RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he had really liked girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bob Kerrey and Cold Fusion

(A repost, with links)

Bob Kerrey was paid $0.8 m last year to help a company founded by a disbarred quack physician 'sustain research' into a discredited technology long rejected by mainstream physics.

The Omaha World Herald listed Bob Kerrey's assets and income on April 19. The largest chunk of money he earned last year caught my eye:

$800,000 in consulting fees from Sidney Kimmel Revocable Trust. Kerrey called that his primary gig after he stepped down as New School president, helping a company in Israel sustain its research into low-energy nuclear reactions. The project ultimately was handed over to the University of Missouri.
'Low-energy nuclear reactions' is the current euphemism for cold fusion, because cold fusion has been branded a crackpot idea. If you're not old enough to remember, cold fusion was a three week sensation in 1989, after Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann reported they got unusual heat emissions when passing electrical current through a palladium electrode in heavy water. Most physicists rejected immediately as impossible, and most of the rest wrote off when the early results were not reproducible and did not give off the sort of neutron signatures that actual nuclear reactions give off. The wikipedia page on cold fusion is quite good. A small group of crackpots continue to pursue the idea, notwithstanding that major research efforts in cold fusion have failed, and the Department of Energy has dismissed it, in two separate reviews. It has all the features of Irving Langmuir's 'pathological science'.

So how did Bob Kerrey get involved? It all comes down to disbarred quack physician Irving Dardik, and clothing billionaire and major Kerrey and Democrat donor Sidney Kimmel. Dardik was a more-or-less orthodox vascular surgeon and specialist in exercise physiology, until he came up with the goofball idea of 'quantum superwavesTM', which pervade the universe and sync with its natural rhythms, such as the rhythm of the heart. Eventually, for practicing this nonsense on patients, State of New York Department of Health Administrative Review Board for Professional Medical Conduct revoked Dardik's medical license, for

practicing medicine fraudulently; exercising undue influence and exploiting patients for his own financial gain.
It transpired Dardik bilked four MS patients between $30,000 and $100,000 for their 'treatment', a particularly nasty thing to do to patients suffering from a chronic debilitating disease.

Not discouraged by his rejection by conventional medicine, Dardik continued to practice his quackery. One of the people he 'treated' was Sidney Kimmel, a clothing billionaire who founded the Jones group. Supposedly some of Dardik's 'treatments' made Kimmel feel better. He began to invest money in Dardik's quack clinic.

Dardik, though, was now branching out. He came up with the idea that 'super waves' could make cold fusion happen, and founded a company called Energetics Technology LLC to pursue the idea, with a subsidiary in Israel where they did the research. Dardik is now their CVO or 'chief visionary officer'. Yeah, it's that kind of company. Kimmel has sponsored Energetics Technology for a long time, and just this year he also gave $5.5 m to U Missouri, which will set up a Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance no less; Energetics Technology has shipped their stuff to the U Missouri technology incubator. The Vice Provost for Research at U Missouri Columbia is a cold-fusion crank. Another reason to be glad UNL joined the Big Ten.

How exactly was Bob Kerrey helping 'sustain research' for a company based on loony new-age ideas about quantum gravity waves and the universe, which has gone a decade without showing a single reproducible result? Why was what he did worth $0.8 m? Before we send him back to the Senate to vote on energy policy, he needs to answer what he was doing for this company, and why he didn't consult mainstream scientists before getting involved. I know several first rate physicists at UNL who would be delighted to set him straight. Or is this just the same old Cosmic Bob?

Added 4/27/2012: Deena Winter now has a story in the Washington Examiner that mentions Kerrey's work for Energetics Technologies

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