While there seems to be a lull in proceedings with news regarding developments in cold fusion technology, I thought I would have a brief look at the possible “hoax” angle which the sceptics are still not ruling out. I came across an interesting article about fake scientific breakthroughs, written by Natalie Wolchover of Lifeslittlemysteries.com which made excellent reading.
Jumping for fun
On 1st April 1976, BBC Radio 2 astronomer Patrick Moore announced the approach of a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event. At 9:47 a.m., Moore claimed the planet Pluto would pass directly behind Jupiter and that their gravitational alignment would counteract the pull of Earth’s gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of this planetary alignment, they would experience a strange floating sensation. At 9:48, callers flooded the lines of BBC 2 with stories of their brief buoyant experiences.
In 1998, the online version of Nature pulled a classic April Fools’ Day by refering to the discovery of “a near-complete skeleton of a theropod [T. rex-like] dinosaur in North Dakota.” Dubbed Smaugia volans, paleontologists believe the dino “could have flown.” The skeleton was supposedly discovered by Randy Sepulchrave of the Museum of the University of Southern North Dakota. There is no University of Southern North Dakota. Smaug was the name of the dragon in JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” Sepulchrave was the 76th Earl of Groan in Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan. The earl believed that he was an owl, and leapt to his death from a high tower. He discovered too late that he could not fly.
Discovering the Big ‘Yin
In April 1996, Discover Magazine reported that physicists had discovered a new fundamental particle of matter: the bigon. Like other recent particle finds, the bigon reportedly flutters in and out of existence in mere millionths of a second. But unlike the others, this one is the size of a bowling ball.
Physicist Albert Manque and his colleagues at the Centre de l’Étude des Choses Assez Minuscules in Paris (neither of which exist) supposedly discovered the particle by accident, when a computer connected to one of their vacuum-tube experiments exploded. Despite claims that the bigon might be responsible for phenomena such as ball lightning, sinking souffles, and even spontaneous human combustion, the fake story generated a massive response from readers.
We are indebted to Natalie for providing us with a little light-hearted fun as the debate over cold fusion and LENR continues!
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