Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physics retractions’ Category

Black hole paper by teenaged prodigy retracted for duplication

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Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.39.44 AMAn astrophysics journal is retracting a paper on black holes whose first author is a teenager about to earn his PhD, after learning the paper “draws extensively” from a book chapter by the last author.

Many papers are pulled for duplication, but few get a news release from the publisher about it. In a move that we approve of, the editors of The Astrophysical Journal announced the forthcoming retraction on the American Astronomical Society (AAS) website.

The paper‘s first author Song Yoo-Geun who turns 18 this month, and is on track to earn his doctorate next year from the University of Science and Technology in South Korea. According to the news release, the paper borrows heavily from a book chapter published in 2002 by his adviser and co-author, Seok Jae Park at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute.

AAS is handling this very quickly. The paper was published in October, someone alerted the journal to the duplication on November 14, and the announcement of the retraction went up on the AAS website just ten days later.

The retraction note for “Axisymmetric nonstationary black hole magnetospheres: revisited” will be published in the next issue of ApJ. In the meantime, the news release explains what happened:

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Authors retract highly cited Nature quantum dot letter after discovering error

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Authors have retracted a highly cited Nature letter that purported to discover a much sought-after, stable light source from quantum dots, after they realized the light was actually coming from another source: the glass the dots were affixed to.

When the paper “Non-blinking semiconductor nanocrystals” was published in 2009, it received some media coverage, such as in Chemistry WorldThat’s partly because very small sources of “non-blinking” light could have wide-ranging, big-picture applications, author Todd Krauss, a physical chemist at the University of Rochester, told us:

Off the top of my head, a quantum computer. Quantum cryptography is another one. People want a stable light source that obeys quantum physics, instead of classic physics.

The retraction note, published Wednesday, explains how the researchers found out the effect was coming from the glass, not quantum dots:

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Retraction strikes power grid paper with “almost identical” content to previous study

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EnergiesAn electrical engineering paper published in April has been retracted because of similarities to a 2012 paper from different authors, including “almost identical” data in two of the papers’ tables.

The authors were unable to provide the original numbers for the suspect tables, along with a pair of “similar” figures, which bore a striking resemblance to ones presented in the same 2012 paper. Corresponding author Tao Jin at Fuzhou University in China requested the withdrawal “in order to repeat the experiments and obtain new data.”

Energies posted the retraction October 1.

Here’s it is, in full:

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Written by Ross Keith

October 22nd, 2015 at 11:30 am

Authors pull Science paper on molecular wires for “inappropriate data handling”

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pic.mag.current-issueThis week’s issue of Science includes a retraction of a highly cited paper about manipulating the current in a string of molecules with a magnet, after an investigation by the co-authors revealed “inappropriate data handling” by the first author.

According to the note, the co-authors’ suspicions arose when they tried to follow-up on the data. Following a “thorough investigation,” they concluded that first author Rabindra N. Mahato had handled the data in such a way that they could no longer trust the conclusions. In the end, Mahato agreed to the retraction.

Here’s more from the note: Read the rest of this entry »

“Disagreement about the relative contributions” of authors burns capacitor paper

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S02663538A 2014 paper on a component for thin electric circuits has been retracted from Composites Science and Technology due to a “disagreement” over author contributions, according to the retraction note.

The retraction note for “Preparation and dielectric properties of BaTiO3:epoxy nanocomposites for embedded capacitor application” is short and sweet. Here it is, in full:

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Lancet Oncology updates conflicts of interest statement for cancer-cell phone paper

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lanoncThe Lancet Oncology is correcting a 2011 article about the cancer risks of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as those from cell phones, to clarify information about potential conflicts of interest for one of the experts who was involved in its preparation.

The assessments appeared as a monograph for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

However, after the 2011 paper “Carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields” appeared, a reader raised allegations of conflicts of interest among its participants, which sparked a reconsideration of their disclosures.

The correction concerns the conflicts of interest for Niels Kuster of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, also a board member of the non-profit IT’IS foundation.

Kuster told Retraction Watch he disclosed everything upfront:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 24th, 2015 at 7:02 pm

“The main improvements reported are invalid”: Quantum communication paper retracted

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scientificreportsA paper on quantum communication has been retracted for failing to address several important problems, making the conclusions invalid.

Quantum communication involves sending a series of photons in specific quantum states over fiberoptic cables. It’s a little like the 1s and 0s of traditional computing, but much more secure. If the photons are intercepted on their way to the intended target, the quantum states will change, and the recipients can know their information was accessed by other parties. This is especially interesting to governments with a lot of secret information to transmit: both China and the U.S. have programs to develop these networks.

The retracted paper was a discussion of how to efficiently send lots of quantum information from different sources through the same fiberoptic cables at once.

Here’s the notice for “Efficient Quantum Transmission in Multiple-Source Networks”: Read the rest of this entry »

Spat between physicists hits Italian courts for the second time

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Ignazio Ciufolini

The long-running feud between Italian physicists Ignazio Ciufolini and Lorenzo Iorio (which we’ve covered here and here) turned up a notch in November, when Ciufolini filed a defamation lawsuit against Iorio.

You can read the full lawsuit here (in Italian). The gist is this: Iorio accused Ciufolini of criticizing the work of other physicists on under two separate pseudonyms (in a letter which the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, which published his claims, later retracted, saying it was a matter better handled locally). Iorio later left critical comments on articles about Ciufolini on the Science blog, Neuroskepticand an Italian newspaper La Repubblica‘s website.

This fight has a long history, despite the two having published articles together in the past. In 2004, Ciufolini’s lawyer sent Iorio a vaguely threatening letter (also in Italian) that had no specifics about what Iorio was doing wrong. Iorio described to us what the letter referred to:
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Written by Cat Ferguson

January 13th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Researchers retract Science paper claiming to have detected a single proton

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science jan 2015Less than three months after publishing a paper in Science which they claim to have been able to detect the spin of a single proton, the authors have retracted it for “a potentially serious issue with the main conclusion.”

Here’s the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Physics paper sinks amid accusations of unacceptable “overlap”

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prl-bannerA paper in Physical Review Letters has been retracted for “overlap” with two other previously published papers.

The notice isn’t available online yet, so we got in touch with American Physical Society (APS) editorial director Dan Kulp for more information. Here’s what he told us about “Anomalous melting scenario of the two-dimensional core-softened system”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 19th, 2014 at 9:30 am