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A result last year hailed as a breakthrough in physics also generated skepticism that has now escalated into angry recriminations. Researchers said they had made the first superconductor that works at room temperature, a long-sought goal. But Jorge Hirsch, a physicist at the University of California (UC), San Diego, attacked some of the evidence, particularly a set of magnetic measurements. He says his requests to see the underlying data have been rebuffed by the authors for nearly a year. And, last month in a peer-reviewed paper, he charged that the results are “probably fraudulent.”   

Ranga Dias, an applied physicist at the University of Rochester, who with his colleagues made the room-temperature superconductivity claim, rejects Hirsch’s allegations. He asserts that Hirsch isn’t an expert in high-pressure physics and that he has a history of claiming that the Nobel Prize–winning “BCS theory” underlying superconductivity is incorrect. Dias says Hirsch relentlessly badgers superconductivity researchers. “Hirsch is a troll,” Dias says. “We are not going to feed this troll” by providing the data.

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