Monday, 11 September, 2000
Arthur C Clarke demands cold
By BBC New Online's Jonathan Amos
The author and visionary Sir Arthur C Clarke says society has made a
huge mistake in rejecting out of hand the idea that cold fusion may be
And he mocked editors and journalists at the British Association's
Festival of Science for not giving the technology serious
He said the age of fossil fuels was coming to an end and society
needed to find new sources of energy. Cold fusion or other "anomalous
sources of energy" might just turn out to be the answer, he said.
Cold fusion first hit the headlines in 1989 when researchers Martin
Fleishmann and Stanley Pons suggested it was possible to generate heat
through the fusion of atoms at normal temperatures.
But when leading scientists failed to reproduce their results and
ab0339was dismissed as nonsense.
Crooks and cranks
However, the research has gone on, with little funding and
largely underground, and Sir Arthur said the results coming out of
some labs demanded attention.
"Over the last decade there have been literally hundreds of reports
from all over the world from highly qualified people and distinguished
institutions of anomalous sources of energy," he said in a recorded
video address to the festival.
"They may or may not be cold fusion and in some cases have nothing to
do with nuclear power.
"Although there are lots of crooks, cranks and cowboys in this field,
I believe there is now enough published evidence to prove that
something strange is going on."
He urged journalists to do serious investigation so that they
could "start to see the future".
Sir Arthur also said he believed we were entering the Carbon Age. He
prophesised that the discovery of molecules like C60 - the soccer
ball-shaped cage of carbon atoms - would lead to extraordinary new
"We will soon have materials a hundred times stronger than any metal
and perhaps weighing no more than ordinary plastics," he said.
"Their impact on every aspect of life will be enormous: buildings that
are kilometres high, and land, sea and air vehicles that are only a
fraction of their present weight."