Case Studies in Earth & Environmental Science Journalism

Cold Fusion.

Questions to Ponder and Discuss

  1. How would you have addressed the issue of FPH being unpublished at the time of the announcement? How was this handled by the media?

  2. Is Gary Taubes' (Science 1990) article fair? After reading John Bockris' quotes in the Wired article, do you feel differently?

  3. Does the fact that the published "articles" are mostly in the form of letters and rebuttals effect their validity?

  4. (See the comment at the end of the April 27, 1989 Nature article.) Would the fact that a referee chose to write a comment on an article effect your impression of its validity? Also consider the Erratum 1989 article in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry in the same light.

  5. How would you have covered this story after the original press conference? How would you have later updated the story given the criticism of Pon's and Fleischmann's reported findings?

  6. What do you think of the Newsweek cover story (May 8, 1989)? Do you think it was well rounded and objective?

  7. What do you think of the Wired and the New York Times articles (most recent) revisiting this story? How would you have revisited this story in an article if this was your assignment?


Background information:

Mallove, Eugene F. 1991. "Claiming the 'Impossible'". Chapter 3; Fire and Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Media Coverage:

Mallove, Eugene F. 1991. "Fusion Confusion and Scientifico-Media Madness" Chapter 16: Fire from Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Scientific Articles:

Fleischmann, M., S. Pons, and M. Hawkins. 1989. Electrochemically induced nuclear fusion of deuterium. J. Electroanal. Chem., 261: 301-308.

Fleischmann, M., S. Pons, and M. Hawkins. 1989. Erratum. J. Electroanal. Chem., 263:187.

Jones, S. E., E. P. Palmer, J. B. Czirr, D. L. Decker, G. L. Jensen, J. M. Thorne, S. F. Taylor and J. Rafelski. 1989. Observation of cold nuclear fusion in condensed matter. Nature 338: 737-740.

Carpenter, J. M. Cold fusion: what's going on? 1989. Nature 338: 711.

Petrasso, R. D. et al. 1989. Problems with the g-ray spectrum in the Fleischmann et al. Experiments. Nature 339: 183-185.

Fleischmann, M. et al. 1989. Measurements of g-rays from cold fusion. Petrasso, et al. Reply. Nature 339: 667-668.

Energy Research Advisory Board to the United States Department of Energy. 1989. Cold Fusion Research. DOE Document #E.1.60:0073.

Jones, S. E. 1991. Nuclear reactions in deuterided solids versus excess heat claims. Fusion Technology 20: 915-923.

Cold fusion papers and publications statistics. 1999. Chemistry Department Aarhus University.

Popular Articles:

Taubes, F. "Cold Fusion Conundrum at Texas A&M". June 15, 1990. Science 248: 1299-1304.

Broad, W. J. "Cold Fusion Claim is Faulted on Ethics as Well as Science". March 17, 1991. New York Times. Section 1, page 1.

Broad, W. J. "From Top of Their World to Professional Ostracism". March 17, 1991. New York Times, Section 1, page 30.

Marcus, M. "The Resurrection of Cold Fusion". September 1994. USA Today Magazine. Pp. 55-57.

Platt, C. "What if Cold Fusion is Real?" and "Cold Fusionaires". November 1998. Wired Magazine.

Broad, W. J. "A Tempest in a Test Tube, 10 Years Later". March 23, 1999. New York Times/Science Times. Section F, page 3.

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