Sci-one. The most daring scientific scams

    In science, it is not customary to take a word. Otherwise, there would be “leaders” of quantum mechanics and “spiritual leaders” of the theory of evolution. On guard of order in science is the so-called scientific method . Its meaning is that no one, at will, can instill truth in the last resort, so that any discoveries, experiments, laws, etc. can always be verified.

    Sometimes science gets hit in the back. Some scientists become fraudsters and fake the results of their research. There are many motives: someone dreams of a quick career, someone dreams of easy money, and someone is scared to admit that he was wrong. But sooner or later, the scientific method overtakes the deceivers. Our friends, the Sci-One project, which is being filmed in our office, prepared material about the six most daring scientific scams. Watch the video, and read the text version under the cut.



    Clone attack


    In 2005, the world was shocked by the news - they managed to clone human cells and use them for treatment. A unique technique made it possible to put, for example, paralyzed patients. Behind the long-awaited breakthrough in medicine was the pioneer of cloning Usok Hwan from Seoul National University. It was a world triumph. On the horizon imagined Nobel.

    But among the high-profile articles and reports, strange accusations appeared, to which the colleague of the scientist paid attention. After that, Kwan’s teammates “broke” first and began to accuse each other of fraud. Then rivals from competing research groups “flew” and unearthed the weak spots in the scientist’s work. Usok Hwan tried to explain where the discrepancies in the data and editing in the photographs came from, but it did not help. As a result, he had to admit to falsification.

    After that, South Korea recovered for a long time. It was a national shame on a global scale.

    Starship for NASA


    In 1996, NASA launched a revolutionary project , the name of which can be translated as "A breakthrough program in jet physics ." The project was supposed to create a fundamentally new engines for spacecraft of the future. Everything was like in Star Wars or Star Trek.

    NASA's leading specialist, Mark Millis, dealt with the problem of generating an antigravity field (!), Which was supposed to create a block of negative-mass matter. Generators were also proposed that locally change the value of the gravitational constant. After six years of research and one and a half million dollars, NASA suspected something was wrong. The well-known laws of physics still could not be violated. The project was closed, and Millis left NASA only in 2010.

    In fact, the Agency was not stupid, distributing budgets for obviously meaningless undertakings. It’s just that Millis’s dead-end calculations helped not to be distracted by false directions in real research. But the physicist himself too believed in his work and created a non - profit organization that continues to fight the laws of physics for the sake of interstellar flights.

    Fantastic loner


    In 2012, dozens of medical institutes and reputable scientific journals around the world became interested in the research of Yoshitaki Fuji.

    The scientist was enviably prolific - in 19 years he published 249 scientific papers on the fight against the effects of anesthesia. That is an average of one job per month. When they began to check, it turned out that half of the publications have the same relation to science as novels or stories.

    The professor, who was allocated good funds for research, has been writing for 19 years in a row. In some cases, he still studied something, but attributed it from the heart. Magazines officially recalled 172 of its publications. And this is an absolute record for today. Fujii expelled from all posts without the right to return.

    Lie to me if you can


    In 2007, in one prestigious international scientific journal devoted to mathematics and computer computing, an entertaining article appeared with such a hard-to-translate title: “REMOVED: Cooperative, compact algorithms for randomized algorithms” . Experts of the publication approved it.

    Then history repeated itself in Russia . The domestic reviewer praised this work. Probably if the programs had ambition, then SCIgenit would be off scale. It turned out that the article was written by this particular computer program. And the program was developed by smart MIT students. Further investigation showed that the algorithm laid down in the program was the author of more than a hundred scientific articles. He took scientific terms, pieces of other people's texts, illustrations, lists of literature, mixed and more or less adequately designed. For about five years, abstruse articles generated by the machine appeared at all kinds of conferences, and serious experts referred to them. Until scientific publishers finally realized.

    Try to cheat again


    After such a scandal, the review system should have put things in order. In 2013, journalist John Bohannon decided to check how publishers managed. He wrote a biomedical analogue of the SCIgen program and with his help generated 300 articles.

    Bohannon sent them to scientific publications around the world. More than half accepted them for publication. After the details of the story were made public, “machine” articles were still caught and recalled one at a time.

    Cheating or mistake?


    And the most controversial story in genetics since the beginning of the XXI century. In 2014, a sensation spread around the planet - Japanese researchers got stem cells from ordinary cells , and without very complicated manipulations. The cells were simply placed in an acidic environment, created physical pressure, or heated.

    This meant a revolution in world medicine. The uniqueness of stem cells lies in the fact that they can turn into any other. Want a new liver? You are welcome. Lungs? No problem. Brain? No problem. And to grow all this, you can take, say, a piece of skin.

    Sounds too fabulous to be true. Therefore, the leadership of the RIKEN Institute, where the authors of the discovery worked, invited them to repeat the experiments in the laboratory under round-the-clock video surveillance. Scientists have tried 48 times to create cells according to the method described in their article, but without a hint of success. It is still impossible to say for sure: the authors of the study were simply mistaken or, in fact, fabricated the discovery.

    * * *
    So far, science has managed to cope with deceit and fraud. Over the centuries, strict principles of scientific knowledge have been developed, when researchers go from theory to practical tests, and then many more times they test any statements for strength. And if they find something that does not fit into the previous explanations, then they create new theories. So we left alchemy, and now science saves millions of lives and opens up new real, not fictional, worlds.

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