Victor Ninov

Victor Ninov (Bulgarian: Виктор Нинов, born 1959) is a former researcher in the nuclear chemistry group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) who was alleged to have fabricated the evidence used to claim the creation of elements 118 and 116. These elements were later genuinely discovered by a Russian-American team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and named oganesson and livermorium respectively.

Ninov was trained at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Germany. His hiring by the LBNL from GSI had been considered a coup: he had been involved in the discovery of darmstadtium, roentgenium, and copernicium (elements 110, 111, and 112) and was considered one of the leading experts at using the complex types of software needed to detect the decay chain of unstable transuranium elements.

An internal committee at the lab concluded that Ninov was the only person in the large project to translate the raw computer results into human-readable results and had used this opportunity to inject false data. Re-examination of the data determined that the raw data contained some factual decay chains of elements 110 and 112, but one false decay chain had also been injected into the data for each element.

Reports on the Ninov affair were released around the same time that the final report on the Schön affair, another major incident of fraud in physics. As a result, the American Physical Society adopted more stringent ethical guidelines, especially those regulating the conduct of co-authors.