Jan 202014
 

Failures to Replicate
One of the novel aspects of the approach used by the Taleyarkhan group was using multi-bubble sonoluminescence rather than single-bubble sonoluminescence, which Putterman had been trying. Among other novel ideas, the multi-bubble approach led to the new evidence by the Taleyarkhan group.

On Oct. 22, 2004, just days after Putterman ran his replication attempt, which failed to duplicate Taleyarkhan’s results, and posed gleefully with his students for the BBC camera crew, Bertodano sent an e-mail to Tsoukalas and his group at Purdue about the Tsoukalas group’s experiments. Bertodano wrote to Tsoukalas and told him that some of the members of their group had just met and that they had objections to their own confirmatory data, obtained a year earlier.

Sometime in October or November, Putterman pitched an idea to DARPA to attempt a replication of the Taleyarkhan group’s experiment. It was the same type of experiment he had just performed for the BBC — though he almost certainly did not tell DARPA about his failure to replicate — and the BBC had not broadcast Putterman’s failure to replicate.

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Back at Purdue, on Dec. 6, 2004, Joshua Walter sent a revision of the Tsoukalas group’s draft paper for NURETH-11 to members of the group. The confirmatory data had been removed. Xu began to write his own paper for NURETH-11.

On Dec. 8, 2004, Tony Tether, the head of DARPA, approved Putterman’s idea of an attempted replication, and DARPA asked for formal proposals. An e-mail from someone at DARPA (the name has been redacted) or the Office of Naval Research spoke highly of Putterman. Continue reading »

Jan 202014
 

Fraud Allegations
On Oct. 12, 2005, Joshua Walter, a Ph.D. candidate at Purdue under Tsoukalas’ direction, initiated contact with professor Kenneth Suslick, at the University of Illinois.

On Oct. 13, 2005, according to e-mails obtained by New Energy Times in response to a FOIA request, Walter led Suslick to think that the Xu-Butt replication was fraudulent.

A signed and sworn document from Jere Jenkins, the director of Purdue’s radiation laboratories, provides more information.

“I also learned from Josh Walter,” Jenkins wrote, “that Tsoukalas was in direct contact with Seth Putterman and Ken Suslick, two of Taleyarkhan’s known competitors. I knew this because Walter would tell me details about it.”

Walter told Suslick that he thought that Putterman had been given a copy of an unpublished draft of the Tsoukalas group’s replication attempt, which reported a failure to replicate. The e-mail does not state who provided the paper to Putterman.

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On Oct. 14, 2005, Suslick began to coach Walter on how to proceed with fraud allegations and how to diligently preserve documentation. Walter offered to come to Illinois to meet with Suslick. Suslick encouraged him to visit and offered to arrange for the University of Illinois’ ethics officer to attend as a confidential observer and to provide advice. Suslick sent copies of Walter’s e-mails to Putterman. The e-mails do not indicate that Suslick encouraged Walter to contact Purdue’s research integrity officer. Continue reading »

Jan 202014
 

New Tribunal
Tsoukalas began to cooperate with Reich and to further distance himself from the research. On Feb. 7, 2006, Tsoukalas began to fix the discrepancy between what he had told Reich and what Butt had told her. Tsoukalas formed an unauthorized tribunal that he called a Fact-Finding Committee, whose purpose was to investigate not Taleyarkhan but Xu, Butt and Revankar. The committee also fixed the discrepancy.

The three-member committee, operating in violation of the university’s policy for research integrity, obtained an unsigned document from Butt in which he denied having anything to do with the research. Xu, who did not understand his rights, appeared before the tribunal. Revankar was familiar with the Purdue policy on research integrity and, because of this, and despite significant pressure from the committee, refused to appear before it.

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On Feb. 9, 2009, Putterman wrote to Suslick, “I was contacted by a Eugenie Reich, freelance for Nature. Her goal is to write a news story that will cause an investigation of Rusi Taleyarkhan.”

Putterman wrote to Suslick,
The e-mail is retyped here for clarity:

Ken, I was contacted by a Eugenie Reich freelance for Nature.
Her goal is to write a newstory that will cause an investigation of RT.
We need to have a position in this matter before it spins out of control.
Best would be if Lefteri announced an investigation.
She keeps asking me why hasn’t Lefteri initiated an investigation?
I say ask him. She asks me if I believe the data and I say it’s wrong. So she says why don’t you accuse him of fraud?
Of course I say it’s a long way from bad science to fraud. This will get its own life unless Lefteri acts.
I am overarching PI but I am unable to act [be]cause RT didn’t acknowledge DARPA [The PRL paper was funded by DoE, not DARPA.].
Feel free to pass on to Lefteri.
This is just a stream of concern.

Seth

According to a Feb. 9, 2006, e-mail from Reich, Tsoukalas had suggested to her the possibility of science fraud by Taleyarkhan. According to additional FOIA-obtained e-mails, Tsoukalas then talked things over with Putterman and Suslick. Afterward, Tsoukalas wrote back to Reich and attempted to retract his accusations of fraud. He characterized his comments as merely “poetic license and dramatic language” and told Reich that he did not have evidence of fraud. Tsoukalas also asked her to treat his previous on-the-record comments as confidential.

The e-mail trail does not indicate that she agreed to accommodate Tsoukalas’ request, and Reich showed no signs of backing off the story she thought she had. Continue reading »

Jan 202014
 

Novel Method
The e-mails obtained by New Energy Times through FOI requests also reveal, for the first time, the true purpose and nature of the DARPA technical review that took place on March 1, 2006, at Purdue.

The precipitating event took place on Jan. 10, 2006. That’s when Physical Review Letters accepted the new paper by the Taleyarkhan group for publication.

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In 2002, the group’s most vocal critics had complained and asserted that the Taleyarkhan group was unable to distinguish between the 14.1 MeV neutrons from the pulsed-neutron generator used to seed the experiment and the 2.45 MeV neutrons that were emitted from the experiment. Continue reading »

Jan 202014
 

Nature Prepares
A month earlier, Reich had started on her quest to find fraud. She had pressured Tsoukalas to publish his allegedly negative results.

On March 2, 2006, Tsoukalas got a confirmation of his submission to Nuclear Technology, and he let Reich know immediately. He also prepared to leave the country for two weeks.

“That is great, congratulations,” Reich wrote. “Also good to have it before my story posts — either today or tomorrow. At the moment, I am trying to wait and coordinate so that I can link thru to Naranjo and Putterman’s note, which is still not online but should be soon. Have a lovely holiday in Greece, and please update me how you are when you get back.”

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Five days later, on March 7, Reich sent copies of the stories to Tsoukalas. While traveling, Tsoukalas sent them to his colleague and personal friend Tatjana Jevremovic.

“Lefteri,” Jevremovic wrote, “I am trying to have her change some of the parts that are not accurate and are not good for anyone. Could you contact her as well? Please let me know. Should I call her?”

The Purdue news service got wind of the forthcoming articles on March 7 and notified Dean Katehi and other administrators. Taleyarkhan told New Energy Times that Katehi’s assistant, Edgar Martinez, called him.

“Edgar called and talked with me to alert me and indicated that Mason would like to convene a meeting the next day in the morning,” Taleyarkhan wrote. “I was shaken and downright surprised at the turn of events so rapidly after the March 1, 2006, meeting, which I believed was a successful program review.” Continue reading »