Thursday, 29 September 2011

Judging a discovery on the personality or character of the discoverer

A few days ago Andrea Rossi again called the blogger Steven Krivit a "snake" for posting that NASA had not been able to discern any additional energy gain from his eCat.

Here is his post:

The snake (Steven Krivit) has written in his blog that NASA made a not positive test with us. This is totally false. I am bound from a confidentiality agreement and I cannot give detailed information, but I can say that:
1- we are in contact with NASA, who wants to test our eCats to test the possibility to make them useful for their purposes.
2- NASA’s Dennis M. Bushnell has said publicly that NASA will buy an eCat as soon as it will be possible to test it.
3- Our relationship with NASA is totally positive.
In a separate statement, a snake’s acolyte wrote that the test we are going to do on the 6th of October will be always made with steam. Unfortunately, when you speak with these people you deal with persons that have real difficulties to understand a title of a newspaper if they are at the same time chewing a gum, but, just to avoid confusion I repeat that:
The measurements will be made on liquid water. We will have the steam produced from the reactor that will work in a closed loop, which is the primary circuit, and the steam itself exchanges heat with the liquid water in a secondary closed loop, so that the water is heated by the steam through the walls of a heat exchanger. We will measure the energy taking the delta-T of the water, the water, not of the steam not of the steam, not of the steam, therefore the issue of the quality of the steam has absolutely not importance, because we do not measure the energy from the steam !!!!!!!.
We could put in the primary circuit steam diathermic oil, glycol, coca cola: it is absolutely irrelevant which is the fluid in the primary circuit as for concerns the measurement of the energy because we measure the energy only multiplying the cubic meters of water flowing through the secondary circuit in one hour by the delta-T obtained subtracting, from the temperature of the water (liquid) of the secondary circuit at the exit from the heat exchanger, the temperature of the same liquid water at the input of the same heat exchanger.
Andrea Rossi - 29-09-2011

Some people thus claim that Rossi must be a fake by the ungenerous way in which he treats his critics.

However such behavior seems common among great discoverers of the past, as the following post shows, which was taken from the vortex listserver on September 29th 2011.

(From Man on Bridges)
In 1906, the Wrights knew *far* more about aerodynamics and the physics of flight
than anyone else in the world. They should have concentrated on what
they knew best, leaving other details to other experts. It was a waste of
time for them to work on engines at that stage in the development.

True, but you have to admit, those other engineers could have done a better
job then the Wright brothers, but those other engineers didn't for whatever
reason do it.

(From Jed Rothwell)
I know the reason why. It was the same reason Rossi has not gotten
professional assistance. Experts offered to help, but the Wrights refused.
As Harry Combs said, it was a "tragic" waste of their time. I know experts
who have offered to help Rossi at no cost, with no strings attached. He has
turned them down. Combs described the situation in 1907. It sounds familiar:

"The potential contracts were battered and bruised but obstinacy on both
sides -- the Wrights, and the men and groups with whom they were dealing.
The brothers seemed unable to come to an agreement with anyone, and even as
they stumbled from one collapsing deal to another in Europe, back in the
United States, through the continuing interest and efforts of Samuel Cabot
and his brother Godfrey, the capabilities of the Wrights flying machine were
brought directly to the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt . . ."

(Roosevelt's intervention is what finally turned the situation around.)

Robert Goddard did the same thing, by the way. He spent years of his time
and lots of Guggenheim's money trying to solve engineering problems that the
people at the University of California could have easily solved. They told
him they could. He ignored them. Actually, I think he blew them off, which
is what Rossi has done.

There is an important lesson in this. People here who think that Rossi is
some sort of loser or fake because he acts strange or because he has a bad
temper should read history. Read about Goddard, the Wrights, Edison,
Harrison, Davy (and the way he treated Faraday), Oppenheimer's behavior in
his rental house in the Virgin Islands, or Einstein's sex life. You will see
that these people acted abominably. They were as flaky as Rossi is, or
worse. You may suspect that Rossi is a thief and a double-dealer, but you
can be sure that Edison was. You may suspect Rossi puts on a fake demos and
hides the weaknesses of his device. Maybe he does, and maybe he does not.
There is no question that Edison did that, often, with panache. You need to
stop trying to judge this discovery based on the personality or morality of
the discover. That never works.

I could give dozens more examples. The converse is also true. Upstanding,
honest, reliable, well-educated, highly recommended, top-notch mainstream
scientists -- the kind of people who are appointed to important boards and
high positions in academia -- often make stupid mistakes. In some cases
during their entire career they do not come up with a single important
breakthrough. Any number of such people have made idiotic assertions about
cold fusion. In 1907 dozens of them made similar idiotic assertions that
airplanes cannot exist. In 1879 many of them went on record in major
journals and top newspapers asserting that Edison could not possibly have a
subdivided incandescent light -- such a thing is inherently impossible. (No
expert disputed that incandescent lights are possible. They had been
demonstrated for 20 years.) These were considered the top experts. They
thought they were experts. Actually, they had no idea what they were talking
about, but the journals and newspapers thought they did, just as nowadays
reporters think that Robert Park knows something about cold fusion.

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