All posts by Edmund Storms

What does theory do and how does it need to be tested?

For this discussion, I use the word “theory” to describe any attempt to explain using unifying concepts, regardless of the detail or the certainty being applied or expected.

All phenomenon in Nature are complex and do not have a single behavior. Some phenomenon have a single and obvious characteristic, such as gravity. But a full understanding requires more information than only a falling apple provides. A theory attempts to bring all the behaviors together into a single unifying understanding.

Sometimes, the behavior complex is large and involves many kinds of behaviors, such as is found for LENR. This phenomenon involves chemistry, nuclear physics, quantum physics, nano-technology, heat measurements, radiation measurements, and psychology. Each behavior appears to be isolated from every other behavior while being very unreliable in its occurrence. A different set of behaviors are even observed when different conditions are used. As result, a person has difficulty in knowing how many independent phenomenon are operating.

Without a unifying explanation, these behaviors make no sense, they can not be produced with reliable expectation, and amplification of the effect becomes impossible. We are forced to explore the effect at random, by trial and error, without any expectation of success.

This limitation can be greatly reduced when an effort is made to unify all the separate behaviors. Success requires the correct identification of the behaviors without introducing too much arbitrary imagination. The explanation must also be consistent as much as possible with behavior already accepted in chemistry and physics.

The best theory takes the greatest number of behaviors into account.

Unfortunately, we are presently overwhelmed by theories based on small subsets of the behavior complex.

The psychology of theory is also important. Some people seem to think that theory supports a claim, a conclusion, or a reveals something new about Nature. It does not. Theory is ONLY a tool used to connect a collection of behaviors so that the unifying characteristics can be revealed.

Theory can be neither proven or disproven. Only a logical relationship can be proven or disproven, but this kind of relationship is not a theory of natural behavior. Mixing these two kinds of explanations creates much confusion, especially in the minds of mathematicians who think their equations actually are an expression of the real Nature.

A theory of natural behavior simply relates a collection of behaviors in order to predict future behavior under a wide variety of conditions. For example, the laws of thermodynamics allow the behavior of chemical systems to be predicted when a wide range of conditions are used. The theory does not reveal how how or why these behaviors occur, except perhaps as result of using imagination.

Quantum theory attempts to answer such questions, but again much imagination must be used. The part of any theory based only on imagination is subject to change as more understanding based on behavior is achieved. Of course, the part of theory based on behavior, rather than imagination, remains unchanged. The connection between these two different aspects of theory remain confusing to many people, even to scientists.

To state another way, theory proves nothing about Nature and is subject to change without notice as the part based on imagination is modified. Nevertheless, the human mind must have an explanation regardless of how effective it might be in describing Nature. Any crazy idea will serve as long as it attempts to satisfy this craving. That is why so many theories are applied to LENR. LENR is a theory vacuum that must be filled. Pretending this need does not exist or is not important is pointless because it is basic to human nature.

Nevertheless, this does not mean all theories need to be taken seriously. Eventually, someone will put the pieces together in the correct way and the theory will become part of conventional understanding. The sooner this happens, the sooner the effect will be accepted by conventional science.

New graphic from updated version of The Explanation of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction depicting resonating hydrogen nuclei upon approach
New graphic from updated version of The Explanation of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction depicting resonating hydrogen nuclei upon approach

In my case, I have attempted to unify as many behaviors as possible while identifying all the behaviors and citing the sources. I also attempted to show the deficiencies of other theories, which need to be filled rather than stubbornly insisting on deficient ideas.

Understanding the logical connections in my theory will reveal a total structure that connects many behaviors. Appropriate testing to keep, modify, or discard any ideas can then be used to refine the model.

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Shift theoretical focus from nuclear consequences to chemical beginnings

I would like to emphasize one other aspect of LENR that is frequently overlooked: Fusion can be caused by two different mechanisms.

The common one, called hot fusion, involves applying high energy to the reacting nuclei. This approach takes advantage of the increased reaction rate applied energy provides. Science has ignored what happens when fusion takes place at low energy because the rates are too low to study the process.

Discovery of LENR, called cold fusion, has revealed how the fusion rate can be increased without using applied energy. However this process requires a unique condition I identify as the NAE. As many people have noted, the NAE acts like a catalyst so that applied energy is no longer required. This being the case, the essential understanding of the LENR process resides in the nature of the NAE. Creation of the NAE makes LENR possible and the unique fusion mechanism operates only within the confines of the NAE.

A condition is created within the NAE in which the Coulomb barrier can be overcome without applied energy, and mass-energy can be converted to heat energy without producing the high-energy radiation normally associated with nuclear interaction. The magic of LENR takes place in and only in the NAE.

This concept does not conflict with or violate any physical law because this unique condition has yet to be explored by science. This is virgin territory having no relationship to hot fusion or to the concepts obtained from studies of the hot fusion mechanism.

Therefore, identifying and describing the NAE is essential to creating a useful theory about LENR. Because the NAE is part of a chemical structure, the chemical conditions must be part of this understanding.

Unlike hot fusion, which occurs in plasma, cold fusion is strongly influenced by the chemical properties of the material in which NAE forms. Most theories mistakenly ignore the chemical requirements.

Without a chemical structure and its chemical behavior, the NAE cannot form and LENR cannot occur. Consequently, LENR is first and foremost a chemical process with nuclear consequences. Thus, the focus should be shifted from the nuclear consequences to those conditions required to form the NAE and to its role in hosting the nuclear reactions.

This idea might be a bridge too far for many theoreticians, nevertheless, I strongly suggest an effort be made to cross the bridge rather than keep trying to swim the river.

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LENR behaviors that theory must explain

The many discussions of theory have encouraged me to summarize what is known about LENR having relevance to theory, and what a theory requires to explain.

A theory in conflict with any one of these essential requirements, I suggest, is not worth discussing. On the other hand, many details about each of the requirements need to be ignored until more information is obtained. Nevertheless, the basic requirements can be used to eliminate many ideas and reduce the discussion to a few possibilities.

For those who believe theory is not important or useful, I would like to point out that we presently have theories being used to explain behavior and to design experiments. If these theories are wrong, the conclusions being reported will be wrong. Agreeing on the basic characteristics of LENR would help prevent such mistakes.

LENR has a few basic and well established behaviors and many unknown features. We can debate the unknowns, but the well known behaviors must be acknowledged by any effective explanation.

Of course, imagination can provide all kinds of exceptions to any condition, but an effective search best focuses on the more plausible and more likely possibilities.

The well known LENR behaviors include:

1. LENR is initiated only with great difficulty. Many materials have been subjected to a wide range of conditions without LENR being produced.

2. Once a material is “activated” the LENR effect is robust and sustained with a possible rate in excess of 10^11 events/sec.

3. Helium, tritium, and a variety of transmutation products are formed.

4. Each of these nuclear products are found produced in the surface region when the location can be determined.

5. Helium production is the source of most observed heat energy.

6. Very little energetic radiation is detected outside the apparatus.

7. Because LENR takes place in a chemical structure surround by normal atoms, the mechanism causing the nuclear reaction must be consistent with this environment.

Normally, any mechanism able to initiate a nuclear reaction will also cause significant chemical changes in the surrounding material. Such changes are not observed when LENR occurs.

1. The behavior identified as #1 implies that a rare and novel condition must form in the material in order for the LENR process to occur. I call this region the nuclear active environment (NAE). This region is not present in most materials and can not be easily created.

This characteristic eliminates vacancies of any type, dislocations of any kind, impurities of any kind, and large cracks because each of these features is normally present in common materials.

2. The characteristics listed in #2 show that the NAE is stable once formed and can be present in significant concentration. The NAE is not the result of a minor impurity or an occasional flaw in the material.

3. Helium and tritium formation can be attributed to reactions between isotopes of hydrogen but transmutation is difficult to explain. The explanation of transmutation must account for two types, one that adds helium to a nucleus without fragmentation and another type that results in fragmentation of the target after hydrogen is added.

4. The nuclear products are found associated only with the surface region. Consequently, the NAE is not expected to form in the bulk material.

5. Most of the heat energy results from He4 formation when deuterium is used. An effective theory must explain how helium is formed while producing the amount of energy expected to result from D+D fusion.

6. The huge mass-energy released by a nuclear reaction must be communicated to the surrounding material as heat energy. This process must not destroy the NAE or create significant energetic radiation. Consequently, a narrow range is placed on the rate at which energy is released and the type of the energy release process.

7. Creation of the NAE and the nuclear process must be compatible with the chemical conditions known to be associated with the material in which LENR takes place.

Are there additions or clarifications?

Can these requirements be used to eliminate the bad theories?

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