The Strange Case of Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan

6th February 200710:02 am

February 06, 2007

Like many others, I was intrigued when Science magazine published a controversial paper in 2002 by Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan, then a scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who claimed that nuclear fusion had been achieved in a desk-top device through a process known as sonoluminescence. Taleyarkhan was quickly recruited by Purdue University, where he took a new job. Shortly thereafter, two colleagues at Purdue who say they were unable to replicate his work went public with charges of scientific and professional misconduct. In two interviews I found about the charges, Taleyarkhan and several of his collaborators strongly defends his work (as he also does here).

As a result, early last year officials at Purdue University ordered an investigation and, in keeping with the requirements of the scientific process, promised to make the findings public. In the interim, Dr. Taleyarkhan’s reputation was certainly tarnished. Purdue has since announced that it will keep the results of its now-completed investigation secret.

As Doug Natelson puts it:

It would appear that Purdue University has done a thorough and careful investigation of claims of research misconduct in the case of Rusi Taleyarkhan, the scientist who claims to have used sonoluminescence of deuterated acetone to produce table-top-scale fusion. In the spirit of scientific openness and transparency, Purdue has decided to not make public the result of its investigation. So, either Taleyarkhan is legit, and Purdue is content to let his reputation suffer, or they think he’s a fraud, but are content not to tell the scientific community, or some mysterious third alternative. What on earth is Purdue’s administration thinking with this? Did they assume no one would notice?

Indeed.

See update to this post here.

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