Electrochemist B. Stanley Pons and his British colleague Martin Fleischmann shocked the world on March 23, 1989, when they announced they had solved the worlds energy crisis.
The solution, they said, lay in table-top cold fusion, in which palladium and platinum electrodes electrolyze heavy water. This, they said, could produce as much heat as a star.
There were about five weeks of suspended judgment, says David Goodstein, vice provost for physics at the California Institute of Technology. No one could duplicate Mr. Pons and Mr. Fleischmanns results. They had published their results too hastily, thinking they would be scooped.
Caltech scientists later thoroughly debunked the cold-fusion claim.
Scientists still do research linked to cold fusion, but it is largely scorned. Pons and Fleischmann could not be located for this story.