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In the first such report from a national laboratory, scientists at Los Alamos, N.M., reported Wednesday that an experiment there has produced strong evidence of a cold fusion reaction.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists said they had detected bursts of neutrons -- convincing evidence for a fusion reaction -- coming from an apparatus modeled after one used by a physicist at Brigham Young University, Steven Jones.

The level of energy produced by the Jones experiment, and apparently corroborated by the Los Alamos scientists, is 10 trillion times less than that reported by a group from the University of Utah and, therefore, much less likely to lead to a new commercial source of electric power.

Nevertheless, the occurrence of any fusion at all in a simple room-temperature device is considered to be of great scientific importance, many scientists say.

And it eventually might lead to a power source, although this could take decades.

The report, delivered Wednesday at an international meeting on cold fusion in Santa Fe, N.M., sponsored by the Los Alamos laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, was the first report from any national laboratory to support any aspect of the recent claims of room-temperature fusion.

Many scientists have said that confirmation by a national laboratory would be especially convincing because of these laboratories' sophisticated measurement devices and their extensive experience in analyzing nuclear reactions.

The more dramatic claims of B. Stanley Pons of the University of Utah and Martin Fleischmann of the University of Southampton in England, who said their simple device produced more energy than it used, have been supported by experiments at Stanford University and Texas A&M University, but not by any of the national laboratories.

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