Billionaire owner of Anne Klein and Nine West provides $5 million for Missouri University Cold Fusion research

Columbia Tribune – Sidney Kimmel, founder and chairman of The Jones Group — which includes brands such as Anne Klein, Nine West and Gloria Vanderbilt — donated the money through his charitable foundation.

The money will be used to create the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance, SKINR, which will involve researchers from the Missouri University Research Reactor and physics, engineering and chemistry departments.

Mostly, MU scientists will be trying to figure out why excess heat has been observed when hydrogen or deuterium interacts with materials such as palladium, nickel or platinum under extreme conditions. Researchers don’t know how the heat is created, nor can they duplicate the results on a consistent basis.

“It’s a chance to turn cold confusion to real understanding and opportunity,” said Rob Duncan, MU’s vice chancellor for research.

Duncan has called on the scientific community to stop trying to label the phenomenon before figuring out what causes it. The gift, he said, will let MU’s research team focus on the pure science without being distracted by trying to find uses for it.

If MU researchers were to be the first to figure out what is fundamentally occurring when excess heat is created, it would be incredible, Duncan said. But he also wants the team to focus on basic science, not the hype.

“Until we know what this is, I’m not going to speculate wildly about what it may lead to,” he said. “Let’s figure it out and go from there.”

Kimmel is one of four billionaires in the United States who have given more than half of their wealth to philanthropy, according to Business Week. Since 1993, the Sidney Kimmel Foundation and its foundation for cancer research have committed more than $750 million to philanthropic causes.

Kimmel first called Duncan after the latter appeared on a CBS “60 Minutes” episode about cold fusion. Two weeks ago, Duncan found out about the gift, which also includes some new equipment.

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