April 4, 2012 No Comments

Technology Transfer

I’ve written lately about a new fusion reactor and how the scientific process should be applied to test it. Let me take those ideas a step further by saying that innovation is necessary in this complex world, but technology transfer is even more necessary.

Technology transfer is the passing of knowledge from one person or group to another. We can have the most innovative and useful technologies in the shop or the lab, but unless the word is spread about them they remain unknown. We often cannot count on the inventors to tell us about their creations. Their skills like in making the technology or the discovery, not in marketing or publicity. Besides, a publicity effort would take their valuable time away from further development of their ideas.

Economist Paul Zane Pilzer has written about the “technology gap”: a backlog of technologies in various stages of development that have not yet made it into widespread use. The technology gap exists because the public does not know about these inventions or discoveries. Another reason is because the need for them is not pressing enough; the problems they solve are not urgent problems. While many new products are interesting and even pretty cool, unless they meet a genuine need, they are likely to languish in the development stage. (more…)

February 6, 2012 No Comments

The Scientific Process

Since learning about Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat reactor, I’ve continued to read about its progress. I still see the lack of coverage in North American media as a problem because it is important for new, possibly game-changing technologies and scientific advancements to be publicized so that others can investigate them, as I said in my previous post. Here’s an example of what that process looks like via Steven B. Krivit’s New Energy Times blog: http://news.newenergytimes.net/. Indeed, Krivit continues to expose any aspects of Rossi’s work that are unprovable or fraudulent.

I am sure (and you can tell this is true if you read some of the news snippets) that this process is uncomfortable for Rossi and his colleagues. It should be.

Science is nothing if it cannot be scrutinized and validated. Unless independent researchers can replicate any process, the conclusion is that it simply doesn’t work. Rossi can certainly provide a “black box” version of his reactor to reputable scientists to test and evaluate. His proprietary processes can be protected. So he should have no qualms about offering up his discovery to independent review.

Scientific investigation is not easy, but it is necessary. I need only mention Thalidomide to make it clear that lack of complete research and testing has devastating consequences. Nobody wants to waste time, energy, or money on something that does not live up to its claims, nor rush to market something that has not been thoroughly investigated.

But we also need to give new technologies a chance. Prototypes don’t always work perfectly. Small scale versions of what should be much larger mechanisms can obscure results. Incorrect conclusions can be drawn from tests that aren’t adequately designed, monitored, or executed. Unexpected results can occur if all the variables are not rigorously accounted for and controlled.

That’s why broad interest and attention is necessary. Anything with the potential to radically change our world for the better needs to be analyzed by major reputable scientific and technical authorities. A couple of prestigious university labs should be sufficient. There are organizations with the resources to determine if Rossi’s claims have merit. They should take up the challenge and do so. This is too important to ignore.