By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Responding to evidence presented by allies of BlackLight, senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Max Cleland of Georgia say they want to know if an American Physical Society colleague of Park's at the State Department messed with Mills's application. One indication of outside influence noted by BlackLight attorney Jeffrey Melcher was that the patent office says it had lost the file when it ruled on the chemistry application. "That's not normal for an agency," says a Senate source. "If there's no record, how can you make a decision?"
The source says there may have been some improper contact by outside influences with patent officials, and points to Park's APS associate Dr. Peter Zimmerman, chief arms-control scientist at the State Department. Zimmerman boasted in an abstract for an upcoming APS lecture that "my own Department and the Patent Office have fought back with success" against "pseudoscientists," but didn't name his targets. His abstract railed against, among other things, inventors of "hydrinos."
A State Department official, who declined to be identified, said Zimmerman's abstract, which has since been removed, was missing a disclaimer explaining that he was speaking only as a private citizen. The official added that department employees are not allowed to use their titles outside of their official capacities. "The topic is totally outside our purview and mandate," the official said. "His views did not reflect those of the State Department."
Park and Zimmerman have certainly affected patent-office affairs before. Patent Examiner Tom Valone was invited by the State Department to organize an April 1999 Conference on Free Energy to explore alternatives to fossil fuels, many of which were controversial. Zimmerman told an APS gathering that Park asked him to put a stop to it.
"The week before I was to start [at the State Department] Bob [Park] sends me an e-mail, in which he tells me in some detail about the Conference on Free Energy under the sponsorship of the Secretary of State's Open Forum. It says, 'Pete, if you can't get that killed, what's the point of having you at the State Department?' "
Park says he then called "an investigative reporter" who writes for Science, suggesting he look into the patent office. The reporter, APS physicist David Voss, wrote a scathing article in the magazine's May 21 1999 issue describing Valone's personal interest in novel theories, while acknowledging he never approved patents with questionable backing. Nonetheless, Valone says the report contributed to his dismissal.
Mills has his own battles to wage. "We intend to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court," he says, "and enlist whatever resources it takes in Congress and industry to rightfully win this."