Record of Communications with Physics Today / Barbara Gross Levi

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Request for Comment from Barbara Levi of Physics Today to Taleyarkhan

From: "BGLevi"
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 13:14:32 -0700
To: <rusi@purdue.edu>
Subject: Physics Today query

I am writing a brief story for Physics Today about the sanctions that your university imposed on you last month.

I wonder if you care to comment?

If so, you can reply by email or suggest a convenient time for me to call?


Barbara Levi

Barbara G. Levi

Consulting Editor 805 965 3483 (tel)
Physics Today 805 884 6121 (fax)


From: rusi@purdue.edu [mailto:rusi@purdue.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 3:07 PM
To: BGLevi
Cc: Rusi Taleyarkhan, Ph.D, M.B.A
Subject: Re: Physics Today query

Dear Ms. Levi:

I am on travel today and tied up in meetings tomorrow but will plan to write a response on friday by noon. If you wish to speak thereafter, pl let me know.

Rusi Taleyarkhan


Thank you. I look forward to your reply.

In your reply, can you tell me if you continue to do research on sonofusion?




Communication from Steven Krivit (New Energy Times) to Barbara Levi (Physics Today)

Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 17:55:15 -0800
To: dan..."jack.sandweiss, bglevi
From: Steve Krivit
Subject: Regarding Purdue C-22 Investigation
Cc: [coauthor list]

Barbara G. Levi, Consulting Editor, Physics Today:

Hi Barbara,

I'm just posting a note to confirm our two telephone conversations of this afternoon:

1. to inform you that the Feb 23, 2006 "Statement From Adam Butt" should be identified as such and not as "his testimony," a term which could be misinterpreted as his actual testimony in the legal hearing that took place on Feb. 2008.

2. to inform you that Purdue did not find Taleyarkhan guilty of two of the twelve allegations that were the subject of the Investigation Committee. Per Purdue university policy C-22, the Investigation Committee is tasked with evaluating allegations forwarded to it by the Inquiry Committee. In the case of allegation A.2, the origin is unknown to me and apparently external to the C-22 process.

Allegation A.2 alleges that Taleyarkhan caused Adam Butt's name to be added to Yiban Yu's paper. Allegation A.2 also states that Butt did not contribute significantly to the paper. There is no such reference, in any form, to these allegations in the Inquiry Committee report and it is a violation of C-22 policy for the Investigation Committee to add new allegations.

Allegation B.2 states that Taleyarkhan, "with falsifying intent," stated in his 2006 Physical Review Letters paper that his 2002 Science paper had been "independently confirmed."

However, allegation B.2 was dismissed by the Inquiry Committee. B.2 was not, in any form, among the 12 allegations that were sent by the Inquiry Committee to the Investigation Committee. It is a violation of C-22 policy for the Investigation Committee to insert allegations that have not been forwarded by the Inquiry Committee.

If you would like further, explicit details and source documents to help you track this yourself, I will be happy to provide them to you.

Steven B. Krivit
Editor, New Energy Times
369-B Third Street, Suite 556
San Rafael, California, USA 94901
Office Phone: (310) 470-8189

cc: Daniel T. Kulp, Editorial Director, American Physical Society
cc: Jack Sandweiss, Editor, PRL


Invitation for Comment from Barbara Levi of Physics Today to Taleyarkhan

BGLevi wrote:

I have attached the news story I have drafted for Physics Today. If you care to comment, please reply to me by Wednesday, October 8.

Thank you,

Barbara Levi
Barbara G. Levi bglevi@msn.com <mailto:bglevi@msn.com>

Consulting Editor 805 965 3483 (tel)
Physics Today 805 884 6121 (fax)


Taleyarkhan Cover Letter of Response to Barbara Levi of Physics Today

At 01:06 PM 10/7/2008, [Rusi Taleyarkhan] wrote:

Dear Ms. Levi:

Upon giving it some thought I decided to take up your invitation to comment to help correct the record with backup facts. Brief comments /suggested corrections are marked in the body of your text itself using MSWord Track Change option. Much all of this input has previously been reviewed by my co-authors, especially when presenting invited comments to the American Physical Society and to other bodies.

Our unanimously supported statement to APS for their forthcoming Editorial Note is embedded in the body of your article.

Feel free to contact me/us if you have further need for clarifications.

On legal matters I would much prefer that you direct any such queries directly to Mr. John Lewis (317-636-7460) of the Indianapolis, IN law firm of Lewis and Wilkins, LLP. Your colleague Steve Krivit has set up a web-based portal which presents significant evidence base. He is on cc list also.

On behalf of my co-authors, we thank you for the opportunity to comment. My co-authors are on cc list so they may offer their own corrections to you and/or to our group directly since time appears short.

Sincerely, Rusi Taleyarkhan

(PS: I've appended two further detailed notes to your article so you have the needed backup evidence and clarifications related to successful and otherwise confirmation efforts by several groups.)
Rusi P. Taleyarkhan, Ph.D., M.B.A



Draft Version of Barbara Levi's Physics Today Article with Taleyarkhan et al.'s Oct. 7
Comments and Suggestions to Add and Delete

Purdue University sanctions “bubble fusion” researcher for misconduct

In a 2002 Science paper, Rusi Taleyarkhan, who was then at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, claimed to have achieved nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment. Specifically, he and his colleagues had subjected a flask of deuterated acetone to very high frequency sound waves, causing the formation of tiny bubbles that expanded and contracted in phase with the sound. Theorists had predicted that the compression-induced shock wave in a sufficiently spherical bubble could create high enough temperatures and pressures for deuterons to fuse. Taleyarkhan’s team presented evidence that such fusion had indeed occurred. Their report, however, met with considerable skepticism. (See Physics Today, April 2002, page 16.)

Several Independent research groups have succeeded and confirmed the Taleyarkhan group’s results while some others have so far failed to confirm the Taleyarkhan’s results. All of these groups were affiliated with and received guidance and input from Taleyarkhan and his group members (see note 1 below). In 2004, he moved to Purdue University, where he has continued to pursue bubble fusion. But controversy has dogged him. Some have supported while others have criticized the conduct of his experiments. Others have leveled allegations of such misconduct. To consider those allegations, Purdue convened two successive investigations in 2006 and 2007. Both investigations cleared Taleyarkhan of the charges.

Still questions lingered. Even the subcommittee on investigations and oversight of the House Committee on Science and Technology weighed in, criticizing what it regarded as a limited investigation by Purdue. (See Physics Today, June, 2007, page 36) The university launched a third investigation committee in November 2007. In its 18 July report to Purdue, the most recent investigation committee charged Taleyarkhan with two instances of research misconduct. Taleharkhan Taleyarkhan appealed that judgment, but, on 21 August, the university’s Appeal Committee upheld the committee’s conclusions.

Purdue officials announced sanctions against Taleyarkhan on 27 August. He will remain a member of the university’s faculty, serve on graduate committees, and mentor graduate and undergraduate students for research and academics, but will no longer have a named professorship, and he will not be allowed to serve as a major professor for graduate students for at least the next three years.

One of the sonoluminescent chemistry experts whose group has unsuccessfully tried to conduct and reproduce Taleyarkhan’s bubble nuclear fusion results is Kenneth Suslick of the University of Illinois. He regrets that the investigations did not look at the conduct of the science experiments themselves, commenting that “Justice has been done but not completely.” Taleyarkhan counters that all allegations made by well-known competitors and detractors such as Suslick as related to experiment fraud, fabrication and falsification in relation to the science were reviewed at length and rejected; only 12 of 34 allegations which were associated with issues such as self-plagiarism, improper press releases, co-authorship, and federal funds usage moved forward to a full investigation, and these too were dismissed.

For his part, Taleyarkhan commented by email that “there is much more to this story than meets the eye and the full truth will have to come out soon.”

The investigation committee was chaired by Purdue’s Mark Hermodson, a biochemist. Its six members included three researchers from other universities and one from a national lab. The committee considered a list of allegations, together with a body of evidence forward to it by the previous committee, and it had access to additional evidence submitted directly to the committee. Of the twelve allegations they considered, the committee found sufficient evidence to cite Taleyarkhan with research misconduct in two cases. Taleyarkhan and his attorney John Lewis have pointed out that, these two allegations were not part of the list of allegations that the 2008 Investigation Committee was chartered to consider per their express charge. They were inexplicably added to the official list against rules of due process, and amazingly, are the same two allegations for which a formal, duly appointed committee had rejected and dismissed as not constituting misconduct in 2006 for which Purdue then issued a congratulatory Press Release on Feb.7, 2007 before political pressure was brought to bear.

Both cases deal with the publication of results from research in which Taleyarkhan had been “heavily involved,” according to the committee. The research paper was originally submitted to (and rejected by) Physical Review Letters with Yiban Xu, a postdoctoral fellow, as the sole author. The PRL reviewer commented that, with only one author, the needed cross checks and witnessing of results seemed lacking. Subsequently, according to the committee’s report, Taleyarkhan “with falsifying intent caused” Adam Butt, a master’s student of Taleyarkhan, to be added to the paper as a coauthor. In his statement testimony, Butt asserts that his only contribution was to check that data had been correctly transferred from a spreadsheet and to suggest some minor editorial changes to the manuscript. The paper, with Xu and Butt as coauthors, was published in Nuclear Engineering and Design in 2005. The investigation committee concluded that Taleyarkhan had compelled the addition of Butt’s name to create an appearance of collaboration between Xu and Butt. That, in the committee’s judgment, was research misconduct. Taleyarkhan has pointed out that this determination omitted several key pieces of evidence that were submitted such as video of Butt discussing his successful sonofusion experimentation supported by signed affidavits of Xu himself along with that of several students that refute this conclusion.

The second instance of research misconduct cited by the committee concerned a paper published by Taleyarkhan , West, Lahey, Block, Nigmatulin and Xu in Physical Review Letters in 2006, in which he they asserted that his their 2002 “observations of bubble fusion “have now been independently confirmed.” The observations of independent confirmation to which he the group was referring was the 2005 Nuclear Engineering and Design paper by Xu and Butt. The committee states that “Dr. Taleyarkhan himself well knew the degree of his direct mentoring, editing and promotion of Dr. Xu’s work and the resulting publication.” It concludes that this effort to characterize Xu’s experiment as “independent” is research misconduct.


First Appended Note from Taleyarkhan et al. to Barbara Levi's Physics Today on Oct. 7

Taleyarkhan’s co-authors for the PRL 96 (2006) paper have upon invitation for comment prepared and submitted on 10.2.2008 the following statement to include in a forthcoming Editorial Note to the Editorial Director of American Physical Society, Dr. D. Kulp:

"The authors of PRL 96 034301 (2006) unanimously reject the conclusion of the April 18, 2008 Purdue Investigation Report (1), and affirm their position on the accuracy of the statement related to the observations being independently confirmed based on sworn testimonies (2); importantly, this was already investigated and affirmed publicly in 2007 as accurate and not constituting misconduct by Purdue University (3)."

(1) April 18, 2008 Report of Purdue’s Investigation Committee.
(2) http://newenergytimes.com/BubbleTrouble/BubblegateAffidavits.htm (3)http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2007a/070207BennettTaleyarkhan.htm

Second Appended Note from Taleyarkhan et al. to Barbara Levi's Physics Today on Oct. 7

Notes for the Record:

1) Confirmation Studies (successful and not)

- For the one situation where Putterman et al. failed in their attempt, there are others which were indeed successful and which have been entered into the public domain (with signed testimonials and affidavits):

i) 2005 Nuclear Engineering and Design (NED) paper by Xu/Butt
ii) 2005 Int. Conf. Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics (NURETH-11) Proceedings paper by Xu/Butt/Revankar
iii)) 2006 paper (Proc. Intl. Conf. Fusion Energy, Nov.2006) by E. Forringer et al., LeTourneau University, Texas.
iv) 2006 paper (Archives of American Nuclear Society, Nov. 2006 ANS Annual Conference Proceedings) by E. Forringer et al., LeTourneau University, Texas.
v) Report (unpublished) to Purdue University of successful replication experiments of the 2006 PRL paper -by William Bugg (retd. Head of Physics Univ.Tenn,Knoxville, presently, Research Prof. Stanford University)
vi) Testimonial of successful public demonstration to wide group of visitors to Purdue on March-1 (2006)
vii) Testimonial for second successful public demonstration at Purdue on March -2 (2006)

- It is true that the Putterman et al. group published a paper in PRL declaring they could not reproduce the data as published in Science(2002) and Phys.Rev.E(2004). This is traced to non-attainment of the experimental conditions that were so in the successful studies [Science(2002), Phys.Rev.E(2004), PRL(2006)]. The mode of SL production, degassing, acoustic profiles and importantly, the shape and rate of bubble clusters were completely off-base. Video records were transmitted to Taleyarkhan et al. group from UCLA/UIUC for which feedback was provided to them to advise them to not expect success under these circumstances (i.e., bubble cluster shapes in the UCLA expts. were elongated and nonspherical and they deliberately added non-condensible gases to increase SL emission levels, opposite of that utilized by Taleyarkhan et al.). Indeed, in the 2005 NED/NURETH-11 papers by Xu/Butt/Revankar they specifically demonstrate that under the UCLA expt. conditions, successful D-D bubble fusion will not occur. This is not to say that Putterman et al. are poor scientists; this has never been stated by any of Taleyarkhan's co-authors. Just that Putterman et al. did a different experiment. Their expertise base has been developed around single-(gas) bubble sonoluminescence not in on-demand nuclear scale nucleated bubble clusters in degassed liquids.

- Yes, a scoping attempt was also made in early 2001 while Taleyarkhan was at ORNL by physicists Shapira and Saltmarsh to measure nuclear emissions. Note: Shapira/Saltmarsh did not run their own experiements over several months or even days. What is not appreciated is that Shapira /Saltmarsh made a single measurement using a different LS detector on a single afternoon over the period of ~1 hour alone in Taleyarkhan's laboratory and a statistically significant result for nuclear emissions was was indeed obtained by them for excess nuclear emissions time correlated with the region of time when deuterated bubble clusters were imploding. Shapira nor Saltmarsh did not investigate for tritium nor did they conduct control experiment related measurements with non-deuterated liquid. Due to the x30 large size of their detectors used there were electronic issues related to gamma saturation in some time regions. A review of the raw data has already been published as a reference in the Science (2002) paper. However, the media has distorted this scoping attempt by Shapira/Saltmarsh - both accomplished scientists in their own right. The data obtained by the discovery team were reviewed at length by ORNL management taking assistance from resident expertise and eventually after many tens of in-depth assessments (and also taking into account for due diligence the Shapira/Saltmarsh scoping attempts not at experimentation) decided that the work and data obtained were on solid ground (see comments from Glenn Young - Director of Physics Div.,ORNL of 2004 to NYTimes as also the ORNL position statement in consultation with Prof. Lee Riedinger, Exec.VP for Science/Technology, ORNL both of whom participated in indepth reviews and audits).
Yes, neutron detection is non-trivial. The same goes in spades and more so for conducting bubble fusion experimentation and controlling the shape and implosion of not one but cluster of hundreds of bubbles.

2) Regarding the work of Xu/Butt/Revankar

- Yiban Xu was NOT a doctoral student of Rusi Taleyarkhan as alleged nor his major advisor (who was M. Ishii). Taleyarkhan had a courtesy, last-minute impromptu appointment on Xu's thesis defense committee - something requested of him by Xu's major professor Ishii and constituted nothing more than to review his PhD thesis, give comments for completeness and hear his defense. The rebuttal to the C-22 Inv.C Report includes this clarification but Purdue has not corrected their report after release. During the time Xu conducted his studies, he was under direction and sponsorship of Tsoukalas (who served as PI and paid for XU's salary from external sponsored funds).

- The laboratory where Xu worked (was under direction of Tsoukalas), the test cell equipment, the mode of nucleation, the protocol for nuclear emission detection, the test fluids, the drive train, the calibrations, the detection equipment, the thermal hydraulic enclosure that were used by Y. Xu were all different and in some cases radically so from the ones used at Oak Ridge. Taleyarkhan nor anyone else from the original team participated in any of the experiments, nor in the data analyses, nor in drawing of conclusions, nor in the drafting of the manuscript of Xu, Butt and Revankar. Yes, initial consulting was provided to Purdue from Oak Ridge and that was acknowledged by Xu/Butt/Revankar in their publications. Xu and Revankar both have issued and signed a sworn affidavit to this effect. Every investigation committee that has looked at the facts and evidence have come to this conclusion.

- The only statement made in the Taleyarkhan et al group's 2006 PRL paper as related to the Xu/Butt/revankar paper was: these "observations" have now been independently confirmed. The observations indeed were independently confirmed by Xu. The entire author team felt this was legitimately the case and maintains this till today. All co-authors have sworn statements to this effect and see nothing wrong. These facts were omitted in the C-22 Inv.C report but are present in the Rebuttal correction which has not been publicized.

- According to sworn affidavits of Xu, Revankar and several others, Xu worked over several months with Butt on conducting sonofusion studies. It was Xu's initiative to respond to a referee's comment that the work be looked at by a separate person upon which Xu took the initiative to request Butt for his participation; Butt was asked by Taleyarkhan if he would like to do so and upon agreement, Butt then worked with Xu to perform cross-checking, re-analyses of data/drawing of conclusions, etc. to Xu's satisfaction not Taleyarkhan's. The affidavits of Mize and several close observers shed light into the dynamics of the generation of Butt's statement.

- The lack of neutron detection capability for monitoring fast neutrons with PSD (gating of gammas) is issued in the 2008 Inv.C report in relation to the expertise of Y. Xu prior to undertaking his confirmatory studies. Yes, he did not have that specific expertise prior to his attempts but he was a 15y veteran nuclear engineer from his days in China as an Asst.Prof. from Tsinghua Univ. and then at Purdue and he picked up what he needed to learn from various individual faculty at Purdue (not just from Oak Ridge) as well as learning from Oak Ridge expert on tritium monitoring. This lack of prior expertise in these specific areas of neutron-tritium detection that is taken out of context. It is not what a person knows but what he/she accomplishes after several months of full-time work with assistance/counsel from others and then describes in a manuscript which then gets reviewed for attaining of standards of scientific merit by experts chosen by the editor of a respected journal. No one has questioned the technical merit of the Xu/Butt/Revankar technical publications. It is unfair to judge someone for their past alone.


Inquiry from Taleyarkhan to Barbara Levi Regarding Forthcoming Article

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 13:20:34 -0400
From: Rusi Taleyarkhan <rusi@purdue.edu>
To: BGLevi
CC: [co-auhor list] , Steve Krivit, Stephen Benka, lewis
Subject: Re: Physics Today news story - Comments for the Record (rpt->RTL
et al ->B.Levi;10.24.08)

Dear Ms. Levi:

We haven't heard from you since early October, 2008 when we responded with comments for inclusion in your article and would appreciate knowing the status and time frame for publication. In case it was published I would appreciate receiving the link or a courtesy copy.


Rusi Taleyarkhan

(PS: For the record, all co-authors have responded with their unanimous support for the statement sent to Dr. Kulp -APS Editorial Director, which is also included in the comments to Ms. Levi.

In the interest of openness, I'm placing Dr. Kulp on cc list as well so he knows we have informed Ms. Levi from Physics World of our considered response to his invitation to comment on his Editorial Note of a few days ago.)


Published Article

Bubble Fusion Scientist Disciplined

Barbara Goss Levi
Physics Today - November 2008


After making headlines with claims of achieving nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment, Rusi Taleyarkhan joined Purdue University's nuclear engineering department in 2004. His tenure there has been rocky. After a university investigation cited Taleyarkhan for two instances of research misconduct, the university imposed sanctions in August. Taleyarkhan will remain a member of the university's faculty and can serve on graduate committees, but he will no longer have a named professorship and will not be allowed to serve as a major professor for graduate students for at least three years. ©2008 American Institute of Physics