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Press Releases :: March 22, 2007

Miller Seeks Data on Purdue Investigation Into Scientific Misconduct

(Washington, DC) Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, yesterday asked Purdue University to provide copies of reports stemming from their investigation into allegations of misconduct by a nuclear engineering professor engaged in low-energy nuclear fusion research. 

“Despite the University’s statement that no misconduct had occurred, many disturbing questions remain about the scope and adequacy of the investigation,” Chairman Miller wrote to Dr. Martin C. Jischke, Purdue University president. 

The allegations against the professor - Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan - included claims that the “independent” verification of earlier research was actually done in Dr. Taleyarkhan’s laboratory, data sets were duplicated and possibly manipulated, publication of negative results by colleagues at Purdue was blocked for a year, and critical equipment was removed from the laboratory hindering attempts to replicate Dr. Taleyarkhan’s research.

Dr.Taleyarkhan, in research results published in Science magazine in 2002, claimed to have obtained fusion in the laboratory by using sound waves to compress bubbles in deuterated liquids until they collapsed.  All attempts to replicate his results – except for the one performed in his own laboratory – failed, including one funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). 

Scientists have attempted to obtain fusion for decades because it would provide a source of energy free of many of the environmental problems of many existing energy sources.

Although Purdue’s initial inquiry found there was enough evidence of misconduct to move forward on a full-scale investigation, the university subsequently decided to begin another inquiry which resulted in a finding that the evidence did not “support the allegations of research misconduct and that no further investigation of the allegations is warranted.”

“The credibility and strength of the U.S. research enterprise depends on the willingness of participating universities to assure the maintenance of ethical conduct in all research - whether or not it is funded by the federal government,” Chairman Miller added.   “Under the terms of the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct, federal agencies rely on universities to conduct fair and full investigations of allegations of misconduct, but we are not sure this happened with the instance at Purdue.”

Chairman Miller’s letter asks Purdue University to supply the requested reports to the Committee by March 30, 2007.

 

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