German National Radio interviews Günter Lohnert

Following my July 30, 2008, report in Deutschlandfunk about the investigation of Rusi Taleyarkhan, Prof. Günter Lohnert, a central figure in the investigation report, answered the moderator’s questions. The following is a translation by courtesy of DLF:

Professor Günter Lohnert, nuclear physicist at the University of Stuttgart, from initially many allegations against Rusi Taleyarkhan only two remained. And even those don’t seem to be substantive. How do you judge the verdict of the investigation committee of Purdue University in Lafayette?

I have taken a detailed look and unfortunately the two points, where he is supposedly guilty, pertain to me – not as director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy but as editor of the worldwide largest nuclear journal Nuclear Engineering and Design. In this journal an article by a Mr. Butt and a Mr. Xu was published and the claim now is that Taleyarkhan had foisted this on me. This is allegedly proved in the verdict, by quoting from our private emails and using them against him. Not against me, but I’m mentioned when it says he’s guilty.

You have been the reviewer of this paper. Does that mean that the allegations that remain are not substantive?

They are not substantive at all and do not even address the core issue. My grandmother always said, small-mindedness reveals itself at once, when in issues of utmost importance time is wasted with petty matters. The question whether or not there is fusion is an important issue. Those 30 or 40 pages all deal with formal things. Noone addresses the core issue. But how should they? These are no experts.

Does that mean the reviewers have asked the wrong questions and concentrated too much on persons than on research?

They have absolutely not considered the research. They only looked, who wrote what, who said what, what didn’t he say, and why did he say it this way. All this has nothing to do with the core issue: is sonofusion, whose predecessor was discovered in Germany in the 30s, a future possibility to achieve fusion, or isn’t it? This was not a question. Only: did Professor Taleyarkhan lie to Professor Lohnert and fool him? No, he did not lie to me.

Mr. Lohnert, do you think Rusi Taleyarkhan is a target of a campaign?

Yes, absolutely. And I can’t understand it, whether it’s racist or something happened… Of course a lot of money is at stake. You know, we are happy to have the international fusion reactor ITER, which costs billions. But if fusion could be achieved easier, one might say, let’s wait until this is checked. One should not exclude such things and kill them. This has happened in a disgusting way, when I see how the director of Taleyarkhan’s institute has tried to sideline him. Fortunately he had to step down himself.

So the impression is that dirty and personal linen have been washed and are still being washed?

Yes, and it surprises me that the media is playing along. Over the past two weeks the “Los Angeles Times”, “Chicago Tribune”, “Herald Tribune”, “New York Times” and so on, all American newspapers have reported something like, professor guilty of research misconduct. This is ridiculous and has nothing to do with scientific issues. Those are truly small minds.

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