Cold fusion is an energy source that could provide clean water to Planet Earth, zero-emission vehicles with unlimited mileage, a solution to the climate crisis and much more. It is clean, compact, simple, inexhaustible and . . . physically impossible. At least that is what science has considered since an infamous and rejected scientific claim in 1989.
But in January 2011 the Italian inventor Andrea Rossi demonstrated a sloppily-wrapped device that boiled water with heat emanating from something that seemed to be cold fusion.
Too good to be true, some said. Fraud, according to others.
A Swedish technology journalist was one of the few who chose to take Rossi seriously. In An Impossible Invention we follow his search for the truth about Rossi and the strange device — the E-Cat. He shows that the impossible seems to be possible, that the world faces fundamental change.
Mats Lewan is a technology and science journalist, author and speaker. He works as a staff writer at the Swedish technology magazine Ny Teknik and has worked internationally as a freelance journalist and reporter at CBS Cnet News. Lewan holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Physics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden where he lives with his wife and two children.
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Book review by Nobel Laureate Dr. Brian Josephson, published as a comment on Nature.com:
The highlight of the week was the publication of Mats Lewan’s book ‘An Impossible Invention’, subtitled The true story of the energy source that could change the world. The author, a science and technology writer, has been investigating the controversial Rossi reactor or E-cat in depth in the 3 years since its initial presentation in Bologna in January 2011.
The first part of the book covers Andrea Rossi’s previous inventions, showing how life is not easy for an inventor whose inventions pose a threat to other enterprises. This is followed by what Lewan has been able to glean about the invention since the initial demonstration, purportedly of a fusion device creating some kW of heat.
Besides following the course of developments in detail, Lewan gives much attention to the question of whether the device is genuine, or whether fraud is involved. One important event was a long-period investigation, published at arXiv:1305.3913, providing strong evidence of the production of anomalous heat. Particularly interesting to me, in the light of my past dealings with arxiv, was the text of an accidentally leaked exchange between two moderators, wondering if they could find a rationale for blocking that report.
In the course of his attempts to bring his device to a commercial conclusion, Rossi had problems with collaborators, being suspicious of their motives, but it seems he has found an (undisclosed) American firm that he trusts, who have been licensed to develop the device. This fascinating book provides the answers to many questions about the E-cat, and should be read by all skeptics. –Brian Josephson