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Lucent Reexamines Breakthrough Research 139

Posted by michael
from the publish-and-perish dept.
s20451 writes "Bell Labs' claims to have manufactured transistors consisting of a single-molecule switch are being met with skepticism in the scientific community, following difficulties in reproducing the experiment. Now a panel has been formed to investigate research misconduct related to not only that claim, but others regarding organic transistors." We've run several stories about the extremely tiny transistors and the innovative ways of assembling them which Lucent has been working on. A reader's summary of a subscriber-only story on Science's website suggests that there is strong evidence that some of the data in the published papers was faked.
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Lucent Reexamines Breakthrough Research

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  • Making a name for oneself vs respecting peer review process!!

    Dare I say it. This is what happens when over eager execs push researchers to publish findings before they are ready.

    I hardley think this is news.

  • Hey, guys...? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Schwamm (513960)
    A reader's summary of a subscriber-only story on Science's website suggests that there is strong evidence that some of the data in the published papers was faked.

    Do we get to see the reader's summary? Not even a link?
    • Here's the text (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Pioneering Physics Studies Under Suspicion

      Officials at Bell Laboratories, the research arm of Lucent Technologies in Murray Hill, New Jersey, are forming a committee of outside researchers to investigate questions about a recent series of acclaimed scientific studies. Outside researchers presented evidence to Bell Labs management last week of possible manipulation of data involving five separate papers published in Science, Nature, and Applied Physics Letters over 2 years.

      The papers describe a series of different device experiments, but physicists are voicing suspicions about the figures, portions of which seem almost identical even though the labels are different. Particularly puzzling is the fact that one pair of graphs show the same pattern of "noise," which should be random.

      The groundbreaking papers include Bell Labs physicist Jan Hendrik Schön as lead author and his colleagues at Murray Hill and elsewhere as co-authors. Schön is the only researcher who co-authored all five papers in question. Everyone involved agrees that the questions need further investigation, but many fear that the impact could be devastating for Bell Labs and for solid state physics. Schön told ScienceNOW that he stands behind his data, and he says it's not surprising that experiments with similar devices produce similar-looking data.

      Schön, who joined Bell Labs in 1998, has worked most closely with former Bell Labs physicist Bertram Batlogg--now at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich--and Bell Labs chemist Christian Kloc. His work has focused on efforts to make novel types of transistors using organic materials. He was the lead author on at least 17 papers in Science and Nature in the last 2.5 years.

      Until this week, many physicists believed the impressive string of results was worthy of consideration for a Nobel Prize, although other groups have reported no success in reproducing Schön's most striking results. Last week, several physicists began to present their doubts to company managers. Bell Labs spokesperson Saswato Das says that company officials take the concerns "very seriously." Within hours of hearing of them on 10 May, Das says that Lucent management decided to form an external review panel chaired by Stanford University physicist Malcolm Beasley. Das says, "The panel will be given full freedom to make an independent review of concerns that have been raised." Physicist Paul McEuen of Cornell University, one of the first to question the data openly, says that Lucent is taking the right step: "Malcolm Beasley has great stature in the community. ... Everybody wants to get to the truth." --ROBERT F. SERVICE

      Figure legend: Striking resemblance. Bell Labs is investigating a possible duplication of data in several publications. (* The author has corrected the bottom graph.)

  • Fake results (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brejc8 (223089) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @01:35PM (#3559614) Homepage Journal
    It makes me sad when I see companys trying to hype up their research to pump up their share price.

    Now when my group does any research which has positive results we are scared to release anything because everyone assumes its simply another con.

    Currently we have an asynchronous processor which releases so little EMI it looks dead in the graphs.

    We tried showing this to other people but everyone nowdays refuses to beleve anything unconvesional can be good.
    • Re:Fake results (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alsee (515537)
      asynchronous processor which releases so little EMI it looks dead in the graphs.

      Sounds like an obvious result to me. Asynchronous means the transistors don't fire at the same time, and they don't fire at a consistant frequency.

      Listening to EMI from a normal CPU is like listening to someone pour 100 pounds of bricks.
      Listening to an asynchronous processor is like listening to someone pour 100 pounds of talcum powder. You just get a low whoosh noise.

      -
      • Try explaining that to someone who has allready invested a 1mil into organic transistors.
        Another mil into a company that claims it can make see through copper as soft as soap (I have seen some people who are convinced of this).

        Investors aren't scientists so there easy to con. But i feel dirty even thinking about it.
        • Investors aren't scientists so there easy to con

          Heh, I just thought of a cool new job - "pet geek". Every investor should have one :)

          Investor offers pet geek $250 for 2 hours evaluating/researching the tech behind the proposal, and 1/2 hour answering the investor's questions in person (or on the phone). $100 per hour.

          Geek naturally spends all day checking out the tech and an hour or two talking to the investor about it :)

          The important point is for the geek to admit to himself and to the client that he knows zero about the bussiness prospects (he just did about 10 hours of "work" when he was paid for 2.5, remember? chuckle). The investor has the bussiness expertise. The geek's job is to point out which parts are obvious and true, which parts have major obstacles to overcome, which parts are total bullshit, and to answer the investor's stupid-ass questions in a polite manner :)

          If any wealthy investors are reading this post, I hereby offer my services as Pet Geek :)

          -
          • You just fully described my current job :)
            No.. I'm not kidding...
            • Who employs you?
              How much do you get?
              What do you think of asynchronous logic?
              • :)
                I don't think you'd be that interested..
                I'm *working* (prrr prrr) in Mexico..
                It's not very well paid, but....considering it's mostly a sponsor for:
                - Unreal Tournament
                - Slashdot reading
                - Maths/Phys reading
                you won't easily get that much paid to to this I guess :)
      • Also, for most asynchronous designs, when a transistor isn't being used, it's also not firing, which decreases power consumption. This should also lower the EMI, since not as many transistors are needlessly firing.
    • Fake reports, shredding documents, bribing legislators with campaign "donations:" There is nothing big business will not do to grab money. It is upsetting, but not suprising. Business today is so dishonest that investing in stock is a bigger gamble then going to the track, and playing the ponies.
      • Careful there, don't generalize by going from stating that "there is nothing big business will not do to grab money" to stating that "investing in stocks is a bigger gamble than playing the ponies". That's a stretch because you are equating Lucent's actions in this case to not only other big companies, but to all other companies who are publicly traded. That's an incredible over-exaggeration.

        It's this kind of thinking that causes good company's stocks to go down regardless of what they are doing or how big, small, or honest they are. And that's part of what is hurting our economy now. Take statements like yours seriously because some people really are weak-minded enough to simply believe them as-is...
        • Lucent has not been the only company in the news giving me reason to distrust the stock market. Consider Oracle, Enron, Worldcom, HP. Also, brokerage firms such as Merill Lynch are under investigation for pushing stocks they knew were bad, defrauding investors. With publicly traded companies and brokers, the so-called experts, telling investors what they want to hear in order to take their money, I think my comparison of the stock market to the race track is a valid one.

    • It makes me sad when I see companys trying to hype up their research to pump up their share price.
      Now when my group does any research which has positive results we are scared to release anything because everyone assumes its simply another con.
      Currently we have an asynchronous processor which releases so little EMI it looks dead in the graphs.
      We tried showing this to other people but everyone nowdays refuses to beleve anything unconvesional can be good.

      What do you mean? It should be -easy- to convince people your processor works the way you claim. Loan them some of your prototypes (after they sign a non-disclosure agreement) and let them test the processors on their own, with their own equipment.

      If your measurements are valid, they will be able to replicate them easily. If not, you will learn what you did wrong quickly enough. Whatever you do, don't sit around blaming close-minded attitudes for your failure to convince people. Otherwise, you start to sound like crackpot researchers.

      As to Dr. Schon, I suspect that he will be asked to replicate some of his measurements in the presence of trained observers. He should still have working parts, and if he can do so, he will be vindicated. Otherwise, his career is finished.
      • Neah showing them that it works isnt enough.
        We have been giving the stuff away but these people want miracles.

        A company which we have known (THESEUS LOGIC!) which shall remain nameless were perticulaly stupid. Another company went to them showing them a bar of copper. Firstly they didnt want to say how they made it. Then they showed it was magnetic. Then they showed it was soft. Then when they put it under a spectral analyser it was nothing like copper. (at this point alar bells shuld have been going off stating IS IT COPPER?) anyway they continued with other bars of copper which were 'treated' to have different properties like low conductence and transparency. Anyway they all bought it. Invested silly ammounts of money into it.
        We culd easely make a chip that 'looks' dead. Infact we have a couple around the pace from manufacturing faults.
  • they say lucent has made molecule size organic transistors. what size molecules are they talking about? a BOWLING BALL is one molecule, so that is clearly not what they mean. how do these compare to ATOMIC size is the question.

    QED
    • Unless a "BOWLING BALL" is somehow different from a "bowling ball" (you know, the round ball people typically use for bowling), I'm pretty sure that it's actually a whole bunch of molecules formed into a spheroid.

      But yeah, it's possible to have a very large molecule (in theory), so how big are they talking?
    • A bowling ball is not one single molecule. Try a diamond. That is.
      • hmm...i was always told it was. a lot of plastics are. i guess i might be mistaken then. in that case, what plastics and plastic object ARE one molecule?

        QED
      • A diamond isn't a molecule. It's a tighly packed structure of molecules with very strong connections between them, but not a single molecule.

        • A diamond isn't a molecule. It's a tighly packed structure of molecules with very strong connections between them, but not a single molecule.

          No, a single crystal of diamond is a (potentially very large) single molecule. Every atom in it has a covalent bond to at least one (and generally four) of its neighbors.

          -- MarkusQ

          • But does an indeterminable-sized crystalline lattice really make it a molecule?

            What's the chemcial notation for diamond? C sub asterisk?

            When I think of a molecule, I think of a determinable chemical structure along the lines of H sub 2 O, C sub 8 H sub 16 O sub 8, or my favorite, C sub 2 H sub 5 OH.

            I would assert, then, that diamond isn't a molecule at all, but is a crystaline structure.

            Any chemists out there have a definitive answer?

            ::Colz Grigor
            • Your assertion is true, while your reasons are not. A molecule, by definition, is made up of different kinds of atoms (that is, different elements.) Diamond is made up of carbon only, so it is an allotrope (sp?) of carbon not a molecule made up of carbon. OTOH you definetly not have to be able to write molecular formula of a molecule, even in principle. A single polymer chain is *always* a single molecule, but you rarely know how long a chain is, consequently you can't spell its molecular formula out in usual cases.
              • A molecule, by definition, is made up of different kinds of atoms (that is, different elements.) Diamond is made up of carbon only, so it is an allotrope (sp?) of carbon not a molecule made up of carbon.

                Wrong on two counts. First, a molecule [qmul.ac.uk] doesn't have to consist of more than one type of atom, and second, the surface of a diamond consists of other atoms (typically hydrogen or oxygen, IIRC) "capping off" the carbon latice.

                -- MarkusQ


            • When I think of a molecule, I think of a determinable chemical structure...I would assert, then, that diamond isn't a molecule at all, but is a crystaline structure.

              Then I suppose to you it isn't. But in general useage [dictionary.com], there is nothing requiring the formula to be known--and in fact, for the vast majority of macro molecules, polymers, etc. there isn't a fixed, will defined formula so much as a rule or pattern, as with diamond.

              -- MarkusQ

    • A diamond would be a better example.
      • from dictionary.com :

        "The smallest particle of a substance that retains the chemical and physical properties of the substance and is composed of two or more atoms; a group of like or different atoms held
        together by chemical forces."

        It would seem that a molecule of diamond would be the smallest arrangement of carbon atoms that have the properties of diamon, or does the crystal structure dispose of the 'smallest' definition?
        • I would say that no two diamonds are alike in chemical and physical properties. a C_20492982931023 has slightly diffent properties than a C_20492982931022, because, for example 20492982931023 O_2 would react with it to a different outcome, and a different amount or energy would be released.
    • Er, by that definition a silicon transistor is probably also a molecule (before doping) since it's grown as a single crystal ...
    • Do you mean a "Bucky Ball?" i.e. the largest Carbon molecule, at 60 Carbon atoms. Plastics do chain together in large polymers, but I think the bowling ball example is a bit of a stretch....
  • by CHUD-Wretch (578617) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @01:39PM (#3559646) Journal
    Just think where we would be without Lucent (well, Bell Labs in particular)....

    They have invented, among MANY other things...
    "the transistor, the laser and wireless technologies." [bell-labs.com]

    90% of the tech you love and can't live without originated at Bell Labs.
    You know...computers...unix...voice communication...redundant/fault tolerant data networks...etc...

    Oh, and for the patent lovers in tha house...

    "Bell Labs averaged one patent per business day from 1925 to 1995,
    and since March 1996, patents assigned to Lucent have been issued at a rate of more than three per business day."

    (Disclaimer - I do realize this is off topic a little, but I want people to think about how much great tech comes out of there!)

    • Are you trying to say that just because they've invented a lot of things we should let them off when they make up an invention they haven't invented?
    • Gorsh, and here I though Heinrich Hertz and Guglielmo Marconi invented the wireless, darn.

      Kids these days....

      • No, Nicola Tesla did. [force9.co.uk]

        "The Great Radio Controversy
        He (Tesla) invented Wireless radio, but Guglielmo Marconi was given the credit until June 1943,
        when The U. S. Supreme Court finally settled the matter, after 16 months of investigating patent records and scientific publications,
        and declared that Nikola Tesla was the true inventor of modern radio technology.
        This was known as the Great Radio Controversy.
        Unfortunately, most school children are still taught that it was Marconi, which shows
        how simple it is for us to regurgitate uncorroborated legends, without checking on the up to date facts."


        Also...along the Bell lines...

        Bell Labs invented the "cellular concept"...many stations sharing common channels...

        Satellite communications were another first.
        (And yes, Arthur C. Clarke invented the idea of
        geosynchronous orbits [lsi.usp.br] which the first Bell Labs Comm Satellite used.
        This orbit is also known as the "Clarke Orbit" [wolfram.com])
        • Ok, this started out as a joke, and I usually stay out of these 'whose was first' controversies, but further research for something solid turns up this:

          "The court's decision, Case No. 369, identified as 'Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America vs. United States,' rendered invalid Marconi's basic patent No. 763,722 dated June 28, 1904. Tesla's patent No. 645,576 of March 20, 1900, and it's subdivision patent for apparatus No. 649,621 dated May 15, 1900, had priority. (2,4)"

          Ok, I'll go check these out at The PTO [uspto.gov]. Should be interesting viewing the scan of Tesla's patent.

        • Lastly, the first thing that jumps out of the Tesla patent is the title "System of Transmission of Electrical Energy" - yes there's an antenna, coils, ground - so while he was searching for a way to send energy w/o wires he inadvertently creates what would be a terrific signalling system if only he'd realized the potential that would have. It's really no wonder at all he was misunderstood, letting Marconi capture the limelight with real demonstrations of signaling, not wackko lightning bolt demo's, threatening the split the earth, communicating w/ aliens, etc etc etc.
    • They have invented, among MANY other things... "the transistor, the laser and wireless technologies."

      Unfortunately, these have all turned out to be hoaxes. Please stop using your computer, CD player, and cellphone now.

    • Actually, good friends tell good friends when they think they're fucking up. That is why Europe and America are currently being pretty damned good friends, and we would be good friends of Lucent to tell them to straighten up.

      The problem arises when the friends can't figure out which one is fucking up, and get annoyed with each other.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @02:41PM (#3560083) Journal
      They have invented, among MANY other things... "the transistor, the laser and wireless technologies."

      But remember that Bell Labs is an institution, not an individual. It is composed of MANY scientists. It is not impossible that the barrel has acquired a bad apple. The trick is to find the bad apples and pull them out before they spoil the barrel.

      Of course it COULD be that the research in question wasn't faked, with the anomolies coming from a clerical error, a jackpot, or a previously-undiscovered bit of physics. That's why they're INVESTIGATING, rather than just recalling the papers and canning those connected with 'em.
    • The question is the same as it always has been - "What have you done for me lately?". In the business world that's largely what it comes down to. Of course, you also have to execute on innovation, which they've failed at too.

      They were buying companies left and right and increasing thier already huge debt burdon. And then failing to utilize many of the technologies they bought.

      Once upon a time Bell Labs was the leader in numerous fields, largely because they invented them. Now they're in second place or worse in virtually every field. They'll occasionally come out with something innovative and then someone else will do the same thing without violating their patent, for less, and with a better business plan.

      Disclaimer - I do realize this is off topic a little, but I want people to think about how much great tech comes out of there!)

      I'd also put that in the past tense.

      Lucent is rapidly becoming the Xerox PARC of the 1990s/2000s - lots of nifty stuff which proceeds to rot or be taken by other companies.
    • Bell Labs of 2002 (Lucent) is not the same as Bell Labs of 1925. Perhaps that isn't obvious. Perhaps it should be.

      I doubt many of the people who were in charge in '25 are in charge now. I'd be surprised if many (any?) of the people who were there in '25 are there now.

      Over the years things change. Focus shifts. Ethics might even be forgotten. If people at Bell Labs have been faking results, it could be an important warning of more serious problems. It looks like the folks in charge realize this & take it seriously. Hopefully that's true. If they handle this right, they might be able to earn back the respect that they are losing.
    • since March 1996, patents assigned to Lucent have been issued at a rate of more than three per business day This more reflects the pathetic state of current patent law than the research prowess of Bell Labs. If you look at, for example, athermal packages for Fiber Bragg Gratings(telcom equip.) they have at least 2 dozen different designs patented, most of which are minor iterational changes that any competent mechanic could think up themselves - not by any strech of the word, groudbreaking. the fish
  • Traditional large companies had large
    research funds and researchers had a lot of leeway in the work they performed.

    As companies donw-size and cut costs, research
    funding decreases and researchers have to do more
    research aligned with the company. This
    increases the pressure on researchers to generate
    results faster.

    The research community would have to have safe-guards to safeguard against suprious results.
  • 17 (Score:2, Funny)

    I bought 17 shares of NYSE:LU when it was only $22/share... I figured it couldn't go any lower.

    *sigh*
    • Re:17 (Score:2, Funny)

      by bafu (580052)
      You should buy more! After all, it can't go any lower than this... err
  • Lucent! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sulli (195030) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @01:54PM (#3559759) Journal
    You've got some 'splainin' to do!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @02:01PM (#3559805)
    This was submitted yesterday to slashdot, but not posted for some reason...

    For the past two years, a team at Bell Labs/Lucent, led by a young physicist named Jan Hendrik Schon [lucent.com], has published a dizzying array of groundbreaking work in the field of solid-state physics, which has previously
    inspired discussions at Slashdot,
    here [slashdot.org]
    and here. [slashdot.org]
    However, as reported tonight in Science [sciencemag.org] (look under
    the "ScienceNow" link), and I'm sure soon in Nature, it may all be a fraud. It looks like Schon has used identical data curves for very different experiments in different papers. The scale of the deception is enormous--there are duplicated graphs in at least 5, and as many as 20, papers. The fallout from this will be huge, not just for Lucent, but for the physics community as a whole, as a large number of these papers made it through the review process at the two most prestigious journals in the natural sciences, Science and Nature.

    For a comparison of two plots from two seperate papers about two seperate experiments with remarbably similar data, check out here here [blogspot.com]. Scroll down to thursday may 16...

    impacting
    • Godless Capitalist [blogspot.com] has followed up the post you referenced by pointing out that a committee has been formed [nytimes.com]. This was mentioned earlier [slashdot.org], but the Times article seems more informative and names the high profile members of the committee. .

      Use this link [majcher.com] to automatically generate a login and view the article.

      I can't figure out what his motive could be. Like Godless mentioned, he was destined to be found out when engineers attempted to create products. I wonder if he was trying to gain riches or fame, or if (unlikely) he believed so much in the new technology that he wanted to see it attempted even if he had to fudge some results.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @02:08PM (#3559839)
    It's too bad these researchers are meeting so much skepticism. I'm sure they could prove their results if they would just pull out their single-molecule transistors and show them in action. Unfortunately, I bet that somebody just dumped the molecules into a desk drawer, and now they're hopelessly lost amongs the crumbs, dust and fuzzies at the bottom of the drawer...
    • As you might imagine, those single-molecule transistors are very easy to misplace... ;-)

      Of course, anyone who has seen how a company can fake a nonworking demo is probaby content to wait for the outside review anyway... :-P
  • New York
    (API) - Lucent Technologies today admitted that in addition to errors in recent breakthrough technologies, they have found that major technologies they have been selling for years are apparently impossible. "It's the damnedest thing" said Bob Sharp who is the head of Consumer Technologies, "The whole notion of data communications over fiber is based on something someong just made up without checking to see if it was possible. We plan to cease offering these technologies until we can figure out to make it work."

    Bob Dobbs, the Senior Vice-President of Internet Operations at UUNET Technologies expressed concern: "They've been charging us out the wazoo for the past few years for something that apparently doesn't even work. Our legal team is currently negotiating terms of a full refund".

    In the meantime, major Internet providers are scrambling to build out their network infrastructure to support CPIP (an recent biology-based transmission protocol) in accordance with RFC1149.

    Lucent stock dipped slightly at the news, but investors express full confidence that things would work out in time.
  • no suprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greenrom (576281) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @02:25PM (#3559962)
    This sort of thing really shouldn't be much of a suprise at a company like Lucent. Since the telecom winter started, they've slashed half of their workforce, and have been closing facilities right and left. You can bet that any research project that wasn't getting results got cut. This puts a lot of pressure on the researchers, and some will inevitably be willing to falsefy data in order to keep their jobs.

    I'd be skeptical of any research done by Lucent in the last year, or at any other company with such serious financial problems.

  • Newsbreak (Score:5, Funny)

    by MarkusQ (450076) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @02:35PM (#3560031) Journal

    ...but physicists are voicing suspicions about the figures, portions of which seem almost identical even though the labels are different. Particularly puzzling is the fact that one pair of graphs show the same pattern of "noise," which should be random.

    Lucent scientists today reported the remarkable discovery that, contrary to conventional wisdom and accepted scientific theory noise isn't random. Said one researcher, "We'd expected self-similarity, due to the fractal nature of noise, but this is amazing!"

    Researchers estimate that there are actually less than a dozen examples of true noise, which are repeated endlessly through out nature. Some observers have expressed concerns over the fact that most, if not all of them are already copywritten by the RIAA.

    -- MarkusQ

    • Didn't Wolfram show that only a few shapes of sea shells are possible in nature?
    • >Some observers have expressed concerns over the fact that most, if not all of them are already
      >copywritten by the RIAA.

      Just wait 'til Wolfram finds a cellular automaton ruleset that generates the RIAA, then we'll see who's got copyright on who....
  • Value of research. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Restil (31903) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @03:07PM (#3560270) Homepage
    From what I can tell, this should mostly be an in-house issue. Let's say that these discoveries are frauds. That means they won't ever be used in applications, and Lucent will lose out. If no other scientists are able to replicate the process, then they won't be able to reap the benefits of it either. There is a REASON for this peer review. And it seems to be working. There are many possible reasons why things are turning out like they are, fraud being one of them.

    However, its possible that the procedures involved are not trivial. Its also possible that either the procedures involved to produce or the procedures involved to confirm the findings are in error. Observing a single molecule is NOT trivial. It's certainly possible to think you've got what you were looking for, when in fact it sometimes takes another pair of unbiased eyes to take a different approach and discover that all is not what it appears to be.

    I'm not saying this isn't outright fraud. The only problem is, what does it benefit anyone? If the scientist involved was pocketing all the research cash and running with it, I could understand. But if the research is legitimate, and nobody is able to actually profit from any of this without a working prototype in a useful medium, which may take up to 10 more years to produce, fraud would serve little purpose except give a black eye to the researchers AND Lucent.

    -Restil
    • What you are missing is that something along the order of 20 articles got through the peer review process and were published. That is a real pie in the face of peer review. Also the reason that everyone should care and not just Lucent is that grants have been taken out, labs built and time wasted trying to verify and extend these results. The materials can be considered a waste and that is fine, but the time of brilliant researchers is finite and valuable, so having scientists and materials researchers wasting time over the last 1.5-2 years is a huge dent to the semiconductor industry. Also research dollars are nearly a zero sum game, so the dollars that went to fund this research didn't go into funding alternatives that might have actually provided results.
  • Anyone know if Lucent have made good on their progress towards pure optical switching (ie signal goes from one fibre-optic to another without being translated into electrons to perform the switching logic)?
  • by dario_moreno (263767) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @05:42PM (#3561609) Homepage Journal
    Look at the space occupied by the Physical Review on the shelves of a library : went from less than 1 meter a year in the 1950's to maybe 20 meters nowadays...and the number of quality scientists has not increased 20fold ! At this time, it was enough to publish a paper once in a while, when a real discovery was made. When looking at the summary of a scientific journal of, say, the 30's, you see Fermi, Einstein, Brillouin, when nowadays articles are just a proof that someone did some work with the money he was given.

    The review process has become a joke : either the paper goes to an indirect friend thanks to the editor (submit wisely !), and there is no actual review, or it goes to a concurrent, which makes irrelevant points (in one occurrence I know of, delaying the publication by more than a year making stupid points, and when all the objections were met, asking to change the units, and pointing minor misprints !). The referees usually do not understand the scope or actual point made in a paper, and make the stupidest comments possible (so one of my former bosses recommended to write papers in one afternoon, since the real mistakes would not be spotted anyways). This is also natural because they tend to be flooded by cut-and-paste papers from scientists who are in science only because there is some (ridicully small) money or career to be made, and they could not find a "real" job elsewhere. This is sadly true of the 3rd world, where scientists are underpaid (150$ a month anyone ?) and eagerly look for positions in developed countries, so need published papers, but their lack of money and bad education mean that they often submit utterly uninteresting papers.

    This is also true from people under pressure from their supervisors because they are all on short-term contracts, so that they often resort to faking data to get the expected effect. A nice positive result created with the Gimp
    (or vi data | gnuplot ) is way nicer than a boring negative result and easier to publish,
    even if faked and wrong.

    Sometimes the referees even resort to say "
    please cite this guy", meaning, "hi, it's me,
    hope you do not forget me when I need something or you refer my papers".
  • For crying out loud! If it works, then it can be used, if it doesn't work, then it'll fizzle. It all comes out in the wash in the end, so why all the fuss and bother with these kangaroo court proceedings?

    Why? That's easy.

    It all has to do with cultural perceptions. If you pull off enough of these debacles you can:

    1) Promote paranoid skepticism and distrust in new ideas, creating biases against any thinking which goes against the conventional grain. This effectively puts a huge damper on new research, especially when such a big player is 'suspect'.

    2) Make your performance loud and obnoxious enough, and even a working, viable technology can be disbelieved right out of existence. (See note at bottom.)

    3) Promote the cultural acceptence of guilt-based systems of analysis. What are they going to do? Put people in jail for publishing (possibly) false readings? The ultimate farce! It's science for goodness sake! It's about exploration and discovery. It's supposed to be fun!

    4) Fear, Fear, Fear! If the flawless surface of Lucent Tech is smeared, investors ditch, contracts walk, and new talent looks elsewhere. --And ultimately, the fear of thinning pocket books looms in the small minds of the board of directors. As they say, Money is the root of all evil.

    Oh, and by the way. . .

    Take a glance at this [slashdot.org] much over-looked item on cold fusion to gain some insights into how these kinds of manipulation of the scientific community are used to benefit those behind the scenes. The relevant link is to a dot-mil site quietly hosting this 135 page report [navy.mil] on the current state of behind the scenes Cold Fusion research which in no uncertain terms confirms what Pons & Flieshman were reporting all along.


    -Fantastic Lad

    • Well it is nessesary for scientists to be able to rely on other scientists's published research. If everyone had to recreate experiments just to make sure a previously published result is correct we would never get anywhere.
  • This scandal will pale in comparison to quantum computing. The writing is one the wall.

You've been Berkeley'ed!

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