Looming Retraction Casts Shadow Over Ranga Dias and Examine of Superconductors



A serious physics journal is retracting a two-year-old scientific paper that described the transformations of a chemical compound because it was squeezed between two items of diamond.

Such an esoteric discovering — and retraction — wouldn’t usually garner a lot consideration.

However one of many leaders of this analysis is Ranga P. Dias, a professor within the physics and mechanical engineering departments on the College of Rochester in New York who made a a lot greater scientific splash earlier this yr, touting the discovery of a room-temperature superconductor.

On the identical time, accusations of analysis misconduct have swirled round Dr. Dias, and his superconductor findings stay largely unconfirmed.

The retracted paper doesn’t contain superconductivity however moderately describes how a comparatively mundane materials, manganese sulfide, shifts its conduct from an insulator to a steel after which again to an insulator beneath rising strain.

A criticism that one of many graphs within the paper appeared fishy led the journal, Bodily Evaluation Letters, to recruit outdoors consultants to take a better look.

The inquiry arrived at disquieting conclusions.

“The findings again up the allegations of knowledge fabrication/falsification convincingly,” the journal’s editors wrote in an electronic mail to the authors of the paper on July 10.

The Occasions obtained copies of the e-mail and three studies written by the skin reviewers. These haven’t been revealed however have circulated amongst scientists within the area. The Campus Times newspaper on the College of Rochester and the journal Nature reported earlier on the upcoming retraction.

The reviewers have been all unconvinced by the reasons proffered by the authors. Moreover, extra knowledge requested by the journal to again up the paper’s claims clearly didn’t match what had been revealed.

Whereas Dr. Dias continues to defend the work, to some scientists, there’s now clear proof of misconduct.

“There’s no believable deniability left,” mentioned N. Peter Armitage, a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins College in Baltimore who’s among the many scientists who’ve seen the studies. “They submitted falsified knowledge. There’s no ambiguity there in any respect.”

Over the previous few years, Dr. Dias and his colleagues have revealed a sequence of spectacular findings in high scientific journals.

The most recent declare got here in March. They described, within the journal Nature, the discovery of a superconductor — a fabric that conveys electrical energy with out dropping vitality to electrical resistance — that labored at temperatures as much as 70 levels Fahrenheit (though it additionally required a crushing strain of 145,000 kilos per sq. inch). Most superconductors need to be chilled to ultracold temperatures, which limits their sensible use.

Many scientists have been skeptical, nonetheless, as a result of an earlier superconductor paper by Dr. Dias and his colleagues, additionally revealed in Nature, had already been retracted. Critics have additionally found that Dr. Dias’s doctoral thesis, accomplished in 2013 at Washington State College, incorporates swaths of plagiarism that have been copied from different scientists’ work.

A number of of the authors of the 2 Nature papers additionally seem on the Physical Review Letters paper on manganese sulfide. These embody Dr. Dias; Ashkan Salamat, a professor of physics on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas; and Keith V. Lawler, a analysis professor at UNLV.

In a press release supplied by his publicist, Dr. Dias mentioned, “We specific our disappointment relating to the choice made by PRL’s editors and have duly submitted our responses to handle their inquiries regarding the knowledge high quality within the authentic paper.”

No scientific misconduct occurred and the work contained no fabrication or manipulation of knowledge, Dr. Dias mentioned within the assertion.

Dr. Salamat and Dr. Lawler didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Dr. Dias’s publicist mentioned the authors have been nonetheless in dialogue amongst themselves, and with the journal’s editors, in regards to the subsequent steps.

Media representatives for the College of Rochester and the College of Nevada, Las Vegas, mentioned the faculties have been conscious of discussions of the proposed retraction, and in the event that they obtained discover that the paper was retracted due to misconduct, they might comply with their insurance policies for dealing with such allegations.

The Bodily Evaluation Letters inquiry targeted on one determine within the paper that purported to point out electrical resistance in manganese sulfide. Nevertheless, very related curves additionally appeared in Dr. Dias’s thesis for a completely totally different materials, germanium selenide.

The scientists, labeled Reviewers Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma, weren’t recognized. (Alpha and Beta collaborated on a joint report.) When requested for the unique experimental knowledge used to generate the graph, Dr. Salamat supplied a spreadsheet of numbers that additional raised suspicions.

The entire reviewers famous that once they plotted Dr. Salamat’s knowledge on a chart, they didn’t see kinks seen within the revealed graph. “The alleged ‘uncooked’ knowledge seems to be a smoothed and in any other case doctored model of the information proven” within the journal article, Reviewers Alpha and Beta wrote.

Of their electronic mail, the journal editors wrote, “We view this lack of correspondence and what seems to be a deliberate try and impede the investigation as one other moral breach.”

The journal instructed the authors that they might volunteer to retract the paper themselves. The journal added that it might retract the paper if the authors didn’t.

Till now, each the College of Nevada, Las Vegas and the College of Rochester have lauded the potential breakthroughs {that a} room-temperature superconductor might result in.

“I hope this forces the establishments concerned — the College of Rochester, the College of Nevada, Las Vegas — to confront what’s going right here,” Dr. Armitage mentioned.

After James J. Hamlin, a professor of physics on the College of Florida, reported the similarities between the graphs, one of many paper’s authors, Simon A.J. Kimber, mentioned he instantly acknowledged issues with the resistance knowledge.

“I known as for a retraction lower than 24 hours later and was uninvolved in makes an attempt to stop it,” Dr. Kimber mentioned in an electronic mail.

The opposite authors — Dr. Salamat and Dr. Dias, particularly — continued to defend the paper, saying that beneath strain, each manganese sulfide and germanium selenide act like metals, and thus it might not be shocking that each supplies would conduct electrical energy equally.

The reviewers weren’t satisfied, pointing to smaller kinks within the curves that seemed to be measurement glitches or noise.

“If you need an analogy,” mentioned one of many reviewers, who requested to stay nameless as a result of the reviewers haven’t been publicly recognized, “you can say, Oh, one blond actress seems to be like every other blond actress. However these blips are extra just like the mole on the cheek of Marilyn Monroe.”

To seek out one other blond actress with an similar mole on the identical location on the identical cheek would defy disbelief. That’s how intently the manganese sulfide curve matches the germanium selenide one, this reviewer mentioned.

The conclusion within the report of Reviewer Gamma wryly famous that this match, if true, would herald a serious discovery — “a novel universality in nature” that totally different supplies beneath totally different circumstances behave the identical.

Reviewer Gamma added, “Additionally it is conceivable that these findings recommend a departure from normal practices in experimental condensed matter analysis and require nearer investigation.”

Because the Bodily Evaluation Letters paper faces retraction, the superconducting declare from March stays in scientific limbo.

“The group that made this phenomenal declare is a bunch that now could be demonstrably engaged in slipshod and even fraudulent knowledge dealing with,” mentioned the reviewer who spoke on the situation of anonymity. “It simply places an enormous beware signal on these outcomes.”

The cloud of suspicion and uncertainty hovering over Dr. Dias overshadows earlier breakthroughs by different scientists, the reviewer mentioned. Starting in 2014, a analysis group led by Mikhail Eremets of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany confirmed that hydrogen-containing compounds are superconductors at surprisingly heat temperatures when squeezed beneath ultrahigh pressures.

“There actually does appear like there’s high-pressure, near-room-temperature superconductivity,” the reviewer mentioned. “This can be a phenomenal discovery and is broadly accepted in the neighborhood.”

Dr. Dias shouldn’t be the one researcher looking for a room-temperature superconductor. A paper posted by researchers in South Korea a number of days in the past claims that modifying the mineral apatite produces a superconductor that works at bizarre temperatures and pressures.

The manganese sulfide episode echoes a scientific scandal twenty years in the past at Bell Labs in New Jersey. A physicist there, J. Hendrik Schön, revealed groundbreaking analysis that turned out to be fabricated.

“My preliminary response is that that is similar to the Schön case when it comes to what seems as knowledge duplication,” mentioned Lydia L. Sohn, a professor of mechanical engineering on the College of California, Berkeley, who was one of many scientists who discovered practically similar graphs in a number of of Dr. Schön’s papers.

Dr. Sohn mentioned the proof up to now was not sufficient to achieve a assured conclusion of scientific misconduct within the manganese sulfide work. She famous {that a} panel assembled to analyze the Bell Labs scandal provided Dr. Schön the chance to confirm his experiments.

“The PRL authors ought to be given this chance as effectively,” Dr. Sohn mentioned. If the phenomenon is actual, she mentioned, “then the information will repeat.”


Source link

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *