Campus Life

President Alivisatos Accused of Plagiarizing From the Periodic Table of Elements

Paul Alivisatos, UChicago’s president and distinguished chemist, found himself in hot water this week when he was accused of plagiarizing his major works of scholarship from the periodic table of elements. 

Alivasatos is alleged to have submitted papers which contain nothing but basic information about chemical elements taken directly from the periodic table. For example, Alivisatos’ seminal work, which earned him a position as director of the Berkeley National Laboratory, was found to be the words “Nitrogen – Atomic Number: 7, Atomic Mass 14.0067 U” written on a sheet of A4 copy paper. Yet a careful analysis reveals that this information is copied verbatim from the periodic table. 

“It’s incredible that no one has picked up on this before,” John Curie, an associate professor of chemistry at the University, says, “I mean, the abstract is longer than the paper itself!” 

The family of Dmitri Mendeleev, the creator of the periodic table of elements, has since opened legal proceedings against Alivasatos. In a statement released through their lawyers, the Mendeleev family said: “We consider the periodic table to be Dmitri’s sole intellectual property. We have disinterred his buried corpse, and strongly urge the University of Chicago to fire Alivisatos and hire Dmitri’s dead body as president.” 

The great-grandchildren of Marie Curie, whose discoveries of radium and polonium were also erroneously credited to Alivisatos, will be joining the Mendeleevs in their suit. 

In a statement released earlier today, Alivisatos apologized for any misleading impressions readers of his work may have received, but defended his integrity as a scholar. “I know that some people feel they have been lied to, and for that I am truly sorry. Yet in my heart I still feel that I did in fact discover the chemical properties of nitrogen, selenium, thallium, and others. No journalistic busybody can ever take that away from me.”