Atomic Lies

How one physicist may have cheated in the race to find new elements

With his shoulders hunched and a cigarette in hand, Victor Ninov paces the edge of San Francisco Bay.

Four miles away and 600 feet up, his former workplace basks in the morning sun, set off amid stands of eucalyptus and pine. The lab in the Berkeley Hills occupies a vaunted place in the annals of physics, and Mr. Ninov had been a rising star there. But now he must view it from a distance, walking through a park built on this city's former dump.

Just a short time ago, the