Ruggero Santilli is a fascinating person. Once a scientist with an apparent normal career, now a fringe scientist running his own ‘scientific’ institute, publisher of two journals and founder of a dubious company which sells gas for welding purposes. He seems to have completely turned his backed on regular science, but at the same time wants to hold up the appearance of a serious scientist and tries to get some of his articles published in regular journals.
When one of those was debunked, he asked one of the scientists of his Institute for Basic Research, Jerdsey Vladimir Kadeisvili, to write a defense. This was published as well.
Kadeisvili, however, is just an alias of Santilli, as will get clear when you read on. But I must warn you: according to Kadeisvili/Santilli I’m ‘a threat to America and mankind.‘
HHO and magnecules in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
While I was doing research for an article on cars which ‘run on water’, I encountered more than one reference to the research of Ruggero Santilli. It was in fact a tweet by Diederik Samsom (now leader of the Labour Party in the Netherlands) that drew my attention to Santilli. I had never heard of him before, but now found out that Santilli already was widely known as a fringe scientist.
In 2006 Santilli published an article in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (IJHE): “A new gaseous and combustible form of water”. In this article Santilli claims to have found a new gas, HHO, which he produces using a (patented) apparatus from distilled water. It’s different from the stochiometric mixture of H2 and O2, you would expect to get from the process which looks like electrolysis. Santilli substantiates his claims by presenting all kinds of measurements, which results cannot be explained by assuming it to be a well known gas (or mixture). His explanation is revolutionary: there must be another kind af atomic bond and his HHO-gas is in fact the first of a family of new molecules, Magnecules. HHO, Santilli explains should be written as (H x H) – O, where ‘-‘ is the conventional molecular bond, and ‘x’ is the new ‘magnecular’ bond.
Comments and rebuttal of comments
In the same journal (IJHE) professor J.M. Calo (Brown University, Providence, USA) wrote some comments on Santilli’s claims. Although the article is modestly titled Comments on“A new gaseous and combustible form of water,” by R.M.Santilli, it comes down to a complete debunk. Almost no paragraph in Santilli’s article is without error or complete misunderstanding of the measurements involved. Calo concludes:
The author provides absolutely no scientific evidence that supports the existence of a new form of matter called “HHO gas.” From the data presented, the gaseous product from the electrolyzer behaves in the same manner as would be expected of a mixture of hydrogen, oxygen, and watervapor.
The most important anomalies which Santilli presents, can be easily explained if you don’t forget that while doing the electrolysis as he does, you also wil get some watervapor in the resulting mixture of gasses. Santilli does not give any thought to this.
Now things start to get even more interesting. In reaction to this debunking article by Calo came two articles defending Santilli: one by Irish scientist Martin O. Cloonan (which I will not discuss here in detail, but I mention something about it in the comments below this article) and one by J.V. Kadeisvili, co-worker of Santilli in his Institute of Basic Research (IBR). Kadeisvili’s article is titled: Rebuttal of J.M. Calo’s comments on R.M. Santilli’s HHO paper.
It’s very peculiar. I doesn’t actually contain any scientific argument against Calo’s comments. Main points of Kadeisvili are that all measurements were acknowledged by the labs performing those on request by Santilli. ‘Under the pains and penalties of perjury, the Director of the blabla Laboratory of blabla, released a signed statement‘ is the kind of text you might expect in a court case, not in a scientific article. He concludes that Calo can’t be taken seriously until he has attempted to replicate Santilli’s experiments. A weird view on science. He who makes the most bizarre claims should be presenting convincing evidence before those claims can be accepted:
An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.
Who is Kadeisvili?
I became a bit more interested in Kadeisvili, when I read the remarkable story of Brazilian professor Waldyr A. Rodrigues Jr.: “A sad story”, in which he describes his cooperation with Santilli and how it ended. Rodrigues mentions that he suspected that several people around Santilli are in fact aliases of Santilli himself (he mentions dr. George F. Weiss, Editorial Manager IBR). Now Rodrigues himself is involved in some rather obscure business, so one could argue that something else could be behind this accusation.
But with respect to Kadeisvili, I had the same feeling. His style looked so similar to writings of Santilli and I could not find any biographical information on him. Almost all of his publications are in journals controlled by Santilli. Santilli states that hundreds of scientists are connected to his IBR, but when I looked with Google Street View at the address (150 Rainville Road,. Tarpon Springs, FL 34689), it surely does not look like a scientific institute.
From information on one of the websites of Santilli it becomes clear that more people suspect that the IBR is in fact a one man show. In an attempt to tackle some of these critical sounds, Santilli admits that at least one person who works in the societies that protect his work, is using a pseudonym (look for ‘William Pound’ in http://www.scientificethics.
Mailing with Kadeisvili/Santilli
I send e-mails to the addresses of the IBR and the Santilli Foundation in which I kindly asked for some background information on Kadeisvili, his curriculum vitae and possibly a photograph, mentioning that I was writing an article on different theories on HHO-gas. The first reaction of dr. George F. Weiss set the tone for the following communications:
Subject: Re: request for information about Prof. Kadeisvili
Dear “Mr.” Pepijn van Erp,
We would gladly cooperate not only by putting you in touch with Professor Kadeisvili (who is interested in direct exchanges with you), but also to provide you samples of similar gases (at no cost) for measurements before you throw any mumbo-jambo conceptual gyration, as well as copies of ongoing scientific and industrial developments in the field that are now receiving millions of $$$ invested from the industry (see attachment)!!! while the field is completely ignored in academia!!! to their evident peril!!!
However, before doing so, we want to know who are you, perhaps by providing us your CV. We also request the email of Mister Calo (mister because he wrote a note of criticism on Prof. Santilli HHO paper with zero technical knowledge in the field – something serious scholars certainly do not do!) so that he can receive copies of the correspondence since we do not do thin gs in the back.
Additionally, we wan t to stress that your evident suppression of scientific democracy did hit me in the eye, by carefully calling Cale “Prof.” while calling the discoverer of the new species, Prof. Santilli, as
“Mr.”, and reaching the much offensive absence of any title for Martin Clonan, a real Professor in Ireland.
Richard Anderson, Trustee of The R. M. Santilli Foundation, was even a bit more upset by my inappropriate addressing of Santilli:
Subject: Re: request for information about Prof. Kadeisvili
Prof. calo and Mr. Santilli??? You are a wako
I kept on asking for the cv of Kadeisvili or at least the names of the universities where he studied and got his PhD. And finally I got an e-mail from Kadeisvili himself!
Subject: Erp’s serious cience or blabling??
Mr. Erp, you want to write an article on Prof. Santilli’s new chemical species of magnecules?? Come on !! You do not have the knowledge.In the event you and mister Calo had a minimum of science in mind you would repeat the measurements first before blabbling. At any rate, I provide it below in the event you are not scamming.
Note that he doesn’t seem to be able to spell his own name correctly. To make a long story short: the correspondence went on for several e-mails, but no cv of Kadeisvili was ever provided. Things got more nasty after I stated that I had to assume that Kadeisvili does not exist, because they couldn’t answer my simple questions. In the end I received an e-mail by Richard Cox, member International Committee on Scientific Ethics and Accountability. It starts as follows:
Subject: The returned defecations
Prof. Kadeisvili provide you quite nicely various scientific information and references on Prof. Santilli’s magnecules and their industrial applications, and also invited you to be part of their forthcoming course on hadronic mechanics, and you answer with this filth below! You are a dirty filthy puking man in great need of some legal fixing for which our Committee has been set forth and fully funded, that’s what we do, fixing human filth in science, and here is part of the action going on to fix you.
Our specialized Investigative Agency on scientific filth that includes former CIA operatives has already “bugged” your computer and is now collecting info to identify your real name, affiliation and ethnic connotation.
Wow! And this goes on for a while. Here I will only give the last sentence, which is a gem as well:
As Professor Kadeisvili put it with gentle language very inappropriate for your filth “you are a threat to America and mankind.”
You can read the entire correspondence in Mailing with Ruggero Santilli – looking for Prof JV Kadeisvili – April-May 2012 (pdf-file). Later I noticed that two of the ‘people’ mailing me (George Weiss and Richard Andersson), where using the same computer. The headers of the mails give:
Received: from 126.96.36.199 (HELO Ruggero-Santillis-MacBook-Pro.local)
Editor and Founding Editor in Chief of IJHE – family business?
After this experience it was clear to me: Kadeisvili does not exist and is just an alias of Ruggero Santilli. Now what? I had already sent an email to the Editor in Chief of IJHE, Emre Veziroglu, before my correspondence with Santilli/Kadeisvili, to ask if he had any information on Kadeisvili. He had nothing that could help me. After the experience described above, I wrote to him again about my suspicions, without providing the nasty details of the correspondence. I did learn however that Founding Editor in Chief of IJHE, is professor T. Nejat Veziroglu, father of Emre. In 2008 he received the Santilli – Galilei Academy Award as can also be seen in the following clip of the ceremony (from 3:00):
The Santilli – Galilei Academy (SGA) doesn’t exist any more; a copy of its website can still be found and mentions Nejat Veziroglu as a ‘member’. The SGA’s successor seems to be the Telesio-Galilei Academy, an association (still) full of fringe scientists. They probably broke up with Santilli after the problems Rodrigues had with him as mentioned before. Emre Veziroglu told me his father had received an invitation by Santilli to visit the IBR, but had never had the opportunity to go there.
All this took place in April-May 2012. After that I didn’t pay much attention to Santilli’s actions until a thread on the forum of the Skeptics Society about Magnegas was revived: MagneGas, Anyone? It all had become a bit more clear to me how important it is for Santilli and Magnegas to keep up the appearance of a serious scientific researcher.
Santilli’s science, business and other issues
The Magnegas company is selling gas mainly for welding purposes. They claim it’s a gas that contains some of Santilli’s magnecular HHO-gas [see update]. But in reality it is just another syngas. All the official documents, like certifications, confirm this. Another claim is that Magnegas is a ‘green’ gas, it can be made out of liquid waste. From a recent press release:
TAMPA, Fla., March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — MagneGas Corporation (“MagneGas” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: MNGA), a global gasification technology Company that safely converts liquid waste into a hydrogen-based metal working fuel and a clean natural gas alternative, presented its patented liquid waste to energy solutions to the House and Senate Science and Technology Committee at the Georgia State Capitol.
If you look carefully at the bottom of these press releases, however, you’ll notice the following statement:
The Company is currently using new ethylene glycol to produce fuel until proper permits to process used liquid waste have been obtained.
They never got a permit for using liquid waste, probably never will get one and I wonder if they ever really tried. Magnegas’ main business doesn’t seem to be selling gas but attracting small investors, who fall for the promise of Magnegas being a new miracle gas. That’s why it’s so important for Santilli to keep up the appearance of a real scientist.
The board of the company is filled with relatives. His son is now CEO, his daughter in law CFO and they all pay themselves good salaries. Meanwhile the company is making losses which run in the millions since start-up. It looks like a pyramid scheme. There are have been many similar business schemes like this one in the past and in other countries.
Santilli’s other oddities include nominating himself for Nobel prizes many times. Silly hobby, because the Nobelprize.org is quite clear that this is not the way it works: it’s by invitation only. Another more evil side of Santilli is his slanderous attack on a real Nobel prize laureate, Steven Weinberg. Santilli holds him responsible for getting him kicked out of Harvard in 1981. On the website scientificethics.org, another one of Santilli’s fake organisations, there is a sinister piece [archived link] about a letter which supposedly goes around in Arabic countries concerning a conspiracy of Jewish scientists including Weinberg. Santilli (actually his alias Richard Cox, which send me the nicest e-mail quoted above) claims to have found this on the Discussion page of Weinbergs Wikipedia page. It very much looks like a foul hoax in the style of The Protocol of the Elders of Zion to me.
New article by Kadeisvili in IJHE?
In the thread on the Skeptics Society forum a staunch defender of Santilli’s ideas (posting under nick ‘isodual’) pointed to a webpage on the Magnegas website for some lab results concerning Magnegas. But it also showed a new article by Kadeisvili, in press at IJHE! It has been accepted on Feb. 2nd 2013 and is available online since March 6th 2013.
That’s just four days after I had send another e-mail to Emre Veziroglu in which I urged him to get a good reference on Kadeisvili this time, before publishing this article. To substantiate my claims I had given him some excerpts of my correspondence with Santilli ‘cum suis’, similar to the ones above.
After a reminder a week later, I got a reply ( March 20th): they had checked the IBR’s website and it mentions Kadeisvili as Scientific Coordinator. Of course I replied that it’s a bit naive to even assume anything like this as credible evidence. If Santilli doesn’t mind to publish articles under another name, he won’t be troubled mentioning the same name as a co-worker on his own website.
Next step: Contacting Elsevier
As I didn’t have any confidence in Veziroglu doing a real investigation, I tried to find out if something could be done via the publisher of IJHE: Elsevier. On the Elsevier website a lot can be found about publishing ethics, but I found it impossible to find any information on what to do in case the Editor in Chief of the Journal is not willing to cooperate. So I wrote an e-mail to one of the Media Contacts of Elsevier, who I thought would be most appropriate, just asking what could be done and whom I could contact within the Elsevier organization with this problem (no names given, just an outline of the situation). No response after a week, so I sent a reminder. And another reminder after another week to the general newsroom address. And again. Never got a reply.
Full texts of the articles can be found on the websites of Santilli and on other sites:
- Ruggero Maria Santilli (2006). “A new gaseous and combustible form of water| (Int. J. Hydrogen Energy 2006: 31(9), 1113–1128)”(courtesy copy). International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 31 (9): 1113–1128.
- J. M. Calo (November 3, 2006). “Comments on “A new gaseous and combustible form of water” by R.M. Santilli (Int. J. Hydrogen Energy 2006: 31(9), 1113–1128)” (courtesy copy). International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (9): 1309–1312.
- J.V. Kadeisvili (2008). “Rebuttal of J.M. Calo’s comments on R.M. Santilli’s HHO paper”(courtesy copy). International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 33 (2): 918–921.
- Y. Yang, J.V. Kadeisvili, S. Marton (2013). “Experimental confirmations of the new chemical species of Santilli MagneHydrogen“, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Available online 6 March 2013. (full text)
I’ve written (in Dutch) about Ruggero Santilli and the Telesio-Galilei Foundation on Kloptdatwel.nl:
- De fantastische wetenschap van Ruggero Santilli
- Pseudowetenschap als dekmantel?
- Zaken doen met Francesco Fucilla
There’s a lot of interesting material in this thread on the Skeptics Society Forum: MagneGas, Anyone?
Published on May 30th 2013
On the website of the IBR something which is supposed to look like a cv of Kadeisvili (pdf) can now be found, dated December 2013. Unfortunately it’s just a list of publications. Looking for the interesting information you’ll only find: “(personal curriculum provided on request)”. Someone could give it a try …
The cv on the IBR website has been changed again, it now states that Kadeisvili lived from January 9th 1960 until January 16th 2014. So we are supposed to believe that dear old Jerdsay passed away the day before my previous update (pdf creation date Feb. 3 2014).
Santilli is officially not longer involved with the company. He stepped down as Chief Scientific Officer and Chairman of the board in 2013. Since then references to the claimed ‘special’ nature of Magnegas (that it contains magnecular substances) are nowhere to be found on the website (althought it was never that much highlighted before either, I think). The company does still mention the anomalous measurement of the flame temperature of MagneGas conducted by the Institute for UltraFast Spectroscopy and Laser of the City College of New York, with a broken link however. The report of that measurement is here (pdf), and if you ask me, I would indeed call this an anomalous measurement and not a measurement of an anomalous subtstance. It still doesn’t look like a financially solid company to me and they seem to be struggling to keep the MNGA stock listed on the NASDAQ, but I am not an expert on stockmarket operations.
See also: ‘The Continuing Stupidity of Ruggero Santilli‘ a blog on the Santilli telescope (Feb. 2016)