Russian an adept inventor or a fraud?

March 5, 2010 at 6:27 PM

VSEVOLOZHSK, Russia, March 5 (UPI) -- A Russian inventor with strong political ties who claims landmark scientific advances is a con artist offering only pseudoscience, a Russian scientist alleges.

Viktor Petrik -- whose professed discoveries include a cell that generates electricity when you breathe on it, a way of producing silicon for computer chips from fertilizer waste and a filter that cleans the toxins and the color from red wine -- is "a master of bluff," physicist Eduard Kruglyakov, who heads a Russian Academy of Sciences commission that exposes pseudoscience, told The Wall Street Journal.

Some of Petrik's claims are scientifically impossible and others are borrowed from legitimate researchers, Kruglyakov alleges.

"He hasn't discovered anything," Kruglyakov said. Others echo those concerns, the Journal said.

Petrik -- also the co-author of a 2009 patent for a filter he claims can turn radioactive waste into safe drinking water -- dismisses his scholastic detractors as resentful and narrow-minded, the Journal said.

"I'm not restricted by the boundaries" of traditional scientific disciplines, he told the newspaper, adding that most of his breakthroughs come while he is in a state of self-hypnosis.

Petrik has high-level support from the ruling United Russia political party and Russian Parliament Speaker Boris Gryzlov, but neither the party nor Gryzlov nor Petrik will talk to the newspaper about the relationship, the Journal said.

Petrik does talk about visiting former U.S. President George H.W. Bush in Texas in 2004 to discuss his technology for cleaning groundwater.

"When we met, Bush knew a lot about me already," Petrik says, adding he hopes to meet with Bush again in a few months.

A Bush spokeswoman tells the newspaper the 2004 meeting was "a very short courtesy call" and there are no plans for further meetings.

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