December 17, 2004
Colloquium Speaker: Dr. David J. Nagel
Dr. David Nagel received a B.S. degree (magna cum laude) in Engineering Science from the University of Notre Dame (1960) and graduate degrees from the University of Maryland (M.S. in Physics, 1969 and Ph.D. in Engineering Materials, 1977). He joined the civilian staff of the Naval Research Laboratory in 1964, where he held positions as a Research Physicist, Section Head, Branch Head and, finally, Superintendent of the Condensed Matter and Radiation Sciences Division. In this last position, Nagel was a member of the Senior Executive Service, and managed the experimental and theoretical research and development efforts of 150 government, contractor and other personnel. He has written or co-authored over 150 technical articles, reports, book chapters and encyclopedia articles. Nagel spent 30 years on active and reserve duty for the Navy and retired as a Captain in 1990. He became a Research Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science of The George Washington University in 1998. His current interests include applications of MEMS and nano-technologies, as well as low energy nuclear reactions.
The problems attending LENR (formerly called cold fusion) can be classified as systemic and technical. Breakdowns in communication between those involved in such research, and both the scientific community and the public, and also the difficulty in getting funding for the research, are systemic problems. The technical problems associated with LENR have included inadequate instrumentation, incomplete materials analysis, complex protocols and, most critically, early lack of reproducibility. Despite these problems, there has been major experimental progress in the past fifteen years. Dozens of "positive" experiments have been conducted by competent and credentialed investigators, who used adequate instrumentation, which was properly calibrated before, during and after the experiments. Reproducibility has improved significantly. The 11th International Conference was held in Marseilles in October of this year. An overview of that conference will be presented to illustrate the continual progress in the field. Several prospects for LENR are playing out now. A two-step plan to move toward returning the field to the status of an ordinary topic for scientific inquiry was developed several years ago and completed recently. The plan included, first, a comprehensive review of the literature (see the review at http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/Hagelsteinnewphysica.pdf) and, second, a national study conducted by the Department of Energy to determine the status of the field and to recommend what ought to be done. The structure of a LENR research program has been developed. The bottom line: despite many problems, nuclear reactions can occur at very low energies, so LENR appears to be real, and what to do about it seems clear.