Tonight’s “60 Minutes” had a piece on the resurgence of interest in a field of Energy Physics known as ‘Cold Fusion’. As the description for the piece from “60 Minutes’” website reads:
COLD FUSION IS HOT AGAIN: Presented in 1989 as a revolutionary new source of energy, cold fusion was quickly dismissed as junk science. But today, the buzz among scientists is that these experiments produce a real physical effect that could lead to monumental breakthroughs in energy production.
Cold Fusion, in a nutshell, is a process by which (under the right circumstances) more energy is generated from an experiment than the actual energy put into the experiment. When palladium (a naturally occurring, albeit rare, metal) is connected to electrodes, placed in deuterium (a derivative of hydrogen)-enriched water and has an electric current running through it, there is supposedly more heat generated in the water than there should be. It is that excess of heat that has gotten a small part of the scientific community buzzing again.
Said buzzing is spreading beyond just the academic science community. This time around, even DARPA (the government research agency backed by the Department of Defense) is reviewing the scientific work. And the tech-toys would get MUCH cooler for us Gear Diary-readers, as well. To paraphrase Michael McKubre, Director of Energy Research at SRI, we could be looking at purchasing a laptop that come out of the box with more battery power than you could ever need during its lifetime. Automobiles that run on power packs that we would replace once every three to four years.
If (and I do stress ‘If‘) the theories are correct and the experiments are ultimately proven valid, it could lead to a fundamental change in how we as a country (if not a planet) use energy. We could finally begin the migration away from being a petroleum-oriented society. Future automobiles could be emission free. Coal-fired power plants would become a thing of the past. Developments such as these would ultimately lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gases, the major culprits in Global Warming.
Granted, right now this could still be the Grand-Mack-Daddy of Vaporware for the scientific community, back from it’s extended world tour by way of Fantasyland. But right now, I don’t believe it hurts to dream.
And as Martin Fleischmann, the disgraced scientist of the 1989 experiments in Cold Fusion stated, “[T]he potential is exciting.”
So the question I have for you is: What not-quite-ready-for-primetime technology are you drooling over and can’t wait to see reach it’s commercial fruition?