The fusion of light atoms found in water has been viewed as the holy grail for meeting global energy needs. To date, science has spent millions of dollars on fusion research, trying to create the effect in plasmas with temperatures of hundreds of million degrees fahrenheit. But what if there was a simpler way to fuse atoms? In 1989, two chemists believed they found it. The scientific community was initially turned on its ear by the announcement. The history of the "cold fusion" experiments and the quest to verify them are the subject of Frank Close's "Too Hot to Handle."
Frank Close's book is really a cautionary tale of what happens when sloppy science meets with equal amounts of greed, media hype, and a genuine desire to believe in the impossible. "Too Hot to Handle" is a testament to those scientists who methodically examined cold fusion and relied on the scientific method to arrive at the truth. It also examines the realm of possibilites (particulalrly the negative ones) that would open should fusion power become commercially viable.
Frank Close writes his book with general audiences in mind, but a basic knowledge of atomic physics (the nucleus, neutrons, protons, radiation, gamma rays, fission, and fusion) is a prerequisite. He often repeats himself with explanations of the fusion processes and their consequences. Readers should be forewarned that Close uses British spellings and grammatical conventions. The book also looks like it was edited in a hurry, as there are several typographical errors in the text that slow down readability when they emerge.
"Too Hot to Handle" is a solid book that presents a lot of information compiled over a very short amount of time. It addresses a phenomenon that has been discounted by most scientists, but some still persist in believing in it. Hopefully this work will serve as a light in the darkness to future scientists, regardless of their field of study.