NASA LaRC Responds to Critic’s Inquiry

The administrator of the web site NASA Watch, Keith Cowing, submitted several questions to NASA in order to get further clarification on the LENR research being conducted there.  Mr. Cowing has been a critic of NASA’s involvement  in this controversial area of research since the January 12 video featuring Dr. Joseph Zawodny.  He authored two articles, Quack Science: Why Are NASA Glenn and Langley Funding Cold Fusion Research? and Why is NASA Langley Wasting Time on Cold Fusion Research?   after the January video. He authored a third article, Official NASA Langley Cold Fusion Video Now Online , after the latest video by Dr. Joseph Zawodny just a couple of weeks ago.  Needless to say, Mr. Cowing is not in favor of NASA pursuing this line of research.

NASA Watch is not officially associated with NASA or any government agency. The site merely reports NASA-related news.  However, Mr. Cowing has appeared in the American national media, including television and radio, hundreds of times by his own estimation, and his writings  have been referenced by a variety of congressional committees regarding NASA activities. So Mr. Cowing, through his site and other writings, seems to be a defacto NASA watch dog, and one who is taken quite seriously in some quarters.  He apparently has received formal training in astrobiology and rocket science.

In any event, given his growing consternation over cold fusion research being done at NASA, Mr. Cowing sent NASA officials a number of questions regarding the ongoing cold fusion/LENR research being done at the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC).  After a period of time with his questions going unanswered, Dennis Bushnell and Dr. Joe Zawodny did in fact answer the questions, numbering 10 in total. To read the questions and answers,  go here. For the convenience of the readers of this site, I have also taken the liberty of posting them below. However, I would strongly recommend readers view this material at their original source AND provide a comment in the section below the article on that site. As is usually case when the subject of cold fusion comes up, opinions and comments are divided. Unfortunately, Mr. Cowing continues to perpetuate the fairy tales and prejudices that have long been associated with cold fusion. For example, Mr. Cowing continues to make ridiculous and unfounded assertions, such as the results of cold fusion  experiments are not reproducible, researchers have not done due diligence to exclude other explanations for their findings, and that cold fusion researchers in aggregate have not been following the rules that govern science.

While I actually find it reassuring that someone like Mr. Cowing is keeping an eye on how tax payer’s dollars are being spent, and find it refreshing that Mr. Cowing is calling for more public disclosure regarding NASA’s ongoing cold fusion/LENR research, I find it absolutely appalling that he is attacking an entire field of research for lack of due diligence when he himself has not done the same. More disturbing still, is that in recent comments Mr. Cowing has resulted to name calling and personal attacks towards a couple of posters who have tried to lead him to the evidence and documentation that he claims does not exist. Unfortunately, this is the same level of hypocrisy and “scientific inquiry” that has been displayed all too often when it comes to opposing this technology.

*****

LENR RESPONSES TO NASA WATCH -provided by Dennis Bushnell, Langley senior scientist and Joseph Zawodny, LENR principal investigator

1. Who is funding this Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) research at LaRC?

Langley is funding LENR research as an initial, exploratory study of a low technology readiness level, high-risk, high-payoff technology through its Creativity & Innovation (C&I) fund and the Center Innovation Fund (CIF).

2. How much has been spent to date on this LENR research and how much will be spent?

The average yearly cost for the approximately 3.5 years of the research thus far is about $222,000 for a total of about $778,000. The research is ongoing, and another $212,000 is budgeted for the remainder of FY 2012.

3. Who is the PI listed on this research?

Dr. Joseph Zawodny

4. What individual(s) made the decision to fund this research?

Langley’s Center Leadership Council (CLC) made the original decision to support the LENR research. The annual C&I continuations of this funding were approved by the Langley Science Council, which is comprised of Langley senior scientists. With regard to CIF, the LaRC Chief Technologist approved funding of LENR research using the CIF peer review process.

5. Was a formal proposal submitted?

A proposal was presented by the PI for consideration to the Center Leadership Council and another proposal was submitted to the Center Innovation Fund.

If so can you provide that proposal?

This documentation reflects the internal deliberative process for Agency decisions. In order to protect the Agency’s decision-making process by ensuring open and frank advice and recommendations are provided to Center leadership, this documentation is not being provided. This documentation may also contain information that would not be released on the basis of other considerations (e.g. intellectual property).

Was this an unsolicited proposal or did LaRC ask the submitter to provide a proposal?

The proposal to the CLC was made as part of an ongoing process of presenting technologies of potential interest to the CLC for decisions on funding and resource allocation. The proposal to the Center Innovation Fund was in response to a broad call for technologies relevant to NASA’s priorities.

http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/strategic_integration/grand_challenges_detail.html

6. Was this LENR research peer reviewed prior to being given funding?

It was reviewed initially by the CLC. C&I funding continuations are contingent on an annual peer review by the Langley Science Council. Both the CIF proposal and the C&I continuation proposals were peer reviewed.

If so, please provide a copy of internal reviews and a link to the LaRC process whereby this review was conducted. If no peer review was provided, can you explain what process LaRC used to determine that this research was worth funding?

The CIF and C&I review processes are attached (Note: we are currently updating the C&I process to reflect that HQ no longer requires reports and the Innovation Panel is being replaced by the Science Council). Additional information pertaining to the CIF is available at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/early_stage_innovation/innovation_fund/index.html.

Internal reviews are not being provided because they reflect the internal deliberative process for Agency decisions. This documentation may also contain information that would not be released on the basis of other considerations (e.g. intellectual property).

7. Did anyone at NASA headquarters had a role in deciding whether this research was to be funded?

No.

If so, who was involved?

N/A

8. Does LaRC provide NASA HQ with status reports on this research?

Yes, updates and information in general about CIF projects are provided to NASA HQ. Last fall, Langley briefed the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT), with representatives from the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and the NASA Office of the Chief Engineer present. As part of the general CIF review process, there was also a briefing at Langley, with copies provided to OCT, in June 2011.

9. What publications have resulted from this NASA-funded research? (references/links
requested)

A patent application has been published. Reference U.S. Patent Publication Number 2011/0255645.

10. Are contractors, subcontractors, consultants, or advisors employed to conduct this research? If so, please identify these individuals/companies/institutions

An activity was issued under NASA Langley’s cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, VA, to scope an LENR access-to-space rocket. To date, this is the only contract action taken by NASA Langley in support of LENR research.

*****

While these answers do not provide any significant new information, there are a couple of interesting notes. First, we finally are provided a number with regards the amount of money that is being expended by NASA for this research, just over $220,000/year (for the last 3.5 years). This amount is a pittance. At the going rate, it would merely pay the annual salary of 2 theoretical physicists. Secondly, it is claimed that no one at NASA HQ had to approve this funding. Even at MIT apparently funding has to be approved by everyone in the physics department, so I wonder why no one in the top brass at NASA had to give the go ahead. Perhaps the people at NASA are more enlightened and less in need of inserting their egos into scientific decisions. Lastly, we have the name of the company that NASA has contracted to do preliminary studies on their space rocket. Again, it is curious that NASA has taken this step if the research is still in the very preliminary stages. Despite the novelty of the NASA device to test WLT, and regardless of its actual utility, I have the feeling that the information that was recently released (in late May) is old news. If one is subcontracting studies for a space plane, more than likely you are beyond making little tiles glow in the dark.

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41 Responses to NASA LaRC Responds to Critic’s Inquiry

  1. Ben says:

    The Progress made in the Different Fields of Nuclear Fusion

    The article discusses cold fusion and the e-Cat about halfway down the page

    http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/The-Progress-made-in-the-Different-Fields-of-Nuclear-Fusion.html

  2. Ben says:

    An explanation of low energy nuclear reactions (cold fusion)

    New cold fusion paper by Dr. Edmund Storms

    lenr-canr.org/acrobat/StormsEanexplanat.pdf

    • Roger Bird says:

      27 pages and no pictures or graphs. Please, Ben, how about a synopsis for us folks with IQs of 96%ile or less?

      (:->)

    • Alan DeAngelis says:

      Pardon me. I’ve gone nuts again after reading Dr. Storms’ paper.
      Maybe the calcium oxide (CaO) in the Iwamura system might mop up any protons that might be formed if an octahedral hexadeuteride palladium(0) complex, [PdD6]6-, is created in the Pd layer.

      6D2 + Pd(0) > [PdD6]6- + 6H+ (protons)

      [PdD6]6- + 6H+ (protons) + 3CaO > Ca3 [PdD6] + 3 H2O

      • Alan DeAngelis says:

        Sorry any deuterons formed,

        6D2 + Pd(0) > [PdD6]6- + 6D+ (deuterons)

        [PdD6]6- + 6D+ (deuterons) + 3CaO > Ca3 [PdD6] + 3 D2O

  3. Winebuff says:

    Obviously this cowing guy has his head up his rocket motor. This is a classic right wing smear campaign veiled as a NASA watchdog. These people want to stop any science whatsoever. LENR is peanuts. If he were a real watchdog he wouldn’t be going for such a pittance of a project. He is a paid Schill from any number of right wing nuts. My bet is he’s a complete fraud he asks no scientific questions because he has no background in it!

    • Roger Bird says:

      Winebuff, your handle tells me all that I need to know about you. I am a right winger. I support LENR. I also support any attempt to reduce the size of all 51 of our governments. And I am not rich. Before they reduce my Social Security, I hope that they reduce the size of government so much that my wife’s income skyrockets and we don’t become homeless.

      Big government is unfree. It is as simple as that. Just an hour ago I had to drive for an hour to get some raw milk that your beloved big governments are doing everything that they possibly can to keep out of my hands. It is none of their fracking business what I eat, and their conceptions of what is healthy is wrong and unscientific and out-of-date. The FDA is a whole owned subsidiary of Big Pharma, and that is what happens with big government. Big Government is ALWAYS behind the times.

    • Bernie Koppenhofer says:

      I have found the editing of comments on the NASA Watch site run by Keith Cowing to be intellectually dishonest. Mr. Cowing allows only the posts he wants to answer.

      • Joe Martin says:

        All you people seem to want to do is call people names and suggest that those who do not agree with you are part of some conspiracy.

        • Roger Bird says:

          Joe, we just want to call censors names and people who refuse to look at the data pathoskeptics. We don’t fault people for not agreeing with us if they look at the data.

          • Joe Martin says:

            See Roger, you just did it too. Did it ever occur to you folks that skeptics or people who are still not up to date on this topic might pay a little more attention if you tried to educate them — and not engage in name calling the moment they diverge from your way of thinking?

            • Roger Bird says:

              Joe, may I respectfully inform you that there are censors among those putting out reports about LENR and that we have had several people, including Craig Binns and maryyugo, who came here and criticized and criticized and slanderized and slanderized and lied and lied but won’t read the confirming pages that we presented to them. One such page is: http://nickelpower.org/2011/12/30/replicators-as-if-december-30-2011/ But it is not the only one.

              If we put down people who don’t agree with us, I am ashamed and I apologize. I assume that we only slam those who refuse to look at the data and then put LENR down. Craig Binns was with us for many months, criticizing and lying and slandering constantly, without ever looking at the evidence. It became very frustrating to correspond with him.

              I myself came here as a skeptic. I don’t recall anyone putting me down. But I bothered to look at the evidence. Mike McKubre’s video was very convincing for me.

              Joe, you will eventually notice that there are levels of confirmation and things that need to be confirmed. LENR as a laboratory phenomena is absolutely confirmed in my mind. LENR-on-steroids, with scalding water blasting from a hose for example, is 95% confirmed for me. Controllable LENR-on-steroids is 51% confirmed for me. Controllable LENR-on-steroids ready for market is not confirmed for me.

              ADMIN NOTE: Roger, this post got redirected by the spam filter for some reason. Just saw it there when I was cleaning it out.

  4. DDearborn says:

    Hmmm

    And one more comment about all the hand wringing over a tiny research grant of less than 1 million dollars. The combined US flight now operating in the Middle East costs more than that for operating 1 hour. So lets try and keep a little more realistic perspective on the money. Considering that this technology could save the world from global warming not to mention a trillion a year in energy costs it is amazing to me that any sane, rational ethical person would call into question such a small amount of research money. Are these people paid shills for the 1%. It certainly sounds like it to me. And since when do so many people care about people being scammed. Good lord people are scammed a thousand times a day and yet I don’t hear a peep in protest from the likes of these professional naysayers… Good grief have you no shame?

    • Roger Bird says:

      DDearborn, your perspective on the amount of money is right on. But, again, I will not be persuaded into your extreme left wing vision of the world. Countries with extreme left wing governments are ALWAYS $hit holes (North Korea [the $hit hole champion of the world], Zimbabwe, Burma, Soviet Union, Cuba, etc.). Countries with economic freedom ALWAYS have prosperity and freedom (Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Chile, Canada, USA, etc. What a coincidence!!! Your vision of how things should be is based upon great philosophy (Marxism, etc) and great emotions (hatred, envy, etc), yet countries that switch to government based upon such ideas and feelings ALWAYS fail. I wonder why that is.

      By the way, Norway and Sweden are socialistic, but they are doing OK. How come? Because their socialism was not based upon hatred and envy. (And it helps that they are homogeneous societies.)

  5. DDearborn says:

    Hmmm
    Of course what no one seems to want to say is that literally trillions of dollars in profits derived from oil, gas and coal hang in the balance. It would be beyond naive to suggest that the people that control and profit from these fossil fuels would stand idly by and allow a new cheap tecnology to free the world from their tyranny. So clearly it doesn’t matter whether this works or not. It will never,ever be allowed to reach commerical production. To many criminals with to much time and money stand in the way. People this isn’t about conspiracy theories any more, it is about the power of the 1% to protect its illgotten windfall profits from oil, gas, and coal.

    • Roger Bird says:

      DDearborn, I hope that few if any people on this blog share your paranoia, resentment, and envy. Yes, many businesses will be hurt. But successful investors are nimble and know that change happens. Are they criminals? Only in your socialist mind that does not think that risk taking, responsibility taking, and vision are economic virtues.

  6. Ged says:

    “This amount is a pittance.”

    Really? This amount is the same as an NIH RO1 grant (the highest there are) for biology research. Put another way, they are getting the same yearly amount as the best we biologists can ever get per grant. If you think this money is a pittance, then maybe we should start looking at research funding in general in this country.

    The funds aren’t paying their salary, just research materials and any individuals they may hire (such as post docs, which go for around 40k a year).

  7. Alan DeAngelis says:

    “A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.”

    Isaac Asimov

    Forcing NASA to account for every penny in their R&D budget will be the perfect way to guaranty that nothing new will be explored there. Instead of a waste of our tax dollars we can have a total waste of our tax dollars.

    • alaincoe says:

      Perfect answer.
      This is the cause we nealy discover nothing unexpected since few decades, when regulation of budget, democratic control, anti-statism, get popular.

  8. Brad Arnold says:

    Wheither NASA “researches” LENR or not is irrelivant to the field since there are plenty of private individuals and companies pursuing it, and furthermore once LENR is successfully commercialized there will be a flood of R&D in the field. On the other hand, Mr Cowing sounds like a typical of the people I come into contact with each day. When he is proven wrong, he will simply rationalize how he has acted, and continue without missing a beat on some other misguided attempt at being a “critic.” Oh well – no wonder Congress listens to him (birds of a feather).

    • alaincoe says:

      you are right today, but 20 years ago when no serious business man would have invested a million on LENR, well funded, well shared, well supported mainstream LENR research would have brought applications in few years, not 2 decades.

      Even research done by Feishman was, according to him, too conservative, missing innovative thinking, because the sponsor, toyota(?), was forbiding crazy trials.
      That make him miss gas loading, nickel hydrogen, ..
      note also that the fact that NASA GRC kept in the drawer their gas loading result, with huge anomalous heat but few neutrons, prevented people like fleishman to test this protocol…

      doing risky but public interest investment is the job of state… not to do easy predictable research (private do that well), but fundamental or uncertain research… few succeed, but the success pay for all failures, and if not straight from patent and spin off, at least from GDP growth and employment. Hard to patent fundament research is profitable for state, because state take profit from everybody profit.

      Apollo is the origin of Microsoft, Apple, IBM leadership.
      French nuclear bomb, and strategic missile research is the origin of Areva and Arianespace.
      Leonardo Da Vinci was financed by the king (of France), like most sientist wad in that period…

      State and private research are needed, for different reasons.

      • Roger Bird says:

        alaincoe, where in the US Constitution does it say “doing risky but public interest investment is the job of state”? Following the Constitution is how this country became a great nation. We did not become a great nation because we are so wonderful. And North Korea became a $hit-hole not because the North Koreans are a bunch of bad people but because they either have no constitution or it does not limit government and promote individual freedom or they don’t bother to follow it.

        So, please tell me where it says in the Constitution that our government should be doing research? And please tell me how much money Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and Steve Jobs, etc. etc. got from government to do their research?

        • alaincoe says:

          reading the manual, applyin all the manual and only the manual is a good way to make a perfect failure.

          that is what private industry, what military operation, show.
          Hopefully, at least until few decades, books , constitutions, bibles, koran, were read with some… intelligence.
          it is clear that your political ideas prevent you to accept facts…
          that is your right.
          read also the article of anthony guiddens on globalization, Tradition and integrism
          http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/events/reith_99/week3/week3.htm
          I’ll be rude, but hopefully and sadly the constitution have never been respected fully, perfectly, word by word.
          Talibans are the example of what happend whe you red the book word by word.

          read also about Risk
          http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/events/reith_99/week2/week2.htm
          those article are like red whine, getting better with age.

          • Roger Bird says:

            It is only fair that we all sign-off on the same thing. If you want government to do something that is not in the Constitution, then you have to change the Constitution. Otherwise you are inviting tyranny like North Korea.

  9. Anony Mole says:

    Never heard of Cowing but frankly I like his proactive nature. This IS government spending using TAX payer money y’all. If Cowing has an anti-LENR agenda I sure didn’t read that in his questions. They could have been applied to any government project (and probably have). Now, that said, if he flinches from exposing, oh, say flagrant abuses in the disbursement of taxpayer money for such things as supporting the oil industry: http://www.fossil.energy.gov/news/techlines/2012/12021-Ultra_Deepwater_Projects_Selected.html as an example ($56m over 4 years for just these projects), then yes, I’d say the guy has a suspicious tendency to dis LENR. If you can find any proof of this we’d all be delighted to learn of it? Otherwise, I’d say the guy is doing the U.S. taxpayer a favor; due diligence and all that. Nice to know that NASA is generally on the up and up with their business practices. Compare that to the DOE, now that’s a pork barrel pie if there ever was one.

    • Roger Bird says:

      Anony Mole, I am going to make a wild guess and say that your libertarian interpretation is incorrect and that Keith Cowing is pro-hot-fusion. I could be wrong, but that was the spin I got on the article. Perhaps, he just wants NASA to work properly and cutting spending on projects that are a waste of money is one way to do it.

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  11. psi says:

    Just to report back, I tried to post several brief comments on Cowing’s website. I was immediately blocked from making any post. This is actually to my knowledge the first time that I have categorically been banned from discussion on a site (or else I just can’t remember very well….:). So, I would say that action, as Aesop might say, speaks volumes.

    • Ben says:

      All comments on that site are moderated and have to be approved before they are posted.

      • psi says:

        Hi Ben,

        I received an explicit message that I had been blocked. Unless that message was an error, I was blocked within five minutes of making a series of critical comments pointing out some of the absurdities of the position being advocated in re LENR. In one of my responses, I noted how prominently the idea of “flying saucers” was used as a comparison for LENR, both them being things for which there is “no evidence.” I found such rhetoric intriguing coming from a website that promotes itself as some sort of authoritative source on the definition of “science.”

        In my rejoinder, I explicitly included UFOs as something for which, like LENR only perhaps less so, there is in fact a great deal of credible and otherwise inexplicable evidence that would be accounted for by the theories of those who postulate that these unidentified objects actually are *sometimes* alien craft of some kind. Saying that out loud should not make one an enemy of “science” or afford the slightest real subject for criticism. Any unprejudiced person who has examined even a little of the actual evidence after sorting out the obvious and frequent hoaxes will conclude as much. It is hardly to endorse as proven the hypothesis in question — merely to suggest that treating the hypothesis as without substantiation is unconscionably ideological, suggesting an imitation of the Ostrich hiding it’s own head in the dunes. I find it amusing that such a comment would be blocked, but maybe that’s just my own sense of the absurd and too many decades contemplating how our world seems to work, despite the best intentions of the somewhat honest people to achieve a kinder and more authentically human world.

        Cheers, Psi

        • Ben says:

          It seems like Cowing has been quite busy deleting posts over the last couple of days. It’s kind of ironic that sniping critic doesn’t like sniping critics. Like I said, the guy has all the hallmarks of a hypocrite. Go figure.

          I would like to thank you for taking the time to put your 2 cents in though PSI. The readers of that site may not have been able to read your insightful and informative thoughts, but the readers of this site have had that privilege and, more importantly, so did Mr. Cowing.

          • psi says:

            Yep, I can snipe with the best of them, especially the ones that snipes me out with a ban. People who think they can effectively censor the internet have problems. These problems are even greater when said people go about saying, about matters of the importance of LENR or, for that matter, UFOs, that “after a while it all starts to sound the same” as a way of discrediting at discussion they started, and expect everyone to agree with them. Sorry, you don’t have any special magic. Some us went to college and do want to be counted among the somewhat more honest people.

            Anyway, thanks for the kind words, Ben. You have great discussion on the site.

    • GreenWin says:

      Likewise banned in the “Real Climate” censor style. Cowing is obviously a paid troll – probably working for oil, coal or fission to try and kill LENR. We can expect to see more to these attacks from self-anointed “experts” who are desperate to retain totalitarian control of the human race.

      • psi says:

        O, Real Climate huh, do you read Watt’s Up? Even though I don’t agree with a lot of the political opinions expressed there, I find it a fascinating read and it has brought me over from the warmer camp. I think we are more likely to be cooling substantially for one reason or another during the next century — making LENR an even more inviting proposition.

  12. psi says:

    And it goes without saying as far as I am concerned that the original article is also superb — in fact it is the hallmark I think of a really informed commentary of this kind that is so packed with relevant information that there’s a lot more of interest to say about it — thanks “Admin.”

  13. psi says:

    “If one is subcontracting studies for a space plane, more than likely you are beyond making little tiles glow in the dark.”

    Ya think?

  14. Art says:

    Any fool can snipe from the sidelines and Cowing has never done anything else so I’m not surprised at his behaviour here.

  15. Roger Bird says:

    There is way more interesting stuff here than noted in the article. First, there was no attempt to hide or evade the the answerer other than the usual bureaucratic and privacy issues. Second, the questions did not include ANY scientifically valid points whatsoever. In other words, all they have is an attempt to intimidate, which it looks like they failed at. They have no science.

Comments are closed.