Advice

On a physicist with a secret

I am a physicist working at a fairly high end university researching fusion and renewable energy sources. Some of us here including myself recently made a discovery that, upon entering the light of the mainstream world; would drastically change how we view energy. The discovery was made quite a while ago but the research never saw the light of day and it has been about a year. The researchers obviously handed in all evidence of it and was initially hidden and we were all congratulated on our discoveries but we were essentially forced to stay quiet about it as other scientists took over research. I know the answer is looking me in the face, but why did it never see the light of day? Why did the school ever bother funding our experiments if it was just to be sealed in a vault and not actually put into application? Personal note: I kept a copy of some of our final experiments. What would you do in my position?

 

Send me the research and I’ll let you know.

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24 thoughts on “On a physicist with a secret

  1. Nina says:

    Generally things are hidden away because they’ll have a negative effect on someone important. It’s either going to cost that someone a lot of money or make them look bad. In this case I think it’s the former. Perhaps they thought the experiment would help them out but when it was finished they realized things would not go the way they wanted.

  2. definitely not batman says:

    Did they send it? Please say yes. I don’t even want to know what it is, it would just make me feel better knowing you know. đŸ˜€

  3. PolicyChick says:

    Unfortunately, these kinds of scientific shenanigans are not uncommon. I’m thinking of the scientists and biologists that work for the federal government (such as the DoI, EPA and the like.) The state of scientific integrity is an ongoing problem in government – results buried, intentionally misinterpreted, and whistle blowers retaliated against.
    I wish you luck, physicist. If I were you, I’d go public, especially if the results could change our world for the better. That’s why you went into science in the first place, I suspect. Then again, that is easy for me to say – your career would be on the line.

  4. A year is hardly long in terms of scientific research, which would surely involve repeating experiments and going further in testing and perfecting practical applications. In fact, a year is an awfully short time if you think about it that way, and for something truly revolutionary? Something that would change the world of energy? There’s far too much profit (and potential risk) in that to release preliminary results to the public. It makes perfect sense to me that it would be kept confidential until the research were further along.

    It just seems really odd to me for a scientist to be describing that process as “never see[ing] the light of day” and being “sealed in a vault.” Just because it’s been a year?

    Nope, sorry, something’s fishy here.

    • JC says:

      Yes, something is fishy. Physics papers often have hundreds of authors, so it is not infeasible that independent validation is being done. Universities are not in the habit of suppressing important research. That is how Nobels are won and how patents bring money to the place. Every top university on the planet is looking for new approaches to energy, with the possible exception of places in Texas, where big petro is a big donor.

      If everything this person says is accurate, and I have my doubts, they would be utterly stupid to send details to a stranger on the internet. Not that Coquette would go off and patent an invention, but still, this isn’t done. The person can kiss their career goodbye if it is ever discovered. At a national lab, they could also go to jail, but this is less likely in an academic setting.

    • Brynn says:

      Yep, my brother is a physicist. He spent 7 years in a PhD program. I’ve forgotten how long he spent working on the particular research that he wrote his thesis on, but he didn’t even finish analyzing his results until after he had graduated. It is more common that doctoral students in physics do not complete their work (just their thesis). That shit takes time. You set up an experiment, you analyze the data, you find an error, you set it up again, analyze the data, find an error, set it up again, repeat for eternity.

      If it never sees the light of day, it’s probably because they realized it was a shit experiment.

      If it does, 99% of the time, it’s just a contribution to the wealth of knowledge we already have, or it further supports whichever theories are relevant to your research. And let’s say it does add something new or significant, you’re still gonna have to wait for a long time while others corroborate your results. At which point they discover that nothing was discovered, and the interesting results were just experimental error.

      At this point, no advancement in physics is done within the course of a lifetime.

    • definitely not batman says:

      Unless this is some cockamamie attempt to get a conspiracy theory going, I’m having trouble seeing the point of lying about this.

  5. Vleessjuu says:

    Speaking as a physicist myself: honestly, if you’re confident your research holds up to scrutiny and is really as ground-breaking as you claim it is, I would type up a paper about it and just submit it individually to a journal with a good reputation. If you feel like you’re endangering your own position by doing so, first confide in an editor of such a journal and explain your position. Make sure you explain that you need your work to be reviewed by professionals outside of your personal sphere.

    Believe me, these journals love good ground-breaking results; they have no interest whatsoever in keeping stuff like that locked up. If it gets them readers and references, they’ll like it.

    That said: be really sure of yourself first and be really critical about what you have. There are plenty of people with claims of infinite energy and whatnot. Big claims require big proof, always remember that. Perhaps contact an independent professional (preferably in a different country) in your field who has no vested interest in either directly competing with you or denying the existence of your work. Be sure to make clear the nature of your situation and that you need someone to confide in and that you need a second opinion about the value of your work. Take their criticisms seriously. I’m pretty sure that from your perspective the scientific community seems pretty messed up right now, but you can trust me that most scientists are still very serious about matters of integrity and purity of science.

    Finally: whatever you do, keep your anonymity until whoever you contacted has agreed to help you. It he turns on you, you’ll have proof of his lack of integrity, which is seriously damaging in the field of science.

  6. Rainbowpony says:

    Most scientists are rigorous and have integrity? I’m happy for you that things worked out in your lab, but no, I’ve seen enough shit in my life to fill three dateline exposes. (And no, I don’t suscribe to big pharma, antivax, or Monsanto conspiracies. In fact I would say that a great deal of fraud and bad practices exist, but they are based on the needs of individuals desperate for tenure, not the need for big corporate money grants). People fake research, steal research, and obscure research for all sorts of reasons. Google the reproducibility of psychology research. I know people like to shit on the social sciences as if they are different from hard science in quality, but no, psychology is an easy target because the studies are easily reproducible. That shit is happening in the hard sciences too, it’s just harder to document.

    • People are Strange says:

      It’s not just people lying or intentionally misleading others; have you seen most academic freezers? Shit gets mislabeled and poorly handled all the time. I’ve personally seen two senior graduate students do elaborate structural experiments on non-native mutants because they grabbed the wrong plasmid in their second year of graduate school.

  7. Dina says:

    Biologist PhD candidate chiming in here – psych results are difficult to reproduce because they hinge on human beings. Same reason an r-squared value of .6 is amazing in ecological studies but barely worth mentioning in chemistry or physics. Different standards have to apply the further you get from fundamental (physical) science. The way you phrase a question matters in social science. I’m not asking my fish direct questions so of course my results are going to be more reproducible than psychological studies. That doesn’t mean I’m shitting on social scientists. It’s just a limitation of their field that many of them do an amazing job working through. Yes stupid shit goes down in the academic realm for the sake of tenure, and big pharma and other types of corporations have their hands in too many academic pies but saying that things like this happen all the time everywhere is a big part (not the only part, religion is incredibly problematic this way) of the reason why the US is so far behind in scientific literacy. We’re teaching people that scientists aren’t trustworthy and that’s going to come back to bite us in the ass. Actually it already has.

  8. x says:

    This OP is full of shit. I’m a grad student in cancer research and if you have ANY of your project funded by public money you have to give CONSTANT status report updates to your PI, your thesis committee, whatever agency is funding you, etc and the expectation is that you publish and present at national conferences constantly as well. Not to mention that there is so much collaberation going on that keeping secrets is basically impossible. There’s no 10 academics in the world capable of not bragging about their work to anyone they can, and research isn’t ever done in secret at the university level. Fundamental breakthroughs don’t get “covered up”, that sort of machiavellian bullshit only happens in movies.

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