Bad science: the short life and weird times of cold fusion
Random House Publishing Group
, 1993 - Science
- 503 pages
At 1:00 P.M., on March 23, 1989, two obscure scientists at the University of Utah announced that they had discovered salvation in a test tube - cold nuclear fusion. The technology promised sale, cheap, limitless energy, and the press played it as the scientific breakthrough of the century. It would become instead a fiasco of epidemic proportions, an unforgettable morality tale in the scientific method: what happens when reason is perverted by hope and greed. Gary Taubes's Bad Science is the vivid, dramatic, and definitive story of the astonishing quest for cold fusion, from its premature birth in a Utah turf war to its lingering and surreal death in a laboratory in College Station, Texas. It is the story of good scientists and bad, of heroes and charlatans, and of a race in which thousands of researchers spent tens of millions of dollars to prove or disprove the existence of a canard. Drawing from interviews with over 260 scientists, administrators, and journalists, Taubes dissects the cold fusion episode with wit and clarity, tracing the untold inside story of scientific research gone awry and academic politics out of control: from the devout physicist and his Department of Energy funding agent who set the wheels of the fiasco in motion, to the University of Utah president whose sole dream was to turn his institution into an intellectual powerhouse. Taubes unveils the darker side of science, where politics, ambition, and misguided obsession can corrupt its ethics and its purpose. Bad Science is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how science functions and what can happen when the scientific method is jettisoned in the pursuit of wealth and glory. As a story ofmorality, philosophy, and pathology, it is destined to become a classic of science journalism.