ENGRI_1110_Lect32_Nov13_posted - Ethics and Nanotechnology...

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Ethics and Nanotechnology Cautionary Tale: Ethical Lapse in Era of Nanotechnology Promises of Nanotechnology: Hope vs. Expectation Debating Nanotechnology: Real and Perceived Risks
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Jan Hendrik Schön Author on average of 1 research paper every 8 days Five papers published in Nature and seven in the journal Science between 1998 and 2001 Group of researchers informed Bell Labs that they had discovered a series of three graphs that appeared identical in different publications, down to what should be random noise (see Nature 417, 367; 2002) Schön created transistors out of single organic molecules and induced superconductivity in carbon 'buckyballs' Sensational: Could lead to reduced scale of electronic devices and reduced costs
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Double vision: similar graphs in Science (top) and Nature led some researchers to question the data.
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2002: Bell Labs appointed a committee to investigate. Requested copies of raw data. Schön had kept no lab. notebooks & raw data files had been erased (according to Schön - because his PC had limited hard drive space). Also … all his experimental samples were discarded/damaged Committee cleared all the other co-authors Outcome: Fired by Lucent + banned from German funded research + his PhD was withdrawn
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Report from Physics Web http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/15/11/2 In the matter of J Hendrik Schön by David Goodstein is vice-provost and professor of physics and applied physics at the California Institute of Technology Forum: November 2002 The first factor that can trigger misconduct is that the scientist is under career pressure. That's not much of a discriminator, because all scientists are under career pressure all the time, but it does point up the fact that this kind of misconduct is not motivated by simple monetary gain. Second, the perpetrators always think they know the right answer. In other words, faking data is never done with the intention of inserting a falsehood into the body of scientific knowledge. The intent is always to insert a truth without bothering to go to the trouble of doing the experiment properly. This kind of misconduct is always a violation of the scientific method, never purposely a violation of scientific truth. Finally, the work is always in a field where reproducibility is not expected to be very precise. For example, if you take two organisms that are as nearly identical as you can make them - say, two transgenic mice - and expose them to the same carcinogenic agent, you don't expect them to develop the same tumour at the same time in the same place.
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Lessons Learned Pressures can produce irresponsible or unethical behavior Conviction that the data was right even if faked Protected by difficulty of reproducing data Co-authors and management were extraordinarily uncurious Journals were competing for newsworthy publications
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Unusual lapse that was corrected by normal process of scientific review? Symptomatic of current problems with
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ENGRI_1110_Lect32_Nov13_posted - Ethics and Nanotechnology...

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