Friday, 1 January 1999 Washington, DC

1. THE UNDEAD: A REVIEW OF "NUCLEAR TRANSMUTATION." The subtitle of this thin volume by Tadahiko Mizuno is "The Reality of Cold Fusion." The publisher is Infinite Energy Press, which probably tells you everything you need to know. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the announcement by the University of Utah that Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann had achieved deuterium fusion in a simple electrolytic cell (WN 24 Mar 89). Within a matter of weeks, a DOE panel officially pronounced cold fusion dead, amidst revelations of altered data and suppression of evidence. But the corpse does not rest peacefully. This personal account by one of a small corps who have not given up on cold fusion is wonderfully revealing -- but not for what it tells us about science. "If you limit your goal to finding fusion products," Mizuno snorts, "anyone can see you will not learn much. This is why the focus is now on transmutation." He says of his fellow believers, "They have been treated like heretics by the rest of the scientific community. This has formed a bond of solidarity between them. Working with practically no funding against a tide of opposition ...they have slowly but surely brought about a new discovery." It is an eloquent statement of how pathological science survives. In the final chapter Mizuno asks rhetorically, "What sort of reaction is cold fusion? As you have seen in this account we still have no clear idea." After ten years, nothing has changed.

Emboldened by last year's success, we're pulling out the stops. In '98, as in '97, WN was six out of six (WN 2 Jan 98). . This year, WN goes mano-a-mano with the "Sun" tabloid, even though the Sun turned to scientists for help: "Scientists have established a stunning link between the dreadful Third Prophecy of Fatima and the terrifying Millennium Predictions of Nostradamus." A computer expert at the Millennium Research Society says it means nuclear war. Nonsense. This is what will happen:

  • A science cult will claim to have found a source of infinite energy, and Elvis Presley will be sighted in Indianapolis.
  • There will be unusual weather patterns. Scientists will explain that it's either the result of global warming or it's not.
  • If the Dow Jones doubles in 1999, so will the science budget.
  • NASA will be criticized for delays and cost overruns on the ISS. John Glenn will not be available for a third flight.
  • WHAT'S NEW will be free of controversy again this year.
  • Larry Flynt will find no evidence of sexual indiscretion among scientists. Scientists will call for more research.

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.