The Biggest Junk Science of 2013

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#2. The Return of Cold Fusion

There are few scientific ventures more exciting than fusion energy. Fusing together two elements releases a large amount of clean energy -- energy that could power the Earth for tens of thousands of years and also be used to propel us to nearby stars.

Such a bright outlook breeds hucksters, however -- people who seek to lure you in with hope while parting you from your money. Where fusion is concerned, the most commonly known hoax is the E-Cat, a device that supposedly fuses nickel and hydrogen at room temperature. (Fusion is supposed to require massive temperatures and pressures.)

That's why a great many people were surprised this spring when an independent test seemed to show that the E-Cat works!

But the cautious excitement was short-lived. Physicists Ethan Siegel and Peter Thieberger thoroughly trounced the paper (which had not been peer-reviewed). Wrote Siegel:

If this were an undergraduate science experiment, I’d give the kids an F, and have them see me. There’s no valid information contained here, just the assumption of success, the reliance on supplied data, and ballpark estimates that appear to be supplied “from the manufacturer.”

This is not a valid way to do science at all. And this is certainly not even close to meeting the criteria required for extraordinary evidence to back up such an extraordinary claim.

(Image: SWaB)

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