The attempted plagiarism of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.
This page is written in order to clear up certain misunderstandings connected with the provenance, and authorship, of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum. Everything about the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is extraordinary. Not only has this extensive body of scientific knowledge permitted the Russian nation, which had been previously petroleum-poor, to achieve energy independence, but also modern Russian petroleum science has been the subject of the most daring attempt at plagiarism in the history of modern science.
Sometime during the late 1970’s, a British-American, one-time astronomer named Thomas Gold discovered the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins. Such was not difficult to do, for there are many thousands of articles, monographs, and books published in the mainstream Russian scientific press on modern Russian petroleum science. Gold could read the Russian language fluently.
In 1979, Gold began publishing the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of petroleum origins, as if such were his own ideas and without giving credit to the Russian (then, Soviet) petroleum scientists from whom he had taken the material. Gold tried to alter the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins with notions of his own in order to conceal its provenance. He gave his “ideas” the (very misleading) name the “deep gas theory.”
Worse yet, Gold’s alterations of modern Russian petroleum science were utterly wrong. Specifically, Gold’s claims that there exist large quantities of natural gas (methane) in the Earth at depths of its mantle are completely wrong. Such claims are upside-down and backwards. At the pressures of the mantle, methane is unstable, and the hydrogen-carbon system there evolves the entire suite of heavier hydrocarbons found in natural petroleum, in the Planck-type distribution which characterizes natural petroleum. Methane at pressures of the mantle of the Earth will decompose to evolve octane, diesel oil, heavy lubricating oils, alkylbenzenes, and the compounds found in natural petroleum. [These properties of the hydrogen-carbon system have been described at greater length and rigor in a recent article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.1] Regrettably, Gold was as ignorant of statistical thermodynamics as he was of ethics.
A few moment’s thought should have been given to the reasonable probability that an astronomer, who had no previous knowledge of petroleum or geology, and no experience in those fields, might have independently thought up, all by himself, a formidably extensive body of knowledge which itself resulted from the directed work of many, many men and women of a large country with a splendid scientific tradition, working over several decades. Such notion compares with the myth of Apollo springing fully-armed from the forehead of Aphrodite. As the French say, “incroyable !”
A common saying goes that “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.”2 Perhaps one might speculate that plagiarism is somehow an even more sincere compliment. Not so. The plagiarism of scientific work constitutes theft of a scientist’s most precious possessions.
Scientists very rarely garner wealth from their endeavors. Science is usually done by its practitioners for the joy of discovery, – and for the credit and standing gained among their peers as reward for successful work. As one might expect, when the Russian petroleum scientists learned of Thomas Gold’s behavior, they were outraged. They remain so today.
The men and women in the former U.S.S.R. who worked hard to develop and enunciate the modern theory of abiotic petroleum origins struggled under unusual difficulties throughout their lives. The 20th century was very hard for every one born in the former U.S.S.R. All of the contributors to the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abiotic hydrocarbon origins had to live through the worst of the Communist period in their country, and almost all of them suffered the terrible experiences of World War II. Their lives have been especially hard. Now without exception they are poor. To have had even what little reward they deserved for their scientific work stolen from them by plagiarism is especially disgusting.
Gold’s attempts at plagiarism was not restricted to the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins. Thomas Gold was a serial plagiarist. In the papers which are included in the following pages, are to be found published complaints against Gold for having plagiarized scientific research involving not only modern Russian petroleum science [Krayushkin, U.S.S.R.], but also bolide impacts [Denofrio, U.S.A.], and speculations on an hypothesized agency of microbes for generating oil [Hunt, Canada].
A prairie lawyer named Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “you can fool all the people some of the time, and there are even some people whom you can fool all the time; but you can’t fool all the people, all the time.” Thomas Gold never learned.
1 J. F. Kenney, V. G. Kutcherov, N. A. Bendeliani and V. A. Alekseev, “The evolution of multicomponent systems at high pressures: VI. The genesis of hydrocarbons and the origins of petroleum,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 2002, 99, 10976-10981.
2 C. C. Colton, “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery,” in Reflections, Lacon, London, 1820, vol. 1, 217.