Friday, March 7, 2014

Scientific fraud on prime time TV

I few times I have posted scenes from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory, that involved actual science such as topological insulators, spin ice, graphene, debunking quantum biology, or the Born-Oppenheimer approximation.

Unfortunately, I think the past few years the show has degenerated into the typical Hollywood sitcom, focusing on "who is dating who now", titillation, and inane crude humour.

However, I saw a great recent episode where Sheldon proposes the existence of a new superheavy element which is subsequently "discovered" by a Chinese research group. It turns out he made simple error in the units he used in his calculations and the Chinese group fabricated their results...

This is actually reminiscent of a real fraud committed by at Berkeley and Darmstadt by Viktor Ninov who fabricated data and claimed the discovery of new elements.

A recent case of scientific fraud at UQ made it onto the local TV news. Unfortunately, the video date has expired. I thought it was pretty interesting when I first saw it. It is also interesting that the university seems to have wiped out the electronic history at the university of the researchers; one was a Head of School for a decade.

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