The Orion Foundation
Fax Transmission No. of pages incl. this one:   4
Dr. Hunter Ripley Rawlings, III, President      
Cornell University
Robert V. Gentry
Request for restoration of arxiv password
FAX #:      

On 12/31/01 I faxed Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF Director, asking for her intervention to have my arxiv password restored. You, Dr. Richard Atkinson, UC President, and Congressman John Duncan, among others, received a copy. The attached letter from Congressman Duncan shows he continues to press Dr. Colwell for a reply. While this may occur at some future date, this fax states why it is expedient for me to hear from you within the next two weeks.

My appeal for you to restore my password is based first on the letter I just received from Dr. Ronald L. Nelson, Director, Contracts Management, Laboratory Administration, Universitv of California. A copy is now being faxed to you. You will see he wrote on behalf of Dr. Atkinson. It states LANL has washed their hands of the situation; the ball is now in Cornell University's court. Dr. Nelson's rather sympathetic closure is quite significant; he hopes the situation will be resolved to my satisfaction. I thus infer my password would have been restored long ago if I had much earlier brought this matter to Dr. Atkinson's attention — who obviously understands what academic freedom is all about — rather than directing my appeals to staff at LANL and DOE, agencies which have little experience in this area.

The second basis for my appeal to you is that in my 12/31/01 fax to Dr. Colwell I expressed my intent to present a paper describing suppression of my results by the LANL arxiv staff — who are now the Cornell University arxiv staff — at the April meeting of the American Physical Society in Albuquerque. Dr. Lepage can easily confirm to you that I did submit an abstract, and am scheduled to give my paper describing this ongoing suppression in a poster session on 4/22/02. Dr. Nelson's letter obviously necessitates a change in the poster, since it notes the arxiv is now under the authority of Cornell University. The question arises: How I should now prepare the poster in view of his letter.

If I hear nothing from you, or Dr. Colwell, then I will obviously have to assume that Cornell University and the NSF have decided to continue the same policy of suppression of my results that began when the arxiv was at LANL, and my poster will have to reflect this information. If this unhappy eventuality prevails, I will have exhausted every non-legal avenue for relief.

On the other hand, what I sincerely hope will occur is that either you — or Tom Hickerson — will now authorize my password be restored under the same conditions that existed when the arxiv staff removed it on 3/5/01, and furthermore to direct the staff to desist from any and all future occurrences of like nature. In other words, to stop harassing me just because my scientific discoveries support Genesis instead of the big bang. In that case I will gladly have the poster read that, whereas the removal of my password occurred under the auspices of LANL, it was restored by the authority of Cornell University. And I would likewise be pleased to acknowledge Dr. Colwell's agreement to this, if she will now take the same action.

Lastly, for what it may be worth both to you and Dr. Colwell, I have obtained a copy of the NSF contract (Proposal 0132355) with Cornell University for the operation of the arxiv. That contract has a number of exceedingly interesting references to the arxiv's very strongly implied — and hence statutory — responsibility to promote freedom of information. One in particular caught my eye. Specifically, in the REFERENCES CITED section on page 26 of that contract, Paul Ginsparg, who is PI for the arxiv — and who also has thus far shown hinmself to be perhaps the staunchest opponent to having my password restored — prominently lists one of his own papers as proof that the arxiv will be used to promote freedom of information. It is appropriately titled, "Creating a global knowledge network," contribution to the Freedom of Information Conference: The impact of open access on biomedical research, which he gave at the New York Academy of Medicine, July 6-7, 2000.

It would thus appear that Dr. Ginsparg understands the very foundation of the scientific enterprise mandates that it must operate in a spirit of free inquiry, wherein all theories are subject to challenge. But his steadfast opposition to the posting of my results suggests just the opposite — in particular that his concept of information exchange demands he censor those areas of scientific inquiry which he dislikes being challenged. This is my present assessment. But it need not be my final one. I would very much like to soon hear from you, or Tom Hickerson, that my password has been restored, and hence that the arxiv will now truly become the forum of free scientific inquiry as mandated by the NSF contract, and that First Amendment rights are still alive and well at Cornell University. If I receive a positive response by 4/12, I will be most pleased to so indicate in my APS poster on 4/22/02.

Thanking you in advance for consideration of this request, I remain,


cc:     Dr. Peter Lepage, Chairman, Cornell University Physics Dept.; Tom Hickerson, Assoc. University Librarian for Information Technologies and Special Projects; Ed Weissman, Cornell University Library; Dr. Rita Colwell, Director, NSF; Congressman John Duncan

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