Posts by Eric Walker

    You are in no wise a victim, Adrian. It does not require a network analysis from graph theory to ascertain who the recurring sources of conflict are. The people whose views you disagree with do not get into unedifying conflicts with the majority of people here. Mostly you at this time.

    A note to perpetually dyspeptic contributors: consider other participants when you post, who will have to read or choose to skip over your comments. Ideally there will be something of interest for a group of readers beyond an unedifying fight between you and another person whose views you disagree with.

    It is important not to judge the empirical evidence in a field such as LENR by irrational proponents who become attached to every implausible claim made by this or that entrepreneur. Familiarizing oneself with the literature will help to form an opinion about which voices are credible and which are merely credulous outliers in a small, self-selected group. The people and companies in the list you give are very different from one another; some are not credible, or even possibly predatory, while others have quite a bit of credibility. The temptation to lump everyone in the same category should be avoided.

    I look forward to what Robert Duncan has to publish, for example, and am hoping some kind of publication is in the works in connection with the Sidney Kimmel grant.

    11,000 of these rockets would reach Mars every minute, but they would change course the last day to avoid crashing into it

    It sounds like there are some tight tolerances for a rain of rockets continually bombarding Mars. I don't think you could have more than a minute fraction do the wrong thing.

    Once the ice is launched it make take months or years to reach Mars,

    Related to this and preceding points — it seems like this plan commits not only the generation making the plans, but their children and grandchildren as well, to large capital costs and important coordinating actions, to prevent a fraction of the rockets from hitting the planet, and to make sure the ice cubes do the right thing. Is it ethical to commit one's grandchildren to a plan they weren't consulted on? There are a few circumstances in which it could be argued that such a forced commitment is reasonable; what is the circumstance underwriting the starting generation's committing its grandchildren to the continued terraforming of Mars?

    machines that make themselves, which is to say general purpose machines that can make anything, sort of like 3D printers. These have just been invented recently.

    Incidentally, the plot of Horizon Zero Dawn, a PS4 video game, was that self-replicating military robots started to multiply without end as a result of a system failure. They took over the world and (in time) snuffed out the remnants of humanity. The only way for humanity to "survive" was to create underground bunkers where people would be hatched in vitro hundreds of years later, after the robot plague had wound down. They were then to be educated with a system put in place for this purpose so that they could continue civilization's legacy. (Plot twist: the education subsystem failed, and the later-hatched people ended up reverting to a hunter-gatherer society. Second plot twist: the robot plague did not fully wind down.)

    We know quite well the consequences of invading "new" continents and islands on Earth. The original inhabitants far too often end up in museums and diRies of explorers as examples of what once was there.

    Yes, I'm quite aware of that danger, and it has been in my mind this whole time. But I think it would be a futile argument to argue against the idea that people should have explored (or will explore) other islands on Earth. But that is also why I introduced the part about a risk assessment of harming life with any amount of sentience.

    My thought is that there are already dozens (hundreds?) of known Earth-like planets in orbit around nearby stars. The likelihood in my mind that there is extraterrestrial life of some rudimentary form seems close to 100 percent (which is different than saying that it is close enough for examination anytime soon).

    How many stars are there in the visible universe? Some appreciable fraction of them surely have life on planets orbiting them. The numbers we're talking about imply to my mind that life-bearing planets in the universe are as abundant as microbes on this planet.

    A suitable analogy for the moral dimension to this question is exploration of a new continent or newly-discovered island on Earth. I would not argue that we should not go there out of fear of disrupting the native species unless the potential cost was high indeed.

    I personally don't see a moral conundrum in the possibility of killing a native species of microbe on Mars, provided we try to learn about it before such a thing happens. It is a feature/bug of the universe that when you go off to somewhere else you bring microbes with you, and with them come the possibility of catastrophic replacement.

    The moral dimension for me would depend upon how sentient the creatures are. If there were small rodents or something, it would feel a little differently (maybe?). If they were (hypothetically speaking) bona fide martians with homes and so on, that would tip the scales for me against it.

    There is of course the danger going the other way: we could bring back some martian bug that kills all algae or something, and then watch the food chain collapse.

    I will take nothing for granted until someone will pony up some genuine evidence for various vague claims. There could be artifact; there could incorrect conclusions derived from working outside of one's area of knowledge; there could be doubts that lead to a revisiting of earlier results; there could be failed controls; there could be a telephone game of details that degrade in quality from one person to the next.

    It will interesting indeed if there has been a solid replication. But without specific details, I will not assume there has in fact been one. Nullius in verba, as the saying goes.

    Krivit may have more of the temperament of a lawyer than a journalist, but there are some relevant details in that transcript, such as the fact that Essen had little exposure to calculating things related to steam and steam quality. As Essen says, "I’m new at steam, unfortunately."

    Sad that cold fusion is being used/abused in this scenario.

    Sad, but not unexpected. In a controversial field like this, there are all manner of people involved. There are qualified and skilled scientists who have made their career in some relevant field. There are capable engineers, hobbyists and amateurs doing interesting work. There are unskillful and unrigorous scientists and maverick engineers who draw conclusions without having done adequate controls. There are entrepreneurs and inventors who are coy with details for various reasons. There are observers who must rely on others' reports in order to draw any conclusions and so are critically dependent upon an accurate assessment of the credibility of each person or group making a claim (that's most of us here). There are good-natured skeptics who question everything. There are committed skeptics who are attached to their assumptions with religious intensity. And towards the lower tail of the distribution, there are people who smell an opportunity and seek to capitalize on any ambiguity and confusion that might exist by preying on people's hopes and wishful thinking. The important thing is to keep in mind that all of these things are possibilities and, on one hand, to put off drawing firm conclusions until the evidence is overwhelming, and, on the other, to not get drawn into something in the meantime that looks like it might be an ill-conceived research project or a scam.

    It's the wild west. Good doses of optimism, skepticism and patience go a long way.

    There were a spate of fresh arguments and discussion about GEC and about induced fission/alpha decay that were interesting. But all that has petered out at this point, and we've fallen back into the perennial historical argument, which asks us to draw conclusions according to a speculative historical theory of pseudoscience (in contrast to considering claims and experiments on their technical merits).

    My take-home from that paper is that some at least of the positive results, when more carefully remeasured, proved null.

    Surely. But which ones, and for what reasons, and using which approaches? As I said, if one were to think through the matter in advance, it's hard to think up what one would anticipate would be a less effective way to alter decay rates than to cool the radionuclide down (except perhaps to apply pressure, which also sounds like it would be very ineffective).

    The result in the study of 97Ru was not a null result of a radionuclide for which another group had reported seeing a variation in the rate of electron capture. It was I understand a null result of applying a theory of a "Debeye plasma" to an EC radionuclide using an approach I was surprised to learn even worked in other cases.

    An expectation that all of the more significant mainstream results are in fact null ones despite appearances to the contrary would strike me as a forlorn one, if one were to entertain it. One should further factor in similar LENR experiments in setting one's expectations. There is a dynamic tension at play here between what experiments are saying, on on hand, and, on the other hand, (1) theoretical expectations (perhaps assumptions, more accurately), and (2) public claims physicists have been making for decades about decay rates being constant (with inadequate experimental basis for such confidence, I think). Wrapped up in all of this is the science of radiometric dating that would be unsettled should more of these experiments gain a foothold. The LENR experiments suggest that the sky is the limit as to where the variability in decay rates could go.

    I'm reminded of the Wendt and Irion experiment and possibly the Paneth and Peters one from the early 1900s, both of which might be retroactively interpreted as acceleration of alpha decay.

    Nice quote from the paper reporting a null EC result [1]:

    Quite recently, however, measurements have been reported claiming relatively large changes in half lives for α, β−, β+ and ec decays depending on whether the radioactive parent was placed in an insulating or conducting host material, and whether the latter was at room temperature or cooled to 12K. Specifically, 210Po, an α emitter, when implanted in copper was reported to exhibit a half life shorter by 6.3(14)% at 12K than at room temperature [3]; the β− emitter 198Au in a gold host reportedly had a half-life longer by 3.6(10)% at 12K [4]; 22Na, which decays predominantly (90%) by β+ emission, was measured as having a 1.2(2)% shorter half life at 12K [5]; and 7Be, which decays by pure electron capture, apparently had a half-life longer by 0.9(2)% at 12K in palladium and by 0.7(2)% in indium [6].

    That is to say, in mainstream scientific publications, several positive reports of significantly altering the half-lives of radionuclides, including one in which the alpha emitter 210Po saw a change of 6.3 percent in its half-life under specific conditions, partly as a result of variation in temperature. Needless to say, 6.3 percent is a considerable change.

    It is hard to think of an approach less promising on its face for altering the half-life of a radioisotope than cooling it down, other than, perhaps, putting the material under pressure, which has also been attempted, nonetheless with small but positive results. For some reason I never see attempts at using electric discharge, the approach that most readily comes to mind, in mainstream reports, perhaps because it introduces difficulties in measurement that will make it hard to draw firm conclusions.

    Recall in all of this that the process of fission is very similar to that of alpha decay.