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Bubble Fusion Researcher Faces Fraud Trial 154

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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  • Lost credibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:45PM (#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 countSudoku() ( 1047544 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:57PM (#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...
  • Re:congress? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Radon360 ( 951529 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:01PM (#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.

  • by sbkrivit ( 1100689 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:09PM (#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, rsy.htm [] 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
  • by Palmyst ( 1065142 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:12PM (#19088321)
    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.
  • by t0rkm3 ( 666910 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:14PM (#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.
  • Correct response (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:17PM (#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 [], a logical fallacy. Big red flag in my book.
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:21PM (#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 (negative video) ( 792072 ) <me.teco-xaco@com> on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:31PM (#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.

  • 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?
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:46PM (#19088913) Homepage Journal
    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
  • Sorry! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SixFactor ( 1052912 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:46PM (#19088931) Journal
    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, show that they can say "deuterium?" I suspect a grandstanding session inbound.
  • by furball ( 2853 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:53PM (#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?
  • by edawstwin ( 242027 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @04:01PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @04:52PM (#19089969)
    First of all, your entire tachometer example is totally irrelevant -- sure, it's obvious whether an engine is spinning, but it's a lot less obvious whether fusion is occurring with a net positive balance. Secondly, not only is it not possible to prove a negative, it's not possible to prove a positive. You sound like a mathematician posing as a scientist. You can only amass more evidence for or against a particular theory, but it is literally impossible to "prove" that something is right or wrong. How, exactly, would you answer the counterclaim to any of your "proofs", "Well, maybe it works *here*, but what about near another star"? You can say that there's no reason to believe it wouldn't work there, but the fact is you can't *prove* that it won't work differently somewhere else. This is why we replicate experiments over and over again, year after year.

    Skepticism is the hallmark of true science. Assertions of absolute knowledge, in *any* field, are the hallmark of the upperclassman undergraduate. I'm not saying that this guy actually got energy out of sonofusion, but to claim that anyone can *prove* he didn't is silly. (Assuming he doesn't admit that he was deliberately falsifying results, of course.) Proof is not the same as a preponderance of experimental evidence.
  • by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @05:15PM (#19090327)
    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 operagost ( 62405 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @05:24PM (#19090487) Homepage Journal

    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 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @05:50PM (#19090813)
    ...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.
  • by Gorshkov ( 932507 ) <AdmiralGorshkov&gmail,com> on Friday May 11, 2007 @08:12PM (#19092151)

    There are large swaths of black America that think maybe Tawana Brawley was telling the truth the first time and just gave in and decided to say whatever would make it all go away
    And their white equivalents believe that Elvis is still alive.

    When white folks see a "huckster" who "inserted himself" into the Brawley incident, black folks see a guy who stood up for a black girl when nobody else would.
    Calling Al Sharpton a knight in shining armour riding to the rescue of a damsel in distress is like saying Genghis Khan exported rugs.
  • A small nitpik (Score:3, Insightful)

    by an.echte.trilingue ( 1063180 ) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @05:18AM (#19094307) Homepage
    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?

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger