Return of Widom-Larsen; Revival of Cold Fusion / LENR
What is Widom-Larsen? Here is brief summary from Discover Magazine
Larsen considered other nuclear reactions that could subtly produce energy. One candidate was radioactive decay, which occurs when unstable atomic nuclei release energy in the form of radiation. Some elements found in nature, like radium, undergo this decay. Could something in the cold fusion apparatus be doing much the same? Larsen formulated a theory showing how that could happen, and in 2004 he recruited Northeastern University theoretical physicist Allan Widom to hone his ideas.So far, LENR / Cold Fusion has only managed to heat a bit of water, and produce a little steam. But if engineers can take Widom-Larsen -- or something similarly plausible -- and learn to reliably produce significant amounts of heat, they might be able to create devices which could be scaled up and down for a wide range of commercial and scientific purposes.
Their theory showed how a film of negatively charged electrons covering the palladium could combine with positively charged protons from the water’s hydrogen atoms to form neutrons. Those neutrons could then be gobbled up by nearby lithium nuclei, disturbing the delicate balance of protons and neutrons that keep the nuclei stable. The lithium nuclei would rapidly decay, first into beryllium and then into helium, and emit radiation. Finally, the film of electrons would absorb the radiation and reemit it as heat. Widom and Larsen called this chain of events a low-energy nuclear reaction, or LENR—a more accurate and palatable term than cold fusion. The European Physical Journal C published their theory in 2006.
The paper did not make a splash at first. By then, scores of wild-eyed papers had claimed to explain cold fusion. Yet Widom-Larsen theory had more going for it. For one, it had the authority of a respected theorist in Widom. It also had the ring of plausibility: It proposed a phenomenon permitted by the known laws of physics, no new science required. “Widom-Larsen theory is the best formulated explanation of what’s going on,” says Ephraim Fischbach, a Purdue University physicist who is not involved in LENR research.
In addition, Widom and Larsen theorized that the same neutron production process could happen in nature. Recently, scientists found one piece of supporting evidence for that. In March a study in Physical Review Letters described a large flux of neutrons during thunderstorms—perhaps, Larsen says, the result of LENRs in the atmosphere sparked by electricity from lightning.
As the Widom-Larsen theory gains traction, more physicists are emerging to put it to the test. In March, Yogendra Srivastava from the University of Perugia in Italy, who worked with Widom and Larsen on their theory, chaired a LENR-themed colloquium at CERN—the institution’s first official examination of “cold fusion” in more than two decades. Soon after, NASA released details on a $200,000-a-year research program on LENRs, led by Zawodny. “The theory made it past peer review in a real journal,” he says. “But I’m always skeptical. I only believe what I can prove.” _Discover
One is not reassured by the antics of Andrea Rossi, but there are dozens of more sober scientists who are consistently reporting anomalous heat production using similar apparatuses.
LENR Forum discusses this story
Widom Larsen Portal at New Energy Times