Panel finds misconduct by fusion scientist

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Panel finds misconduct by fusion scientist

Postby Access Denied » Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:36 pm

Original experiments six years ago met with widespread skepticism

I think this unfortunate incident perfectly illustrates why skepticism and peer review is important when dealing with any extraordinary claim, far too often we see it’s about a lack of critical thinking skills and disregard for the scientific method on the part of claimant or worse, fortune and fame, not the truth…

A Purdue University panel has found two instances of misconduct by a researcher who claims he produced nuclear fusion in tabletop experiments.

Rusi Taleyarkhan made headlines in 2002 when he published a paper in the journal Science claiming that he had produced nuclear fusion by making tiny bubbles collapse in a liquid. The new report found misconduct in subsequent papers.

The Purdue committee, which includes representatives from other schools, said that in a follow-up paper published in 2006 in Physical Review Letters, Taleyarkhan falsely claimed that his 2002 work had been independently confirmed.

The panel also found that in a pair of 2005 papers, Taleyarkhan added another person as an author even though that researcher did not substantially contribute.


The original paper six years ago was met with widespread skepticism. In an unusual move, Science published a companion piece from two researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee — where Taleyarkhan worked at the time — that said they could not reproduce the result.

Other scientists, including some at Purdue, where Taleyarkhan now works, have tried without success to independently reproduce his results.


The Associated Press left messages Friday for Taleyarkhan and his attorney. Taleyarkhan has contended that other scientists have replicated his work and has accused his critics of conflict of interest, jealousy and other motives. He filed a defamation lawsuit this year accusing two Purdue professors of trying to destroy him and his reputation.

The Purdue committee submitted its findings in April to the Office of Naval Research, which funded some of Taleyarkhan's research. Purdue said Friday the naval office accepted the report, calling it prompt, thorough and objective.

"From small beginnings there developed a tangled web of wishful thinking, scientific misjudgment, institutional lapses and human failings," the committee wrote. "Each strand could have been resolved separately, but knitting them together produced a crisis."


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