Brad Pitt, Steve Jobs’ widow, and Britain’s fallen star investor reportedly backed a startup betting on ‘cold fusion’

Theron Mohamed for BusinessInsider:

Brad Pitt, Steve Jobs’ widow, and Britain’s best-known fund manager [Neil Woodford] reportedly invested in a fringe nuclear energy startup inexplicably valued at close to $1 billion.

The Financial Times reported that the unlikely trio apparently saw potential in Industrial Heat, a North Carolina-based company seeking to develop power sources that rely on cold fusion, or generating nuclear power without the need for intense heat.

A pair of chemists claimed to have achieved cold fusion in 1989, but repeated failures to reproduce their findings has led to mainstream scientists treating the concept with deep skepticism, according to a team of researchers currently revisiting cold fusion. Their efforts “have yet to yield any evidence” of its existence, they wrote. Their experiments are being funded by Google — famous for throwing money at radical ideas it calls “moonshots.”

MacDailyNews Take: Reminds us of when Johnny Carson, among with many others, got roped in by Joseph Newman’s perpetual motion machine back in the 1980s:

16 Comments

  1. Don’t invest in anything that you cannot comprehend. If they come selling FTL (faster than light) drive technology, and the math is above your head, find an expert. If you can’t find an expert on FTL drives, there’s a reason for that.

  2. I can appreciate the desire to invest in and promote new technologies, particularly those that appear to have the potential to greatly improve our future. But you have to be careful. Sometimes the science may be valid, but we do not currently have a way to effectively implement it. And sometimes what appears to be science is actually just wishful thinking driven by human weaknesses. There is a reason that perpetual motion machine concepts keep turning up.

    That said, do not get discouraged from pursuing valid and peer-reviewed scientific advancements. Research and development on new technologies generally involve many failures over years of attempts, and most efforts never pan out. But the ones that do…awesome!

  3. This is a fascinating field. Actually, some decades ago cold fusion was shown to work when a beam of muons was directed at liquid hydrogen (maybe deuterium, don’t recall). The muons (basically heavy electrons) replace electrons in the atoms and, because they are so heavy, made very small atoms such that the nuclei were close enough to fuse. The problem was that muons have very short half-lives and are costly to produce so this was not a practical procedure for energy production.

    The essential idea of cold fusion is that some atomic lattice (Pd for instance) would have some small pockets such that when heavily loaded with hydrogen two hydrogen nuclei could be very close together when screened by the nearby electrons. After some large number of oscillations they could fuse.

    If it worked really well there would be no guessing, a vast amount of energy would be produced that would destroy the equipment. The usual claim is that only small amounts of heat are produced. As pointed out in the reference paper cited, measuring heat production in a vessel that is kept at high temperature and pressure is really hard.

    It’s great that they are researching this, but I am skeptical that it will produce results soon. Seems like they would be better off funding university research rather than a corporate startup.

  4. Thorium is valid (America was the leader in the reactor tech), but you can’t get a bomb out of the leftovers easily so it was cast aside (by the Government and the Military). All the governments around the world are monkey see monkey do, and won’t do anything seriously until someone crosses the river first.

    PS Norway is covered in it from head to toe.

    1. Thorium reactors are a very valid alternative to enriched uranium. I am not sure if sure about the nuclear bomb conspiracy theory, though. If you really want nuclear bomb material you use a fast breeder reactor to convert U-238 to plutonium, which can be purified chemically. In contrast, enriching U-235 to weapons-grade requires fancy and expensive centrifuges or other means. So the conspiracy theory doesn’t seem to hold up.

      My recollection from reading about the history of nuclear power is that it was more a matter of people going with the approach that had more early development to back it. That early adoption then built on itself. But I am open to correction, if someone wants to do some research.

  5. Breeder reactors on small scales could provide lots of power. You just have to get past the idea that someone is going to always make or use plutonium and want to somehow destroy the world..

    it’s not a popular opinion, but solar and wind power are not going solve the power problems of the world. You don’t need to create reactors in the scales we’ve done in the past and still exist to get the job done, Smaller Reactors could be cookie cutter, and meet the needs of small cites and areas and if a made as breeder reactor, would not create the rod waste they try and bury now.

    The constant push for renewable energy to me, is just like climate change or global warming, flawed science, pushed by media and governments to try and find ways to manipulate people into giving up freedom to elites that in many cases, are dumber than rocks and pay people to say what they want to hear and not any serious reality. You can create all sort of arguments about how renewables can work, but if you really expand them out to the scales needed to replace other sources of energy, it falls flat really fast.

    1. A Thorium Reactor can fit in a 1600 sq ft room so it can fit in the mechanical service area in the basement of a large commercial building office or hospital, and Thorium the material used only needs to be minimally processed (similar to coal)…..

  6. What is this the 1950s? We are still referring women like property of there husbands even when the husband has passed away. Her name is Laurene Powell Jobs. Or if you need to associate her with Steve, Laurene Powell Jobs the window of the late Steve Jobs.

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