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Bubble Fusion Researcher Faces Fraud Trial 154

Posted by Zonk
from the some-days-it-is-not-hip-to-be-square dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In 2001, Rusi P. Taleyarkhan shocked the world by claiming he had successfully produced a positive net energy bubble fusion reaction; cold fusion. The New York Times reports that a congressional hearing is now under way against Taleyarkhan, even though Purdue University has already cleared the scientist of any wrongdoing. Dr. Taleyarkhan said last night in an e-mail message that the subcommittee's report represents 'a gross travesty of justice.' He asked, 'Where are the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the Asian community during this episode that has caused this biased and openly one-sided smear campaign?' You can view the full (colorful) e-mail at Dailytech."
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Bubble Fusion Researcher Faces Fraud Trial

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  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gma i l . c om> on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:42PM (#19087823) Homepage Journal

    In 2001, Rusi P. Taleyarkhan shocked the world by claiming he had successfully produced a positive net energy bubble fusion reaction; cold fusion.

    WOW, that's a loaded statement. Let me correct a few things:

    1. Taleyarkhan didn't report his research until 2002.

    2. I have never seen a source that claims that sonofusion is currently net positive. That's an incredibly difficult feat to achieve, and has been an active point of research.

    3. Bubble Fusion is NOT Cold Fusion any more than a Farnsworth-Hirsch Fusor [wikipedia.org] is. In fact, the reaction is hotter than hades. (About 10 megakelvins, or about as hot as the center of the sun.)

    The New York Times reports that a congressional hearing is now under way against Taleyarkhan, even though Purdue University has already cleared the scientist of any wrongdoing.

    This is a bit of a misstatement. According to TFA, the Congressional subcommittee that's responsible for funding various scientific endeavors into new energy sources asked Purdue to review its finding. So Purdue reopened the case, and is again putting Taleyarkhan through the wringer.

    On a side note, shouldn't this be listed under "Science" rather than "Hardware"?
    • by l2718 (514756) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:50PM (#19087953)
      That's for a highly informative post. In particular, I was wondering why it was the function of Congress to investigate scientific fraud. Certainly if they pay for energy research they want to find out what the results are. One remark: any fusion will be hot in your sense. "Cold fusion" means that most of the apparatus is at room temperature (compare the device in question with a Tokamak).
      • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gma i l . c om> on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:13PM (#19088335) Homepage Journal
        Cold Fusion is "cold" because it has a relatively low energy input for the energy output. In addition, the apparatus can be initiated at room temperatures. Sonofusion, OTOH, requires a great deal of energy to be poured into the system before obtaining any energy back out. The apparatus also does not "start" at room temperatures, but receives powerful sonic waves to initiate the reaction. If you scaled it up to the size and complexity of Tokamak, you'd end up with a similar energy budget and "extremely hot" design. (Assuming that sonofusion is a viable concept to begin with.)

        You need to remember, Tokamak is basically a REALLY LARGE Farnsworth-Hirsch Fusor. It uses different technologies to accomplish its goal, but both devices perform plasma confinement to achieve fusion.
        • by Sensible Clod (771142) <dc-7@@@charter...net> on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:38PM (#19088789) Homepage
          Instead of modding, I had to reply.

          Tokamaks and Fusors do indeed work by plasma confinement, but the methods are so different that you can't really call a Tokamak a big Fusor. Tokamaks use magnetic fields to try to force the plasma together, while Fusors use the charge of the plasma itself [wikipedia.org] to keep it together. In addition, instead of inducing massive current in the plasma to heat it, Fusors simply accelerate the particles to the energies necessary, because of the favorable MeV/K conversion (for example, 15 keV = 174 megakelvins) [wikipedia.org], thus making the device far simpler and easier to operate (just compare the size of a typical Tokamak to that of a typical Fusor), as well as requiring much less energy.

          Again, your point is valid, but Tokamaks aren't that similar to Fusors.
      • by gr8_phk (621180) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:40PM (#19088821)

        One remark: any fusion will be hot in your sense.
        Not necessarily. Using kinetic energy to overcome the electrostatic repulsion of nuclei would be hot. Finding a way to lower the barrier or tunnel through it need not be hot. The original cold fusion concept involved palladium saturated with hydrogen - a state that wasn't well understood at the time and may well be different than considering a 2 atom system in a hot low density environment. Anyway, I always thought "cold fusion" meant not using huge kinetic energy to make it work regardless of the scale.

        On another note. I always found it interesting that D+D = He4 fusion is rejected by the physicists because the resulting He4 would have too much energy and eject a neutron to become He3. So why then does He4 constitute 90-something percent of the naturally occurring helium? What is the reaction that is supposed to produce this atom? It's just a question, I'm not claiming anyone is right or wrong with this. I really want to understand where it is supposed to come from.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TeknoHog (164938)

          One remark: any fusion will be hot in your sense.

          Not necessarily. Using kinetic energy to overcome the electrostatic repulsion of nuclei would be hot.

          Then there's also Muon catalyzed fusion [wikipedia.org]. Muons are basically heavier versions of electrons, and when they replace electrons in a hydrogen molecule, the two nuclei are forced closer together for easier fusion.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:39PM (#19089755)
          The fairly well accepted nuclear fusion cascade that produces He4 (i.e. the sun) goes a bit like this...

          (1) H + H = D + positron + energy (since really H is all that is around initially)

          (2) D + H = He3 + energy

          (3) He3 + He3 = He4 + 2*H

          From what I remember from the classes I've had covering this, there is a lot of energy considerations and collisional cross section issues that make it occur this way. 2 deuteriums would indeed make a He4 nucleus that is too unstable to last very long, so it undertakes this somewhat convoluted but more quiescent path. Also in these considerations usually H is in much better supply than D is, so the probabilities are better for (2) to happen than your way.

          IIRC in certain situations (like a nuclear bomb) when you can do it there is also the possibility of

          (4) Tritium + H = He4 + energy

          but I'm pretty sure that you need to seed that with quite a bit of tritium to get it to work reliably.
        • by wowbagger (69688) on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:03PM (#19092429) Homepage Journal
          It's called the Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen cycle [wikipedia.org].

          Just as a chemical catalyst reduces the energy needed to perform a chemical reaction, and allows certain reactions to take place that couldn't happen directly, so does a nuclear catalyst allow nuclear reactions to take place at lower energies than would otherwise be needed.

          This also explains why oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon are so common, as well.
          • by mdsolar (1045926)
            Actually, the CNO cycle happens at higer energies. The proton-proton chain runs at lower energies. The CNO cycle is favored at high energies because the proton-carbon fusion goes at a faster rate at higher energies than proton-proton fusion despite carbon being rare compared to protons. The CNO cycle does not increase the abundance of these elements. They are relatively more common owing to He fusion wich happens after the hydrogen fuel is exhausted.
            --
            Get proton-proton chain fusion now! http://mdsolar.b [blogspot.com]
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I always found it interesting that D+D = He4 fusion is rejected by the physicists because the resulting He4 would have too much energy and eject a neutron to become He3. So why then does He4 constitute 90-something percent of the naturally occurring helium? What is the reaction that is supposed to produce this atom?

          Good question. A quick bit of research leads me to believe that, at least in stars around the size of our Sun, the answer is the proton-proton chain reaction [wikipedia.org]. It starts off with individual hydr
        • by mdsolar (1045926)
          Most of the helium in the universe was produced as the universe expanded and cooled from a very hot state, so hot and dense that is is thought that the forces of nature had similar strengths (physics was quite different). Once the universe has cooled enough to form deuterium and have it stick around for a little rather than breaking apart again then nucleosynthesis could proceed. The universe is cooling and rapidly so the neutrons are coming from an equilibrium state of about equal to the the protons but
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      A minor nit: Purdue has been asked to re-open the case, but as of the writing of the article, has not (but I'm sure Purdue will).

      Food for thought -- just supposing Taleyarkhan really produced sonofusion (however much of a stretch that might be), who stands to gain and who stands to lose if someone really produces a net-positive energy fusion reaction? How quickly would Congresscritters bought and paid for by big oil want to shut him up?

      I'm not saying he did or didn't do it -- it's just that I'm betting if
      • by t0rkm3 (666910) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:14PM (#19088349)
        Actually more than a few of the "OIL" companies are really "ENERGY" companies, and they have more than ample assets in nuclear fuels.

        They hedged that bet a long time ago.

        So, fission, fusion, whatever the "ENERGY" companies have expertise and resources to do it on a huge scale, which will net them a profit...

        Corporations are smarter than you think... for the most part.
        • by Surt (22457)
          The problem with 'cold'/'tabletop' fusion for the oil/energy companies is that as soon as such electrical generation becomes convenient, we'll:
          a) stick it in our cars and stop buying gas (for the most part, they do not sell water, nor would it be nearly as easy for them to obtain a bottleneck on water distribution).
          b) stick it in our homes and stop buying electricity from the grid
          c) stick one in our business buildings and stop buying electricity from the grid

          That pretty much covers 100% of the profitability
          • Well, I think you misinterpret cold fusion (based on comments above). That said, "cheap electricity," even if it's from the grid, would hurt production of heating oil for northern homes (which is pretty good business). Oil burning power plants would also become a thing of the past. Needless to say, this would free up the refineries to produce more gasoline which would cause gasoline prices to drop and cut into profitability.
          • by Retric (704075)
            Using a 15kw fusion powered car would kill you VARY QUICKLY.

            There is no way to prevent the massive quantities of multi MV neutrons from activating the car with the ~4feet of shielding you could provide around such a device inside a car.

            Fusion produces significant quantities of radiation and significant quantities of radio active waste. You can't build a table top device that will safely create usefully amounts of energy so it's always going to be the domain of major power companies even if the core device
        • Yes, it sounds to me like someone with more $$$ in a commercial to profit from sense wants to patent a similar idea and needs to get this bloke discredited to do that then sue his pants off for copying them... What better way to be hailed as the inventor of something than pay off some regulatory body and have them discredit the original author (dubious as his claims may be).
      • by (negative video) (792072) <me@REDHATteco-xaco.com minus distro> on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:31PM (#19088647)

        Food for thought -- just supposing Taleyarkhan really produced sonofusion (however much of a stretch that might be), who stands to gain and who stands to lose if someone really produces a net-positive energy fusion reaction? How quickly would Congresscritters bought and paid for by big oil want to shut him up?

        American big oil would LOVE commercial fusion. North America is the Saudi Arabia of coal, tar sands, and oil shale, which lack only cheap energy to turn them into quality liquid fuels and chemical feedstocks. Cheap energy is also a prerequisite for turning fossil fuels into value-added plastics and nanofibers. Small fusion reactors would be excellent for the business of international cargo ships, and might even be adaptable to rail locomotives if the neutron flux is low enough. Fixed-location fusion reactors could also take up much of the New England heating load, perhaps even by effecient steam distribution in dense cities, freeing valuable fuel oils for transportation use, and freeing valuable natural gas for chemical synthesis. Cheap fusion would also help alleviate the impending fuel crisis caused by China's booming industrialization.

        What do these things have in common? They cut American, Chinese, and Japanese ties to Middle Eastern oil fields. That would leave graying, shrinking Europe as their last captive market, not an exciting prospect for an ambitious imperial theocrat or Saudi prince.

        Sure, commercial fusion would hurt some Big Oil markets, but overall I think it would open more opportunities than it closes. In the long run, all fossil fuels are destined to become more valuable for manufacturing than combustion.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by king-manic (409855)
          american energy would love it. OPEC would do their best to kill it. Remember OPEC can't migrate to selling fusion energy since all they got is oil and dirty money.
          • by Al Dimond (792444)
            If a cheaper, more plentiful source of energy than OPEC oil is developed outside of OPEC nations, OPEC quickly loses its influence. Its actions to kill anything would be pretty irrelevant at that point.
            • If a cheaper, more plentiful source of energy than OPEC oil is developed outside of OPEC nations, OPEC quickly loses its influence. Its actions to kill anything would be pretty irrelevant at that point.

              I don't know if you remember but there was this one saudi family.. Bin something or other who was a personal friend of some politician guy they call dubya. The bins son got a lot of press a few years ago for co-ordinating some prank in NYC and some othe places. Well they are an influential member of OPEC and
        • Graying, shrinking Europe? The EU is expanding, the economy is on the rise in almost every sector in almost every member country (you've heard of the Irish Tiger?), and let's not forget that there are over 450 million of them.

          By contrast, as an American living in Europe, I have watched the buying power of my savings in USD drop by 40% vs. the Euro since 2001.

          Who is shrinking?
          • Graying, shrinking Europe?

            Native fertility is at or below replacement levels in much of Europe. There are lots of immigrants, but too many of them follow a religion that must not be named and/or are low-IQ Africans.

            If I were an oil prince, I would not be happy for them to be my last remaining market.

    • by Otter (3800) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:21PM (#19088459) Journal
      This is a bit of a misstatement.

      The more important error is that Purdue did *not* clear him of all wrongdoing, just of a sketchy authorship complaint. To quote the second and third freaking sentences of the article:

      The new inquiry goes beyond the focus of an earlier one, which looked at whether the professor, Rusi P. Taleyarkhan, improperly omitted himself as an author on two scientific papers. For the first time, a committee is examining whether the underlying research might have been fraudulent.
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:44PM (#19087857)
    ... to question him all day and then award him some grant money to help him find his missing "cold bubbles".
  • Lost credibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moderatorrater (1095745) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:45PM (#19087891)
    Invoking the names of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the two biggest perpetuators (is that a real word?) and perpetrators of racism in this country, loses all credibility in my eyes. Stand on your own two feet and let the facts speak for themselves.
    • by erroneus (253617)
      Worse yet: if there were "asian lawyer superstars" who might be considered capable of defending this man, they probably wouldn't consider him to be "asian" since he's not "oriental." (It has always been my pet peeve the way asian people of the orient have somehow taken over the meaning of asian simply because it sounds cooler than oriental leaving the REST of the people of asia without an ethnic identity -- effectively kicked out of the cool "asian" club.)
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by miletus (552448)
      You've got a very bizarre notion of what racism is.

      Do Jackson or Sharpton cause white people to be incarcerated at higher rates than black people, and get longer sentences from courts? Do they cause whites with the same income levels as blacks to be refused bank loans more often? Do they cause police to routinely harass and shoot white people at a higher rate than black people? Are they responsible for higher levels of environmental pollution in white neighborhoods as opposed to black?

      A classic sym
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        What Jackson and Sharpton do is live lives of hypocrites. That costs both them and anyone willing to cite them credibility. Period. That's the way it goes! Mind you, whitey ain't go no credibility, which is why no one notices when white politicians lie :P
      • Re:Lost credibility (Score:4, Informative)

        by superwiz (655733) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:55PM (#19089077) Journal
        Sharpton is personally responsible for at least a dozen ruined lives or murders. He's organized riots that brought deaths and ends of careers of innocent people.
      • by edawstwin (242027) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:01PM (#19089151)
        You're changing the argument, which is understandable since you can't argue the merits of Sharpton or Jackson. They certainly don't fight to improve the situations that you list.

        What Sharpton and Jackson do is insert themselves into situations where race is an issue for their own gain. They care nothing about the people involved - only the increase of their fame, wealth, and power. They frequently involve themselves in situations where their presence is not needed or wanted. The latest example is Jesse Jackson meeting with the Atlanta Braves because of the lack of black ballplayers on their roster. It's ridiculous to think that a professional sports team would want to hire any but the best players they can afford. If the Braves were in a position to hire Ryan Howard, Barry Bonds, and Derek Lee, do you think that they would hesitate because the players are black?

        The worst thing about Jackson and Sharpton is that they insult blacks because they further the notion that blacks need help to get ahead.
        • The worst thing about Jackson and Sharpton is that they insult blacks because they further the notion that blacks need help to get ahead.

          And specifically, that blacks need their help to get ahead. I'll admit, Jackson has said some good things along the way ... that black people need education to better their lives, for example. Obvious, of course, but nevertheless true. But it's all hot air: the man is a media hound and a hypocrite of the highest caliber. Were I black, and that man offered me some of his "h
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        It may not be popular to call a racist a racist if they happen to be black, but those two men definitely fit the definition. They have absolutely tried to push an agenda where a person is judged not by the quality of their character, but by the color of their skin. They are quick to accuse people of being racist just for having been born white.

        Your comments imply that if more black people commit crimes, white people must be racist. That is absolutely absurd. One could argue that these things could ha
      • Sharpton has gotten people of racial background different than his own murdered in NYC. Last I looked that was a good case for being a racist.

        Also have little far to look than this week to see how he is bigoted against people of certain religions. But then he has frequently made his opinion of so called "lower races" known. Only racists would look past that and support him.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:49PM (#19087949)
    Don't they mean "Rusi P. TaleyarKhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!"
  • There must be something im missing here, what motive could congress have to investigate this guy? This isnt some major incident, most of the public hasnt even heard about this. I wonder what they are after.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      I'm curious as to what jurisdiction congress has over the guy. If he's being tried for fraud, shouldn't he be in front of a judge and jury of his peers?
      • If he's being tried for fraud, shouldn't he be in front of a judge and jury of his peers?

        But then due process would be required.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kalidasa (577403)
        My guess is that you didn't RTFA. If you had, you'd realize that despite what the posting says, he is not "on trial for fraud" - he is undergoing a second ethics review at Purdue that is in response to new allegations that arose after he was cleared in an earlier one, and *in addition* a Congressional Subcommittee issued a report finding that the original review was not up to the standards to which they expect a university that receives Federal research funds to hold.
    • Re:congress? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Radon360 (951529) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:01PM (#19088137)

      From TFA, it would appear that it has to do with the administration of research grant money. If you make false/exaggerated claims, manipulate your results, omit your name from being party to research that substantiates your claims, all while having your research federally funded (at least partially), is why congressional oversight is getting involved.

      • From TFA, it would appear that it has to do with the administration of research grant money. If you make false/exaggerated claims, manipulate your results, omit your name from being party to research that substantiates your claims, all while having your research federally funded (at least partially), is why congressional oversight is getting involved.

        Haven't looked at academia in the last 50 years have you? It seems exaggerations and linking your research to the flavor of the week is essentially necessary t
        • by Radon360 (951529)

          So? Just because it seems like everyone else is doing it still doesn't make it right. He was called on it, and most unfortunately, there are many others out there who have even more agregious lapses in judgement and ethics who are not getting caught. If you're willing to play the game to hedge getting the rewards, then you darned well be willing to accept the risks and consequences that come with it.

          Yes, I agree with you that the grant system is broke, just like a myriad of thousands of other programs

          • Yes, I agree with you that the grant system is broke, just like a myriad of thousands of other programs in government. But using that reason as an excuse for unethical behavior? Where does this put your integrity as a scientist/researcher any further ahead?

            It's beyond broke. It actively punishes the honest by only granting to "keywords", "hot topics", and short term gain type of research. He's been cleared of any wrong doing already by his academic institution.

            Science isn't about "getting something for you
      • by Robotbeat (461248) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:39PM (#19088803) Journal
        I've done summer research for my Physics degree on Sonoluminescence, and I can definitely attest that it isn't a waste of grant money. I've read Dr. Taleyarkhan's sork, and I can say that a little deuterated water, some radiation detectors, and a piezo-electric speaker is a pretty cheap way to try to do fusion. So what if it never is going to achieve break-even? So what if only a few neutrons of fusion are produced, if any at all?

        Sonoluminescence is really one of the easiest, cheapest ways to achieve simultaneously high pressures and high temperatures in a controlled fashion. Seriously. All you need is a jar of (ideally "de-gassed" or boiled) water, a piezo-electric speaker, something to drive it with at a certain frequency, and another microphone to detect when you are in resonance. Heck, you don't even need a microphone (by the end of the summer, I had developed my sense of hearing that I could detect the resonance and achieve the sonoluminescence without a microphone and a scope).

        Trust me, people don't understand sonoluminescence well enough yet to actually rule out the possibility that enough heat and pressure occur to produce a few fusion reactions. These are a few of the something like a half-dozen theories on the source of the light of sonoluminescence: the Casimir effect (relativistic accelerating refractive index interfaces... more unlikely than sonofusion), Bremsstrahlung radiation, smeared spectral lines, and plain old Blackbody radiation.

        I am glad some research money went to this guy. I say he should get more! I mean, this is NOTHING like cold fusion, and I believe that money should be spread out when it comes to fusion research, not just concentrated into a money-hole like the ITER project, which if it produces any positive net-energy, it will be from burning the $100 bills of the tax-payers (not just US tax-payers, either).
        • Cold fusion gets little or no government funding. For the most part people work on in their spare time or have private funding. There was a slashdot article recently http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/ 0 5/2148217 [slashdot.org] implying that the Navy was supporting cold fusion research.

          Well, yes, in a way. There was some lab space that was used, but the funding level was a few thousand dollars from a discretionary account. No salaries were paid.

          I agree with you that diversity in research on fusion sh
        • by Prune (557140)
          Care to back up your attack on ITER?
    • by Detritus (11846)
      Oversight of federal research grants.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by ScentCone (795499)
      what motive could congress have to investigate this guy?

      Ask the person running congress: Nancy Pelosi. So far, her agenda (in terms of how to use the waking hours that congress has to do things) seems to be more or less entirely centered around pointless political spectacle. That IS the motive, and this would plug right into it... the appearance of gnashing their teeth over how federal money is spent, while simultaneously looking for ways to tack hundreds of millions in unrelated pork (spinach subsidies?
  • by countSudoku() (1047544) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:57PM (#19088059) Homepage
    'Where are the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the Asian community during this episode that has caused this biased and openly one-sided smear campaign?'

    Holy crap, I think the Asian community can do without the likes of people like Jesse "Heimy Town" Jackson and Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton. They represent their communities about as well as David Duke represents his...
    • by mi (197448)

      When one belongs to a minority (Asians, gays, whatever), claiming discrimination due to that is a common tactics.

      Whether one is sincere claiming that, and whether the discrimination really does play a role (two nearly independent things), is another story...

    • Irrespective of the merits of the reverends Jackson and Sharpton, and regardless of whether criticism of Teleyarkhan in this case is motivated by racism, it remains a fact there are no highly visible individuals or organizations that can create a big media storm against cases of anti-Asian or anti-Indian racism.
    • Sorry! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SixFactor (1052912)
      Er, I think us Asians are a bit under-represented in the "superstar lawyer / advocate" category.

      Not that it's a bad thing.

      Given that the US is generally an innocent-till-proven-guilty society, if it's case of fraud, the burden of proof is on the accuser, or in this case, the good (or bad) doc's teammate. But y'all knew that. Like lots of folks, I guess I'm puzzled why Congress should even bother: this is an academic tussle after all, and this is very far from settled science. Photo-op, maybe? Or,
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lawpoop (604919)

        Given that the US is generally an innocent-till-proven-guilty society

        That's true of our legal system, but the court of public opinion is guilty until proven innocent.

        As far as congress, they are simply doing what will get their faces, and more importantly their names in the media, so that they will win their next election. They would be getting free campaign advertising out of it, more than money can buy. They look like they are serving the public interest, when there are more pressing issues, which are more difficult to navigate politically. This issue is 'safe'. If they

  • Indian = Asian? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Palmyst (1065142)
    Yes, I know India is in Asia, but that is not the sense "Asian" is usually used in the US. Rusi Taleyarkhan is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (now Chennai)
  • by msauve (701917) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:05PM (#19088201)
    I thought that was Frank Lloyd Wright's studio?
  • by sbkrivit (1100689) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:09PM (#19088267)
    If Taleyarkhan has made errors of judgement with regard to the authorship of papers, I would sincerely like to know that and for him to come forward.

    On the other hand, mastershake_phd makes an interesting comment. "There must be something im missing here, what motive could congress have to investigate this guy? This isnt some major incident, most of the public hasnt even heard about this. I wonder what they are after."

    Run your clock back a year ago. He was accused of spiking his experiment with Californium. Turns out that that whole assault was based on theoretical calculations and speculation. As much as some people wanted to "prove" that he had committed experimental fraud, they have so far, failed to make their case.

    I suspect that there is much more to this story than reported by the Times. An inquisitive person who looks at the larger span of events, http://newenergytimes.com/BubbleTrouble/BFControve rsy.htm [newenergytimes.com] might wonder what is really going on here.

    As someone who has spent the last six years investigating controversial science, I have a good sense of the difficulties of new, poorly-understood science.

    The challenge of replication in unchartered scientific territory is not to be taken lightly and readily dismissed as "evidence" of non-science. Many people in the field of science, when pushed, will admit that one can never prove a negative, no matter how may attempts fail.

    I am also keenly aware of the multitude of human issues in high-profile science; among these, intellectual property, intellectual primacy, competition for funding and grants.

    The bold, outspoken criticisms of respected scientists in the popular media do not always make it easy for the lay reader to distinguish between science fact and science politics.

    The important question to ask here, is, why all the fuss, and why a Congressional inquiry about who is listed on a science paper?

    Steven Krivit Editor, New Energy Times
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Robert1 (513674)
      You're a crack-pot. I can prove it. See a crack-pot is someone who has no rationality and takes this on blind faith and impressive rhetoric. Your "The challenge of replication in unchartered scientific territory is not to be taken lightly and readily dismissed as "evidence" of non-science. Many people in the field of science, when pushed, will admit that one can never prove a negative, no matter how may attempts fail," comment proves that.

      Hey, if something can't be replicated its cause its NEW science, not
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreddnott (555950)
      Inability to replicate is what keeps most fringe sciences on the fringe. It's not taken lightly as you say, but very seriously as the concept of independent experiment replication is the foundation of the scientific method. These things take time, especially when even "hot" fusion hasn't reached the break-even point. How long did Phlogiston and Aether stay in the science books?

      All that aside, how did you get Arthur C. Clarke to write the foreword to your new book?
      • These things take time, especially when even "hot" fusion hasn't reached the break-even point.

        If you are referring to the point where fusion power created equals input power (ignoring the change in internal plasma energy), the reason is that no one is trying to do this. Most facilities cannot handle enough radiation to even run DT plasmas. The few places that can currently run DT plasmas can only do so in a very limited fashion, no where near enough to optimize the parameters. Reaching Q=1 is a easy as

    • by radtea (464814) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:32PM (#19089645)
      As someone who has spent the last six years investigating controversial science, I have a good sense of the difficulties of new, poorly-understood science.

      As someone who has actually done controversial science for a living, I have a good sense of how all science worth doing is new and poorly understood, and how little appreciation of that fact people on the fringe have.

      In every experiment there are things that make you go, "Hmmm..." Almost all of the time they are irrelevant, and it is a matter of taste and good judgement as to when you spend the time and effort to follow up on them. People who have never done real experiments or who are very badly trained fail to appreciate this, and therefore ascribe to every anomaly a significance that it does not have.

      There are several consequences of this: good scientists sometimes miss significant anomalies; bad scientists sometimes make important discoveries; good scientists spend almost all their time generating well-quantified reproducible results that accumulate to the betterment of humanity; bad scientists spend almost all their time pursuing irrelevant anomalies and telling everyone how smart they are.

      Every experimental scientist knows that it is possible to prove a negative, and we do it all the time. They are called null results. The entire field of physics beyond the standard model has been generating reams of these for the past couple of decades. We know, for example, that neutrinoless double beta decay does NOT happen with a lifetime of less than some large number. The ABSENCE of a signal is the result. Likewise, we know that the 17 keV neutrino does NOT exist, and the experiments that proved it were designed in the manner of all such: they demonstrated that A=>B, and then showed !B, and therefore !A by modus tollens.

      For example, if you have a working tachometer, and it reads zero, your engine is not running, because if your engine is running your working tachometer will read more than 100 RPM. Any such experiment involves a good deal of secondary experimental work to demonstrate that the tachometer really is working, and isolating it from any possible unexpected effects, but at the end of the day you are always detecting a phenomenon that is well-known, like a beta spectrum or the number of neutrons being produced, or in the case of a tachometer a spinning shaft.

      Fringe scientists have a tendency to invoke "new physics" to explain why no one else measures the shaft spinning when they do. Good scientists understand that spinning is spinning, no matter what causes it, and that for the fringe scientist to be right everything we know about tachometers must be wrong, and that is simply not plausible.
  • HEH (Score:3, Informative)

    by hurfy (735314) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:09PM (#19088269)
    I got bored/frustrated trying to decipher the article.

    I decided it is simpler to call it a good distraction for a few congresscritters so they don't attempt any real work and let it go at that ;)
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      Yeah I mean you wouldnt want them actually having to READ what they vote on now would you? Then they wouldnt be able to sneak obfuscated legal points into their legislations and tack them onto the end of things like the ability to fire/appoint attorney general's without congressional oversight and junk like that.
  • Correct response (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:17PM (#19088391) Homepage
    The correct response is, "If my research is correct it will be independently validated and these resurrected charges will prove moot."

    Instead Taleyarkhan responded with an Appeal to motive [wikipedia.org], a logical fallacy. Big red flag in my book.
    • If by "Hey, I've already been cleared once, what's the deal?" is an Appeal to Motive, then I guess that's true. Not that I'm impressed by his argument, I'm just considering the Double Jeopardy aspects.
    • by bigpat (158134)

      Instead Taleyarkhan responded with an Appeal to motive, a logical fallacy. Big red flag in my book.
      An appeal to motive? Are you nuts? :)

      An appeal to motive is what an accusation of fraud is. They aren't just questioning his results or theory, they are questioning his integrity. He is perfectly right to question their motives and not just their assertions, since they are questioning his.

      • by Spazmania (174582)
        No, an accusation of fraud boils down to a claim that you lied. You said X but when we checked it was really Y.

        Here, let me clarify:

        Not appeal to motive: "Rep. Miller's office intentionally omitted the positive findings and supporting evidence."

        Appeal to motive: "Why did this memo/letter from Rep. Miller's office intentionally
        omit ANY/ALL mention of the positive findings and supporting evidence? [...] Is this the American system we are to follow, or is it just politics as usual?"
        • by bigpat (158134)
          How is it different again? I think you are making arbitrary distinctions.

          What if Rep. Miller is playing politics and isn't motivated simply by his love and devotion to scientific truth? Isn't that a valid accusation to make? How is it less valid than questioning the motivation of the professor? This isn't a we found "Y" situation, this is a you said "X" and we found "Y" and "X" depending on who you ask and we think it was "X" because you seem a little sketchy. That ain't science.

          here is how I see it:
          - S
          • by Spazmania (174582)
            How is it different again? I think you are making arbitrary distinctions.

            The first statement presents facts which if correct directly refute the accusation. It is straightforward and provably true or false.

            The second statemtent, the one Taleyarkhan actually made, slides right past that refutation and instead asks the reader to envision the accuser as a corrupt politician whose statements cannot be taken seriously. Its argumentum ad hominem, specifically an appeal to motive. Its a false argument; the accusat
            • by bigpat (158134)
              The only question of scientific fact and of scientific merit here is whether the results of the experiment were accurate or not. I agree that on that question, an ad hominem response is a false argument. But an accusation of fraud, purposely falsifying results, is itself an appeal to motive. It is in effect saying you can't trust the results because you can't trust the person.

              Accusation of fraud is a question of motive far more insidious than an accusation of political motivation. But you can prove fraud
              • by Spazmania (174582)
                But an accusation of fraud, purposely falsifying results, is itself an appeal to motive.

                Hardly. No judgement is offered as to why the experimenter falsified results; the accusation is merely that the results have been falsified. It can be directly demonstrated true or false by repeating the experiment per the notes and observing those results. If nothing even vaguely like the experimenter's claimed results appear in the new experiment then the original results were false. After ruling out other potential ca
                • by bigpat (158134)

                  No judgement is offered as to why the experimenter falsified results; the accusation is merely that the results have been falsified. It can be directly demonstrated true or false by repeating the experiment per the notes and observing those results.

                  No. falsify and false are two different things. You can prove that the results were false by repeating the experiment and getting different results, but you cannot prove that the results were falsified that way.

                  If nothing even vaguely like the experimenter's claimed results appear in the new experiment then the original results were false. After ruling out other potential causes (e.g. unrecorded error in one of the experiments) you're left with fraud.

                  No. Fraud must be shown by evidence that there was intent to falsify results. Testimony by a grad student, copies of the undoctored results, etc. Simply repeating the experiment and getting a different result is not enough.

                  As it happens, I was neither arguing for nor against the claim that Taleyarkhan committed fraud. I really don't know that answer. I was merely expressing my distaste at Taleyarkhan's use of false arguments in his defense when a more direct path should have been available.

                  I don't buy it. A person has a right to question the motives of their ac

  • by furball (2853) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:53PM (#19089043) Journal
    If Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were actual civil rights leaders, they work to benefit all races, not just theirs. If Jackson, Sharpton, and the NAACP (the 'c' is for 'colored') did their jobs correctly, no one would ever be caught asking about the Asian variation of Jackson and Sharpton.

    Unfortunately, Jackson and Sharpton are simple charlatans using race as a springboard for their own agendas. Civil rights is color blind. It'd be handy if people we believe to be civil rights leaders would start practicing that.

    Has anyone ever heard of a case where Jackson and Sharpton have acted in the interest of the Asian community? Hispanic? American Indian? Arab Americans? Yugoslavs? Romanians? Jews?
    • I don't know anything about those two, but your argument makes no sense. Is it wrong to work for the civil rights of some people, if you don't actively work for everyone else too? Can't you focus on one group and let others work with other groups? Civil rights may be color blind, but the violations of those rights often aren't.
      • by furball (2853)

        Is it wrong to work for the civil rights of some people, if you don't actively work for everyone else too?

        Personally, if you don't work for the civil rights of all, then you're not working for civil rights. You're working for Asian rights, Jewish rights, Hispanic rights, etc. There's nothing wrong with championing Asian rights or Jewish rights or gay rights or whatever you want. Just don't dress yourself up as civil rights when you're not really in it for civil rights. As said by Pastor Niemoller: First

  • Otherwise he'd just reproduce the experiement and results in front of the judge and prove his innocence.
  • He asked, 'Where are the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the Asian community during this episode that has caused this biased and openly one-sided smear campaign?
    The last thing we need are more Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons. Liars, fools, and blowhards are definitely not part of a good long-term strategy.
  • Regardless... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926)
    ...of the truth of Cold Fusion/SonoFusion/WhateverFusion, this kind of thing has no business infrom of a buch of ignorant, empty headed, fatass, pisant politicians.

    If the taxpayer was defrauded, then the local AG should be handling it.

    If it is an issue of scientific misconduct or fraud, then the university should handle it.

    If they handle it in an inqdaquate manner, then they will pay the price in reputation and future grants.

    All congressional hearings will get you is more global warming.
  • So, the excuse for Congress to get involved in this is because tax payer's money got wasted?? Seems like they don't understand research: most research projects don't yield significant results, and many results are just simply wrong. Maybe this guy is right, maybe he is wrong, that's science; Congress should keep their noses out of it.
  • Who needs Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons? Sick your Jackie Chans, Jet Lis, and Bruce Lees on their asses. Let your John Woos record the encounter...

    They'll die messily, in slow motion, in a flock of white doves scattering...

"'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true." -- Poloniouius, in Willie the Shake's _Hamlet, Prince of Darkness_

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