British electro-chemist Martin Fleischmann, who claimed to have found a way to bring nuclear fusion in a glass bottle at room temperature, breathed his last on Friday.
Surrounded by loved ones, Fleischmann died on Aug 3 at his home in Tisbury, England after a prolonged illness. He was 85.
Afflicted with diabetes, Parkinson’s and cardiovascular problems, the Brit chemist had been bed-ridden for a few months.
A grief stricken son Nicholas stated “He might shout and carry on about topics of science but not about himself. It’s the end of an era.”
The nuclear fusion
Fleischmann had astonished all by proclaiming he and his partner B. Stanley Pons had achieved nuclear fission inside a glass bottle in 1989 in an experiment at the University of Utah.
The reaction similar to the process of heating the sun took place at room temperature with very little emission of radiation.
This “claimed” discovery raised the expectations of people for a quick and effective way to nuclear fusion that could be used as a cheap and renewable energy source.
Similar trials by other scientists failed to evoke the same results and the “cold fusion” was shoved aside with physicists indicting Fleischmann of ineptitude and deception. He labored further at his discovery but in vain and could not get similar results.
Freishmann had once commented, “Oh, yes, I’ve always worked on the outside. Very frequently, my things have been taken over by other people and become mainstream – but not a thing of this magnitude.”
Dr. Martin Fleischmann
Fleischmann was born in Czechoslovakia but his family fled to England when the Nazis occupied the country in 1938.
He studied chemistry at the Imperial College in London and took over the chemistry department of the University of Southampton in 1967.
He won the coveted medal for Electrochemistry and Thermodynamics in 1979 at the Royal Society of Chemistry and the U.S. Electrochemical society awarded him with the Palladium Medal in 1985.
Fleischmann was an "exploratory genius," said friend Michael Melich, a research professor of physics at the Naval Postgraduate School in California.