Wonder how Korea's Hwang Woo Suk pulled off one of the greatest scientific frauds of all time? The scientific journals that published the work must shoulder some responsibility. First, they compete for the trendiest, cutting-edge research stories. Second, they tend to ignore conflicts-of-interest, as Science ignored the pending, independently filed, patent applications of Hwang and Schatten which existed at the time of article submission and which gave each author a vested interest in seeing publicity of work which would financially benefit each author. Other patent applications of both Hwang and Schatten became known after the scandal broke. Third, once the article is on-board, the journals become stakeholders, very reluctant to accept criticism of an article published in their journal.
Some of this can be seen in the journal Science describing, at one point in December 2005, the problem with the 2005 paper of Hwang as a mere photographic mix-up, when Korean television (MBC, PD-Notebook) had broadcast evidence of scientific fraud on the part of Hwang by November 2005. The broadcast included an interview with a then unidentified Hwang co-author (Kim Sun Jong) who would later be indicted. Kim had even tricked Hwang about the origin of some cell lines in the paper in 2005.
The journal Science created an external panel, chaired by Stanford University professor John I. Brauman to conduct a review of the Hwang matter in March 2005 and to issue a report in April 2005.Returning to the theme of journal as stakeholder, I include text from an article from 1999 illustrating the reluctance of a journal even to acknowledge the existence of pertinent prior art. Here's an excerpt from an article in Intellectual Property Today, titled "Zurko and the Optimization of Fact-finding: Who Can You Believe?," authored by me and originally published in February 1999.
As pointed out in Intellectual Property Today ("IPT") in January, 1999, n3 Chemical & Engineering News, in its November 30, 1998 issue carried a news article captioned "Fullerene degrades at ambient temperature," which stated that "The possible presence of [oxidation] degradation products in bulk [fullerene] material has not been pointed out before," and concluded that "The discovery suggests fullerenes will need protection from oxidation in any application.n3 Lawrence B. Ebert, "Issues in Etiquette: Zurko, Pfaff, and Scientific Doormen," Intellectual Property Today, pp.
30-31 (Jan. 1999).On December 8, 1998, a letter was sent to the editor of Chemical & Engineering News, which stated:.Of the Science/Technology Concentrate captioned "Fullerene degrades at ambient temperature," (C&EN, Nov.
30, page 23), note that the paper "Oxidative Stability of Fullerenes", J. Phys. Chem., 1994, 98, 3921, reported that as-received (bulk) fullerene had a C/O atomic ratio of 31.9 which dropped to 20.
6 on heating in air at 115C for 24 hours. Oxidations in air of 99.5% buckminsterfullerene and soot were carried out at temperatures below 400C, with resultant carbon-oxygen functionality in bulk samples characterized by IR and solid-state NMR.
The stability of C 60 depends on what species are present during exposure. The adverse impact of air instability on potential applications was pointed out in Intellectual Property Today, April 1998 (pp. 34-35) and October 1998 (pp. 44-45), available on the Internet and in LEXIS.On December 14, the editor (Madeleine Jacobs) responded that the letter would not be published. Jacobs' letter stated: "Having discussed this with the author of the concentrate and with the researcher cited, I am not sure that the content of your letter is relevant, and the paper to which you refer was not original in reporting that fullerenes would oxidize if heated to high temperature in air, giving ultimately carbon dioxide.
In this respect, of course, fullerenes are no different from any other form of carbon." Jacobs' letter concluded with an excerpt from a book by the researcher cited (Roger Taylor) which Jacobs stated to summarize earlier work. Only one paper was pertinent to the 1994 paper in J. Phys. Chem.
and was described teaching : "Oxidation occurs at 250C giving anhydrides, then acids and eventually CO and CO2" [T. Arai, et al., Solid State Commun.
, 1992, 84, 827].On December 14, a reply to Madeleine Jacobs was made. In part, it noted that the 1994 paper pointed to the ambient oxidation of fullerene [p.
3921: "unstable with respect to oxygen at ambient, and higher, temperatures"], and in part, it noted that fullerenes, in being oxidized at the temperatures cited in the 1994 paper, were not like graphite and many aromatic hydrocarbons [accord: J. Phys. Chem., 1992, 96, 1016: C60 "less oxidatively stable than graphite.
"; Chem. Phys. Lett., 1992, 194, 62] This December 14 reply thus challenged the accuracy of the factual understanding of Jacobs, which apparently had been based, at least in part, on Jacobs communications with the authors of the concentrate and underlying article, which authors had a "stake" in the way the concentrate and underlying article had been written.
To this date, no reply has been made by Jacobs.On December 18, a second reply to Madeleine Jacobs was made. This reply was made after having obtained a copy of the 1992 article by Arai, et al. Contrary to Jacobs' representations, the paper, titled "Resistivity of Single Crystal C60 and Effect of Oxygen", did not teach "Oxidation occurs at 250C giving anhydrides, then acids and eventually CO and CO2". This second reply established not only the contents of the 1994 paper but also the contents of the 1992 paper had been isrepresented.
To this date, no reply has been made by Jacobs. The December 18 letter included the following numbered items:.1. There is belief that there is an "inflexible etiquette" within the scientific community that authors should refer to all previous relevant findings on which their own later work is based.
2. On page 23 of the Nov. 30, 1998 issue of C&E News, you reported: "The possible presence of degradation products in bulk material has not been pointed out" and that this "discovery suggests that fullerenes will need protection from oxidation in any application." This report is based on a paper which is published in Chem. Commun., pp.
2497-2498 (1998).3. On Dec. 8, the existence of the paper "Oxidative Stability of Fullerenes, " J. Phys. Chem.
, 1994, 98, 3921-3923 was pointed out to you. This paper discloses elemental analysis of a bulk fullerene soot which shows a C/O atomic of 31.9, which drops to 20.6 on heating at 115 C for 24 hours. The paper states that this fullerene soot is unstable to oxygen at ambient temperature. The paper further discloses the oxidative attack on bulk fullerene soot and bulk C60 at temperatures of 400 C and lower, and characterizes carbon-oxygen functionality by photoacoustic infrared and solid state C-13 NMR spectroscopies.
Also, on Dec. 8, the existence of papers in Intellectual Property Today, pp. 34-35 (April 1998) and p. 44 (Oct. 1998) which disclosed the issue of oxidative instability of fullerenes as to applications of fullerenes was pointed out.
4. After consulting with the author of the capsule and of the article in Chemical Communications, you concluded that the content of the Dec. 8 letter (1994 paper on air instability of fullerene) was not relevant to the subject matter of the capsule (1998 paper on air instability of fullerene). You further stated that the 1994 paper was not original in reporting that fullerenes would oxidize if heated to high temperature in air, although you made no comment on the fact that the 1994 paper reported that the fullerene soot oxidized at ambient temperature, and that the fullerene soot and C60 were reported to oxidize at low temperatures (below 400 C) which bulk products were characterized by IR and NMR of the bulk solids. You recharacterized the significance of the work in the capsule as including "identification of the oxidation product", although this is irrelevant to the conclusion of the need for protection from oxygen.5.
You included a list of publications which summarize earlier work, which did not include the 1994 paper. The only publication on the list which arguably anticipated the 1994 paper was a paper in Solid State Communications, 1992, 84, 827, which your Dec. 14 letter indicated to show oxidation of fullerenes at 250 C to form anhydrides, then acids, and eventually CO and CO2.6.
In fact, the 1992 paper describes the effect on the resistivity of single crystal C60 which absorbs oxygen near 250 C and reversibly desorbs oxygen at higher temperature. It is about donor compensation by O2 acceptors, not about anhydrides and acids. If I have found the correct 1992 paper, your Dec. 14 letter would seem to misrepresent the content of the 1992 paper.
7. Your response of Dec. 14 is in tension with your editorial of July 13, 1998, and separately in tension with Stu Borman's comments at page 37 of the Jan.
26, 1998 issue n4 Separately, one notes the irony that the C&E News position on fullerene oxidative stability has gone full circle between 1988 (fullerenes a fundamental component of ordinary combustion soot made under extreme oxidative conditions) and 1998 (fullerenes not stable in ambient air). Of course, the properties of the fullerenes as to oxygen exist independently of human attempts to describe them, and are the same for all time. Nevertheless, our attempts should accurately reflect history, which your letter of Dec.
14 sadly does not do. Effectively, you not only deny your readers useful facts but also establish a clear case for the presence of institutional bias against the inflexible etiquette that pertinent prior work be cited.n4 Borman's comments concern a report of work by scientist A which was criticized by scientist B as not original.
Although Borman did not include the comments of B, he later determined that scientist A had a financial stake in the outcome.I note that to this day in May 2006, Madeleine Jacobs has never responded..Lawrence B. Ebert is a registered patent attorney located in central New Jersey who maintains a blog at IPBiz.
blogspot.com. He obtained a Ph.
D. as a Hertz Fellow from Stanford University under the direction of Professors John Brauman and Robert Huggins. His article in 84 The Trademark Reporter 379 was cited by the U.S.
Supreme Court in Qualitex v. Jacobson, 514 US 159. He recently published an article on the embryonic stem cell scandal involving Hwang Woo-Suk which appears in 88 JPTOS 239. This JPTOS article includes a discussion of possible failures of the journal Science in agreeing to publish the 2005 Hwang paper.
This ezine draft submitted on May 22, 2006.
By: Lawrence Ebert