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Bubblegate Introduction

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This investigation is about the scientific work of five researchers* on a team led by Rusi Taleyarkhan, a professor in the Purdue School of Nuclear Engineering, and the politics surrounding their research. The team is one of several groups that, for several decades, has been investigating and attempting to achieve acoustic inertial confinement fusion. The team is the first to claim success. It calls its version of this research bubble fusion.

First place is not always an enviable place to be, and in this case, one member of the group, Taleyarkhan, (but not his collaborators) has been singled out for political attack by competitors from outside institutions as well as adversaries in his own university—in particular, the former head of the school, Lefteri Tsoukalas. According to sources in the School of Nuclear Engineering, Tsoukalas was asked to resign as head of the school, and he is in Greece on sabbatical. Taleyarkhan has since filed a civil complaint against Tsoukalas and others for a variety of claims, including damaging remarks by Tsoukalas and another Purdue professor that were published in Nature.

Besides removing Tsoukalas as the head of the school, the Purdue administration has, according to the group, deprived Taleyarkhan of his right to due process and punished him with charges the group calls "trumped up."

The Purdue administration and even Congress conducted several investigations of Taleyarkhan (no investigations have targeted the other members of his group). The first few probes came up empty-handed. But when pushed by Congress to reinvestigate, Purdue eventually came up with two charges that have - thus far - stuck. The charges, as reported in another article in this series, appear to have been fabricated.

Public court documents reveal a dysfunctional school of engineering at Purdue and suggest that Purdue administrators have attempted to make Taleyarkhan a scapegoat in order to avoid further public scrutiny. It looks like a cover-up. This is Bubblegate.

New Energy Times is publishing key aspects of our investigation into this matter as we learn them. The Bubblegate Portal provides easy access for the collection of our evolving investigation on Bubblegate.



* JaeSeon Cho (formerly with Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Robert C. Block (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Richard T. Lahey Jr. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Robert I. Nigmatulin (Russian Academy of Sciences) and Colin West (formerly with Oak Ridge National Laboratory)