Cold Fusion Is Hot Again

60 Minutes: Once Considered Junk Science, Cold Fusion Gets A Second Look By Researchers

60 Minutes wondered what Richard Garwin would think of the Defense Department's appraisal.

"The experiments leave 'no doubt that anomalous, excess heat is produced,'" Pelley told Garwin.

"Well, that's a statement," Garwin said. "I am living proof that there's doubt. Now, they can say that there, that excess heat is being produced. But they can't say there's no doubt. All they can say is they don't doubt. But I doubt."

"If you ask me, is this going to have any impact on our energy policy, it's impossible to say, because we don't fundamentally understand the process yet. But to say, because we don't fundamentally understand the process and that's why we're not going to study it, is like saying, 'I'm too sick to go to the doctor,'" Duncan argued.

"You know, I wonder how you feel about going public endorsing this phenomenon on 60 Minutes when maybe 90 percent, I'm guessing, of your colleagues think that it's crackpot science?" Pelley asked.

"I certainly was among those 90 percent before I looked at the data. And I can see where they'll be very concerned when they see this piece. All I have to say is: read the published results. Talk to the scientists. Never let anyone do your thinking for you," he replied.

There was one more scientist 60 Minutes wanted to find, a man who left America in disgrace and retired with his wife to the English countryside.

Martin Fleischmann, the man who announced cold fusion to the world, is hindered by years, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and maybe a little bitterness. At home, he pulled out an improved version of his experiment, something that he was working on when he was hounded out of science.

"When you hold that in your hand and you think back on what's happened these last 20 years, what do you think?" Pelley asked.

"A wasted opportunity," Fleischmann replied.

He thinks this way because it was discredited at the time.

He told Pelley he has two regrets: calling the nuclear effect "fusion," a name coined by a competitor, and having that news conference, something he says the University of Utah wanted.

"Now that you know that your experiments have been replicated and, and improved upon in labs all over the world I wonder, do you see a day when homes will be powered by these cells, when cars will be powered by these cells?" Pelley asked.

"I think so. It wouldn't take very long to implement this," Fleischman replied, laughing. "You make me feel that I should take a part in this?"

"I'm getting you interested again?" Pelley asked.

"Yes," Fleischmann replied, laughing. "The potential is exciting."
Produced by Denise Schrier Cetta