Welcome to the age of diminishing returns

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dead cat bouncing

On the concept of "dead cat bouncing", see also the Doomstead Diner

Result of a "google trends" search of the terms "Rossi" and "e-cat"

I said in a previous post that I have lost all interest in the "E-Cat", purported desktop nuclear device invented by Mr. Andrea Rossi. Although initially I had found it intriguing, and even fun (also here), it had become a never ending story, eventually boring.

However, if the e-cat is not interesting as an energy producing device, it is still an interesting case-study of information diffusion over the web. In the figure above, you see the results given by a "google trends" search that measures the number of times that a certain term is typed in the Google search engine. Looking for "e-cat", together with "Rossi" the result is that many people agree with me: the e-cat story was interesting at the beginning, now not so much any more.

Note, indeed, how the recent attempts by Andrea Rossi and his followers to revive interest in the device have had little success. The most recent interest peak is related to the so called "hot cat" that was supposed to be an improved version of the old ones. It did produce a little "bump" in the curve, but nothing more. The cat still bounces a little, but it is basically dead.

Of course, the fact that people are losing interest in the e-cat device doesn't necessarily mean that the device doesn't work. However, if we compare with a device that really works, we see the difference. See, for instance, a comparison of the search volume for the e-cat and the ipad (the ipad is the red line)

As you see, the difference is gigantic. The ipad works and can be bought, so lots of people are looking for the term. Instead, there is no evidence that the e-cat works and surely it cannot be bought anywhere. Hence, it is is popular only with a tiny group of believers and, it appears, with a just as tiny group of unbelievers who still find the story interesting.

But who is interested in the e-cat? Google trends is a fascinating site because it also provides you with geographical information.

By far, the E-Cat is an Italian phenomenon, although, for some reason, it has followers also in the Czech Republic. Sweden comes third, mainly because some faculty members of the University of Uppsala had the misfortune of getting involved in this story. But the E-Cat is not just nationally localized. It is also city localized and Google Trends can tell you that the highest search volume in the world is in Bologna, where another university had the misfortune of getting involved with this story.

Italy seems to be especially interested in dubious nuclear devices. Let's give a look to another term, "Keshe", the name of an Iranian gentleman who claims to have developed remarkable technologies able to provide solutions for climate change, many kinds of diseases, space travel and mass transport employing Magnetic and Gravitational interacting fields.

Let's see first the geographical distribution of the interest for the keyword "keshe":

The result is that Mr. Keshe is way more popular in Bulgaria than in his country of origin, Iran. But, again, Italy shows a remarkably high interest in pseudo-scientific miracle devices, coming second.

Finally, let's compare the two terms: "keshe" and "e-cat" (e-cat is red, keshe is blue)

It seems that, for a brief moment, the Keshe device was more popular than the e-cat. But the public seems to be rapidly losing interest in both. The interest, however, is not going to zero or, at least, not so rapidly. Apparently, there exists a "pool" of people who are especially interested in these matters and they are mainly located in Italy, possibly as a legacy of Mr. Rossi's work (and also, for truly unfathomable reasons, in Bulgaria and in the Czech Republic).

Let me repeat that the result of this search provides no direct indication of whether these devices are doing anything like what they are said to be doing by their inventors. It is, however, an interesting example of how information diffuses over the web and how the public tends to lose interest in claims that are not later substantiated by proof or that lead to something worth of more interest.


  1. As I recall, there was some discussion of the e-cat in Part 3 of the Diner Podcast, I think Monsta brought it up.

    I will publish this article along with Part 2 of Ugo's Podcast tomorrow on the Diner. Part 1 is doing very well now, with 346 Listens! We'll see if Ugo can catch Uber-Doomer Secretariat Guy McPherson, who is nearing 900 listens.


  2. You should compare with the interest and the opinion of leaders about Wright brothers plane reality, and the feasibility of Heavier-than-air flight. (sorry no internet)

    comparing iPad and e-cat is not coherent.
    you have to compare something that is publicly claimed as impossible, like heavier than air, accused of fraud.
    Reversely you can compare ipad with known failure like CDO financial products.

    this is why the only access to reality is through data, and even... because the bias obscure even the interpretation of data, of behaviors...

    just look at the hype curve about USSR fall since the creation, about Berlin Wall fall since the beginning... about Staline popularity in occident.

    The IPO of Defkalion on Toronto Stock Exchange will be a huge experiment.
    I predict huge problems, because this cannot happen without opposition.

    In don't talk of opposition from Oil corps, who will simply buy the equities...I talk of good samaritan who will denounce Defkalion to TSX supervisors... always be afraid of good samaritan. They burn witch, kill dissenters, torture, denounce their friends and parents, for The Good.

    if you look into history, dig deep because as nassim Nicholas taleb explain and report (he cite some works in antiFragile "history being written by the losers") that the history is rewritten to hide the opposition.
    Each time, after the mindset phase-shift, the elite just claim that there was not enough evidence until the day before, that it was because of the incompetent dissenters (sais that for Wright)... just not admitting that all was clear for long, just rejected, blinded, not even ignored.
    Sometime they admit there was some evidence but not accessible to their knowledge, and they call for change in organization (see fukushima) to be more aware.
    Taleb explain that it is typical that Black Swan get pretended as predictable, which is retro-forecast. Kuhn is more clear and simply says that people are blind, objectively blind, to dissenting evidence (he says that for science, but it is true for finance and ideology).

    In non-delusioned finance, this phenomenon is well identified... we don't know how to correct the problem, since history is rewritten to avoid learning.
    It is worse in science. Hard to learn when history is rewritten.
    Today more over centralized funding rules, and publication oligopoly of criteria, prevent spread of information more than in early 20th century.

    today, sure we should not be able to detect N-rays fraud if mainstream supported by Nature/SciAm/MIT/DoE... even in EU, who follow the fashion.

    Today the Wright brothers won't be funded, and will even be more seriously ridiculed. Like some heretic inventor today, maybe they will have to emigrate to China.

    by the way, what is you position on LENR as described by ENEA, NASA GRC, BARC, CEA Grenoble, SRI, NI, Toyota, Mitsubshi, Texas AM, Uni Missouri,Spawar,NRL,Shell,CNAM, Amocco,F&P,...
    all fraud, or at least one is true ?

    if LENR is real as proposed by those labs, are LENR+ claims of Rossi and Defkalion extraordinary or business-grade (to be checked normally)

    1. The cat is dead. Nothing to add

    2. Besides, you see, Alain, if you are so sure that the E-Cat is a good idea, you should be out there making a lot of money with it.

      Then, why do you lose your precious time sending these long comments to this small blog? You know, it smells a bit of desperation on your part. :-)

    3. It seems desperation is on your side instead. If the E-cat is dead why do you have the need to highlight it every time?
      I'm happy to read about the E-cat from this blog because every time you tell us the E-cat is dead, punctually, after a few weeks, some news comes out. Are you in contact with Rossi?

    4. Come on, Alain. I just noted some trends; once in a while I go back to the old sites to see what they are saying and they are saying always the same old things. No change. Total boredom.

      I look now at the whole thing as an interesting case study in human gullibility.

    5. yes no change.
      that is the problem.
      it is clear since long.

      good luck.

    6. Yes, everything is rather clear, by now

  3. @Alain Coetmeur

    on LENR as described by ENEA, NASA GRC, BARC, CEA Grenoble, SRI, NI, Toyota, Mitsubshi, Texas AM, Uni Missouri,Spawar,NRL,Shell,CNAM, Amocco,F&P,...

    How nice to hear that LENR research is funded by all these large istitutions and companies. Where can I find an official statement or a scientific paper with their labs' results?

    Toronto Stock Exchange: interesting experiment, indeed. They'll face lots of competitors and a 5yr-long bear market for Greek stocks.

    1. because:
      Nature have no room for Report 41
      because Oriani was peer reviewed in nature, but not published,
      because some paper were published in peer-reviewed journal but you are simply ill-informed.
      because all paper are on LENR-CANR and because wikipedia have blacklisted this site, and banned all scientist who support LENR, even from far.
      because NASA GRC anyway report their experiments anyway on their site, and you did not notice it
      because ENEA anyway report conference in EU parliament anyway, and report on their site, and you did not notice it
      because Rober Duncan after being paid to debunk LENR organized ICCF18 and support it publcly
      because NRL still work on IT with ENEA
      because SRI support Brillouin

      because it have been said:
      ""It would not matter to me if a thousand other investigations were to subsequently perform experiments that see excess heat. These results may all be correct, but it would be an insult to these investigators to connect them with Pons and Fleischmann. . . . Putting the 'Cold Fusion' issue on the same page with Wien, Rayleigh-Jeans, Davison Germer, Einstein, and Planck is analogous to comparing a Dick Tracy comic book story with the Bible." [7]"

      and finally because SciAM editors criticize LENR and publicly claim they have read no paper.

      I let you find who and where it was said, ...

      it is not easy, there have been huge scientific misconduct against LENR, huge abuse of monopoly of publication, manipulation of peer review.. but anyway things pass through, slowly, difficultly.

      Of course there is no evidence, because when there is, you remove them from you datalog, by not seeing them, by claiming fraud, by claiming incompetence, by noticing lack of publicity (eh, if they make it public you will ask defunding immediately), by asking impossible to fulfil condition (like peer review in journal which publicly said they will never publish on LENR, and which have proven so), by self-referring reasoning. This is so visible, that it could be funny. You don't even notice it.

      no news, we told you so a thousands time, and this is like Kuhn say, showing written report to a blind.
      I know that kuhn, and taleb are not popular here. It is more popular among innovators and businessmen. Because it works, despite an accepted theory.
      Black&sholes and poppers are more popular. They just have problems to explain facts, and have caused huge catastrophes.

    2. Did you invest a lot of money in this scam?

  4. LENR are still extraordinary claims (I use plural because there are so many of them). Happy to see that so many people work on them, maybe they will succeed in making one of these reactions work with sufficient reliability to make them ordinary claims.

    E-cat is not extraordinary claim. It is incredible claim, not baked by any evidence, and with possible hints of a fraud. It would be good if these people would give a chance to check the claim. But after several years of waiting I, like Ugo, lost any interest in the matter. And in my opinion they are doing a terrible service to any serious scientist looking into LENR.

  5. Fascinating data from Google trends, thanks.

    1. will you win or lose something is LENR get real ?

      some will looks ridiculous, some will be fired (no I joke, no academic is fired for being wrong with the consensus) , some will make good business ? on which side are you?

      and if you promote LENR, will you be fired? will you lose your reputation ? your funding ? your access to great scientific journals ?

      for someone in the system, it is more rational to be wrong with the system, than right and fired before being proven right, especially if the system prevent research and impede awareness.

      you should really read Antifragile... it is itchy, but it may reveal some evidence...

      anyway, I think it is talking to wall... as usual.

  6. @Alain Coetmeur
    as a science reporter I followed the cold fusion story from the start, so I know those reports, tks anyway. I'm looking for scientific papers about replicated results, and found none in Rothwell's archive, did you?

    Richard Oriani: if your refer to Oriani et al, Fusion Technology 1990, perhaps you should check the Nature's criteria. Their conclusion violated all of them:

    Since no nuclear manifestations were observed in this work, we do not assert that the excess power and energy that we have measured is the result of nuclear fusion. We intend to continue this investigation...

    You've made interesting statements. Who asked whom for whose funding to be suppressed, exactly? And there are ca. 30,000 publishers of scientific journals, according to you all in league against LENRs. Do you have any evidence?

    1. F&P and Longchampt cells, and many other variations

      Bockris/Iyengar & BARC tritium (one for Amocco), and many others . I found Srinivasan@BARC, Storms/Talcott, Claytor/jackson@LANL, Bockris, Szpak

      NASA replicated Mills cell which were replication of F&P cells

      ENEA is replicating variation of F&P cells, and by the way NRL is replicating ENEA (see recent conference in Brussels)

      many variation of mizuno,(including CNAM for Shell) with a latest one done with MFMP...

      NASA GRC replicated the Fralick 89 experiment in 2008, and it was replicated by University of tsinghua and Biberian before.
      Fralick replickated himself in 2012

      it depends on what you call a replication.
      I imagine that you have impossible to comply requirements.
      Except longchampt who was an engineer, thus able to respect rules, and not ego, most replication are creative.
      It is the rule in science that replication add new ideas, because scientist want new results, not copies.
      (read Betrayers of the truth by Wade&Broad - you will understand why it is an insider who discovered MIT fraud in 89, and why there is no exact replication in science)...

      ask National instruments if you want to get informed. They have done their homework.

      don't expect publication, it seems impossible in forbidden place, and LENR researchers no more tries... they publish for serious people, like JCMNS ;-)

      if you doubt on the quality of their peer review, noe that it cannot be worst that the sabotage done by MIT/Caltech/Harwell


      not counting the tweaking found by an insider in MIT paper to hid their doubtful success in replicating F&P, despite their clear will to do the contrary.

      if you get too near from the facts, like Robert Duncan, prepare for the smell of horse manure and unemployment. (see Bockris, Gibbs)

      of course I don't hope to convince.
      If it was possible, it would be done since long.
      As Benabou explain, the more the gap between the consensus and the fact, the more the repression of dissenters and the more the selective blindness.

  7. @Alain Coetmeur
    You're confirming Wade and Broad: you report rumours, quote self replications, suspect a conspiracy against LENRs among hundreds of thousands of scientists. Not a single whistleblower, not a single document leaked on the internet in 24 years? Sorry, but I don't buy it.

    NI have done their homework by looking for customers among patent-holders and academics, and making a list of possible contacts. That's standard business practice, not an endorsement as long as they don't invest real money.

    replication: same requirements as for batteries or solar cells for which new ideas are added and published all the time.

    "facts" not words, i.e. cold fusion reactors being produced in real factories, not in "secret" location in Florida. Not happening yet.

    manure: i'm used to it, from manufacturers of cold fusion reactors and their supporters.

    BTW Gibbs stated that cold fusion had nothing to do with it, Bockris and Duncan didn't lose their job. And Benabou - if Roland in Princeton - isn't talking about scientists. Bockris was investigated and found to have made outlandish claims - who doesn't! - but not repressed.

    1. Yes, NI is breaking with the hot fusion technology to target unfunded scam companies, who don't do research but shave shareholders ?
      Like any conspiracy fan you reinterpret fact asymetrically.

      tell me why Defkalion needs service at Fasmatech. and many similar move. sure it cannot update you believes.

      desperate. when you will admit the evidence, please reanalyze how it happened.

      I keep the link for later.
      good luck.

  8. I agree, lets forget about the e-cat and Andrea Rossi.
    Lets all focus on the Hot-Dog technology

    Efficient in temperatures less than 100C


    You will soon see it!

    Love / Dr Bob

  9. There is nothing worse than a closed-minded, so-called, scientist who writes stupid blogs saying absolutely nothing. You sound a lot like another so-called scientist who makes an appearance on every site mentioning LENR. Don't get me wrong. Skepticism is a good thing, but this isn't skepticism: It's a smear job made without proof. IOW, it's worse than Rossi's public demos.

    1. Oh, my.... It looks like I hit a nerve, didn't I?

  10. Thanks for this interesting analysis!
    The cat is dead. And Alain: your posts talk for themselves...

  11. I have followed this story for a few years now. I admit to being hopeful when it first came out, being a layman (albeit with a solid science education). But nothing has happened, just elaborate shows. If the device does work and is able to actually provide clean energy, then Mr Rossi's dithering and profit-chasing has added years to our planet's spewing of CO2 into the air via coal and all the other evil fossils. Is it really so important that he protect his theoretical patents so he can make zillions while the world burns because he is unwilling to share? The best case scenario so far as Mr Rossi is concerned is that he is utterly morally corrupt - a person willing to sacrifice the world for his own material gain because he is unwilling to share his discovery. Much much more likely that the whole operation is a giant farce and he is trying to scam a few dollars before it all blows up in his face.

  12. Starting point is that the Cat entered in this story alredy dead. Might it ever be Rossi was the Holy Fire holder, I would have had a second question for God.

  13. Every time I do a blog post on it the Google numbers jump off the charts. You should correlate those charts to the day I dropped the bomb about the inner workings of Rossi's top secret E-cat. It'll likely be astounding. For those who missed it, http://thetimchannel.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/e-cat-schematics-leaked-to-public/


  14. At the beginning, I thought this post was spam. But it is not. Well worth giving a look to the secrets of the E-Cat finally revealed!