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


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)