines to name and to Motorola, Inc. A Motorola spokeswoman says, "We wouldn't confirm such a report, even if it were true."
The quest for Free Energy has enthused people throughout the centuries, eager to find a clean, inexhaustible supply of energy to replace the Earth's dwindling natural resources.
Cold Fusion was last in the newspapers in 1989, when two electrochemists from Utah University, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, claimed to have produced nuclear fusion at ordinary room temperature.
They later faced disrepute when other scientists seemed unable to reproduce their findings.
It is claimed that the Patterson Cell produces an excess of power as the water electrolyses into it's component Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms. However, unlike previous designs, it seems that the Patterson Cell can be turned on and off as required.
More surprising is that fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has issued a patent on the device. They have previously claimed that cold fusion, like perpetual motion, is impossible and therefore unpatentable.
The Patterson Cell appears to work by the Palladium 'soaking' up the Hydrogen atoms released by the electrolysis of the water. Although originally claimed as Cold Fusion, Mr Reding has since dropped that description and now claims that, "we believe it is something entirely different.", but refuses to give more details.
The Patterson cell might have been dismissed as easily another reputed "cold-fusion" apparatus. But Mr. Reding and his colleagues have been bold enough to demonstrate it at three technical conferences in the last nine months. Most cold-fusionists are reluctant to show off their devices, because they are never sure whether or when they will work.
Last month, CETI's Mr. Reding showed off his new Patterson cell at an annual gathering of generating-equipment manufacturers in Anaheim, California. Standing about four inches high and one inch in diameter, it held about three tablespoons of the tiny palladium beads. It was witnessed that, after subtracting the electricity needed to run pumps and fans, about 0.1 to 1.5 watts of power went into the cell itself, while the heat output was 450 to 1300 watts.
Watch this space for more news.
Last years long hot summer may well be responsible for vital clues to a burial mound dating back as far as 3000 BC. The hot, dry weather showed up 'parch marks' at Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire, UK - one the the world's most explored archaeological sites.
Aerial photography first showed up what appeared as two concentric rings of yellow grass between 20 and 25 meters in diameter, just to the rear of the Red Lion public house and village car park.
The National Trust described the discovery as "Tremendously important", and Roger Featherstone of the air photography unit said, "The pictures were taken on September 1st of last year. I did not expect to see anything new at Avebury as no parch marks had ever been seen inside the henge, which is one of the most studied sites in the world. It was not until I came to examine the pictures this month that I realised what was in them."
The National Trust, which has owned the site since 1943, now plans to carry out a geophysical survey of the location. This will involve hi-tech monitoring equipment, of the kind used to detect oil and minerals.
On Friday February 2nd 1996, Steve Bennett, a laboratory technician from Dukinfield, Manchester succeeded in becoming the first amateur to launch a rocket into space.
Named Starchaser 2, the 21ft rocket shot over 2000feet into the sky at a speed of 450mph, before separating into two parts and opening it's parachutes for the descent back to Earth.
After the launch Steve said, "I was over the moon, if that's not too much of a cliché. Now I am on target to overhaul the opposition and be the first amateur into space within the next 12 months. It is the culmination of 15 months hard work by a lot of people."
Due to the lack of a safe place to launch his next, more ambitious Starchaser 3, within the UK, Steve says he'll have to find a desert somewhere before attempting to put a rocket into outer space.
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