This is a good example of the difference between real science and pseudo-science. Note how REAL SCIENCE refuses to accept researchers' findings and assertions unless and until they can be duplicated by others under similar circumstances. Do we really believe that Dr. Taleyarkhan has succeeded in producing nuclear fusion in this table-top experiment? So far colleagues have expressed real doubts. Purdue University has decided to investigate. Let's hope this isn't another example of the recent South Korean stem cell scandal.
March 8, 2006
Fusion is the process the sun uses to produce heat and light, and scientists
led by Rusi P. Taleyarkhan, a professor of nuclear engineering at Purdue, said
they were able to achieve the same feat by blasting a container of liquid
solvent with strong ultrasonic vibrations.
The vibrations, they said, collapsed tiny gas bubbles in the liquid, heating
them to millions of degrees, hot enough to initiate fusion. If true, the
phenomenon, often called sonofusion or bubble fusion, could have far-reaching
applications, including the generation of energy.
The research first appeared in 2002 in the journal Science, but controversy
had erupted even before publication. Dr. Taleyarkhan, then a senior scientist at
Oak Ridge National Laboratory in
Dr. Taleyarkhan, who joined the Purdue faculty in 2003, and his colleagues
have published two additional papers in major physics journals, amid the
continuing skepticism of other scientists. No other scientists have been able to
reproduce the findings.
The university began a review of the research and the accusations last week,
Sally Mason, the university provost, said in a statement. "The research
claims involved are very significant," Dr. Mason said, "and the
concerns expressed are extremely serious."
Dr. Mason said that the review was being conducted by Purdue's Office of the
Vice President of Research and that the results would be announced publicly.
Dr. Taleyarkhan did not return phone calls or respond to an e-mail message
Meanwhile, Brian Naranjo, a graduate student at the University
Instead, Mr. Naranjo said that the pattern of particles seen in the
experiment much more closely matched that given off by californium, a
radioactive element that is used in Dr. Taleyarkhan's laboratory. With $350,000
from the Defense Department, Seth J. Putterman, a professor of physics at
U.C.L.A. and the thesis adviser to Mr. Naranjo, has tried to build a replica of
Dr. Taleyarkhan's apparatus and has not seen any signs of fusion.
Dr. Putterman said he told Dr. Taleyarkhan of the calculations last week on a
visit to Purdue. "He didn't have any clear answers," Dr. Putterman
said. "From my perspective, his answers were not satisfactory."
Californium is present in Dr. Taleyarkhan's laboratory, stored in a closet
about 15 feet from the experiment — close enough to generate the results
reported in Dr. Taleyarkhan's paper if it had been stored improperly.