Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More on bubble fusion business

An article published online in Nature on February 13, 2007 by free lance writer Eugenie Samuel Reich included charges by Univerity of Illinois professor Ken Suslick against an investigation of bubble fusion work done at Purdue:

"They apparently narrowly focused the charge and avoided the question of whether the research was doctored," says Ken Suslick, a chemist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has been attempting to replicate Taleyarkhan's claims. Suslick is one of several researchers worried that Taleyarkhan's work may be fraudulent, and he wrote to Purdue about his concerns in June 2006. These include the apparent duplication of data between reports of supposedly independent experiments4 (first raised by Nature), and a report5 that the spectrum of neutrons that Taleyarkhan claims to have detected from bubble fusion exactly matches that of a standard radioactive source called californium. Taleyarkhan has since replied that when he measures neutrons emitted by californium in his lab, he finds something quite unlike what he sees from his fusion experiments6. But a recent preprint points out that Taleyarkhan omitted some of the original spectral data in his reply, and that the full data set still looks like californium7.

IPBiz notes that a subsequent inquiry by Congressman Brad Miller evolves from the failure of Purdue to deal with the charges raised by Suslick in June 2006. Both Suslick and Taleyarkhan receive money from DARPA in this area. Reich wrote:

The university never responded to Suslick's concerns. Peter Dunn, Purdue's associate vice-president for research, told Nature that he believes the university followed its procedures. He declined to comment on why he never replied to Suslick, or on whether evidence related to Suslick's concerns was forwarded to either inquiry. Purdue hasn't revealed the identities of the members of the second inquiry panel, but Dale Compton, a professor of industrial engineering at Purdue and a member of the first panel, says he has no recollection of being asked to consider the questions about Taleyarkhan's data.

IPBiz notes that Reich questioned the procedure of the inquiry at Purdue:

Lefteri Tsoukalas, who asked Purdue to investigate Taleyarkhan in February 2006, has called the announcement "an outrage". Tsoukalas was head of Purdue's nuclear-engineering school until he resigned in October 2006 in protest at the way the university was handling the concerns. He notes that the usual procedure for handling allegations of scientific misconduct is to hold a preliminary inquiry, then either proceed with an investigation or close the matter. That did not happen in this case; instead, the university ran a second preliminary inquiry. Apart from Tsoukalas, calls by Nature have failed to locate anyone who raised concerns about Taleyarkhan's work who was interviewed during either inquiry. "Purdue's finding is as mysterious as bubble fusion itself," says Tsoukalas.

IPBiz notes that Reich brings up Putterman:

Seth Putterman of the University of California, Los Angeles, who has also been trying to replicate bubble fusion, thinks that Taleyarkhan's work is invalid. "Purdue's defence of Taleyarkhan's approach to scientific research taints their reputation," he says. "If Purdue were interested in maintaining their credibility they should have appointed external members to their panel." Mason, who is ultimately responsible for academic affairs at Purdue, did not respond to Nature's requests for comment.

Reich did not mention that Putterman received funding to do the investigation from Britain's BBC and Reich did not mention capital equipment Putterman may have received in the course of this inquiry. Reich DID mention money received (an spent) by Taleyarkhan:

Suslick, Putterman and Taleyarkhan had received funding from the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for a project to test Taleyarkhan's original claims. Taleyarkhan has spent around US$200,000 of this money on his bubble-fusion experiments. A spokeswoman for DARPA, Jan Walker, told Nature that although Purdue has not formally notified the agency of the inquiry or its results: "We are aware that an inquiry has taken place and are currently reviewing what, if any, action is required on our part."

IPBiz has discussed this matter before. For example:

Brian Josephson on Eugenie Reich and bubble fusion

The use of free lance writers by Nature: stem cells and bubble fusion


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