The blog post title and the news conveyed come from Nature, which “obtained documents from a source at ONR that relate to the debarment” of Rusi Taleyarkhan at Purdue University, who in 2002 reported in Science that nuclear fusion reactions could be triggered by firing sound waves into deuterated acetone – a claim that has never been independently verified. But let me back up.
This complicated and colorful case began in 2006 and was tracked throughout 2007-2008 by Science and Nature. The NYT reported on Congressional involvement, which Nature followed with interest. An earlier post here tracks a long, heated exchange among Taleyarkhan, Purdue, the House Oversight Committee, et al., with more dogged coverage by Nature.
It took Purdue four investigations to find Taleyarkhan guilty of misconduct (citing work from his own lab as ‘independent’ confirmation of his findings and adding the name of a student to a publication when they had not contributed to the research), strip him of his endowed professorship, and limit his role in mentoring students in July 2008. Taleyarkhan ultimately lost his appeal, but this did not stop him from receiving an award from the NSF (ended in Aug 2009).
It seems, however, this will not happen again:
The ONR, which had funded part of Taleyarkhan’s research, has now reviewed Purdue’s investigation. Its conclusions state that Taleyarkhan’s misconduct was “so severe as to merit debarment” from federal funding. Although the ruling was made in May, when the debarment came into effect, no public announcement was made.
Myers Vasquez, a spokesman for the US Navy, says that Taleyarkhan’s name has now been added to the ‘Excluded Parties List’ that government agencies are required to check before making awards.
His bubble has finally burst.