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Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion [Hardcover]

Gary Taubes
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)


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Book Description

June 15, 1993 0394584562 978-0394584560 1st
A science journalist brings to life one of the greatest scientific frauds of our times with the story of the two obscure researchers who claimed to have discovered a clean, no-fuss method for harnessing the energy of a hydrogen bomb. 20,000 first printing.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Science journalist Taubes's chronicle of the cold-fusion episode is an engrossing cautionary tale. In 1989, University of Utah chemist Stanley Pons and his British collaborator Martin Fleischman made headlines worldwide with their announcement that they had created a sustained nuclear fusion reaction at room temperature in a chemistry lab. Their simple device supposedly promised a clean, virtually inexhaustible source of energy. But Taubes ( Nobel Dreams ), who has reported on cold fusion for the New York Times , faults Pons and Fleischman for amateurish, flawed experimental techniques and for offering "virtually no data" to support their claim. Pons is now working for a Japanese company, and Japan's Ministry of Trade and Industry is heavily funding a cold-fusion research program. Taubes considers these latest developments part of an ongoing fiasco--the quasi-scientific pursuit of a nonexistent phenomenon. He steers readers smoothly through the technical details in this scientific detective story.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cold fusion never existed. Even though its "discovery" by two University of Utah chemists--Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman--was proclaimed with fanfare in 1989, the idea has been thoroughly discredited. As Taubes demonstrates in this well-documented account, cold fusion was "bad science" from the outset. The researchers rushed to announce their discovery to ensure primacy and, by circumventing peer review, introduced political and economic pressures into the scientific process. Taubes interviewed many of the key players in the controversy (although Pons and Fleischman refused his requests) and thus gives an insider's view of what happened--and why. Eugene Mallove's Fire from Ice ( LJ 6/1/91) also critically appraises cold fusion, but Taubes's work is more comprehensive and also less strident. This cautionary tale puts cold fusion to rest and, more important, shows how science can be mishandled. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
- Gregg Sapp, Montana State Univ. Libs., Bo z eman
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 503 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (June 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394584562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394584560
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #866,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
(13)
2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The History of Cold Fusion -- In Depth February 17, 2001
By "bhb6"
Format:Hardcover
This book is excellent. It describes in amazing detail the events leading up to and following the "Cold Fusion" news conference. It's the story of how two scientists fooled themselves into believing that they were onto something so big that they had to claim credit for it -- fast. And it's the story of how the least qualified researchers quickly "confirmed" Cold Fusion, and how the best qualified researchers found nothing. If you're interested in how science is done, both well and poorly, read this book.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but protracted June 5, 1998
Format:Hardcover
The author does an excellent job in chronicling the saga and travail of cold fusion. The "lessons learned" are applicable to numerous technical fields, particularly where conclusions are drawn far ahead of substantiating evidence and critical peer review.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I read the book a few years after it came out and have referred back to it many times since. I view it as the story of greed running amuck with hack "scientists" taking many short cuts trying to cash on in a world changing bonanza. Yet, here we are 20+ years later and I have yet to see a public cold fusion demo running so much as a single light bulb.

Tip of the hat to Mr. Taubes for laying out the story. The 18 years since publication are pretty strong evidence that his conclusions were and still are on target.

I also view it as thought provoking for investors when they see some of the energy scams on Wall Street.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on cold fusion July 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book having only a cursory understanding of the subject matter (full disclosure: I am a PhD student in electrochemistry) and I thought that the book did a very good job explaining this strange story without getting too bogged down with details.

I personally believe that this should be a must read for all scientists as a lesson on how good people can fall into a hole and become blind to evidence staring them in the face. It also does a great job hammering in the importance of reproducing work and of properly doing controls. I honestly believe I have become a better scientist after reading this story.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book is an example of what happens when a Journalist decides to go to battle with scientists in a politicized arena of the press, and yellow press.

With this book and his other efforts Taubes helped destroy the career of Dr. Bockris (RIP), an esteemed Texas electrochemist, who had early, unexpected Tritium results from his LENR replication study. Now many labs including several national labs (Los Alamos, US Navy SPAWARS, China Lake) have replicated tritium production and destruction from energized metal hydrides.

Due in great part to the hysteria Taubes' created, Dr. Stanley Pons and Dr. Martin Fleishmann were denied serious academic review of their work.

See [...] for a compilation of evidence showing Taubes' self serving fabrications.

Now that we know how serious climate change is getting, the loss of 24 years head start getting clean safe nuclear power going really bites. Gary Taubes has a lot to answer for.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars alchemy June 25, 2013
By frogs
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
cold fusion is another alchemist dream for turning lead into gold... in this case violating basic physics to fuse elements at room temperature ...alchemy has enticed smart people by enticing them with dreams of wealth and recognition and this is exactly what Taubes shows in this book...its a recitation of how personal ambition served to lead experimental scientists searching for cold fusion to operate "positive outcome experiments" that were set up without basic controls and served to provide desired results, i.e., bad science. its also a good story about how chemists tried to do physics without understanding what they were doing. well the dream will never die there will always be a desire for gold.
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Likely to be a serious collector's item August 26, 2012
By Jeff
Format:Hardcover
Given what's been going on lately, I am definitely picking up a copy of this book. It seems likely to become a classic, although perhaps not quite in the way the author intended. I recommend you pick up a copy too, stash it away, and then pull it out in 10 years or so. I'm sure it will be very interesting then, very interesting indeed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars may be a collector's item
Gary Taubes should stick to nutrition books (Good Calories Bad Calories is highly recommended). This history of cold fusion started with the assumption that snake oil was being... Read more
Published 21 months ago by countryside
1.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Will Set You Free - But Not In This Book
You might want to check this link for a different perspective.

[...]

Never rush to judgement. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Wayne
1.0 out of 5 stars A Terrible Mistake which should be retracted!
Gary should be ashamed for taking the wrong side on this issue. The bad science was on the side that attacked cold fusion to keep their research contracts alive. Read more
Published on November 2, 2011 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Muddled account, overly long
You won't get a memorable account of what happened around the 1989 fake "discovery" of cold fusion from this book. Read more
Published on October 7, 2010 by Helen Atkinson
1.0 out of 5 stars Gary Taubes Has A Lot of Explaining To Do
Well, now it's 2004, eleven years after Gary Taubes eulogy to Cold Fusion, "Bad Science : The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion". Unfortunately for Mr. Read more
Published on November 7, 2004 by Romeo Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Taubes' book is seriously truncated and misleading
When the original Cold Fusion press conference was held on 3-23-89, the reaction of the physics establishment in the first world was immediate , orchestrated and highly hostile. Read more
Published on March 25, 1999 by mpirg@computerpro.com
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