Talk:N ray

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Implying that all notable scientist rejected N-rays[edit]

I've half a mind to put a NPOV dispute header above this article. From this article it almost seems that the only ones actively advocating N-Rays were those who claimed to have discovered them. And that those who opposed were not merely fellow scientists, but even "notable scientists", not making the logical conjunction that all "notable scientists" rejected N-rays, but enouraging the reader to make that inference on his own. -- Cimon Avaro on a pogostick 14:14, Feb 24, 2004 (UTC)

If that's the impression that the article gives then it certainly gives the wrong one. I think that the fact that it mentions the Académie des Sciences enquiry into priority belies that. I would encourage you to have a go if you feel it can be made more NPOV. Cutler 15:49, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)


The word "shamed" seemed unnecessarily POV, and the grammar was a bit off in one place. I've fixed both. --DavidConrad 04:12, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

Hoaxes category[edit]

I'm going to remove the hoaxes category; as I understand it, and as the article describes, the scientists genuinely thought they had discovered something new, rather than intentionally deceiving the scientific community. N-rays were no more of a hoax than ancient astrology or animal magnetism (well, some of that was hoaxes, but not all); belief in these was caused by genuine experiences, even if the experiences were subjective creations of the mind.

I agree. They were not perpetrating a hoax. They genuinely believed what they claimed. It was a case of self delusion (the will to believe). Bubba73 (talk), 03:13, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Also agree, sources are very clear in that it was not a deliberate hoax but a good-faith self-delusion. I am removing it again. --Enric Naval (talk) 18:02, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Use in Fiction[edit]

Bill Baldwin, in his Helmsman series (science fiction), uses "N-Rays" as a method of fighting radiation fires. I don't see this as worth mentioning in the N-ray article, but others might disagree? Mlwilson (talk) 18:29, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

See-Also to Cold fusion[edit]

I found the See Also to Cold Fusion in this article. It's true that a reference to N-rays occurs in some sources dismissing Cold fusion as pathological science or pseudoscience, but Cold fusion is actually fringe science, a legitimate field of research, ongoing, all over the world, with papers being published in peer-reviewed journals, governmental encouragement of specific proposal funding, unanswered questions in abundance, etc. I removed the link: (See also: remove link to fringe science article, cold fusion is not pseudoscience, and this link essentially claims that it is.)

User:Hipocrite reverted with this. (Return see-also Cold Fusion. People interested in the history of NRays are often also intested in Cold Fusion. See-alsos are cheap.)

This is a POV-pushing edit. People who see "N-rays" in some article about Cold fusion -- it is a common form of asserting that Cold fusion is bunk, of implying fraud, that it is a pseudoscience -- may indeed look up N rays -- but the reverse is highly unlikely. There are links to articles on broad categories here that might lead a reader to Cold fusion, such as List of experimental errors and frauds in physics, but note that this article doesn't mention Cold fusion at this point, nor should it. What is experimental error in this field is still being hotly debated.

But to link Cold fusion here is to suggest to the reader that N ray and Cold fusion are the same thing, when, at best, there is some peripheral connection, in that the claim is made that Cold fusion is a result of wishful thinking, massively repeated by many experimenters, influencing observations. But the analogy is very, very weak. N ray observations were subjective, easily influenced by expectations, whereas Cold fusion involves objective measurements, and there has been little allegation of fraud in the notable work.

See-also links are not cheap. For the same reason as we limit external links per WP:EL, we limit them to what is likely of interest, what will guide the reader in understanding the article topic better. Someone will not understand N ray better by reading the Cold fusion article, but they might arrive at Cold fusion with a bias introduced by the link. I'm reverting, because the argument is preposterous. --Abd (talk) 17:39, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Here's a few links to reliable sources that make the connection between n-rays and cold fusion, as we should do [1][2][3]. Nevard (talk) 23:07, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
None of those stories directly link the two phenomena... N-rays and Cold Fusion are two unrelated examples of fringe science. They both belong in that category, but a See Also implies there's more of a direct connection than that. There isn't. None of the references or anything else links them directly (that I know of, including academic history of science works, etc). Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 23:41, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
N-rays are sometimes invoked, as I acknowledged, when a writer wishes to claim that Cold fusion is pseudoscience and fraud, as some have. However, this allegation isn't supported by reviews, it isn't supported by, for example, the 2004 DOE review of the research situation with low-energy nuclear reactions. Let's look at those sources:
[4] This is an article on the "Top 10 scientific blunders." It's quite a weird article. First of all, much replication of the Pons and Fleischmann experiments have been claimed, it's an active field of research, and there was substantial opinion in the 2004 DOE review that the Pons-Fleischmann effect is real, though also substantial doubt that the effect is a result of fusion. The most recent reviews I've found seem to accept the P-F effect as real. The hypothesis that the heat is caused by fusion is unconfirmed. That article was a biased report, accepting uncritically claims that have often been made, but which have never been scientific consensus among those who actually studied the topic, including the U.S. D.O.E. Now, if we accept this report as linking them, why don't we have nine other links to articles on the other "blunders." Rather, an article on "scientific blunders" could be linked; in fact, though, the blunders in the Cold fusion case actually have little to do with science and much more to do with politics; for example, Fleischmann probably blundered by going public with a news conference, apparently under pressure from university lawyers concerned about patent rights. There was a rush to duplicate, any many duplication efforts failed; there is a recent paper which shows why, in fact. While Cold fusion looked simple, one thing is clear: if it's real, it is very sensitive to conditions, for example, the "loading ratio." Loading palladium to the necessary 85% or so of deuterium/palladium, at which level experiments start showing the heat effects, is quite difficult and can't be done, under the conditions of the original P-F experiment, in a short time. Given the sentiments expressed in the 2004 DOE report, the extensive ongoing research into the topic all over the world, with governmental support in some places, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and all that, the jury is out on whether or not Pons and Fleischmann made a blunder scientifically, or not.
[5] Cold fusion is actually discriminated from N-rays in this article. They say:
nothing in the history of science compares with the egg-on-face count of the events that give Yes, We Have No Neutrons its title, the theatrical tale of cold fusion. Here, at least, the progenitors of the idea were genuine scientists, in this case physical chemists, and the idea they were pursuing, while speculative, was by no means cranky.
Their experiments showed that heat was being produced but did not find enough neutrons, a sign that fusion is occurring. Ordinarily, a further experiment would have shown that there was some other explanation for the heat, and a bit of scientific progress would have been made. But this time, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons published too early, because of perceived competition from another researcher, and were left to look foolish when nobody could replicate their results.
It's quite simply not true that "nobody could duplicate their results." Many did, but because of the political climate around the blunder that is described, publishing too early, it had become very difficult to get anything published. There continue to be published reports of confirmation of the effect, i.e., of heat generation from electrolysis of heavy water causing palladium to be loaded with deuterium. The most reliable technique, and it has been replicated, is the SPAWAR technique from U.S. Navy research laboratories, where coelectrolysis is used to create a very thin layer of palladium that is fully loaded with deuterium from the start, apparently bypassing the months of electrolysis commonly necessary with bulk palladium as in the original experiments. Excess heat starts showing up immediately, and radiation. And, by the way, neutrons. There remain many mysteries in the field, and it is certainly possible, as the author above hints, that someone will figure out some non-fusion explanation. What is clear is that there is a mystery, and facile dismissals of the work are generally based on incomplete knowledge of it, and assumptions, often based on very old opinions and the early failure of some notable research laboratories to confirm. Over the next twenty years, a protocol developed that set minimum conditions for the heat effect to show up, and those laboratories did not follow that protocol, whereas the original P-F experiment did. There is an interesting paper on that presented at the latest (2008) International Conference on Condensed Matter Science, that runs Bayesian analysis on the various experimental conditions. The field suffers from lack of independent review of the research being done, largely because of entrenched attitudes like those expressed in the two sources considered so far. I.e., there is peer-reviewed publication, but then nobody outside the condensed matter nuclear science field tries to replicate them. Then, of course, lack of replication is cited as a problem. But the P-F effect is probably up to a level that it can be considered confirmed, in my opinion, but that is, of course, controversial. This is why Cold fusion is WP:FRINGE (because acceptance of it is a minority position), but not WP:PSEUDOSCIENCE. N rays are Pseudoscience.
[6]The announcement triggers a barrage of scientific research and billions of dollars in financing. With the research done and the money spent, nearly everyone -- except for Fleischmann and Pons -- concludes that cold fusion isn't possible. What these sources show is that people have made the allegations. The claim, though, isn't true. The 1989 DOE review did not conclude that. The 2004 DOE review did not conclude that. And many scientists, including at least two Nobel Prize winners, did not and have not concluded that. There is an active program of research in China, involving the top nuclear science institutions in the country. However, suppose we accept this. The article lists a whole series of "spectacular failures"? Why pick just Cold fusion? How about Titanic? Hindenberg? World War I? Come on, let it go, the idea that because an article mentions two topics, they are sufficiently connected for a See also link is preposterous. --Abd (talk) 02:43, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
I again removed the See-also link, there having appeared no response; my edit summary is (Apples and Oranges appear in lists of Fruit and many sources mention them together. Should Apple have a see-also to Orange?) --Abd (talk) 05:48, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Wikisource transcription project[edit]

s:Index:N rays - Garcin.djvu has been set up with the English Translation published in 1905. The text doesnt need to be typed. It is available from the location mentioned in the "Source" field, which is currently down, hence the Google Cache link also provided. John Vandenberg (chat) 05:24, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

pseudophysics cat[edit]

I tried to find sources that linked N-rays with pseudoscience, and the only one was "The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience". All the other sources qualify N-Rays as pathological science or similar. Given, this lack of sources, I am removing the cat. --Enric Naval (talk) 17:59, 2 July 2010 (UTC)


Wonders about the "approximately 120 other scientists", i.e. believers, that wrote about N rays in "300 published articles". According to the given source, these were published during the period 1903–1906. Can someone confirm this? Hexmaster (talk) 11:15, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Ok, there is no such thing as N-rays, but what really happened in all those experiments?[edit]

So it turned out what they thought they were detecting wasn't there, but what exactly happened that made all those people think they were seeing proof of the existence of N-rays in all those experiments? --TiagoTiago (talk) 10:46, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Expectatives. They expected to see something. A figure of authority had told what they had to see and when. Then they deceived themselves while trying to meet the expectatives, looking harder and harder until they were convinced that they had seen something. Eyes can play some nasty tricks in borderline situations, when you have been assured repeatedly that you ought to see a certain something.
Also, most people saw nothing. The small minority who had seen something made a big deal, making it look as if it had been widely confirmed.
Try reading [7], also Gardner's book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. , also [8], etc.
Finally, people wanted to believe that the experiment was correct: "The best historical account of this debate, that of Mary Jo Nye, explains the apparent success of blondlot's group in terms of the crowd psychology of early twentieth-century French science: its interest in speritualism, its fierce national and local pride, and the tight networks of influence and patronage that dominated career patterns at the time (Nye 1980)" [9] --Enric Naval (talk) 21:57, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Something of interesting note is that "Wood secretly removed an essential prism from the experimental apparatus, yet the experimenters still said that they observed N-rays". This means that another individual who disbelieved any subject that did not correspond with his view of reality, "who had a reputation as a popular "debunker" of nonsense during the period"(the world thought of being as round was once thought of as being nonsense once upon a time), deliberately sabotaged the experiment, going against the scientific method. He then expects the world to trust him on what he did or did not take out, when he is performing a what should be frowned down upon on act. How can you correctly expect a person to observe something when you sabotage it... This goes to show that many scientists will go to low depths to "debunk" various things, when in the process of debunking, they sabotage any hopes of learning the truth about a subject, and create more confusion. The scientific method exists for the purpose of learning more truths about the universe, and when a person sabotages it, they distort the truth, and this should be looked upon highly as scientific malpractice, if there ever is such a term. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:21, 20 October 2012 (UTC)

N ray versus N-ray[edit]

The article is currently titled "N ray" but most of the article refers to "N-rays". Although Blondlot originally called them "N rays", "N-ray" seems to have very quickly become just as popular a term in the literature (see my list of references here). "N-ray" is also used at other related pages such as Pathological science, Robert W. Wood; however, "N ray" is used at Prosper-René Blondlot. There is perhaps also an argument for keeping this article consistent with X-ray (where the hyphen is used). I suggest moving this page to N-ray and making changes where necessary for the sake of consistency. Thoughts? Una LagunaTalk 08:07, 26 August 2014 (UTC)