And yet there are fake stripes!

Mathias Brust

This is a guest post by Mathias Brust, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool

Fools reading Raphaël Lévy’s blog on “stripy nanoparticles” (this is what the blog is all about, chaps) have been waiting eagerly for F.S. and his independent puppets to evaluate the veracity of F.S.’s original interpretation of their STM data.

The two papers recently published in ACS Nano and Langmuir, two journals, respectively, are co-authored by no longer recognized STM experts. I assume that the papers detail the various findings of this study (no need to bother reading them carefully). Unfortunately, the authors shy away from stating clearly the fake nature of F.S.’s previous work, published most glamorously in 2004 in Nature Materials.

Unlike in the original images from 2004, where at least you could clearly spot fake stripes, I can’t hardly see any discernible features in the new images obtained with modern equipment. When I put my glasses on, I may see some dots that appear to be aligned. But really, you wouldn’t see anything special in these new data. The images look like rather well-done noisy STM images of gold nanoparticles. Unfortunately, rather than stating that the original data from 2004 were fake, the authors employ an arsenal of image analysis techniques to convince presumptuously themselves and evidently the credulous referees (ACS editors, hello? When are you going to get the Liverpoolians on board?) that the now noisy and imperceptible ripples represent indeed all the features FS had previously reported in much clearly fake images obtained with low-quality instrumentation and unsophisticated image analysis. From this it follows logically that the new study admits interpretation errors in the original work while aiming to corroborate it (and failing at both!). A tacit assertion that it is hard to do these experiments (not for Moriarty; he can groove!) is perhaps the only hint that maybe before we were not looking at the real thing at all. Rapha, Dave and I knew all along, so we have refrained from even trying to do the experiments. It’s just easier to criticize the obvious, and we have better things to do, such as chasing malefactors online. I strongly advise the hugely ginormous crowd of Rapha’s disciples to look at the newly published images, and again at the ones from 2004, to make up their own mind about the amount of fake stripes in 2004 and the absence of stripes in 2013. I suspect that an even more carefully made up study in the future (mate Moriarty is already washing his hands) may reveal that the particles have no stripes and therefore that they are “invisible” by STM. A new class of “stealth stripes” from Moriarty, Rapha, Dave and I would make a nice cover for Nature Materials!