- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) The "stunning discovery" of two new heavy elements in 1999 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was based on fabricated research, lab officials now say.
At a speech to employees last month, the lab's director, Charles Shank, said the previously hailed landmark discovery of elements 118 and 116 was the result of scientific misconduct by one individual of a 15-member team.
Lab officials last year retracted the announcement of the discovery after the same research team and other scientists were unable to duplicate the results, but the accusation of scientific misconduct is only now becoming public.
Mr. Shank's comments are detailed in the lab's official newsletter.
The individual singled out but not identified by Mr. Shank was named by several newspapers as fired physicist Victor Ninov.
Mr. Ninov was suspended by the lab in November and later fired; he now has a grievance pending regarding his dismissal. There was no phone number listed in California for Mr. Ninov, and calls to the lab's spokesman for further comment were not immediately returned.
The announcement that scientists had discovered the two elements appeared in the June 1999 edition of the journal Physical Review of Letters. A proposed retraction was submitted to the journal last year.
Prior to the scrutiny of the discovery, the Lawrence Berkeley lab team said its work confirmed theories that began to circulate among physicists some 30 years ago about an "island of stability" for nuclei with approximately 114 protons and 184 neutrons.

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