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Table-top Fusion, Back with a Pop

Reports that the bubble had burst for a form of cheap, table-top nuclear fusion may have been premature. Rusi Taleyarkhan, the physicist at the centre of a furore surrounding so-called bubble fusion, was last week cleared of scientific misconduct.

In 2002, Taleyarkhan, then at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and now at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, published a paper in Science claiming that bombarding a solvent with neutrons and sound waves produced tiny bubbles that triggered nuclear fusion reactions. Then in March 2006, Purdue began investigating allegations of misconduct against Taleyarkhan, amid accusations that the evidence of fusion he reported was actually caused by a radioactive isotope of californium.

However, on 7 February, Purdue absolved Taleyarkhan's group of any misconduct. The verdict follows independent verification of Taleyarkhan's results by Edward Forringer of LeTourneau University in Texas and his colleagues last November (Transactions of the American Nuclear Society, vol 95, p 736).

Taleyarkhan says he has been "vindicated".

19 February 2007
NewScientist.com news service

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