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Krivit-Chang Thread

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Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2006 22:35:07 -0800
To: Kenneth Chang
From: Steve Krivit
Subject: Putterman and Taleyarkan

Dear Kenneth,

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/08/science/08fusion.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

I hope ... that you are aware of the bitter animosity between these two, their history, and the possible horrible consequences of your article.

Steve

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Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 03:55:09 -0500
From: "Kenneth Chang"
To: "Steve Krivit"
Subject: Re: Putterman and Taleyarkan

The main accusations against Taleyarkhan are coming from people at Purdue. Nature has a story coming out this morning that I was not able to mention because it was under embargo. If Naranjo's calculations are baseless, that ought to be pretty easy to demonstrate.


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Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 01:07:19 -0800
To: kchang
From: Steve Krivit
Subject: Re: Putterman and Taleyarkan

Thanks.

Something about this smells bad.

I smell a rat.

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At 12:55 AM 3/8/2006, [Kenneth Chang] wrote:

The main accusations against Taleyarkhan are coming from people at Purdue.

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Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 01:11:55 -0800
To: kchang
From: Steve Krivit
Subject: Re: Putterman and Taleyarkan

So why didn't you take that angle in your story? Why did you instead use Putterman for a source?

Did Purdue sources turn you down for comment?

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Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 07:20:18 -0500
From: "Kenneth Chang"
To: "Steve Krivit"
Subject: Re: Putterman and Taleyarkan

[Because] I was not able to reach those people yesterday, and the Nature embargo prevented me from making mention of them. Will probably be writing another article today.

The main angle of the story was Purdue opening an investigation against Rusi, and that is a legitimate story regardless of anything else.

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Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 11:33:54 -0800
To: Kenneth Chang
From: Steve Krivit
Subject: Taleyarkhan vs. Putterman

K.C.: The main angle of the story was Purdue opening an investigation against Rusi, and that is a legitimate story regardless of anything else.

S.K.: Put yourself in Taleyarkhan's position. What happens when a story like this runs? What happens to public opinion? What happens with first impressions? What happens to [his] stature at the university? Or at any other university, should [he] look for another job? Can you say "scarlet letter?" How about "blacklist?"

K.C.: Some other things to think about:
http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060306/full/060306-1.html
"Bubble fusion: silencing the hype"

SK: This headline places Nature as a self-appointed judge, jury and executioner. What is the difference between "silencing" and "suppression?" Is there an honorable place for such attitudes in science?

KC: "suggest that serious doubts are prevalent in the physics community."

SK: How is it that two or three physicists, who are in competition with Taleyarkhan for funds from the same piece of [the] DARPA funding [pie], are objective? [How is it that these physicists], who have a track record of aggressive, negative public comments toward Taleyarkhan, are representatives of the entire physics community?

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Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 15:03:12 -0500
To: Steve Krivit
From: Kenneth Chang
Subject: Re: Taleyarkhan vs. Putterman

Steve,

I could have written a ton of Putterman vs. Taleyarkhan stories over the past four years and haven't, ecause it wasn't that interesting. But when Purdue begins a review because of concerns raised by people at the university, that's a news story. I'm not supposed to not write about it, because I feel sorry. If I didn't write it yesterday, I'd be writing it today.

And in this respect, cold fusion is more credible than bubble fusion at the moment: there are many people who will publicly say they have seen this effect, despite all the negativity, blacklisting, etc. At present, I can't find a single scientist who will back up Rusi. Let me know if you know someone.

****************

Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 12:58:17 -0800
To: Kenneth Chang
From: Steve Krivit
Subject: Re: Taleyarkhan vs. Putterman

KC: I'm not supposed to not write about it, because I feel sorry.

SK: That's not my point. My point is looking at the larger picture and understanding the consequences of your story and to present fair and balanced reporting. It is a question of being complicit in a slander campaign.

KC: At present, I can't find a single scientist who will back up Rusi. Let me know if you know someone.

SK: Getting anybody today to back up Rusi? Are you kidding? Yesterday, maybe. Not today. He's done for. Anybody who sides with him publicly now may as well put a target on their back.

I would think that a balanced news report would have mentioned more about the following work: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=65&setappvar=page(1) Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 034301 (2006) Nuclear Emissions During Self-Nucleated Acoustic Cavitation. R. P. Taleyarkhan, C. D. West, R. T. Lahey, Jr., R. I. Nigmatulin, R. C. Block and Y. Xu

You write this about the above work:

and his colleagues have published two additional papers in major physics journals

Then you [write] this:

amid the continuing skepticism of other scientists. No other scientists have been able to reproduce the findings.

Then you add this:

Meanwhile, Brian Naranjo, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, said his analysis of data from the last scientific paper that was published by Dr. Taleyarkhan's group showed a chance of less than one in 10 million that the emission pattern could have been generated by fusion.

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.

Forget about any "feelings" about this matter; you did not write a balanced piece yesterday. I hope your next piece is fairer.

I have no stake in this. I really don't care much about bubble fusion. Personally, I think its quite useless compared with what is known about cold fusion. What I care about is integrity in science, and fair and honest science journalism.


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At 01:10 PM 3/8/2006, [Kenneth Chang] wrote:

Give me the name of someone who was charitable yesterday. If there's no one who comes to his defense (and I attempted to reach several of the co-authors as well) and Rusi doesn't return the call, then it's not my job to offer a defense for him. And I would say the story is an accurate representation of the prevailing sentiment about Rusi's work.

Even Purdue ducked on writing a news release for the January paper.

It's really easy for Rusi to immediately and completely resuscitate any damage the last couple of days have caused him. As soon as someone else reproduces the finding -- and the set-up described in the January paper is one that is easily in reach for many laboratories -- he can go "Nyah, nyah" all day long.


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Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 14:19:13 -0800
To: kchang
From: Steve Krivit
Subject: Re: Taleyarkhan vs. Putterman


Fair enough.

But it's not my battle. 

Please say "hello" to me next week if you are at APS. I'm there Wednesday night for the talk by Koonin/Dehmer and Thursday for the cold fusion sessions.

Thanks,

Steve

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Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 15:01:52 -0500
To: Steve Krivit
From: Kenneth Chang
Subject: Re: Timing relative to American Physical Society

SK: Why did Putterman visit Purdue? Who invited him and why?

KC: It was a review, part of the DARPA grant.

SK: What are the deeper issues that underlie the friction at Purdue?

KC: Don't know. Would love someone to tell me.

SK: How did Nature pick up on this story? What initiated this story at Nature?

KC: Ask Nature.

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On 3/8/06, Steve Krivit <stevek@newenergytimes.com> wrote:

Ken,

Before I had, apparently unsuccessfully, tried to focus my attention on other things today besides this sordid story, I had inquired if Rusi knew of anyone to come forward and say something charitable in his defense.

Rusi just replied to me now.

Here are the contacts. Good luck.

Steve

****************

On 3/8/06, Kenneth Chang wrote:

Um, Brian Josephson is now kooky, Lee Riedinger is ambivalent at best.

Neither work in acoustics or fusion. Don't know about Bill Bugg.

Thanks.

****************

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 20:37:35 -0500
From: "Kenneth Chang"
To: "Steve Krivit"
Subject: Re: In defense of Rusi Taleyarkhan

And I did get a quote from Colin West earlier today.

****************

On 3/8/06, Steve Krivit wrote:

This explains how the story got to Nature

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/14050194.htm

"In the Nature article, Jevremovic and Lefteri Tsoukalas, who heads Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering, said Taleyarkhan has refused to provide raw data he claims to have obtained in repeated experiments confirming signs of fusion.

Neither Jevremovic nor Tsoukalas responded to interview requests left Wednesday at their Purdue offices by The Associated Press. But they told Nature that they and several of their colleagues seriously question Taleyarkhan's work."

Betcha five bucks Jevremovic and Tsoukalas had a bitch session with Taleyarkhan and then they went to Nature, grabbed Putterman on the way over, and fried Taleyarkhan.

****************

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 22:40:35 -0500
From: "Kenneth Chang"
To: "Steve Krivit"
Subject: Re: this is the real story

I betcha it was the writer who thought, "I wonder whatever happened to sonofusion" and started poking around and then calling everyone at Purdue for weeks and weeks. Tsoukalas is out of the country. Purdue is directing all interview requests to the public information office, which basically gives out the same statement.

Think about it. If your goal were to fry Taleyarkhan, wouldn't you come to me first?

And Tsoukalas is actually quite circumspect in what he says. Read any one quote of his out of the context of the story, and it doesn't sound very critical. He's also the head of the department. He doesn't need to go to Nature to fry Taleyarkhan. He can go to the dean (and apparently did).

Feel free to mail me $5 anytime you want. it doesn't even violate NYT ethics. We're allowed to accept gifts up to $25.

****************

SK: What in the world are you talking about? I don't get this at all.

"Feel free to mail me $5 anytime you want. it doesn't even violate NYT ethics. We're allowed to accept gifts up to $25."

****************

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 23:17:16 -0500
From: "Kenneth Chang"
To: "Steve Krivit"
Subject: Re: this is the real story

You said you'd bet me five bucks. Send me the money when you're convinced I'm right.

The whole premise of your complaint to me yesterday was that I left the man's reputation in tatters with a 500-word story. So either there is great power in the Times, which could have been even more incendiary with a bit of skillful prodding -- or planting a story in Nature is really how you destroy someone's reputation, in which your complaint is simply that I did not let Rusi enjoy his last half-day of peace.