Bursting the Fusion Bubble

Fresh questions surrounding Rusi Taleyarkhan’s work on bubble fusion, are raised today in an exclusive news report online in the journal Nature.

Purdue University nuclear engineer Taleyarkhan, came to prominence in
2002 when he claimed to have achieved table-top nuclear fusion in collapsing bubbles. If the effect were real, and could be harnessed, it could provide us with effectively unlimited energy at very little cost.

However, several of Taleyarkhan’s colleagues at Purdue have revealed to the journal that their confidence in his work and results has been seriously dented since he arrived in their department in 2004. Faculty members Lefteri Tsoukalas and Tatjana Jevremovic, along with several others who do not wish to be named, say that since Taleyarkhan began working at Purdue, he has removed the equipment with which they were trying to replicate his work, claimed as ‘positive’, experimental runs for which they never saw the raw data, and opposed the publication of their own negative results.

Moreover, UCLA’s Brian Naranjo is submitting a paper to Physical Review Letters that provides an analysis of Taleyarkhan’s recently published data. The conclusions strongly suggests that Taleyarkhan did not detect fusion, but a standard lab source of radioactivity. This latest episode seems certain to burst the bubble, but Nature leaves a caveat in their press release on this subject:

“Bubble fusion is theoretically possible,” the journal says, “but do these latest findings spell the end for this particular line of enquiry?”

Well, perhaps it isn’t their place to actual wield the needle, but on the basis of Naranjo’s study it certainly looks like the bubble has gone pear-shaped to say the least.

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