Should papers be retracted if one of the authors is a total asshole?
When science writer Vito Tartamella noticed a physics paper co-authored by Stronzo Bestiale (which means “total asshole” in Italian) he did what anyone who’s written a book on surnames would do: He looked it up in the phonebook.
What he found was a lot more complicated than a funny name.
It turns out Stronzo Bestiale doesn’t exist.
In 1987, Lawrence Livermore National Lab physicist William G. Hoover had a paper on molecular dynamics rejected by two journals the Journal of Statistical Physics. So he added Stronzo Bestiale to the list of co-authors, changed the name, and resubmitted the paper. The Journal of Statistical Physics accepted it.
27 years later, Bestiale is still listed as co-author on several papers….
BONUS (possibly related): “On the Existence of Mikhailov“