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April 25, 2012
Breslow's Chirality Paper: More Than Just Alien Dinosaurs
Update: the paper has, for now, been pulled by JACS. More to come, no doubt.
I didn't written anything about the Breslow origins-of-chirality paper that mentioned, as a joking aside, the possibility of intelligent alien dinosaurs. As most readers will know, the ACS publicity office, most cluelessly, decided to make that throwaway line the focus of their press release, and much confusion ensued.
But things have gotten weirder. Stu Cantrill read the Breslow paper, and realized that he'd already read a lot of it before. See these three pictures (1, 2, 3) and realize the extent to which this latest paper was apparently a cut-and-paste job.
I've met Breslow many times (he used to consult for one of my former employers), and I've enjoyed reading much of his work. But this really shouldn't be acceptable - we wouldn't put up with it from some unknown chemist, and we shouldn't put up with it from someone famous. Chembark has an excellent summary of the situation, with recommendations about what the ACS should do next. These range from fixing that idiotic press release, to retracting the paper, to barring Breslow from publishing in JACS for a period.
In retrospect, the alien dinosaurs are becoming my favorite part of the whole paper.
Update: Breslow defends himself to Nature News.
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