Metaculus Help: Spread the word

If you like Metaculus, tell your friends! Share this question via Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

Will radical new "low-energy nuclear reaction" technologies prove effective before 2019?

The idea that nuclear reactions at relatively low temperatures using relatively stable elements has a checkered past. Basic physics makes such phenomena difficult: the electromagnetic repulsion between two nuclei generally prevents fusion unless there is very high energy given to at least one of them, which suggests a very high temperature.

However, that does not mean such processes are physically impossible. For example, "pycnonuclear reactions" can occur at zero temperature and ultrahigh density, muons can catalyze fusion at low temperatures, and the right system can accelerate particles at low temperature up to MeVs over a millimeter.

The possibility of cheap unlimited energy has motivated several groups to pursue the possibility of "Low Energy Nuclear Reaction" (LENR) energy production. As featured in a previous question, for the past 4 years, Andrea Rossi has been claiming to make large amounts of heat in his various "E-Cat" reactors, apparently inexplicable in terms of chemical reactions. A somewhat similar LENR project is led by Robert Godes, who runs the company Brillouin Energy. These efforts have generated several websites such as this one tracking news in the field.

There is a strong consensus in the physics community that these LENR efforts have a low probability of being scientifically valid and leading to a useful energy-generation technology. But how low? So we ask:

By Dec. 31, 2018, will Andrea Rossi/Leonardo/Industrial Heat or Robert Godes/Brillouin Energy have produced fairly convincing evidence (> 50% credence) that their new technology that generates substantial excess heat relative to electrical and chemical inputs?

The question resolves in the positive if Huw Price is declared winner of a bet of £1,000 against Carl Shulman's £10,000. The bet will be settled by Price and Shulman by New Years Eve 2018, and in the case of disagreement shall defer to majority vote of a panel of three physicists: Anthony Aguirre, Martin Rees, and Max Tegmark.


Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site

Community Stats

Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.