Sound waves blasting a liquid can create a pulsating, microscopic bubble of gas so ferociously hot that it emits light and tears apart molecules as it collapses. In a controversial report last March, researchers offered evidence that such a so-called sonoluminescent bubble's implosion attains temperatures and pressures high enough to make atomic nuclei fuse together (SN: 3/9/02, p. 147: Star in a Jar? Hints of nuclear fusion found—maybe).
Now, the first experiment to directly measure the chemical-reaction rates in individual, sonoluminescent bubbles reveals that the recombining of atoms in a collapsing bubble probably limits its temperature. The new results seem to splash cold water on the fusion findings.
Kenneth S. Suslick of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was already skeptical of the March report's conclusions before conducting the chemical-reaction experiments, he says. "From our results, we find [the fusion] claims eve