The scientific jury may still be out on cold fusion, but some social scientists have already reached the verdict that the spectacle has been good for science. Just as a political scandal can invigorate politics by showing the public how it works, the cold fusion story has benefited science by exposing its hidden side, according to a panel of scientists, philosophers, and sociologists who met last month at the University of California, San Diego. "We saw science in the making. We learned a lot about the politics of science-and big bucks," said Bruno Latour, a UCSD sociologist and anthropologist. Even if the work of Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann turns out to be a bust, other panel members said, the public has learned something about fusion, and discovered that scientists are just as political, competitive, and profit-driven as other people.

In a surprising show of support for Pons and Fleischmann,...

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