Saturday, March 31, 2007

Purdue response date on Taleyarkhan extended to April 5

The letter of Congressman Brad Miller to the President of Purdue University gave Purdue until 5pm on Friday, March 30, 2007 to turn over the report on the investigation into Taleyarkhan's work on bubble fusion. What happened? Reports attributed to AP are all over the map.

The most accurate account of the deadline matter is probably that attributed to RICK CALLAHAN, and run by the SouthBendTribune. Of the deadline matter:

Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said Friday [March 30] that the university intends to provide all of the information requested by Miller's committee, which originally set a deadline of Friday but extended that until April 5 at Purdue's request.

There are some issues with the Callahan story. Callahan noted:

That statement, and the fact that taxpayer money - including about $800,000 from the Department of Defense - has been spent trying to independently recreate Taleyarkhan's findings caught the attention of the House Committee of Science and Technology. IPBiz notes that if an earlier IPBiz commenter is correct, the $800K went to UCLA/Putterman, largely for a capital equipment purchase. Presumably, the capital equipment is still there and available for other uses. IPBiz separately notes that money spent to independently re-create findings was an issue in the frauds of Jan-Hendrik Schon and Hwang Woo-Suk. The waste in resources imposed by such exercises is clear evidence that the "rational ignorance" approach of Mark Lemley should be repudiated.

Of the issue raised by Purdue of confidentiality, the Callahan story states:

Norberg said the university cannot comment on the nature of those allegation because a university policy prevents the release of information about misconduct investigations because those could damage the reputations of researchers, including those making the charges.

"That policy was established not only to give us an outline for how to do a review but to do it in such a way that it did not harm someone's reputation in the process," she said.

IPBiz notes that in the Baltimore/Imanishi-Kari matter, a lot of people changed their minds, and Baltimore got an apology of sorts from the New York Times. (see discussion in 88 JPTOS 239) IPBiz notes that Purdue officials have sent letters to the New York Times and Nature, apparently criticizing THEM for not fully explaining the confidentiality policy. [See text at the end of this post.]

Callahan noted there were criticisms of Taleyarkhan's work:

At the same time that Science paper appeared, however, two Oak Ridge researchers took the unusual step of publishing dissenting research saying that Taleyarkhan's work was inaccurate.

IPBiz notes that the more unusual aspect is that the journal agreed to publish work criticizing something appearing in Science. See 88 JPTOS 743 for a case in which Science dug in its heels and stood by a false story.

Callahan talked about the article in Nature in March 2006:

In March 2006, two Purdue researchers claimed in an article in the British journal Nature that Taleyarkhan had attempted to thwart their efforts to test his "bubble fusion" claims. They also said their confidence in his work has been seriously shaken.

IPBiz notes that one without background in this story might think two Purdue researchers AUTHORED an article in Nature. The March 2006 article was authored by Eugenie Reich, a free lance journalist. Reich had also authored an article published in Nature in this time period suggesting Baltimore might be guilty of more fraud.

Callahan had a quote from Ken Suslick on March 30, 2007:

Suslick said he wrote to Purdue last June, before the first inquiry was completed, raising those and other concerns. He said Purdue officials never contacted him about that letter.

"The Purdue administration has been as nontransparent and as obscure about what their investigation concerned as they could possibly be," Suslick said Friday [March 30].

Of other reports attributed to AP-->

In an AP report dated March 30 used by ABC7Chicago:

The committee has given Purdue until April 5th to turn over copies of the panel's findings. (...) Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg says the university intends to provide all of the information requested by the committee.

But in a posting of March 31 by, also citing AP, one has:

A congressional subcommittee has given Purdue until Thursday [March 29] to turn over copies of its findings into the allegations raised last year against Rusi Taleyarkhan, a professor of nuclear engineering.

Earlier IPBiz posts:

UPDATE: Miller/Purdue/Taleyarkhan/bubble fusion [including the comment about UCLA/Putterman]

***Purdue officials are criticizing media coverage***

BRIAN WALLHEIMER of the journalandcourier reported on March 29:

Provost Sally Mason and Charles Rutledge, Purdue's vice president for research, sent letters to The New York Times and Nature after both publications published articles about the university's unwillingness to discuss the investigation.

"The author of the article apparently is unaware of the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services' integrity guidelines require American institutions to protect 'the confidentiality of respondents, complainants and research subjects' when investigating allegations of misconduct," the letter to the Times said.

The fate of the letters is unknown:

Mason and Rutledge in their letters stood behind the policy and claim articles in Nature and the Times were unfair because it did not clearly outline the university's policy.

Employees at the Times and Nature said they could not find the letters in their archives and do not believe they have published them.


Post a Comment

<< Home