American Space Science vs Russian Mafia

Originally appeared on LinkedIn On 10/02/2014 (removed mid Feb 2016).

A few months ago, the Republican Senator John McCain appeared on the NBC Late Night TV Talk show calling Russia “a gas station run by a mafia that is masquerading as a country”. I am sure that if the senator had more time, he would have been more specific, but let me try to explain what he meant. In the early 90s, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Russian government was unable to maintain civil order, gangster groups infiltrated the youths in the local government and legislative structures. No roof was as safe and profitable for their illegal business as the one representing the law itself.

No one really knows where and at what level these people are now, but there is no year in the Russian Federation without several cases of government money thefts by its officials. The scenario is always the same – the money is sent in the “right” direction to please their masters or the ones who would make their lives easier.

My Scientific Path: Georgia

I started my scientific career in the Soviet Georgia. Georgia went through the same challenges as other former Soviet republics. Maybe even a bit more difficult one – its new inexperienced leadership, who followed their personal ideals and false hopes about the west, left the country and its population bankrupt.

I was told that having no one in science would leave me little chance to follow my dreams in Georgia, but my world was still shaken when my thesis supervisor asked me what would be his benefit if we published the paper! I also saw another side. A senior scientist who was earning money from his second job in the construction business and was paying stipend to his several PhD students! Accidentally, he was my thesis supervisor’s former student.

After realizing that my scientific career was going nowhere in my country, and having a highest honorary diploma in theoretical physics from the best education system that no longer exists, I followed my dreams. My university years coincided with the fall of the Soviet Union, and no statement resonated with my believes for justice than President Reagan’s “Tear down this wall!”. When I had to make a choice, there was no alternative, no regret, no way back in my mind.

My Scientific Path: USA

What happened in my 17 year scientific career in the US shocked my world and left my heart-broken that beliefs I had about my adopted country’s science might have been a product of my imagination.

Even worse, writing my story and every post I wrote or am going to write about the specific claims listed below, I feel less protected telling the truth here in the USA than I felt in Georgia under the communist rule. I hope I am wrong and my willingness to address the problems in the USA Space Science, or maybe in the US science as a whole, will be heard by those who care about it and are able to do something.

I already wrote my opinion about the USA Scientific system I experienced in my early posts. The fact that it does not encourage ideas, and how the program managers compensate for their lack of knowledge the with “right people” who make their lives easier, and in return keep funding within the established groups. The scientists who are given millions to build the instrument(s) and, forgetting that instruments are built not for the sake of “data collection” or constant requests of government funding for their “inner circle”, and the same scientists showing no interest whatsoever in the science the instrument was sent off for. The problem arises when the idea to explain the physics is not coming from the “right” person.

If what I am saying is right, and this is exactly what I am trying to prove with this post and future posts that will detail each claim I listed below, then what is the difference between the Science leadership and Russian Mafia?

If the leadership only cares about the funding of their own, and fails in making billions of tax payers’ money serving its purpose, how much different are they from the parasites representing the state institutions that Senator McCain criticized on NBC?

I personally think that there is only one difference. The rotten US institution consumes my personal taxes and those of millions of hard-working Americans.

Let me be clear about one thing. I am not saying that these project managers do not have scientific committees, and do not “make sure” there is no conflict of interest, etc. (for heaven’s sake, even the most brutal dictator Stalin had the “legal” papers in order for every execution he committed). But NASA and NSF officials’ unwillingness to look inside what rattans the USA space science and simply justify their decision with a statement of mere procedures and “no liberty to divulge the names of the reviewers” does not make their actions right.

Does it?

Do I know the managers are sending money primary to their masters (i.e. people who put them there a place clearly they do not belong if they are engaged in the “our thing” – Cosa Nostra games), or their former collages, institutions, or their old established circles? I do not have full information. I can only tell my claims listed below, and only officials, who can combine such claims with data they already have, can provide the answer.

Do I say something unusual? I do not think so. Does not the U.S.A government have to worry more about the proper use of billions of tax payer’s money than those, even tiny, companies that have Big Data people?

Does not the U.S. Government or the legislature and its branches, responsible for the U.S. Science, need to know and analyze every detail, literarily every “click” as it is in the industry, about what really happens behind those panel doors where the distribution of the funding is decided? And if there is evidence about “experts” in the field failing to perform the important work they are paid for – does not the healthy system, which protects the tax payer’s money, needs to take proper action?

Think about it. In the country where every politician is under radar (just recently the U.S. Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned under pressure about breaches in the system she oversaw), why does the scientific system allow even line managers do their work largely unchecked? Why the field of science is left “potentially” to people who kill two rabbits: sending funding always in the “right” direction and guarantee their nice retirement. And, many of them do just that.

What is more alarming for me personally is that many honest, educated and innovative scientists (among them ones I admire and who served me as a light to immigrate to this country) cannot stand up and say loudly the truth about the system.

Do not we blame the communist system to be just this oppressive?

So why are we allowing the system to break the people of free spirit, as the real scientists should be in order to think outside the box, under the false pressure?

My Claims

My post will not be complete if I will not write specific problems I worked on and offered a solution, and the people who supposed to be responsible for the field’s progress and innovation turned the blind eye (my future posts will provide names of individuals, specific cases of negligence, and more supporting documents for each cases listed).

A list of some of these works includes:

  1. I first proposed a tool how to detect Alfven/incompressible waves in the corona using the imaging data like SDO observations. The numerical simulation and helioseismology has been around for a long time, but what I proposed was different. The method was to use detectable compressive waves and obtain a link/info/characteristics of undetectable waves generated in the solar atmosphere that produced it (incompressible waves are difficult to detect). I first proposed it in 2008, based on the new type of waves I discovered, but the people I have talked about it over the years not only never acknowledged my work, but some later did the numerical simulations, and … there work was acclaimed as breakthrough:

Here is a link of the proposal that I submitted in 2008, 2009, etc. that describes the physics.

  1. A first discovery about what is the physical process that operates inside the Sun and migrates the solar active regions (sunspots or star-spots) something that is now shown on NASA website as a breakthrough!? I explained its cause and physics long time ago (the first paper was submitted in 1998!?). Here are the recent breakthrough articles from NASA:

These two breakthrough works involve one of NASA’s Project managers, where I actually submitted the proposal based on the process I discovered 15-16 years ago!? And proposed this kind of analysis!? When I complained that there is something unethical here, the NASA official responded that “we understand that Dr. Leamon plans to include citations” in his next paper when it is published!?” How sweet is that?

The lead author of these breakthrough works is Dr. Scott McIntosh of NCAR, who is also a lead author in my first claim too!? Since I have personally communicated with Dr. McIntosh about the waves I discovered in 2008, I requested NASA to look at the problem. NASA’s Heliophysics interim director, Dr. Jeff Newmark tells me that “… breakthroughs are often are accomplished by approaching the same problems from different vantage points… and we”, I guess he means NASA, “are not at liberty to divulge the names of reviewers…”

What is a chance that the person I talked about the physics then becomes a lead scientist of the “breakthrough” work based on that physics (Claim 1), and later leads in another “breakthrough” work (Claim 2) – I have already done?

Judging from the latest emails I got from him, he shows little knowledge of the physical process he actually simulated in the work listed in Claim 1.

(UPDATE. Here is a link to more detailed post about Claim #2)

  1. A mechanism that accelerates the solar wind. I showed that driven waves (the waves I discovered and that no one or no book mentions existed) can generate non-zero phase averaged electric fields comparable to ones during the reconnection (the magnetic reconnection is a powerful energy release process). This work published in Journal Geophysical Research in 2012 emphasis the importance of the terms that were thought to be not important in the solar wind.

In Early 2013, I submitted proposal to include this physics into the solar wind model , but it was killed by the Living With A Star program. I believe “kill” is a right word in this case, and let me explain why. Already In December 2013, at the AGU meeting, where I went with my own money to talk to people about my new model, I saw that the solar wind modelers are rushing to include those terms I suggested to be important in the solar wind. I do not have funding, and I cannot say anything since those terms are part of the general equations. Again, no one acknowledges my work.

Do they need to?

One of the modeling group got an initial funding 4 million $ to start with 10 years ago. My several requests to this or another groups involve me in their work went unanswered. 17 years in the U.S. Space Science, I never ever was given any funding despite many proposals I submitted. The people I talked at conferences (often I had to pay my own personal money to go to these meetings) are numerically discovering the physics I was suggesting to be important.

Unless, these people realize that the U.S. Science system is just and people will be accountable for their action, they do not want me or anyone outsider who brings new ideas (something that many real scientist and university professors have to think about when they have a bright young individuals in their groups).

But how American is to rip-off people like me?

I wrote several letters to those project managers were I submitted my grants, and stated that if someone takes what I submitted, proposed or worked, mostly on my own personal family time and money, I will consider it to be a stealing. The answer I got from NASA’s Heliophysics interim director was that “… science published paper can be used by others to further develop your ideas…” and that “this is part of the overall science process, we are supposed to work in a collegial, collaborative manner.”


Do you think it is right that some scientist kill my proposals and others (or maybe the ones they work with – I cannot tell because NASA and NSF do not want to reveal this information) can take it piece by piece?

What did I really follow by coming to this country then?

  1. A mechanism that explains how the cyclotron waves are generated in the solar wind. While people publish a breakthrough article about possibility that such ion-cyclotron waves might really exist in the solar wind (something that was long thought to be a case since the solar wind ions are heated perpendicularly):

My work, based on new types of waves I discovered, which shows how these waves can be generated, is literally ignored. I only could publish it on ARXIV due to no funding.

This process is also relevant to the acceleration of the killer electrons. I proposed this work and requested only 4 months!? funding from the NSF Magnetopshere division. Well, you can read my story about what happened there.

Dear reader, I need your help. All you honest, hard-working, loving their own work people who think that no one associated and living off the tax payer’s money should be allowed to destroy the dreams and believes of the individuals, who make personal and financial sacrifices to follow their dreams and by that serving such fields as the national science and this country.

I would like to ask you to share this post (or others about my personal experience in the U.S. Space Science) with people who care about science. My only hope is that this way I can reach someone who will be able to do what needs to be done.

I am all in, and I hope for justice our country takes pride of.