Sunday, March 30, 2008

More on the Doomsday Lawsuit

Walter Wagner pointed out that my post and my opinion of him was too strongly worded, which I wrote in haste and so which I withdraw, so I thought I'd just quote a piece out of a Discover blog post, on the continuing story:
Prior to suing the LHC, Wagner had an accomplished past. The Register reveals that when he appeared (alongside a time-machine professor) on the “paranormal-matters talk show Coast to Coast (’America’s most fascinating overnight radio program’)” he claimed to have “discovered a novel particle in a balloon-borne cosmic ray detector, initially identified as a magnetic monopole.”

He may also be no stranger to lawsuits, The Register also noted, and is currently in a legal battle with the board of the World Botanical Gardens in Umauma, Hawaii, which he founded. “According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (free registration required), he and his wife were indicted last month by a grand jury on counts of identity theft and attempted theft relating to an alleged attempt to obtain $340,000 from the gardens company.”


stefan said...

Hi Peter,

On the NYT front page above the fold, that's incredible - thanks for the screenshot!

Maybe to add for the record: This cosmic ray experiment Wagner was involved with is even mentioned in Wikipedia, under the heading "Unusual Cosmic Rays (that's how I've found it) but with an interesting twist...

The balloon experiment near Sioux City, Iowa on September 18, 1973 with the alleged discovery of a magnetic monopole was even published as a PRL in August 1975, "Evidence for Detection of a Moving Magnetic Monopole", by P.B. Price, E.K. Shirk, W.Z. Osborne, Lawrence S. Pinsky, Phys. Rev. Lett. 35:487-490, 1975 (spires). From the abstract: "A very heavy particle passed through a balloon-borne stack of Cherenkov film, emulsion, and Lexan sheets. [...] Its track structure in emulsion indicated it was moving downward with beta=0.5-0.05+0.1 and was either a nucleus with Z≈80 or a monopole with g=137e. These facts strongly favor identification of the particle as a magnetic monopole of strength g=137e and mass > 200 mp." From the acknowledgements: "We thank G. Blandford, H.H. Heckman, R. Smith, J. Teague, and W. Wagner for assistance."

The experiment was also covered in the August 25, 1975 edition of TIME Magazine, filed under SCIENCE, and with the Heading Bring It Back Alive. That's a reasonable description of the experiment and the theoretical background about monopoles. From the text: "The balloon-borne experiment that finally seems to have found one was directed by Physicists P. Buford Price, 42, and Edward Shirk, 29, of the University of California at Berkeley, and Weymar Zack Osborne, 42, and Lawrence Pinsky, 29, of the University of Houston. But credit for first spotting the monopole's track belongs to two technical assistants: Julie Teague, 31, at Houston and Walter Wagner, 25, at U.C."

I wonder who is responsible for the statement "and the particle track was preliminarily identified as having been caused by a magnetic monopole by the lead researcher, Walter L. Wagner. [6]" in the current version of the Wikipedia article ;-)

([6] is a reference to the TIME article, but without link)

Cheers, Stefan

Peter said...

I was wondering why Wagner didn't appear on the author list (but I didn't read the paper much beyond it!) Thanks for the research -- the more you look into the guy's past, the less credible even his own life story becomes.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your comments. You and Bee have an interesting relationship. She emailed me just minutes/hours before you married, regarding this topic.

While my name was not listed as one of the authors, I was indeed one of the authors. Indeed, the analysis of the experiment was entirely mine; I submitted my analysis and results to the group leader [Buford Price], while I left on a pre-planned vacation, expecting him to finalize the paper. Because I had been hired as a "research associate", he decided to take credit for himself, and leave my name off as one of the authors. A dirty little secret not known to most. The attribution to discovery of the tracks to Ms. Teague and myself is correct. However, her work was in Texas, and she only had the upper emulsion layer to work with, and none of the stack sheets. Her tentative analysis in 1973 yielded an identification of a "probable lead nucleus". That single sheet of emulsion was so poor in quality of data that I had to reject all of the information for identification of particles [too many Fe nuclei identified as heavies; missing heavies] and rely entirely upon the preliminary scans [triple scan of Lexan sheets to preclude overlooking] I performed at Berkeley. There the monopole candidate showed up as a probable Uranium or heavier, but the scan was over-etched due to the high ionization, so no definitive probable charge could be made from those three sheets. Instead, six more sheets were processed, for a shorter period of time, which resulted in ideal 'etch-pits' for measurement. When the measurements were computer processed, they came back with uniform ionization through the stack [never before seen] and exceptionally high ionization [occasionally seen for slowing heavies]. Those two feature alone initially suggested to me a super-heavy nucleus of Z = 137 [the computer print-out showed a z = 137; with standard deviation less than 1/2 charge (reported as +/- zero); also never before seen with such a low standard deviation]. However, as I sat and pondered the results, I recognized that such a charged nucleus should not exist in nature [it sits well outside the two presumed 'islands of stability' then believed to exist beyond the known nuclei]. Accordingly, I recalled the Dirac theory which suggested magnetic monopoles of g = 137e, and suggested to my colleague [Dr. Shirk, who created the programs and hardware for the analysis] that we had found a magnetic monopole track. He agreed, and we then shared the information with Dr. Price. We then went back to the Texas Cherenkov sheet and had it analyzed in Texas. The Chereknov sheet showed no Cherekov image, which we would expect from a near-c nucleus; so the speed was shown to be below about .67 c This was entirelly incompatible with any known nucleus.

However, some critics suggested that a .65 c, slowing, doubly fractionating nucleus, with very wide error-bars for each data point, could have mimiced a magnetic monopole track. Technically, about one in every billion such doubly-fractionating nuclei would be expected to mimic a monopole track, based on the types of error-bars we routinely would have for etch-tracks.

The question then, is why would we detect such a weird, one-in-a-billion beyond normal error bars doubly fractionating normal nucleus on the very first time we ever saw a doubly fractionating nucleus? We on occasion would see a singly fractionating nucleus.

So, yes, the work was mine. No one expected to find much of anything in that stack, and it had sat around the laboratory for two years while we worked on other things. Only because I was leaving [to go to law school], and I was the only one then capable of doing the analysis in a timely manner, was I asked to do that analysis.


I gather from your blog description that you are first and foremost an astrologer, with "Astrological Sign Scorpio" and "Zodiac Year Rooster".

You further claim to be a "nuclear physicist" but simply employment at a government laboratory [or anywhere else, for that matter] doesn't prove much, at least not in my book.

Certainly, you are not very cognizant of the libel laws of the US, as you have engaged in legally actionable libel. I expect you will correct this immediately. If not, you will of course be hearing from the legal system.

For your information, neither my wife nor I engaged in any form of wrong doing, other than to have the misfortune to take into a business relationship an individual we later learned was terminated as a cop by his own boss, who prosecuted him for criminal activity in Los Angeles. Apparently, he believes that smearing people's names, by lying about them to grand juries, etc., is the way to proceed to prevail in civil legal actions. We are expecting his indictment shortly. In the meanwhile, we are still proceeding forward on our civil suit to collect that $340,000 I am owed (which filing of a civil suit on my part he deemed to be an "attempted theft"), and that won't be resolved in the civil courts for at least another year.


Walter L. Wagner


Most of my work in nuclear physics came long after my work at Berkeley. I note that when I was at Berkeley in 1975, you, Peter, were a snotty-nosed kid in Kindergarten, or thereabouts.

stefan said...

Dr. Wagner,

you mean, Buford Price has stolen your work?
It may be fair to hear his, and the other authors' version of the story, but, to be sincere, I am not to much interested in it.

Best, Stefan

Anonymous said...

He would be properly a co-author. But yes, I spent three months on the analysis without ever reporting to him my work - I was simply desirous of finishing the analysis before I departed, having no idea that there was anything of import in the detector. Only after it was finished was the work and my conclusion reported back to him.

I don't blame you for not being very interested in the details of who worked on it. It is irrelevant to the conclusions, as the work stands by itself, regardless of who did it.

Anonymous said...

Oops - that last comment was by me>

Walter L. Wagner

Anonymous said...

The facts (and dangers) as I see them...

CERNs web site states that we have not been destroyed by effects of cosmic rays and micro black holes will evaporate.

However, cosmic rays strike relatively stationary objects and results travel too fast to be captured by Earths gravity, while colliders smash particles head on, may focus all energy to a single point and can be captured by Earths gravity. Einsteins relativity theory predicts that micro black holes will not decay but instead only grow, and Hawking Radiation contradicts relativity, is unproven and is disputed by at least 3 peer reviewed studies that find no basis in science to support it.

The LHC Safety Assessment Group has been trying for months to prove safety without success. However science may still be a few years away from being able to provide reasonable assurance of safety or not at least with respect to creation of micro black holes on Earth.

Professor Dr. Otto E. Rössler (winner University of Liège Chaos Award and René Descartes Award), Dr. Raj Baldev (Director of the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research) and others are warning of a very real, very possible, very present danger to the planet from the Large Hadron Collider. Dr. Rössler predicts that a single microblackhole could destroy the planet in as little and 50 months. His calculations have been released for peer review.

If this experiment is so safe, why arent CERN scientists allowed to express any personal fears they might have about this Collider?

Alleged in the legal action: Chief Scientific Officer, Mr. Engelen passed an internal memorandum to workers at CERN, asking them, regardless of personal opinion, to affirm in all interviews that there were no risks involved in the experiments, changing the previous assertion of minimal risk. (Statisticians generally consider minimal risk as 1-10%).

Previous safety studies ruled out any possibility of creating microblackholes in a collider. But predictions have changed and CERN has estimated the possibility of creating 1 microblackhole per second in the Large Hadron Collider. No peer reviewed safety study has ever been produced that I am aware of that speaks to the safety of creating microblackholes on Earth.

If we delay for a safety study, some scientists at CERN may not be the first to discover some new science, and some Nobel prizes may be at stake.
But which would more wise, conduct a full and independent adversarial peer reviewed safety study first, or just turn it on now and discover science as quickly as humanly possible?


stefan said...

BTW, here is a link to the preprint by Rössler, "Abraham-Solution to Schwarzschild Metric implies that CERN Miniblack Holes pose a Planetary Risk".

Maybe someone with more expertise in GR could comment - but to me, this argument seems to be based on a, hum, quite idiosyncratic interpretation of the Schwarzschild metric. Moroever, I do not buy the claim that charge makes worse the problem of mini black hole growth and triggers nonlinearities in the growth process. The argumentation in this respect seems quite hand-waving to me.

Best, Stefan

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments to JTankers:

1. You say that "The LHC Safety Assessment Group has been trying for months to prove safety without success."
I wonder what you base that assumption on? Your own expertise in the matter? The LSAG report has been endorsed by international and INDEPENDENT experts advising CERN's Scientific policy committee. See enclosed link for more info:

2. You also mention that: "Professor Dr. Otto E. Rössler's calculations have been released for peer review."
Well, yes and here are some interesting reviews:

Connclusion: "O.E. Roessler's misinterpretation of the Schwarzschild metric lets become his further considerations in [1] and [2] null and void. These are no papers that could be taken into account when problems of black holes are discussed."


Conclusion: "this text would not pass the referee process in a serious journal."


3. Finally, you say that it is alleged that: "Chief Scientific Officer, Mr. Engelen passed an internal memorandum to workers at CERN, asking them, regardless of personal opinion, to affirm in all interviews that there were no risks involved in the experiments..."

Interesting that you chose to say that it is "alleged that". To me it indicates that you are wildly guessing here. I have never heard this from anyone else on the internet. Please post a copy of the memo, if you have one.


Rozmin said...

I know it's late in the discussion, but I can confirm that no such memo was ever sent. I work at CERN, have since 2007, and I have several colleagues who have worked here since 2004. In the past 5 years, I can say that such a memo was never sent out.

So, Walter, if you're still around: Why so many lawsuits, hm? Figure there's a 50-50 chance you'll win? :-D