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Bubble Fusion Researcher Faces Fraud Trial

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the some-days-it-is-not-hip-to-be-square dept.

Power 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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154 comments

Clearing Up Confusion (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19087823)

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"?

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (4, Informative)

l2718 (514756) | more than 7 years ago | (#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).

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088335)

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.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (5, Informative)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088789)

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.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089309)

Just wanted to say, threads like this are why I come to /. :-p

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19090693)

They're about the same as a turbine is like a piston engine. After all, they both burn hydrocarbons. Idiot.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (5, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Clearing Up Confusion (2, Informative)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089539)

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.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088191)

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 someone comes up with a net-positive reaction that can be reproduced easily and cheaply we'll never hear about it.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (4, Insightful)

t0rkm3 (666910) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088643)

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 of these very powerful companies. They will not let a,b,c come to pass if they can prevent it.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (3, Insightful)

(negative video) (792072) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Clearing Up Confusion (2, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089565)

How quickly would Congresscritters bought and paid for by big oil want to shut him up?

I'd suggest that not funding his research in the first place would be more effective than giving him grants and then framing him when he finds something. But I've learned that it's pointless to reason with anyone who thinks "Congresscritters" is clever.

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19090351)

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).



You need to look at the history of this story. It is full of coverups, or at least the appearance of coverups. The university seems to have gone to great lengths to keep this under wraps. Bob Park [umd.edu] has done a pretty good job covering the progress of this over the years. 1 [umd.edu] 2 [umd.edu] 3 [umd.edu] 4 [blogspot.com]

Re:Clearing Up Confusion (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088459)

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.

Omitted himself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089123)

Why, oh why, would it be bad NOT to claim credit for some research paper? I could understand trying to grab credit you didn't deserve, but what on earth would be wrong at refusing credit for a paper, even if you did deserve it?

Re:Omitted himself? (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089167)

Why, oh why, would it be bad NOT to claim credit for some research paper?

Because it was supposed to be independent verification of Taleyarkhan's claims. If he really did coauthor the paper, then his research was NOT independently verified. If his research was not independently verified, then funding may have provided on false or misleading data.

Congress is just technical enough ... (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19087857)

... to question him all day and then award him some grant money to help him find his missing "cold bubbles".

Re:Congress is just technical enough ... (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088393)

maybe if he just fed the bubbles down that Internet Pipe.......

Re:Congress is just technical enough ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088505)

Yo Word Up da Niggers have already been done some research on Bubble Fusion. Da method to making them bubbles is sticking 3 or 4 maybe cocks in dat ass during raping a nice white boy. When da Niggers are ready to come hot creamy bubbles be made. I gonna be showing you tonight when the brothers come around to you and hit dat shit like theres no tomorrow. I can't be waiting to lick your tears while I tear dat ass apart. You be ours now.

Signed,
The Research Niggers

Re:Congress is just technical enough ... (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089263)

Ya but they'll make him commit to a deadline, and then the cold bubbles can just wait him out.

Lost credibility (4, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Lost credibility (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19087951)

Haven't you been watching Boston Legal? Mr. Sharpton has a great deal of credibility!

-- Denny Crane

Re:Lost credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088057)

Of course! Because Jackson and Sharpton routinely solve problems in such a constructive manner.

This fella gets backed into a corner (whether legitimately deserved or otherwise) and immediately plays the race card.

Re:Lost credibility (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088093)

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.)

He is an Armenian and thus Asian-Oriental (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089161)

Armenians belong to the Orient, right?

Re:Lost credibility (1, Flamebait)

miletus (552448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088515)

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 symptom of racism is an irrational dislike of those who speak up loudly for the rights of the oppressed.

Re:Lost credibility (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088913)

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 (3, Informative)

superwiz (655733) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089077)

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.

Sharpton and Jackson (5, Insightful)

edawstwin (242027) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Lost credibility (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089459)

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 happen because of racism, but that is not what you did. You simply argued that Jackson and Sharpton are not racist by making unfounded racists remarks yourself.

Re:Lost credibility (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089701)

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.

Re:Lost credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19090023)

If a radio announcer calls college girls, "Nappy headed hos," that is racist. (and sexist and crude)

But if Al Sharpton calls Jews, "Diamond Merchants," and incites violence and murder against them, that is not? (Google "Sharpton Yankel Rosenbaum" and "Freddy's Fashion Mart")

If Al Sharpton is convicted of slandering a white man of a crime that didn't occur and has to pay out $345,000, that is not racist? (Tawna Brawley Steve Pagones)

I am confused by your ideas of racism.
Racism is a problem of all humans, not just one group.

Re:Lost credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089193)

Are you perhaps implying that a new adage is in order?

The Jessee Sharpton Associative Conjecture-

Invoking the names of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in an argument immediately strips the you of all credibility and you lose the argument by default.

mAD pr0PS 4 GNAA Twofo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19087927)

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It's all in how you say it. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19087949)

Don't they mean "Rusi P. TaleyarKhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!"

congress? (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088029)

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.

Re:congress? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088087)

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?

Re:congress? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088359)

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:congress? (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089443)

You're one of them terr'ists, ain't ya?

Re:congress? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088595)

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?
Congress isn't investigating the guy. It is asking Purdue to provide more details on their own review of the case [usatoday.com] , since people are still coming forward and saying that Purdue hasn't been forthright in the matter.

Congress might reasonably be miffed at the public money that has been wasted trying to replicate the dubious results, and they might more than reasonably be reluctant to allow Purdue access to more federal research money if they think Purdue's review was a whitewash.

Re:congress? (2, Informative)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088625)

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? (4, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:congress? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088497)

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 to get any funding. Why? because the ones funding your are idiots and no matter how subjectively valuable your research is the funding monkeys only throw much money to the flavor of the month. In physics, attach "string theory" to your proposal. In Earth and atmospheric sciences? Attach "global warming". Doing basic research about DNA, exaggerate it to imply your curing cancer. Doing basic research into particle physics, imply your are creating cold fusion. Don't blame the scientists who are forced to play the game. Blame the grant system that rewards these tactics.

Re:congress? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088999)

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 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?

Nitpicking myself (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089243)

read: "grant system is broken" not "broke"

Trying to remove any confusion in what might be otherwise implied.

Re:congress? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089349)

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 money." it's about learning about the universe. Congress is full of small short sighted carpet bagging rats. They all want to claim glory for "funding the cure" or "routing out dishonest scientists." but they aren't about "funding basic research." or "providing money for us to help understand our universe." The point of a congressional review of this isn't to justify money spent but to make a example of someone, aka a witch hunt.

Sonoluminescence is very, very cheap. (4, Interesting)

Robotbeat (461248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088803)

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).

Money for cold fusion (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089563)

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 should be supported, but I'd extend it even beyond your limit to the DOE idea that focused research in cold fusion using improved instruments should be supported. So far though, I think the DOE is not supporting this kind of work.
--
Harvest fusion on your roof: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:congress? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088173)

Oversight of federal research grants.

Re:congress? (0, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088401)

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? peanut storage?) onto military spending bills. Essentially, congress is just doing its usual flailing about, and whatever committee chair-creature is in charge of this one justs wants to look tough on camera for the folks back home.

Jackson/Sharpton/Duke 3 of a kind (5, Insightful)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088059)

'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:Jackson/Sharpton/Duke 3 of a kind (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088199)

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...

Nevertheless, the question is valid. (2, Insightful)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Nevertheless, the question is valid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088767)

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.
Indians are hardly a persecuted minority in university departments of physics, math, computer science, and engineering.

Re:Nevertheless, the question is valid. (2, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089137)

Indians are hardly a persecuted minority in university departments of physics, math, computer science, and engineering.

Which is interesting. The Asian community is a "victim", if you will, of positive racism. Meaning, folks automatically assume they are smarter than the rest of us. Who was the Asian guy on "American Idol" or one of those clones who wanted to sing and he was complaining that folks thought he was a chemist and not a singer? I thought that was a perfect example of that form of prejudice. It's the same in Silicon Valley. I once read somewhere that Indian expatriates have an easier time getting venture funding than us lazy dumb Americans.

It's the same in other areas (Liberal and Fine Arts) where having an English accent makes you more credible. Isn't interesting that all of the American Idol clones have a guy with an English accent?

Sorry! (2, Insightful)

SixFactor (1052912) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088931)

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.

Re:Jackson/Sharpton/Duke 3 of a kind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089877)

Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton.

Ah yes. The unforgivable sin in the eyes of white folks in America, "believing a black girl." 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, when she finally understood the truth that white policemen do not go to prison for raping black girls. I mean hell, if it wasn't for Sharpton she'd have been entirely on her own.
  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. Which is why white people generally don't "get" Al Sharpton.

Someone mod this so it's visible (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088167)

My friend worked for this guy, who managed to actually steal some of my friend's stipend to use for general lab funds. I'm not kidding.

Re:Someone mod this so it's visible (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088581)

I'm not kidding.

No, you're just anonymous (like me!), provide no details (verifiable or otherwise), and ask us to believe you on account of using the phrase, "I'm not kidding."

Did you guys know that a friend of mine saw the parent AC torture fluffy kittens in his backyard? I'm not kidding.

Re:Someone mod this so it's visible (1)

greginnj (891863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089261)

Umm, your friend is probably naive about how funded research works. It is common practice for a university lab to charge a 'carrying cost' to all stipends paying for research done in that lab (functionally, this is calculated according to whether or not the individual is affiliated with the lab). This covers everything from administrative/technical support to general lab fixtures, and could very likely be credited to 'general lab funds'. Without more detail, it sounds like either you or he are sensationalizing this common practice.

A matter of dispute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089299)

My friend worked for this guy, who managed to actually steal some of my friend's stipend to use for general lab funds


But my cousin's friend's neighbors's wife's brother says otherwise. Now, who are yougonna believe?

Indian = Asian? (1, Offtopic)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088179)

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)

Re:Indian = Asian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088347)

Indians are a blend of Caucasoid and Australoid (Dravidian) ethnicities. I wouldn't call them Asian in the sense that the term usually refers to the various genetically related groups of Mongoloids that populate Asia.

Re:Indian = Asian? (1)

mechlo (1100975) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088527)

Wha? I guess Russians can't call themselves Asians and white South Africans can't call themselves Africans because they don't fit our sterotype when we use those words? Look! What are they? Oh, Canadians, never mind.

Re:Indian = Asian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088675)

They are not stereotypes. They represent the native ethnic groups. You are free to use whatever nomenclature you feel is appropriate, but I don't consider Russians or Indians to be Asian just as much as a Boer grown in in Africa is not African in my view.

Canadian refers to nationality, not ethnicity.

I honestly don't care that much but some people have this erroneous idea that being from the same continent makes you part of the same ethnic group or race which it does not.

Re:Indian = Asian? (1)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088887)

Indians are a blend of Caucasoid and Australoid (Dravidian) ethnicities.
Those are not ethnicities, those are races. I don't think any reasonable person would consider, say Indonesians and Japanese, as belonging to the same ethnicity, but they have racial similarities.

The question of what race Indians belong to is interesting. There is some recent evidence [plosjournals.org] that maybe the correct classification is to recognize "Indian" itself as a separate race.

Taleyarkhan's use of "Asian" cannot be called wrong. Most US government statistics that are broken down on racial/ethnic lines list "Indian Asian" as a subgroup of "Asian".

Re:Indian = Asian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089245)

That's really just an indication that "Asian" is a bad adjective to use to describe people of East Asia. I suggest we go back to Oriental.

Re:Indian = Asian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19090337)

So your complaint is that he's a wog, not a gook?

"Taleyarkhan" is asian? (2, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088201)

I thought that was Frank Lloyd Wright's studio?

Re:"Taleyarkhan" is asian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088299)

That's Taliesin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliesin_(studio) [wikipedia.org]

AC because I'm too lazy to remember my password.

Haven't you ever... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089575)

found it strange that all your friends always have to explain the jokes to you?

Re:"Taleyarkhan" is asian? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088489)

I thought "Mr. Taleyarkhan" is the one who is meant to "tally me banana" before "daylight come and me wan' go home."

FpY mare (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088205)

dyou can. No, [goat.cx]

Congressional Investigation over Paper Authorship? (5, Insightful)

sbkrivit (1100689) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Congressional Investigation over Paper Authorsh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088441)

Perhaps T-khan is right:

Miller's subcommittee has cited concerns over the public funds. ... However, Taleyarkhan [has suggested] that politics may be taking precedence over science. If Taleyarkhan's desktop experiments were verified, the existence of a low-cost method for generating vast quantities of clean energy could potentially make conventional nuclear reactors obsolete. According to the Department of Energy, Miller's home state of North Carolina ranks third in the nation for its reliance on thermonuclear reactors.

Re:Congressional Investigation over Paper Authorsh (1, Funny)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088651)

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 any of that shitty OLD EVIL SCIENCE. Also, since it can't be repeated it means YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT, not that it isn't real.

Right, just like psychics. They really work, except when you actually scientifically test them! Also homeopathy, yeah that stuff's real too, even though its completely un-reproducable. But hey, you can't prove a negative so ITS GOTTA BE TRUE!

Damn science, trying to keep free-energy down. Conspiracies!

Oops forgot to mention (1, Interesting)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088701)

Congress is in on it too! In the pockets of big (evil) theoretical science! I mean, why else would they want to have a hearing for this man?

Re:Congressional Investigation over Paper Authorsh (2, Insightful)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088907)

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?

break even? (1)

Crispy Critters (226798) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089625)

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 building the right facility. On the other hand, reaching Q of 10 or 50 or infinity will require physics advances.

Re:Congressional Investigation over Paper Authorsh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19088977)

Well, it certainly falls within Congress' oversight powers to make sure federal research grant money isn't being used to perpetrate a scientific fraud. However, if you want the specific details about the Congressional action, then read Rep. Millers March 21st letter [house.gov] (PDF) to Purdue President Martin Jicshke, launching the subcommittee's review of the Taleyarkhan case.

From the letter:

In early 2006, questions raised by other nuclear engineering professors about this work resulted in the head of Purdue's nuclear engineering department conducting an informal investigation about the independent verification publication. That inquiry resulted in one of the students saying that he had nothing to do with the research in the article he supposedly co-authored, and the second student refusing to state who had written the final article, saying it would jeopardize the "confirmatory" nature of the research. In March 2006, allegations of misconduct became public in Nature magazine. These included claims that Dr. Taleyarkhan had refused to share data; removed critical equipment from the laboratory, thereby hampering efforts to replicate his work; blocked publication of negative results by colleagues at Purdue; and manipulated the development and publication of papers asserted to be "independent" verification of his work by papers that were, in fact, from members of his laboratory staff. Subsequently, a written allegationi of fraudulent data was received.


So, that prompted the first investigation by Purdue, but as Congressman Miller notes later in his letter, the vice-president of Purdue research abruptly started a new inquiry before the first ended which stopped the first investigation cold. Then the university quickly ended the second inquiry by stating no misconduct had occurred and cleared Dr. Taleyarkhan. Congress is basically telling Purdue that it did a lousy job investigating Taleyarkhan, didn't address any issues that were brought up by peer nuclear engineering professors and is calling Purdue to re-open the investigation.

Re:Congressional Investigation over Paper Authorsh (4, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Congressional Investigation over Paper Authorsh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

HEH (2, Informative)

hurfy (735314) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 ;)

Re:HEH (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089171)

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 (3, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088391)

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.

Re:Correct response (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19088599)

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.

Re:Correct response (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089743)

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.

They aren't civil rights leaders (3, Insightful)

furball (2853) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089043)

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?

Re:They aren't civil rights leaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19090841)

Your argument is highly illogical.

Why exactly should Black civil rights leaders stand up for the rights of any other race? Last time I checked Blacks had enough issues of their own to deal with so it really wouldn't make any sense for them to use their precious resources defending groups like Asians, Latinos, and whites that have their own people to protect their own interests.

Ahh the good old days... (2, Funny)

waTR (885837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089387)

HERETIC!!! He goes against the grain with his success! He is preaching blasphemy against the oil gods!!!

BURN HIM!!!!! BURN HIM!!!!

what would wonka do? (1)

jaimz22 (932159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089695)

doesn't willy wonka use bubble fusion to make that soda that causes you to float?

Re:what would wonka do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19089831)

And Albert Einstein used fission of the beer atom to create bubbles for his beer.

He's obviously guilty (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089841)

Otherwise he'd just reproduce the experiement and results in front of the judge and prove his innocence.

Hmmmmm..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19090437)

I thought 'Cold Fusion' is what you get when you try to lick a flagpole with your tongue in the middle of winter.....

The last thing Asians need (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#19090487)

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... (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.
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