Stealing and Copying for Selective Few: A Real Face of NASA

Originally appeared on LinkedIn On 11/19/2014 —

In December 2013 I went to a scientific meeting organized by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). I saw project manager, Dr. Robert Leamon, one of NASA’s program managers, talking about the physics and analysis I had proposed in his program in early 2013! I protested. I told him that he could not do that since the physics that explained the observations was one of the works I did.

After realizing that not Dr. Leamon, but Dr. Scott McIntosh was a lead author (see my claims 1 and 2 that concern him), I sent an email to Dr. Madhulika Guhathakurta, the senior project manager of the Living With A Star program that my work proposal submitted in their program needs to be protected. I did not get an answer from Dr. Guhathakurta, but I thought that Dr, Leamon got the massage. I had no idea how wrong I was.

A few months ago I checked and saw that Dr. Leamon and his collaborator Dr. Scott McIntosh from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and their co-authors were publishing and selling the work as new (Link 1, Link 2), groundbreaking, and as the NCAR people have dome many times – no one was mentioning my original work where the physics was explained. The original work had analytical solutions and quantitative information (here is the first submitted paper in 1998, and here is one of my final published works about the subject)


In 1998 I proposed a mechanism that explains what causes the migration of the sunspots/solar active regions (Link). Despite the obstacles to publish that article without funding and much resistance form the established groups at NCAR, Stanford, etc. (and few others about that topic), I only managed to publish two conference presentations in 2004 (Link) and 2005 (Link).

My work discussed the physics of the process that causes migration of the magnetic structures, which is in agreement with the observed butterfly diagram pattern. The presence of this force can be seen in the Air Force observational data (Link), which is managed by Dr. Altrock of AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory).

When In 2004 I saw Dr. Altrock again at the National Solar Observatory’s conference, we agreed and I sent him a description of the analysis that we could do together. Here is a Link to the EXACT version of the writing I sent to Dick. The major topics in the proposed research were:

1. Long-term coronal intensity variations
2. Long-term migration pattern of the coronal intensity
3. Latitudinal dependence of the migration
4. Cyclical dependence of the migration patterns
5. Latitudinal bands of propagation;
6. Can we predict the sunspot cycle

Using more precise methods (than the simple averages Dick had been using in his works before), I proposed to derive constraints for models.
After almost 2 years of ping-ponging with Dick – he said that he could not release the data (I never asked) I understood that he did not want to collaborate.

Unfortunately he never even acknowledged the fact that there was a theoretical work explaining the physics of the data he was collecting for the United States Air Force.

An interested reader can verify that the NASA project manager, Dr. Leamon and his co-author from NCAR D. McIntosh, who is a leading scientist in the project, conducted the same kind of analysis I suggested in 2004 to Dr. Altrock and the analysis I proposed in the proposal submitted early 2013. One of the scientist whose help these two gentlemen mention in their papers is Dr. Altrock!

Was Dr. Altrock alone not referencing my work? Oh no.

Many known and well respected scientists who, unlike me, were and are paid to make progress in the field, did the same. The string of negligence to acknowledge the physical process I first proposed did not even start with Prof. Gilman with whom I had a heated debate in 2004 (Link to attendee list). Dr. Gilman, the 2006 Hale Prize winner “for his unique insights and substantial scientific achievements in understanding the dynamics of the solar convection zone and the mechanism of the Sun’s magnetic dynamo and for his leadership and support of solar physics research programs” never ever bothered to acknowledge my work even after that.

So the other scientists I talked to, like Prof. Kosovichev, Dr. Rachel Howe, Dr. Rudi Komm, Dr. David Hathaway, Dr. Fisher, and many others (the list is long and I am only talking about the ones I personally talked to, and often several times). The same behavior continued by their students and young coworkers Dr. Mark Miesch (I met this guy a few times and politely mentioned that it is not right that he is doing simulations and not mentioning the work that has quantitative information, but …), Dr. Matthias Rempel, Dr. Mausumi Dikpati, Dr. DeRosa, and many others, and still continues now.
(NOTE: Even a scientist from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who actually suggested to replace the word “motion” with “migration” in my 1998 paper’s title after a referee’s review on the initial submission was in, never mentioned my work!)
Not being funded, I had to move to another field.
Living With The Star (LWS) Workshop 2012
In 2012 the Stanford helioseismology group used a different kind of analysis and showed the equator-ward flow inside the solar convective zone (something I predicted in my early theoretical works). I was given money by the organizers of the Living With A Star (LWS) 2013 workshop at Stanford and I presented my 15 years old work in February 2013.
While there I offered Dr. Kosovichev to team up for the upcoming NASA’s LWS program proposal. It felt strange that Dr. Kosovichev did not want to team up for a NASA’s LSW program proposal (which would have been a nice proposal team). He wanted me to look for someone else for grants, but not in Solar Physics!

I still applied for the NASA LWS funding in May 2013 (Link) and proposed the original analysis of the newly launched Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) data according to the proposed research I sent to Dr. Altrock in 2004! The proposal was rejected.

Ironically, Kosovichev and his group never referenced my work even when their article(s) about their new findings appeared. I challenged them by email and was told that it was a matter of timing! When I went to the AGU meeting in December 2013, I met Dr. Kosovichev. To my question why he was not referencing my work he replied ‘Edisher, I cannot reference your work … I have the group to feed’.

Was it the lowest point there? So, I thought, but American Space Science is full of surprises.

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting 2013

I accidentally stopped by Dr. Leamon of NASA (NASA’s LWS program manager where I submitted my proposal) poster. At his poster I realized that he was talking about the science that my earlier scientific work had explained. He indicated specific latitudes about the active solar regions (based on the data) that I had in my work. This was already too much and I told him that the physics which explains the phenomenon has already been done and cannot be sold as a new work. (Well, this is today’s American Space Physics – you do the work, get nothing, but often a “perfect” team of skilled scientist(s) and the project manager, where the money can come from, will have it all – even if it’s a decade old work).
I asked him if he as the project manager even looked at my proposal with an objective eye. He said nothing. My request to another NASA program manager involved in NASA’s LWS proposal selection process to stop such things happening in future was not answered.

After AGU 2013

After December 20 I was unemployed (two years of spending my personal money to go to conferences, publish works, trying to reach fellow scientists – and it is funny that people literarily try to avoid me because they got money and do not need me anymore; see my claims 1 and 3), and all the grants rejected left me unemployed. I had to look for a job.
In April I checked the web and what I saw was Dr. Scott McIntosh and Robert Leamon’s new article selling the analysis I suggested as new (the journal where it appeared, ApJ Letter, is for a rapid publication of the important new thing(s)! Incidentally, this is the journal where my 1998 article was rejected after 4 submissions. It also rejected another one in 1999. Here are the links to references to Scott’s and Robert’s papers (Link1, Link2). Here is a link to their presentation at the American Astronomical Society:…22442205L.

In their new article (Link) , as often happens in today’s science, the work is taken further; and I cannot even recognize that I was the first man who proposed the force that moves the magnetic field! (Here is my post about such things. That is characteristic of today’s scientists).
Note that these articles are written by the people who get observation data. Scott is from NCAR, and the papers include pretty observational pictures, the description of the instrumentation used to take measurements, etc. but a major idea/physics that they convey is nothing but what is in my works and proposals.

Message to Prof. Parker (University of Chicago)

Prof. Parker is one of the scientists, if not THE scientist, because of whom I ended up and stayed loyal to the solar physics and astrophysics. His works are magnificent and kept me warm and focused in the dark and cold days (literally) in the post-Soviet Georgia. He sent me hard copies of several of his papers in Georgia in the mid 90s. It meant a lot to me.
I saw that Dr. McIntosh and Dr. Leamon thanked him for this help and discussions in their paper. I tried to reach Prof. Parker, but could not – he retired some time ago and his university email did not work. This is why I am sending this massage publicly and asking him:
Do you remember the paper I sent you in 1998? (Here is the link)
Do you remember that I sent it to you 2 months before Solar Wind Nine Conference in Nantucket, Massachusetts (5-9 October 1998), and how you promised to tell me your opinion at the conference in your email reply?
I remember every detail of our meeting in Nantucket. The conference was organized by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics where I worked at the time.

So why are these two people selling idea of “a mechanism inside the Sun that moves the magnetic features” as new? Why are they using your name?

How healthy is our scientific community if people like me who explain the process in terms of physics are left penniless and driven from the field, and scientists close to the really special funds indulged from funding program managers can pick up someone’s theoretical work and enjoy all the credit for it?

Is this a new American value that can attract young people to the field?

NASA’s Response

I sent a request about this to the U.S. senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office. After several months the senator’s office got an answer from NASA (Link), where the Interim Director of Heliophysics Division Dr. Jeffrey Newmark talks about mere procedure and “We are not at liberty to divulge the names of the reviewers, but we can confirm that none of the individuals named in your complaint were involved” in the rejection of my proposal.
Is it only me who thinks that my request and NASA’s interim director’s answer are very much off?

Laura O’Neill, Senator’s Special Assistant for Constituent Services, seemingly a sweat person at heart, suggested that “if you are interested in accepting their offer to serve on an upcoming review panel, I hope you will reach out to them”.

Reach Dr. Jeff Newmark and Dr. Arik Posner? For a chance to be in the review panel in 2015? I have asked every single NASA and NSF manager since 2002 to do just that (among them these two gentlemen, a few times), but …

It is always like that – keeping people from the funding, let them starve, and force them to leave the field – because some of their collaborators, or an inner gogetters’ circle of scientists who can put a project manager’s name in their work or do another favor is on it already.

Funny Fact

In 2012 after listening to my talk at the AGU about the new wave-particle interaction mechanism (Links: My AGU 2012, and the work it is based on) Dr. Arik Posner met me outside the auditorium. When I mentioned that my company was reluctant to allow me spend time on proposals because of 0% success, he said “I hope they will change their mind”. As many managers before him, I asked him only one thing – please invite me to a scientific panel. Since then he disappeared like the spring snow – never even replied to several emails I sent to him.