In 1989 Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman stuck a rod of palladium in some water. Weirdly, it began to get hot and give off things like tritium, or so they said. For a brief ecstatic period the world seemed to stand on the edge of a new era of cheap abundant energy called cold fusion. Until no one else seemed to be able to repeat the results, and cold fusion and all its works were relegated to obloquy. 
Except it has never quite gone away. Almost like an underground heresy, it still has its little groups of adherents beavering away in obscurity, although sometimes backed by some significant patrons like defense departments and Google. So what?
Well, we couldn’t help noticing that Russian mining giant Nornickel  has been running ads in prestige outlets like New Scientist offering money for anyone who can do something clever with palladium. There are to be big prizes from$200,000 downwards, all to be given away at a super slap up in New York next September. Good luck with that Nornickel-anything to encourage learning and scholarship, and so get people out of the pubs.
Yet we can’t help wondering. Palladium is a humble, everyday sort of metal with dozens of mundane uses from catalytic converters to dentistry and jewellery. So why the sudden spurt of awards, mass advertising campaigns and a dragnet for some of the cleverest people on the planet? Has someone, somewhere got Something Else Big in mind? If so, you saw it here first, gentle readers.
 Brooks, Michael: 13 Things that Don’t Make Sense Doubleday 2009 ISBN 0307278816
#cold fusion #nuclear fusion #nornickel #palladium