Sonofusion Scholar Sanctioned
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Sept. 4, 2008 -- A Purdue University professor found to have committed research misconduct will remain on the faculty but has been stripped of his named professorship, the school announced.
In addition to losing his title as Arden L. Bement Jr. Professor of Nuclear Engineering and the $25,000 in discretionary funds that accompany it, nuclear engineer Rusi Taleyarkhan will also not be allowed to serve as a major professor for graduate students for at least the next three years, according to a letter outlining the sanctions from Purdue Provost Randy Woodson. Taleyarkhan retains tenure.
Purdue took the actions after a university appeal committee unanimously denied Taleyarkhan's appeal of the misconduct findings.
In a report released to Purdue on July 18, a university investigative committee found that Taleyarkhan falsified the research record twice, first by arranging for one of his students to appear as co-author of a paper to create the appearance that the student had witnessed the experiment reported in the paper, and then by announcing that the paper was an independent confirmation of his sonofusion experiments (See Purdue Panel Finds Misconduct).
"In my judgment as Purdue's chief academic officer, it is inappropriate for a faculty member who has been found guilty of research misconduct to hold a title of a named university professor," Woodson wrote in the letter.
Woodson called the affect of the matter on the students and postdoctoral fellows "especially deplorable. Mentors of young scientists need to exhibit the highest standard of ethical behavior and collegiality."
This was Purdue's second inquiry into Taleyarkhan's actions and procedures; the validity of the research wasn't included in the scope of the original investigation and the second committee deemed there was "insufficent evidence" to address the issue.
Taleyarkhan claims to have demonstrated that using sound waves to compress bubbles in deuterated liquids until they collapse produced fusion under lab conditions -- so-called sonofusion, or bubble fusion. Generating that kind of fusion now requires huge multibillion-dollar machines, and implementing such an inexpensive unlimited energy source would be a great scientific achievement.
In the past, other scientists have tried without success to duplicate his results, and other researchers at Purdue complained that, among other things, Taleyarkhan hampered their efforts to recreate his experiments by refusing to share equipment and data. Taleyarkhan accused them of jealousy and other motives. In March, he filed a civil lawsuit against Purdue professors Dr. Lefteri H. Tsoukalas and Dr. Tatjana Jevremovic for defamation, civil harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Kenneth Suslick, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign who studies bubble collapse, told Scientific American that scientists have now given up on bubble fusion. "These experiments were deeply flawed at best and have had no credibility for several years," he said.
After a minimum of three years, according to the provost's letter, Taleyarkhan's conduct will be reviewed to determine whether he may apply to be reinstated to full faculty status with the graduate school.
Taleyarkhan's attorney, John Lewis, said in a news release that Taleyarkhan would explore his legal options. "Purdue's administration have a lot to answer with how they treat people. Unfortunately, bullies win until someone stands up to them," Lewis said.
For more information, visit: www.purdue.edu
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- 1. The combination of the effects of two or more stimuli in any given sense to form a single sensation. With respect to vision, the perception of continuous illumination formed by the rapid successive presentation of light flashes at a specified rate. 2. The transition of matter from solid to liquid form. 3. With respect to atomic or nuclear fusion, the combination of atomic nuclei, under extreme heat, to form a heavier nucleus.
- The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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