Cold fusion caught the world’s attention in 1989, when two electochemists announced they had produced a nuclear reaction—at room temperature, on a table top in their lab.
Initially hailed as the carbon-free energy source that would solve the world’s power problems, cold fusion quickly fell into disrepute when other scientists said they couldn’t replicate the experiments. Today, though, cold fusion—rebranded as low-energy nuclear reactions, or LENR—is enjoying a resurgence of scientific interest and funding. With the world more acutely aware of climate change than it was a quarter century ago, even the US Congress is trying to find out if new breakthroughs mean cold fusion might someday work.
Eugene Mallove, one of the world’s most outspoken advocates for cold fusion, didn’t live to see this moment. Not long after he broke with the scientific establishment and accused MIT researchers of hiding the true results of their investigations, he died in the driveway of his childhood home. David Kushner, writing in Foreign Policy, traces Mallove’s life, his involvement in cold fusion, and his 2004 murder.