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Italian Scientists Win Battle to Halt Controversial Research

from Nature News

The Italian research minister, Francesco Profumo, has bowed to pressure from Italian and international scientists and agreed to take a closer look at a proposed nuclear research programme at one of the country's leading institutes. He has also withdrawn his nomination of a proponent of the controversial research for the institute's scientific council.

The research -- on piezonuclear fission, the theory that compressing solids can provoke nucleus-splitting reactions without emitting γ-rays or producing nuclear waste -- was being led by Alberto Carpinteri, a structural engineer and president of the Italian National Institute of Metrological Research (INRIM) in Turin. Carpinteri and his collaborators have published a series of papers on the theme, mostly in Strain, a journal for which Carpinteri is on the editorial board.

But the theory is widely disputed. "The experiments are badly described and no other groups have been able to reproduce them so far," says Ezio Puppin, a nuclear engineer at Milan Polytechnic.

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