As I predicted on Thursday night, promoter Andrea Rossi’s final demonstration of a series of boxes of pipes and wires did not light any bulb or turn any motor. Again, he failed at science, and he failed to deliver a technological device.
Rossi reported on his Web site that Italian engineers with an unknown affiliation gathered data on behalf of an unidentified customer. Rossi uploaded a technical report written by an unknown author and a data file to his Web site. He also reported that, as a result of the data, the unidentified customer accepted delivery of Rossi’s device.
New Energy Times reader Terry Blanton looked closely at the signatures on the technical report and observed that there was something fishy about them. It looks like Rossi tried to make it look like he crossed out the name of the customer, but it’s still possible to see through his redaction. In the place you would expect to see the name of the customer, it says the word “customer.”
In response to my article yesterday, “Energy Catalzyer: Extraordinary Scams Require Extraordinary Claims,” New Energy Times reader John W. Ratcliff asked some good questions.
Ratcliff asked, “Are we to believe [Rossi thinks] he can embezzle millions of dollars of investor capital, somehow manage to transfer these funds to a hidden account of his own, and get away with it?”
These are good questions. I answered most of them at the end of my article Rossi’s 11th Test, 11th Failure when I wrote, “I believe he doesn’t have what he claims. I believe he knows it. I believe he’s hoping that, if he can just get enough money, he can eventually make it work.”
Rossi is not stupid; far from it. He is an extremely intelligent, strategic, articulate, charming and creative man.
On Jan. 20, 2011, when I had an open mind and assumed the best of Rossi, he wrote to me, “You help me now; I will help you forever.” He offered to fly me over to Italy, and I told him that was wrong, I could not accept his offer. He then offered to drive four hours round-trip to pick me up at Milan airport, and I told him no, I’ll take the train down to Bologna. Eventually, I agreed to let him buy me a sandwich and pay for a taxi ride back to my hotel.
Visually, Rossi exhibits absolute confidence. Yet listen carefully when I interview him on camera and ask him a crucial question: He is vague, he stutters and he is logically inconsistent, even within a 12-minute period.
I asked him whether he had a specific moment of discovery in his low-energy nuclear reaction research.
“Yes, because I burned a finger,” Rossi said.
“Can you tell me more about that moment?” I asked.
Rossi replied, “Yes, uhh, because, umm, I was, uh, uh, working with a, with a small reactor which was made of, uh, umm, of copper, was made of copper, uh, and with a small lead shielding, and I was giving energy with a resistance, uh, giving, eh, some sort of temperature. At a certain point, the, the temperature raised very suddenly, and, uh, and I had in my, the, the, uh, left finger of, uh, of, uh, the, the, the, the finger of, umm, uh, the index of my left hand, umm, sit on a, a part of this small reactor which was as big as this, and I burned the top of the finger.”
Ratcliff asked, “What end game is there for Rossi in the ‘hoax’ hypothesis other than jail or court, penniless and disgraced?”
Note that prison, bankruptcy and disgrace have never been deterrents for Rossi. See his prior fraud convictions and imprisonment.
Now look back at the timeline. Rossi built his story slowly and strategically, first getting the buy-in from retired University of Bologna professor Sergio Focardi, who had reached his senior years and had, until Rossi came along, never realized his dreams of “cold fusion.”
Then Rossi gained the confidence of an active University of Bologna professor, Giuseppe Levi, who believed the Rossi claim on first sight.
“I was feeling like somebody that has arrived on a new island,” Levi said. “Imagine you are traveling on a boat and you see an island that was not on the map. And you just traveled, and you are walking on a new island, and the island is almost completely not known, and you want to tell it to everybody.”
Then Rossi found an ally in technology journalist Mats Lewan, who paid little attention to things like control experiments or published papers. Lewan proved to Rossi that he would promote him uncritically, publishing without checking facts, like Rossi’s claim of a major research payment to the University of Bologna.
The Sept. 7 and Oct. 6 tests were not just other mundane tests of Rossi’s device. They were Rossi’s test to see whether Lewan would turn a blind eye to the pre-heating phase and uncritically watch more steam demonstrations even though Rossi (and Lewan) clearly knew that a sub-boiling test was the best way to remove doubt about Rossi’s claim. Lewan passed Rossi’s test, and that gave Rossi the confidence to use his new configuration yesterday.
After 10 months of giving Rossi the benefit of the doubt and more, Lewan today confined himself to reporting data given to him by a new third party, engineer Domenico Fioravanti, who has an unclear association with an unspecified, and quite possibly fictitious, customer of Rossi’s. Of all the pre-show hype about all the foreign academic dignitaries who would stand as witnesses to the Rossi miracle, Lewan’s story quotes not one.
“Neither Ny Teknik nor any other of the guests had any possibility to check the measurements made,” Lewan wrote. “The invitees could only observe the plant in operation for a few brief moments.”
Rossi’s case is certainly extraordinary, and his claim is so bold that many people cannot imagine that he would pull off a scam this big for so long. Or that he would pull the wool over so many people’s eyes. But he has. A blog commenter using the name “Penny Gruber” nailed it:
“Rossi is a convicted [criminal guilty of] serial fraud. His discovery is that, with enough chutzpah, one can convince a number of people that an electric tea kettle is a new kind of nuclear reactor.”
Fortunately, nobody appears to have given Rossi much money. But Rossi has abused the honest and sincere fans who have given him their moral support and encouragement. There is nothing wrong with wanting a new source of clean nuclear energy or wanting liberation from the petrocacy. I hope Rossi’s fans will remember their own dreams and desires for a better world and continue their enthusiasm for legitimate low-energy nuclear reaction research and technology.