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A Looming Retraction Casts a Shadow Over a Field of Physics

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A major physics journal is retracting a two-year-old scientific paper that described the transformations of a chemical compound as it was squeezed between two pieces of diamond.

Such an esoteric finding — and retraction — would not typically garner much attention.

But one of the leaders of this research is Ranga P. Dias, a professor in the physics and mechanical engineering departments at the University of Rochester in New York who made a much bigger scientific splash earlier this year, touting the discovery of a room-temperature superconductor.

At the same time, accusations of research misconduct have swirled around Dr. Dias, and his superconductor findings remain largely unconfirmed.

The retracted paper does not involve superconductivity but rather describes how a relatively mundane material, manganese sulfide, shifts its behavior from an insulator to a metal and then back to an insulator under increasing pressure.

A complaint that one of the graphs in the paper looked fishy led the journal, Physical Review Letters, to recruit outside experts to take a closer look.

The inquiry…

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