Friday, May 11, 2007

Congress Investigates Taleyarkhan

I knew that Rusi Taleyarkhan's claims of vindication were overwrought. Purdue University is pursuing a new investigation:
Three months after it cleared him of research misconduct, Purdue University has begun a new inquiry into a professor who claims to have generated nuclear fusion in a desktop experiment, the university acknowledged yesterday.

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.

Meanwhile, details of the earlier inquiry have emerged in a report by a Congressional subcommittee that reviewed Purdue’s actions. Although the earlier inquiry cleared Dr. Taleyarkhan of misconduct, it described “what might be characterized most favorably as severe lack of judgment” and said he had “abused his privilege as senior scientist,” according to the report from the Congressional subcommittee.

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?”

If other groups not associated with Taleyarkhan had been able to reproduce his work, we wouldn't be reading about this in the New York Times. The congressional subcommittee produced a memo that called the Purdue investigation inadequate, saying "the inquiry was not thorough and that the inquiry committee appeared to ignore the university’s definition of research misconduct", something I thought when I looked at how narrow its scope was.