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Interview with Charles A. Barnes on cold fusion

Barnes, Charles A. (2012) Interview with Charles A. Barnes on cold fusion. [Oral History]

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An interview in two sessions in June 1989 with Charles Andrew Barnes, professor of physics (now emeritus) in the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. Dr. Barnes discusses the March announcement of Drs. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann of having produced “cold” nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment at the University of Utah. Recalls his reaction and that of his Caltech colleagues; the paucity of information; coverage by the L.A. Times. Details his collaboration with Nathan Lewis, T. R. Wang, Stephen Kellogg, and Steven Koonin in vain attempts to replicate Pons–Fleischmann experiment. Growing skepticism in the scientific community; Steven Jones’s paper in Nature reporting neutron flux; claims of cold fusion by Texas A&M and Georgia Tech; Caltech’s Kellogg Radiation Laboratory colloquium in Beckman Auditorium. Discusses efforts by Pons, Fleischmann, and University of Utah officials to get money from Congress to establish cold fusion institute. Recalls May American Physical Society meeting in Baltimore and presentation of Caltech data; Koonin’s accusation of Pons and Fleischmann’s “incompetence and perhaps delusion;” Caltech president Thomas Everhart’s embargo of the word “fraud.” Pons and Fleischmann’s censoring of DOE’s visiting committee; committee’s June visit to Caltech. Possible motives of Pons, Fleischmann, and the University of Utah. Pons and Fleischmann’s paper in J. Electroanal. Chem., involvement of Cheves Walling and claim of production of helium-4; work of Harwell lab, Italians at Frascati, and group at Los Alamos. He concludes by noting that Kellogg lab continues to pursue aspects of the phenomenon while doubting it will prove a useful power source. Notes difficulties with a peer reviewer of Lewis et al.’s Nature paper on Caltech findings.

Item Type:Oral History
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Barnes_C_coldfusion
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Official Citation:Barnes, Charles A. Interview by Heidi Aspaturian. Pasadena, California, June 13 and 26, 1989. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Physics
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ID Code:212
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:14 Dec 2012 23:43
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:24

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