Nature withdrew a paper by a physicist

On the discovery of a superconducting material with no electrical resistance: The editorial response to the paper by Boeri and Armitage

The paper claims the discovery of a superconductor, which is a material with no resistance, that can operate at room temperature and relatively low pressure.

The original text of the notice states that the eight co-authors requested it. According to the article, researchers who contributed to the work that the published paper does not accurately reflect the provenance of the investigated materials have concluded that the issues undermine the integrity of the work. The news team is independent from the journals team.

Specialists in the field have been sceptical since this year’s Dias and Salamat paper was published, says Lilia Boeri, a physicist at the Sapienza University of Rome. This, she says, is in part because of controversies swirling around the team and in part because the latest paper was not written to what she considers a high standard.

“Virtually every serious condensed-matter physicist I know saw right away that there were serious problems with the work,” says Peter Armitage, an experimental physicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Some of the community took issue with the measurement of the electrical resistance, saying that it was not certain if the property actually dropped to zero, or if a background signal was subtracted to create the appearance that it did. Critics say that it should not be necessary to remove background from this type of measurement. The journal stated that they had determined that the concerns were credible, substantial and remain unresolved.

The chief physical sciences editor at Nature says the expert reviewers raised some questions about the original submission, but it was largely resolved in later revisions. “What the peer-review process cannot detect is whether the paper as written accurately reflects the research as it was undertaken.”

“Decisions about what to accept for publication are not always easy to make,” Ziemelis continues. “And there may be conflicts, but we strive to take an unbiased position and to ensure the interests of the community always drive our deliberations.”

Superconductivity at 70 C: How did the collaboration between Eremets and Salamat break the research trust? Xiaon Armitage

Many teams had already created and experimented with similar hydrogen-rich materials, called hydrides, after a milestone discovery in 2015. A group led by physicist Mikhail Eremets at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, reported 6 superconductivity in a hydrogen–sulfur compound at 70 C (203 kelvin). But Eremets’s material required a much higher pressure of 145 gigapascals (1.4 million times atmospheric pressure) — comparable to the crushing conditions at the centre of Earth.

Armitage does not think that Dias and Salamat will be able to keep doing research, pointing to the investigation findings and allegations of plagiarism in Dias’s PhD thesis. The University of Rochester told Nature that it is conducting an investigation into the integrity of Dias’s work. The university did not answer the question of whether the institution had disciplined Dias. Nature asked UNLV if Salamat is being investigated, but UNLV did not answer, saying it was committed to keeping the highest standards for research integrity campus wide.

Canfield says the Dias–Salamat collaboration has spread a foul vapour in the field which is scaring researchers and funding agencies away.

The director of the Center for High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research in Beijing is more sanguine. He says that it won’t affect the funding for superconductivity research other than more careful reviews.

But Boeri says she has heard researchers complain that the controversies — the allegations of PhD thesis plagiarism and the findings of apparent data fabrication — have made it harder to recruit students to work on superconductors. “We face a serious communication problem, to make people understand that the field is healthy — that although there may be some bad apples, the community’s standards are much higher,” she says.

Armitage says people are doing amazing and interesting work. They can be discouraged by it, but it won’t halt the science.

The impact of Twitter on the Felis silvestris genome-restoration experiment: a computational scientist’s tale of an ancient cat roaming in Scotland

Researchers trying to rebuild the Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris) population are gaining insights from ancient genomics. At a remote wildlife park in the Scottish Highlands, a captive-breeding programme is considering an audacious breeding strategy to eliminate the house-cat DNA that has infiltrated the wildcat genome. The remains of a domestic cat and a wildcat that died 600 years ago were discovered at a Roman palace and researchers analysed the genomes of dozens of ancient and modern cats.

Over the past two decades, more than 400,000 research articles have been published that show strong textual similarities to known studies produced by paper mills — and around 70,000 of these were published last year alone. According to an analysis shared with Nature, up to 2% of all scientific papers are close in resemblance to paper-mill works. The rate is 3% among biology and medicine papers.

We’re a ways off from building simulations of entire brains by training machine-learning systems on what we know about what goes on inside our skulls. A hybrid approach of brain-modelling and machine learning can be used, which is written by a computational scientist. Guided by anatomical and functional data, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven models could be trained to produce simulations that accurately capture what is happening in real biological systems.

With the demise of free researcher access to Twitter’s application programming interface, analysing misinformation on the platform is much more difficult — but it must be done, argues digital-literacy researcher Mike Caulfield. A group of seven accounts on the platform are exercising significant influence on the debate around the Israel–Hamas war after they were boosted by their interactions with Musk, a case in point. Although Twitter (now called X, if you must) is used by only a small slice of the population, it is influential — and is now “a ‘natural experiment’ in what happens as a company reduces existing trust, moderation and safety teams”, writes Caulfield.

Source: Daily briefing: Blockbuster room-temperature superconductivity paper retracted

On the fate of asteroids, as revealed by Willard, and his wife, Susanne, in Chicago, April 17, 2005

Chicago is one of the worst US cities for birds: in October, Audubon published shocking images of almost 1,000 dead birds that had collided with the windows of one building, McCormick Place, in one night. Dave Willard, who has collected birds from McCormick Place since 1978, is a supporter of measures such as patterned glass. There are so many birds that can be drawn from that it is easy to get a good feel for the migratory birds. But he’d rather have less data. “We’d trade everything we’ve learned,” he says, “not to have them dead on the sidewalk.”

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft has spotted the tiny 790-metre asteroid Dinkinesh’s even tinier companion, about 220 metres wide. Lucy is on a 12-year mission to take a close-up look at Trojan asteroids, which orbit the Sun near Jupiter. NASA planetary scientist Thomas Statler says there is no such thing as just another asteroid. “Each one is carrying with it a memory of a different part of the history of our Solar System.” 4 min read, by The New York Times.

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