Andrea Rossi’s ecat Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) technology has been getting a lot of attention in Sweden lately. Journalist Mats Lewan has been able to generate a lot of publicity through his articles in the magazine Ny Teknik and his book An Impossible Invention.
Lewan has generated so much attention that the scientific establishment and its pet “journalists” have launched an attack upon him and his work. This of course was predictable, and understandable.
Basically Swedish National Radio or Sveriges Radio ran a series of reports on An Impossible Invention that regurgitated all of the standard attacks on LENR, Rossi, etc. IE: LENR is pseudoscience because physics professors say it is, LENR doesn’t work because some of the claims about Pons and Fleischmann’s experiment back in 1989 weren’t true, Rossi is a criminal because of his run in with the Italian courts and so on.
Mostly Lewan seems disappointed that the “journalists” (Ulrika Björkstén and Marcus Hansson) assigned to review his book apparently didn’t read it and did little research beyond Googling words such as Rossi and LENR then copying criticism of his book from a blog entry. I’m not surprised that is the extent of most “scientific journalism” here in the USA. The situation might be different in Sweden though if Lewan is typical of their science reporters.
Journalists that have real scientific training, open minds and a genuine sense of curiosity are far and few between. Lewan is the exception rather than the rule among science reporters.
Lewan does make two interesting points that are well worth repeating here:
“I find this alarming both from a journalistic and a scientific point of view. Such opinions have often been expressed regarding disruptive discoveries, and if we took advice only from people like Björkstén we wouldn’t have any airplanes or semiconductors today.”
“It’s insane that curious researchers are hesitating to enter this field for fear of ruining their careers (yes Björkstén, this is why most of them are old), and it’s insane that poorly researched media reports like this help scientific critics to continue attacking those researchers.”
There are two positive aspects to this “publicity” that we should point out: first there is no such thing as bad publicity. Anything that gets LENR and Rossi before the public and gets people to think about them or look into the concept will generate publicity and interest. Sometimes negative publicity generates more publicity than good publicity, just as bad news sells more newspaper than good news.
Second. Big science is scared that LENR has been accepted in Sweden and that the Swedish power industry’s research organization Elforsk is taking it seriously. The last thing that Big Science researchers want is to be proved wrong by some back yard inventor. Worse they don’t want to see new inventions coming out of places like Italy or Sweden.
We can expect to see a lot more of this debunking in the months ahead and it’s a good sign. It means that Rossi and others such as the Martin Fleischmann Memorial Project are on the right track. The “scientific journalists” wouldn’t be attacking if they were not afraid of something.