Thursday 15 May 2014

“When people don't stand up for what they think is right, they die one piece at a time.”

This is an email I wrote to the editor of the Astronomical Journal


William I. Hartkopf et al. 2013. The Astronomical Journal 146 76

Many of the common proper motion pairs identified in this paper as new discoveries were identified and published by me as long ago as 2009. At that time my results were also sent – in the form of a spreadsheet – to both Zacharias and Finch and they both, independently, confirmed receipt.

1- The issue is simple. Did the staff at the USNO use the astronomical results I had shared with them in October 2009 without proper, indeed any, acknowledgement? Secondly why did the superintendent of the Observatory then fail to respond to my two letters on the matter?

2 - That many of my results are identical to those subsequently published as their own by USNO staff
is both beyond dispute and easily proven. Both my results and the USNO results are in the public domain and the numerous similarities are plain at a glance.

3 - That the USNO staff had prior knowledge of my results is also beyond dispute and easily proven. I have copies of their emails in which they confirm receipt. 

4 - This is the second time I have had this problem with USNO staff. I have in front of me an apologetic letter, dated January 2011, from R S Steadley, at that time Superintendent of the US Naval
Observatory, in respect of a similar problem that also involved third parties being given credit for my peer reviewed discoveries.

"Papers published in the AJ and ApJ should include citations to previously published papers which are directly relevant to the results being presented. This requirement is especially important when new ideas or results are being presented. Deliberate refusal to credit or cite prior or corroborating results, while not regarded technically as constituting plagiarism, represents a comparable breach of professional ethics, and can result in summary rejection of a manuscript."

Monday 12 May 2014

May 2014 - still grinding along!

It has a long time since my previous post but then nobody can say that I didn't warn you that this blog was never going to revert to its former regime.

Since January I have been writing astronomical articles and booklets pretty much full time. The books have all been uploaded to Amazon and the sales are starting to trickle in. I now feel that it is time for a change so I have decided to stop the astronomy research and writing for a while and instead to divide my energy between the second volume of "Baby Nicola's Diary" and a second social history book - this time on unusual ways of dying.

After feeling rather demotivated in my role as Chair of Governors at a local school I seem to summoned up some more energy and enthusiasm and - although I say it myself - I put on a cracking performance with the HMI during her recent visit.

I am still in email communication with Eve and Ella and "Student Sally" every week and working with them continues to give real meaning to my life. I know that is horrible jargon but it is far too easy to drift into a placid, totally stress free, routine where nothing seems to happen to distinguish one week from the weeks on either side.

So is everything in the garden rosy? No, not really but it is rather difficult to put into words what has upset me without seeming petty. But I do think that the "Wow, how amazing, have an MBE" said to somebody who had served as a school governor for 11 years when I have done 30 years is part of the problem!