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Victor Ninov (Bulgarian: Виктор Нинов, born 1959) is a former researcher in the nuclear chemistry group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) who was alleged to have fabricated the evidence used to claim the creation of elements 118 and 116. These elements were later genuinely discovered by a Russian-American team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and named oganesson and livermorium respectively.
Ninov was trained at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Germany. His hiring by the LBNL from GSI had been considered a coup: he had been involved in the discovery of darmstadtium, roentgenium, and copernicium (elements 110, 111, and 112) and was considered one of the leading experts at using the complex types of software needed to detect the decay chain of unstable transuranium elements.
An internal committee at the lab concluded that Ninov was the only person in the large project to translate the raw computer results into human-readable results and had used this opportunity to inject false data. Re-analysis of the raw data did not indicate the events which Ninov's analysis originally reported.
Re-examination of the data from the experiments conducted at GSI during which Ninov's team had discovered elements 110 and 112 found that one false decay chain had been injected into the data for each element, even though there were already some factual decay chains in the original data.
Reports on the Ninov affair were released around the same time that the final report on the Schön affair, another major incident of fraud in physics. As a result, the American Physical Society adopted more stringent ethical guidelines, especially those regulating the conduct of co-authors.
- Ninov, Viktor (1999). "Observation of Superheavy Nuclei Produced in the Reaction of 86Kr with 208Pb". Physical Review Letters. 83 (6): 1104–1107. Bibcode:1999PhRvL..83.1104N. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.83.1104.
- "At Lawrence Berkeley, Physicists Say a Colleague Took Them for a Ride" George Johnson, The New York Times, 15 October 2002
- Rex, Dalton (2002). "Misconduct: The stars who fell to Earth". Nature. 420 (6917): 728–729. Bibcode:2002Natur.420..728D. doi:10.1038/420728a. PMID 12490902.
- New results on elements 111 and 112 European Physical Journal, July 2002
- Second experiment at VASSILISSA separator on the synthesis of the element 112 European Physical Journal, June 2003
- After Two Scandals, Physics Group Expands Ethics Guidelines Dennis Overbye, New York Times, 19 November 2002
- Observation of Superheavy Nuclei Produced in the Reaction of 86Kr with 208Pb – Communication in "Physical Review Letters" stating observation of the element 118 published by Victor Ninov's research group
- Sanacacio.net Copy of NY Times article on the Ninov controversy
- Atomic Lies An essay about V. Ninov's career