Defying the sceptics

JAPAN'S ministry of international trade and industry, in collaboration with major Japanese firms and universities, has committed $30 million over four years to research "cold fusion". The theory holds that hydrogen atoms can undergo fusion at room temperatures in small rods of palladium saturated with deuterium, the heavy form of hydrogen.

The research into producing energy from cold fusion will be undertaken despite the scepticism that has hung over cold fusion claims, initially made by two scientists in March 1989.