Reading The production of super-heavy elements 116 and 118, published in 1999 by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, has proven to be fraudulent. The investigation of the incidents has so far led to the dismissal of a scientist. This was announced by a spokesman for the laboratory at a press conference. Researchers of the German Society for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt have also found out that the scientist in question also falsified data in the production of elements 110 and 112. The scientist Victor Ninov, who was responsible for the analysis of the decay chains that occurred during the creation of the elements, was released in Berkeley in May of this year. This meant that the laboratory had to withdraw the production of elements 116 and 118, which had been announced with a lot of press whirling.

According to a spokesman for the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt? now again record holder in the production of super-heavy elements? Ninov also falsified decay chain data generated during the production of elements 110 and 112. At the time in question, he had been employed at GSI. However, the forgery has proved to be unnecessary, since the Darmstadt researchers had already collected enough data to prove the successful production of super-heavy atomic nuclei. The management of the institute therefore speculates on profiling addiction by the injured Ninov.

The production of super-heavy elements can be due to their short life mostly only about so-called decay chains? an analysis of the fragments that occur during the decay of the atomic nuclei? prove. By the late 1990s, GSI was the undisputed leader in the production of super-heavy cores. Therefore, the announcement of the success of the Berkeley researchers came as a shock to the professional community? especially since their results could not be reproduced in the following years. The elements 116 and 118 have therefore disappeared back into the computers of the nuclear physicists.

The announcement of this fraud case comes in a critical time for physics in the United States. All eyes are currently on the Bell laboratories of US telecoms giant Lucent Technologies. There are critical pioneering work by the German young researcher Jan Hendrik Schön in the fields of molecular electronics and organic high-temperature superconductors under suspicion of fraud. If the Experts Committee, which has meanwhile been appointed, confirms suspicion of fraud in its final report expected in the fall, this would be one of the greatest violations of the ethics of science altogether and a blow to Bell's laboratories, which in recent decades have included the manufacture of the transistor, the laser and some others High-temperature superconductors had accomplished. display

Stefan Maier

© science.de

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