Scandal in Physics: The Affair of Jan Hendrik Schön at Bell Labs

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:15pm - 4:30pm
Reiss 502
Eugenie Samuel Reich

In 2002, physicists were shocked to learn that a staff scientist at Bell Labs in New Jersey, Jan Hendrik Schön, had faked as many as 17 experiments reported on in Nature, Science and other leading journals of the physics community. In this talk I give an analysis of the case arising from the interviews and documents I obtained for my 2009 book on the case, “Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World”. In the talk I will describe Schön’s first few manipulations of data as a graduate student at the University of Konstanz, and the escalation of his fraudulent claims in the environment of Bell Laboratories. Based on reviews of his fraudulent papers and correspondence between him and journal editors, I also describe how his papers were handled by editors at the journals Nature and Science.

Host: Rhonda Dzakpasu