Bubblegate: Independence of Xu/Butt Replication

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Source: July 28, 2008, Taleyarkhan C-22 Appeal/Rebuttal Report
[Bracketed additions are clarifications by New Energy Times]

Table 2. Judging the Independence of Dr. Xu et al. Confirmatory Studies
- Per Metrics from the Dec. 15 2006 C-22 Inquiry Committee Report

Criterion / Question
Was location the same as the ORNL
Dr. Xu et al. experiments were performed at Purdue vs ORNL.
Did Dr. Xu et al. receive funding from Taleyarkhan et al. (2002)?
Dr. Xu was funded by Purdue’s School of Nuclear
Was the tritium detector/spectrometer the same as that used by Taleyarkhan et al. (2002)
Dr. Xu et al. used a different tritium detection
Calibration of Detector:
Was the Dr. Xu et al. tritium
spectrometer calibrated by
Taleyarkhan et al. (2002)?
The calibration was performed by [one of the world's foremost experts DoE/ORNL employee] Dr. M. Murray who traveled to Purdue during 12/2003 to deliver and set up the LS6500 Beckman spectrometer.
Measurement protocol:
Was the protocol for tritium detection the same as that used by Taleyarkhan et al. (2002)?
The protocol and approach for liquid scintillation
counting for tritium was different. Dr. Xu et al. detected tritium production using an organic liquid -based Ultima-Gold scintillation cocktail versus the use of an aqueous-based Ecolite cocktail used by Taleyarkhan et al. (2002, 2004)
Test apparatus (reactor cells):
Were the test cells used by Dr. Xu et al. the same as the ones used by Taleyarkhan et al. (2002)?
Dr. Xu et al. used different test reactor cells that were different and distinct than the ones used to conduct the experiments in Oak Ridge, TN by Taleyarkhan et al. (2002)
Experimental approach:
Did Dr. Xu et al. use an identical experimental approach for nucleation and sustaining the sonofusion experiments as reported by Taleyarkhan et al.(2002)?
The experimental approach for timing, starting and maintaining the sonofusion process was radically different. Dr. Xu et al. used a fundamentally different experiment approach; whereas, Taleyarkhan et al. used an accelerator based 14 MeV neutron microsecond-pulsed neutron source, Dr. Xu et al. at Purdue used a continuous spectrum randomly emitting neutron sources, both Cf-252 and Pu-Be
Facility, geometry and functionality:
Was the thermal-hydraulic design of the experiment station identical to that of Taleyarkhan et al. (2002)?
Dr. Xu et al. used an experimental geometry which was radically different (i.e., they used an enclosed passive freezer containment versus the use of an active chilled-air driven cooling system used in the ORNL experiments).
Participation in experiments:
Did anyone from Taleyarkhan et al.(2002) participate in the conduct, data acquisition and analyses of the Dr. Xu et al. experiments?
Dr. Xu formally testifies that he conducted the experiments, acquired the relevant data and analyzed the data independently and drew conclusions with no participation by the Taleyarkhan et al. (2002,2004) team members.
[Experimental Assistance:]
Did Dr. Xu/Mr. Butt receive
assistance/tutoring from Taleyarkhan et al.(2002,2004) team members on test cell design, setup and operations?
This assistance has been acknowledged by Dr. Xu et al. directly in the Acknowledgment sections of their 2005 NED and NURETH-11 papers.

[Editorial Assistance:]
Did Dr. Xu/Mr. Butt receive review comments on their manuscript, technical writing/composition assistance and assistance for reaching out to Science, PRL and Elsevier Publishing House for consideration for acceptance and publication in NED.

Dr. Xu testifies that he requested review feedback and assistance related to paper preparation for publication from Dr. Taleyarkhan and several of his colleagues.

[Peer Review:]
Did Dr. Taleyarkhan et al. (2002,2004) manage the editing, independent reviews and decision to accept or reject the Dr. Xu et al. NED manuscript?

This function was performed by Dr. G. Lohnert, Principal Editor of the Elsevier Journal of Nuclear Engineering and Design. Dr. Lohnert has provided sworn testimony to this effect to state that the decision to accept was his and his alone and based on the merits of the paper and in no way was he influenced by Taleyarkhan et al. (2002,2004).


New Energy Times notes the following:

1. Neither Taleyarkhan nor his co-authors made the test section (cell) used in the Xu/Butt replication. The test section was made by one of three glassblowers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory who had developed an understanding of and had the required skills to fabricate such test sections.

2. Taleyarkhan occasionally visited the School of Nuclear Engineering's loaned space at the pharmacy laboratory when Yiban Xu was performing the replication experiments. However, Taleyarkhan states he was there on other business with other students. The lab was not "Xu's lab." It was under the general direction of Lefteri Tsoukalas. Xu worked at one of several workstations within the so-called pharmacy lab. Taleyarkhan states that, during the five-month period when Xu was running the reported experiments (running a complete experiment from start to finish generally takes 8-10 hours), entry-exit logs required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission show that Taleyarkhan was in the lab no more than a few minutes at a time for a total of no more than about two hours over the entire five-month period.

New Energy Timess Independence Assessment of Xu/Butt Replication: 5 points
(See Criteria for Evaluating the Independence of Scientific Replications)

At most, the Taleyarkhan group is guilty of  expressing its opinion - which may or may not be shared by others - that its work was independently replicated.



Source: July 28, 2008, Taleyarkhan C-22 Appeal/Rebuttal Report

Additionally the following are pointed out:

• Two duly constituted Committees (the 12/15/2006 C-22 Inquiry Committee Report; and ONR-mandated Aug.27, 2007 Inquiry Committee Report) have unanimously concluded that there was no research misconduct for this category of allegation.

• Referring to affidavits of Dr. Xu (1.31.08, para. 16), and Revankar (1.31.08, para.9) it is sworn by these two co-authors of their NED/NURETH-11 manuscripts that there was no involvement in any of the crucial aspects related to deriving observations of successful sonofusion results from an experimental confirmation study (as tabulated in Table 1).

Table 2 identifies the metrics developed by an earlier duly formulated 2006 C-22 Inq.C to show that there was no involvement nor participation in key aspects related to experiment design, setup, experiment conduct, data acquisition, detector usage and calibrations, data analyses and the drawing of conclusions.

There indeed was involvement and consulting assistance provided by the original discovery team members (Taleyarkhan, Cho, West, Lahey, Nigmatulin and Block) for test cell setup, and training on operation, as well as for review feedback, composition of manuscript and for reaching out to publishing bodies.

• Neither Taleyarkhan nor any other member of the original team was involved in the capacity of being a referee, nor as an editor with the authority to accept or reject the NED and NURETH-11 papers. All members of the original discovery team have provided sworn affidavits to this effect.

Therefore, while it is useful to point to areas where Taleyarkhan and colleagues were involved with the NED/NURETH-11 papers, it is equally important to point out the substantial and crucial areas where they were not. The NED work was a confirmation study, not an undertaking for reaching a novel discovery.