Bad science: the short life and weird times of cold fusion

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Random House Publishing Group, 1993 - Science - 503 pages
2 Reviews
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.

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BAD SCIENCE: The Short Life and Very Hard Times of Cold-Fusion

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Remember Stan Pons? Martin Fleischmann? Cheap power from a setup that looked like a freshman chemistry class experiment? Taubes, who plumbed the depths of nuclear-particle competition at CERN (Nobel ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - chrisadami - LibraryThing

The authoritative account of the heady days of the cold fusion debacle. I was at Caltech at the time and remember it well. Our Nuclear Theory group plays a minor role in the book. Read full review


Delusion Is the Better Part of Grandeur
A Collective Derangement of Minds
The Tail of the Distribution

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About the author (1993)

GARY TAUBES is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and a contributing editor at "Technology Review". He has written about science, medicine, and health for "Science, Discover, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Fortune, Forbes, and GQ". His articles have appeared in "The Best American Science Writing" three times. He has won three Science in Society Journalism Awards, given by the National Association of Science Writers-the only print journalist so recognized-as well as awards from the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society. His book "Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion" was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He was educated at Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia.

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