The Physics Detective Part Three — Baumgarden Under the Gun

I believe Baumgarden’s story. He seems like the “smoke pot on weekends and sip scotch during late nights at the office” type, not the “I carry grudges against everybody and live for revenge” type. As a counterargument, one might question the way he conveniently brought up the issue of negadex (which could be construed as an attempt to shift blame away from himself), which was supposed to be a top-secret material that only a few people would have known about. However, as a top guy in his field, a specialist in laser physics, and undoubtedly a person with a lot of high-level contacts, it’s almost expected that he would have heard about this important discovery through the grapevine. It’s hard to keep those kinds of things a secret for too long.

[technical aside: “negadex” is fiction, but the discovery of negative refraction is not, for discussion and debate over this exciting subject, follow these links]

This story is developing in classic “Who Shot JR” fashion. The more we learn about Jaeger, the more deplorable a person he appears to have been. His enemies had good reason to hate him. At the end of “Part Three”, we learned how he avoided controversy over a withdrawn Nature submission by laying all the blame on his graduate student (in all likelihood, the former student is Jirong Feng, who was mentioned in “Part One”). Shame!!! So now we know that Jaeger isn’t above using the people who work for him as scapegoats, effectively destroying their careers as long as he emerges with some of his credibility intact. Any professor who would take advantage of his students and postdocs in this way would think nothing of, oh I dunno, TOYING WITH THE EMOTIONS OF HIS HOT BLONDE RUSSIAN POSTDOC WHILE PARTAKING IN A TAWDRY AND HIGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL AFFAIR WITH HER.