User login


You are here

(piezo)nuclear reactions in fracture and in the italian press!

Mike Ciavarella's picture

At the moment there is a large debate in italy on some results from Prof Carpinteri on "piezonuclear" reactions in the fracture of granite, which was originally published in 2009 in Strain [1. The reason the "debate" today, which has taken the form of a very harsch  attack against Carpinteri, is that Carpinteri is today president of INRIM an institute of metrology in Torino having about 250 researchers and some of them refuse to consider the possibility to do research along the line suggested by Prof. Carpinteri, who also apparently was searching funding directly from the nuclear research funding allocated by the previous conservative government, who wanted to reinstall nuclear power plants in italy.  In other words, the debate has also political implications, and the publicity on Prof. Carpinteri, who has a very good CV and is known as one of the most prominent scientists in mechanics in Italy, is very damaging. After a petition online against piezonuclear  research collected more than 1000 signatures, the editor if Science in Italy made some sarcasm over Carpinteri´s CV, how Carpinteri became president of INRIM, and so on (see attached list of press articles).

The research appears in effect controversial, and alongside previous research on sonofusion for example by Rusi Taleyarkhan whom Carpinteri cites in his paper, despite it is well known that "He was judged guilty of research misconduct for "falsification of the research record" by a Purdue review board in July, 2008.[2

Worse, some 9 out of 10 senior researchers of INRIM, the institute of which Carpinteri is president, reacted scientifically [6] suggesting the experimental data from Carpinteri´s paper are "correlated", hinting at some form of manipulation, since data from independent measurements would not show these properties.However, Pavese has already replied to comment with a comment [7]...

The situation is therefore very confused, knowing prof. Carpinteri I very much hope that he clarifies the situation before the "fracture" with the scientific community is too large.  It doesn´t help that Carpinteri´s coauthor Cardone seems himself very controversial.  I am not expert in the field, so I guess only a critical assessment from the scientific community on the possibility to reproduce the results would help here. We have seen already Pons and Fleischman fail with cold fusion, and more than emotional articles, and ruining reputations, it would be good to be "cold" about these "unexplained" phenomena. It looks strange that simple fracture would cause some elements to transmute into ligther ones.  So who can help in the discussion?

Scientific articles

[1] Piezonuclear Neutrons From Brittle Fracture: Early Results of
Mechanical Compression Tests",
Carpinteri A.; Cardone F.; Lacidogna G., Source: STRAIN Volume: 45
Issue: 4 Pages: 332-339 Published: AUG 2009.

[2] "Piezonuclear Neutrons", Cardone Fabio; Mignani Roberto; Petrucci
Andrea, PHYSICS LETTERS A Volume: 373 Issue: 22 Pages: 1956-1958,
Published: MAY 11 2009.

[3]"Comment on Piezonuclear decay of thorium" [Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009)
1956], Ericsson G.; Pomp S.; Sjostrand H.; et a, PHYSICS LETTERS A
Volume: 373 Issue: 41 Pages: 3795-3796, Published: OCT 5 2009.

[4] "Comment on Piezonuclear decay of thorium" [Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009)
1956], Kowalski ., PHYSICS LETTERS A Volume: 374 Issue: 4 Pages:
696-697, Published: JAN 11 2010.

[5] "Remarks on Piezonuclear neutrons from fracturing of inert solids",
Spallone, A., Calamai, OM., Tripodi, P., PHYSICS LETTERS A Volume: 374
Issue: 38 Pages: 3957-3959, Published: AUG 23 2010.

[6] Comment on "Compositional and Microchemical Evidence of Piezonuclear
Fission Reactions in Rock Specimens Subjected to Compression Tests"
[Strain 47 (Suppl. 2), 82 (2011)]  Amato, G. Bertotti, O. Bottauscio, G.
Crotti, F. Fiorillo, G. Mana, M. L. Rastello, P. Tavella, and F. Vinai

[7] Comment to "Comment on 'Compositional and Microchemical Evidence of Piezonuclear Fission Reactions in Rock Specimens Subjected to Compression Tests' [Strain 47 (Suppl. 2), 282 (2011)]" by G. Amato et al[6]

Press articles 


Mike Ciavarella's picture


Italian Government Slams Brakes on 'Piezonuclear' Fission

on 11 June 2012, 3:25 PM 

Italy's research and education minister Francesco Profumo has heeded the call from more than 1000 Italian scientists not to fund research into a controversial and disputed form of nuclear fission. The scientists had signed an online petition urging Profumo to block research on "piezonuclear" reactions at the National Institute of Metrological Research (INRIM). The petitioners say they are concerned that the institute's president, Alberto Carpinteri, was prioritizing research on the subject and that Profumo was about to place a second proponent of the research on the institute's scientific council. But Profumo has told ScienceInsider that he changed his mind about the council nomination and that he has "no intention" of funding piezonuclear research without the backing of the scientific community.

Carpinteri, a civil engineer at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy, has worked on the controversial research with a handful of other Italian scientists since 2008. His collaborators include Fabio Cardone, a physicist at the National Research Council in Rome. The researchers claim that when they crush various kinds of rock, they observe very high emissions of neutrons: 10 times the background level in the case of granite, and 100 times in the case of basalt. They interpret the emissions as being due to the splitting, or fission, of iron atoms in the rock into lighter atoms such as those of aluminum. Unlike the materials used in conventional fission reactions, the crushed rock does not emit ionizing gamma rays or leave behind radioactive waste, the researchers say.

Speaking to ScienceInsider, Carpinteri acknowledged that the group's conclusion is controversial, as established nuclear physics shows that the compression could not supply the enormous amounts of energy needed to split nuclei. But he argues that several other lines of evidence—including chemical analyses he and his colleagues have carried out on the rock samples before and after compression—indicate that nonstandard fission is indeed taking place. "The classical theory of fission still has a few holes in it," Carpinteri says.

Other researchers, however, remain far from convinced. Three different groups, from Canada, Sweden, and Italy, published papers in 2010 criticizing the rock-compression experiments and similar work by Cardone. And in a paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server on 29 May, nine researchers from INRIM took aim at the chemical analysis carried out on the rock samples. They show that many identical numbers reported in the analysis, which are quoted to two decimal places, are more closely correlated than would be expected from independent measurements—although the paper says nothing about how the correlation might have occurred.

The online petition, started 24 May, urges Profumo not to spend public research money on what it calls projects "without, at least for the moment, any scientific foundation." The petitioners argue that INRIM's work on piezonuclear reactions would "bring discredit to the whole research system."

The organizer of the petition, Politecnico di Milano physicist Ezio Puppin, points out that INRIM's latest 3-year plan, approved in February, lists research on piezonuclear reactions as part of a broader €10 million program on nuclear technology. Puppin argues that even if piezonuclear research was worthwhile, either Italy's nuclear physics institute, INFN, or its energy institute, ENEA, would be a more natural home for it. INRIM "has no experience in this area," he says.

Specifically, Puppin and his co-petitioners were concerned that Profumo had proposed Cardone as a candidate to fill one of the seven vacancies on INRIM's scientific council. But Profumo says he will instead put forward the names of two foreign candidates: Elisabeth Giacobino, a physicist at the Université Paris VI in France who has said she will accept the position if offered it, and Ernst Göbel, former president of Germany's national metrology institute, PTB, who has yet to respond.

Regarding funding for the controversial research, Carpinteri says his group at the Politecnico di Torino has spent 4 years researching piezonuclear fission with €50,000 in funds he was able to spend at his discretion. He says INRIM has not yet spent "even a Euro" on the research, but that it had asked the ministry for a total of €500,000 over the next 3 years as part of the €10 million nuclear program, money that would be separate from the institute's core funding.

Profumo says that he has not personally received any request for funding of piezonuclear research from INRIM (although he said it was possible that his ministry had). But he adds that he would send any such request out for peer review before making a decision. "It seems to me that the scientific community has expressed itself very clearly," he says, referring to the petition. "I hope that the [new] scientific council directs the institute in the right direction." The institute has a "different mission" from piezonuclear research, Profumo says.

I think manipulation should be NO. Prof. Carpinteri is a rigorous professor. But  still he needs to give more convincing experiments data and that's the very reason he needs to apply the fund.

Mike Ciavarella's picture

Carpinteri detractors claim that he was not "applying for funding" using standard peer review process, but direct use of political circles in the right parties, in conflict with the standard procedure, and exploiting his position as president of INRIM.  This is, apparently, what caused the rebellion.

In any case, if the research has some even remote degree of success, I guess other labs in the world should jump on it. Carpinteri says that so far his research was very inexpensive, so why not trying it?

At the moment, there are various criticisms over previous reports on piezo nuclear reactions, see e.g. here

In a number of recent articles in this journal F. Cardone and collaborators have claimed the observation of several striking nuclear phenomena which they attribute to "piezonuclear reactions". One such claim [Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009) 1956] is that subjecting a solution of 228Th to cavitation leads to a "transformation" of thorium nuclei that is 104 times faster than the normal nuclear decay for this isotope. In a "Comment" *Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009) 3795+ to the thorium work, we have criticized the evidence provided for this claim. In a "Reply" *Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009) 3797] Cardone et al. answer only some minor points but avoid addressing the real issue. The information provided in their Reply displays a worrying lack of control of their experimental situation and the data they put forward as evidence for their claims. We point out several shortcomings and errors in the described experimental preparations, set-up and reporting, as well as in the data analysis. We conclude that the evidence presented by Cardone et al. is insufficient to justify their claims of accelerated thorium decay (by "piezonuclear reactions" or otherwise). We also briefly discuss the role of the physics community (peer review) in the evaluation of new discoveries and claims.

Subscribe to Comments for "(piezo)nuclear reactions in fracture and in the italian press!"

Recent comments

More comments


Subscribe to Syndicate