The krypton factor

In 1999, a triumphant team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California bombarded lead with high-energy krypton particles and announced that they had found the super-heavy element 116 and, for good measure, element 118 as well.

The US secretary of energy, Bill Richardson, called it "this stunning discovery, which opens the door to further insights into the structure of the atomic nucleus ..."

By 2002, both discoveries had been withdrawn and a physicist, Victor Ninov, had been fired for falsifying data that provided the base for the claims.

"In the end, nature is the checker," said one of the laboratory’s directors. "Experiments have to be reproducible."