This is going to sound nuts but a few days ago I was bubbling hydrogen and oxygen through some soapy water and there was an ignition at the end of the hose in the soapy water.
At first I thought I had had a short in the hydrogen generator bottle and the glow was a reflection in the bottle containing the soapy water but when I pulled the hose out of the water the end was burned.
When this originally occured I immediatly pulled the alligator clip connecting the electrode to the power supply off fearing an explosion.
There was nothing in the bottle containing soapy water but the nylon hose.
I had just cleaned the electrodes in the generator with alcohol.
Did this really happen? was it cold fission?
Let me scold you. What are you doing, playing with hydrogen and oxygen? That can be dangerous.
They react explosively and create water, which is benign of course, but the reaction releases a lot of heat.
It's a pretty well-known reaction. You could have hurt yourself. I often used to do a demonstration of reacting hydrogen with oxygen--it's a common classroom demonstration--but it scared the crap out of me because it made such a loud bang.
The heat release does not have anything to do with a nucleus of an atom, so it is not fusion or fission.
We always have to be careful of reductionist logic--that is, you assume that because nuclear reactions are dramatic, your dramatic reaction was nuclear. Reductionist logic leads to flawed conclusions.
Reductionist logic is like saying that
all cats have tails
dogs have tails
therefore all dogs are cats
Back to the reaction!
The heat release is the type that has to do with bonds breaking (which consumes energy) and new bonds being made (which releases energy). All classic chemical reactions have this sort of thing going on, bond breaking and/or bond making.
In fact, bond breaking and/or bond making is a good way to define a chemical reaction. Nuclear reactions, on the other hand, don't have anything to do with bonds, but with changes on the inside (nucleus) of an atom. They are relatively less frequent--thank goodness!
In the case of chemical reactions that release energy, more energy is released in the making of new bonds (which I view as sort of like releasing a spring, allowing two attracted atoms to come together and bond) than is consumed in the breaking of bonds, so you get a net release of heat.
Chemical reactions in general either release heat ("exothermic") , or consume it (endothermic.")
Bonds are made of electrons, which are on the outside of an atom, so again, nothing nuclear is going on here! Some reactions just release a lot of heat and sometimes light. If they release a lot, we call that an "explosion".
I hope that helps. Now please be careful with those gases!
PS, I was lucky enough to be in the chem building as an undergraduate student at the University of Utah right when Pons and Fleischmann made their exciting announcement about possibly causing cold fusion using electrochemistry. This announcement was premature, given they weren't sure what happened, and it seems they ended up honestly misleading themselves, but still...I sympathized with them, and was thrilled to be in an audience listening to Dr. Pons humbly relate to us all what he did and what the results were. It was a historic moment.
Lesson: Think twice and three times and then some more about what you think is actually going on.