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The Believers: A Science Documentary

"The Believers" begins in 1989, when two respected scientists announced a startling claim: they can solve all the world's energy problems using seawater, batteries, and a mysterious glass contraption in a process they called "Cold Fusion". Within days, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann were media stars. But only three months later, their careers in tatters and their reputations ruined, they fled the country and Cold Fusion became synonymous with "bad science." An embarrassed press, a confused public who witnessed this highly unusual science fight, and the entire mainstream science community--knowing it violates the laws of physics--all assumed that Cold Fusion was dead. This film tells the story of a group of professional and amateur scientists, a high school whiz kid, and an internet DJ who more than twenty years later believe that Pons and Fleischmann were right after all. The ailing Fleischmann himself is also featured, filmed not long before his death in 2012. More information including a trailer is available at

"The Believers" was produced by 137 Films. Their first film was the award-winning "The Atom Smashers" which chronicles Fermilab's search for the Higgs Boson. "The Believers" is 80 minutes long, and following the film there will be a 30 minute panel Q&A session with the film's directors and two physicists. The film was co-directed by Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross. Clayton Brown is Executive Director at 137 Films and teaches film production at Northwestern University. Monica Long Ross taught filmmaking at Columbia College and is now Artistic Director at 137 Films. Dr. Eric Prebys, a scientist in Fermilab's Accelerator Physics Center, is in charge of US accelerator-related contributions to the Large Hadron Collider and also works on Mu2e, a proposed Fermilab experiment. Dr. Heidi Schellmann is a professor of High Energy Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University and works on the Fermilab experiments D0, MINERvA, and g-2.

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  • Miguel A

    While people were leaving the auditorium I had a chance to ask the directors of the movie why cold fusion patent applications were rejected. They said that "there was nothing to patent". Later I found some more detailed explanation here: These two paragraphs summarize the idea:

    In the case of perpetual motion machines, applicants are asked to file proof that their invention works. Filing a working model would be totally acceptable. This class of invention is so clearly impossible that it would be an embarrassment to the Patent Office to issue a patent for such technology.

    Patents addressing Cold Fusion issues are a little different, but are treated in the same way as patents applications that purport to deliver a perpetual motion benefit. The Examiner does not refuse the application. He says to the applicant: “Prove it”; and then gives the applicant an opportunity to file papers by way of proof.

    March 18, 2013

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