Link Collection: Space Dinosaur Paper

April 26th, 2012

The Breslow “dinosaur” story has intensified to a crescendo. What started as bewilderment over a silly press release issued by the ACS about an otherwise unremarkable paper, has morphed into serious accusations of misconduct in the form of self-plagiarism by a living legend of chemistry. The conversation has transpired almost completely on chemistry blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter). In an effort to keep track of everything, I have collected a list of pertinent links below, which I plan to curate as the story evolves.

It seems that once again, the collective chemical Internet has uncovered a serious case of misbehavior in our field. This amateur journalism was a truly distributed effort, with multiple sites contributing new facts and insights, and with each site building on the work of the others. The cooperation and openness of the system are two of the reasons I value blogs and blogging. It is heartening to see that small groups of people can catalyze positive change by drawing attention to obvious problems and stimulating thoughtful analysis.

Links Regarding the “Space Dinosaur” Paper by Ronald Breslow

General – Twitter – Commentary and links – #spacedino hashtag – Major contributors: @stuartcantrill, @NeilWithers, @Chemjobber, @SeeArrOh, @ChemBark, @Dr_PaulC, @edyong209, @Sci_ents, @sciencegeist

6/9/2010 – Tetrahedron Lett. – “A likely possible origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic earth” – Original paper (?)

27/4/2011 – Tetrahedron Lett. – “Erratum to “The origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic Earth” – Erratum notice

27/4/2011 – Tetrahedron Lett. – “The origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic earth” – Corrected paper, republished

18/5/2011 – Isr. J. Chem. – “Formation of L Amino Acids and D Sugars, and Amplification of their Enantioexcesses in Aqueous Solutions, Under Simulated Prebiotic Conditions” –A review published by Breslow in the Israel Journal of Chemistry

25/3/2012 – J. Am. Chem. Soc. – “Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth” – Breslow’s perspective paper in JACS

11/4/2012 – ACS Press Room – “Could ‘advanced’ dinosaurs rule other planets?” – Sensationalist press release from ACS referring to the above paper in JACS

11/4/2012 – Just Like Cooking – “Space Dinos! Prebiotic Chemistry Meets Paleozoic Commentary” – Coverage of paper vis-a-vis the bungled press release by See Arr Oh. Possible self-plagiarism is mentioned in the comments thread

11/4/2012 – Chemistry-Blog – “Taking a dinosaur’s name in vain” – Initial analysis of the paper vis-a-vis the bungled press release by Mark

11/4/2012 – Smithsonian Magazine – “Dinosaurs From Space!” – Analysis of the dinosaur idea with respect to evolution

11/4/2012 – Pharyngula – “Adding dinosaurs always makes research sexier” – Analysis of the evolution idea and the press release

12/4/2012 – Boing Boing – “The threat of intelligent space dinosaurs

12/4/2012 – ChemBark – “Breslow and Dinosaurs in JACS, Oh My” – Analysis of the science in the paper and the bungled press release

12/4/2012 – Sciencebase –”Alien Dinosaur Chemists” – Analysis of the press release vis-a-vis the paper

14/4/2012 – ChemBark – “A Terrible Week for Chemistry” – An attempt at humor

24/4/2012 – Chemistry-Blog – “Space dinosaurs, the saga continues” – Mark posts about the self-plagiarism in JACS, includes Stu’s famous highlighter work. Note that Mark has alerted JACS about possible misconduct by e-mail.

25/4/2012 – ChemBark – “What the ACS Must Do Regarding the Dinosaur Paper” – An editorial calling for correction of the press release and retraction of the paper in JACS

25/4/2012 – In the Pipeline – “Breslow’s Chirality Paper: More Than Just Alien Dinosaurs” – Derek covers the story

25/4/2012 – Nature News Blog – “Eminent chemist denies self-plagiarism in ‘space dinosaurs’ paper” – Daniel Cressey, a reporter at Nature, begins to probe deeper. Breslow is interviewed and defends his paper.

25/4/2012 – Everyday Scientist – “self-plagiarism and JACS” – Sam returns to post thoughts on self-plagiarism

25/4/2012 – Chemical Connections – “I’m still here” – Stu checks in regarding recent and future personal events

25/4/2012 – Curious Wavefunction – “Would Ron Breslow’s dinosaurs be typing this post?” – Discussion of humor in papers, self-plagiarism, and evolution

25/4/2012 – Science 2.0 – “Former ACS President Denies Charges He Plagiarized Himself” – A general piece/note/report

26/4/2012 – ChemBark – “Breslow Dinosaur Paper Pulled by JACS” – First report that JACS has pulled the PDF of the “space dinosaur” paper and launched an investigation

27/4/2012 – Chemistry-Blog – “The case of the disappearing (space) dinos” – Mark comments on the pulled paper

27/4/2012 – Retraction Watch – “JACS temporarily pulls ‘space dinosaurs’ paper for alleged duplication” – Ivan O. reports on the pulled paper and previous retractions involving JACS

27/4/2012 – Nature News Blog – “‘Space dinosaurs’ paper withdrawn amid self-plagiarism allegations” – Daniel Cressey follows up on his earlier piece

27/4/2012 – Chemjobber – “Pentagon, defense industry, legislators respond to professor’s warnings” – Humor from CJ: fake press release regarding possible attack of Earth by alien dinosaurs

27/4/2012 – C&EN – “Breslow Paper in JACS Questioned” – Editor-in-chief of C&E News reports on the pulled paper in the official newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society. The article was updated on 30/4/2012 with a comment from Breslow.

27/4/2012 – Skepchick – “Is it still plagiarism if you copy yourself?“ – A good discussion of self-plagiarism

29/4/2012 – ChemBark – “My Advice to Breslow“ – Advice on damage control regarding chemistry papers

30/4/2012 – Curious Wavefunction – “The anatomy of peer review: Why airing dirty laundry in public is important” – A fantastic post on two scientists’ quest to correct the scientific record in the wake of another infamous paper by Breslow

1/5/2012 – Just Like Cooking – “Same (Space) Science, Different (Dino) Day” – See Arr Oh points out other similarities among many of the recent origin-of-life papers written by Breslow

3/5/2012 – ChemBark – “How C&EN and JACS Have Changed Since Sames-Sezen” –A look at how ACS Publications handled the Sames-Sezen retractions in 2006 vs. the Breslow “space-dinosaur” retraction in 2012

17/5/2012 – In the Pipeline – “The Breslow Chirality Paper Mess, Resolved” – Derek follows up to note the withdrawal of Breslow’s paper

20/5/2012 – Retraction Watch – “JACS makes it official, retracting Breslow ‘space dinosaurs’ paper for ‘similarity to his previously published reviews’” – Ivan follows up now that the JACS paper has been withdrawn

Please draw my attention to new or missed items by using the comments.


4 Responses to “Link Collection: Space Dinosaur Paper”

  1. JACS temporarily pulls “space dinosaurs” paper for alleged duplication « Retraction Watch Says:

    [...] contacted Breslow and JACS editor Peter Stang for comment. In the meantime, you can browse a collection of links about this case at [...]

  2. My Advice to Breslow | ChemBark Says:

    [...] I’ve already given my advice to the ACS regarding how to deal with the space-dinosaur situation, it is only fair that I offer some thoughts to Ronald Breslow as well. Once faced with the facts, [...]

  3. How C&EN and JACS Have Changed Since Sames-Sezen | ChemBark Says:

    [...] the transgressions in the Sames-Sezen and Breslow sagas are very different, we can use both events as probes for how the ACS (through C&EN and [...]

  4. Now Accepting Nominations for the 2012 Chemmy Awards | ChemBark Says:

    [...] Breslow and the Spacedinos duplication scandalACS Publications vs. Jenica Rogers and other Librarians The settlement of ACS v. Leadscope Arsenic Death UCLA/Harran/Sangji [...]


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