B. Stanley Pons, whose nuclear-fusion discovery continues to send shock waves through the world, was forced Wednesday to spend his time on a more mundane assignment: replacing lecture graphics illustrating the fusion process.
Meanwhile, two labs in the United States and one in Great Britain are working to confirm the findings of the U. chemistry professor and Martin Fleischmann, professor of electrochemistry at the University of Southampton, England.U. officials said they have no idea when the confirmations will come, but they remain confident that the experiments will be successfully duplicated.
The suspected theft of Pons' graphics has conjured up bad memories of the press coverage of the implantation of world's first artificial heart patient, Dr. Barney Clark, six years ago. Scrambling for new information, some national reporters posed as janitors to get a peek of the heart patient.
University spokesperson Barbara A. Shelley said the overheads - diagrams the scientists use to show the fusion process - have been missing since last Thursday when the dramatic breakthrough was announced in a press conference at the university.
Pons, she said, does recall picking up the graphics, which he'll need to illustrate lectures the new-found celebrity is scheduled to deliver outside Utah next week.
But because he was surrounded by reporters and curious scientists, he doesn't recall what happened to the visual aids.
"They had to have been stolen. They were not mislaid," Shelley said.
What they do know is that hundreds of people around the world are hungry for any tidbits of information about the simple lab apparatus that could make scientific history.