Sunday, May 13, 2012

Italy: chimeras of cold fusion

From the time when our ancestors cast the statue known as the "Chimera of Arezzo", Italy has been a country of chimeras. That's true especially in science, as shown by our minister for scientific research, Ms. Mariastella Gelmini, who produced a press release mentioning a "neutrino tunnel" that connected Italy directly to Switzerland - a true chimera if ever there was one. Then, the Italian story of "Cold Fusion" has been even worse, with Mr. Andrea Rossi claiming to have attained miraculous results in energy production with the device he called "E-Cat." Mr. Rossi's story collapsed when he himself admitted that there was nothing nuclear inside his device and that his "E-Cat factory", described as able to produce millions of pieces per year, was nowhere to be found on this planet (read the details here). But Rossi's disappearance from the scene was not the end of desktop nuclear energy in Italy. There are even weirder things going on, for instance, in the field called "piezonuclear energy". In the following, you can read the summary of a report on this matter which appeared on May 13 2012 on a major Italian financial newspaper. It is  written by Sylvie Coyaud, also known for her blog where she writes with the nick of "Ocasapiens". "Piezopolis" is a fascinating story that involves money and politics; a true thriller as Coyaud defines it. Chimeras in Italy, apparently, never end. 

Piezopolis, Italian-style thriller

by Sylvie Coyaud

For reasons of copyright, what follows is not a translation but a summary of Sylvie Coyaud's feature which appeared in the Italian financial newspaper  Ilsole24ore on May 13 2012. I have added a few comments in order to make this text clearer for the non-Italian reader. Thanks to Sylvie for her permission to publish this text and for her comments and suggestions (Ugo Bardi).

On May 4th in Turin, Alberto Carpinteri, of the Turin Polytechnic and chairman of the National Institute of Metrology (INRIM) organized a meeting, sponsored by Piedmont’s Regional Government, Ansaldo Nucleare, and the Catholic association "Solidarity and Development".  He presented a new form of energy “destined to change the global landscape of science and energy”, according to a local newspaper. In a research paper published in 2009 by Professor Fabio Cardone, Roberto Mignani and Andrea Petrucci, of the University of Rome-Tor Vergata, it was reported that thorium dissolved in water and subjected to pressure waves modifies its natural rate of decay and produced some neutrons. Professor Cardone and Alberto Carpinteri also claimed to have produced many more neutrons by fracturing pieces of granite ("piezonuclear fission").

In the near future, thanks to a patent requested by prof. Cardone, Startec – a company based in Brugherio (Milan) - will build reactors similar to the one made in 2005 "under the direction of col. Antonio Aracu", which will solve Italy’s economic crisis and the world’s energy crisis. To test the device, Abruzzo’s Regional Government granted Prof. Cardone the military site of Mount San Cosimo, where he will run a new research center on the transmutation of nuclear waste into clean energy.

Still missing is the financial support that the national government had allocated to such transmutations in 2009 thanks to the intervention of Sabatino Aracu, a member of Parliament (and the colonel’s brother). According to a leaked document, about 800 million euros will be needed to build prototype reactors over ten years, some 100-200 millions to equip San Cosimo and more money for further research. The purpose of the Turin meeting was to obtain these funds by means of “new alliances", said Francesco Mazzuca, commissioner of Sogin, a public company in charge of  decommissioning nuclear plants and disposing of nuclear waste. For the latter, there is now a solution: Prof. Cardone’s reactor.

In an open letter, Prof. Cardone claims "the discovery of a theory and of its phenomenon, both astonishing and shocking.... <which has> received the official recognition of publications and patents ... and is well known to all the scientists in the world who have been seeing for years that same discovery and testified its validity in international journals, with papers in accordance with scientific standards.

Since 2007, Cardone's "theory of the deformed space-time," a daring alternative to Einstein's relativity, remains firmly ignored in the literature. As to "its phenomenon", it has been immediately criticized by four physicists of Uppsala University who found "serious errors" in Cardone's data and measurements. In Canada, three more physicists replicated the experiment, and their “results and findings were in conflict with those reported by F. Cardone et al." Other authors also criticized Cardone's results. Nowhere in the scientific literature it results that Cardone's results have been reproduced or validated.

Though he is a "C3" technician of the National Research Council (CNR), Fabio Cardone is happy to call himself  “Professor”, and so do we. After all, he enjoys the support of the Army, of the political world and of Carpinteri, who is investing INRIM money to study piezonuclear reactions. In so doing, he is blocking sound science and destroying the enviable reputation of INRIM. Some say it’s a tragedy, some a commedia all’italiana, others invite yours truly to write "Piezopolis", a thriller involving nuclear waste traffic, shapely Russian spies, physicists and colonels smarter than Einstein rushing into the tunnels of San Cosimo for an ending à la James Bond. Meanwhile «extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence», as they say in Brugherio. Like many scientists did for months, we asked Prof. Cardone and Roberto Mignani, can you cite one of those papers by scientists all over the world validating etc..? Mignani did answer and cited… a Startec brochure.

Sylvie Coyaud


  1. refresh your info,
    and look at Defkalion.

    anyway peak-oil too is dead. see alfin blog for recent data.

    and to understan why you will refuse to update your info, I have the theory
    based on Roland Benabou group delusion theory

    you could read that message again in a few month, when you cannot ignore it. data where there and for long.

  2. I can't understand how a few links on a forum, without any review, without any external indipendent control, without any actual result visible, should change the ground.

    Alain, you've a great quality: positive thinking. You just have to work on practicing scientific method: this post deal with it not with fairy tales.

    From you: "they [defkalion] made a public call for independent tests of their reactor last January, and claim to have launched these tests in February. buzz (Sterling Allan) announce results published mid-April.". Now it's mid-may, where are they?

    1. Well, gvdr, the problem with this story is the same we have with climate science and other fields. Some people create their own bubble of knowledge, refer only to like-minded individuals, read only the information created by people inside the bubble, and so on. When you try to explain to them that there is a scientific way of studying these phenomena, and that you should mistrust results which have not been confirmed, they immediately consider you an idiot or someone sold to the powers that be.

      You see this Mr. "Alain" who sends me a link that implies that I am a pathological case of self-delusion. What can I answer? There is no possibility of a meaningful discussion with people who think that those who don't think the way they do are sick.

    2. I've tried many times to sell myself to The Powers. Nobody never bought me. I'm getting a bit upset! Instead, Cardone and Big Family have contracted interesting affiliations (the army!), quite uncommon for self-styled "revolutionary scientists". :)

  3. "Mignani did answer and cited… a Startec brochure."

    At least he knows something about the mysteries of self references ! (or at least how to use them :) )

    1. Well, Yves, if you can read Italian, you should give a look to the discussion that you can open by clicking on the link "startec brochure". It is unbelievable. This guy tried to defend himself, but he couldn't answer the simple question "were your results reproduced or validated?" So, he desperately tried to list himself among famous people who weren't believed at the beginning, Christopher Columbus, Galileo, Alfred Wegener and others. That, of course, was a disaster for him. In the end, he couldn't do more than citing the work of this company: Started. And they are asking almost a billion dollars just for a prototype of a machine based on results that not only have never been confirmed but that have been positively shown to be wrong by at least two groups of researchers. How can people reduce themselves in this sad state escapes me. And think that he is a genuine professor at the University of Rome!

  4. BTW: another facepalm for Andrea Rossi. Brian Josephson has "interviewed" him here

    The curious thing about this text is that Josephson is trying to be sympathetic toward Rossi, but he ends up insulting him by saying that a) Rossi is paranoid and b) he doesn't adhere to scientific standard. Be wary of people who try to be nice to you!

  5. Ugo, sorry for off-topic but regarding the Japan and the future of technology, or the future in general you moght want to check the financial situation of Japan here: Japan's WTF Chart and check especially the last graph in that article...



  6. Replies
    1. Wow! What we should do here, rather than a funeral, is organizing a parade of Zombies!

    2. We are all Zombies now, since Arctic methane at Barrow, Alaska, hits 2500 ppbv.

      These are hourly preliminary data, so may we are not all Zombies after all...


  7. Hello Ugo Bardi, I was digging in The Oil Drum's archives when I stumbled upon these posts regarding high altitude wind power you wrote back in 2009:

    Is it still something you have great hope for? Couldn't help but notice Massimo Ippolito is Italian...

    1. Yes, I still have great "hopes" in high altitude wind power. But please note that those hopes are not based on faith, but in an critical evaluation of the technology. We know that wind stores a lot of energy and that a lot of this energy is located at heights that we can't reach with towers. So, there comes idea to send up there a kite and grab all that energy. It is a good idea, in principle, then, as usual, the devil is in the details. But I think we should support an idea that is based on good physics and that could help us a lot in the way to clean energy

      But don't expect miracles, either! We are still in a phase in which you see an idea just building momentum: many ideas, many prototypes, many versions and nothing yet on the market. I think we'll get there, eventually, but it will take a lot of work. It is the way the universe works: everything takes time and effort and nothing ever is easy. (incidentally, this is one of the reasons why we should be wary of inflated claims such as those we see so often in cold fusion)

      And, as you note, fortunately in Italy we don't just have people babbling nonsense about neutrino tunnels!

  8. Hi Ugo, I have updated the tar sands graph accoring to Stuard Staniford and with some other new pictures (from Business Insider) and videos can be found here.

    yes, we really "care" about climate and our future... but not right now,




Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)