Thursday, April 09, 2009

A physicist from Iran

We have a sabbatical visitor in our institute who is professor of theoretical physics in Iran. He did his doctoral work at Oxford but this is his first time in the US. He kindly agreed to answer some questions for this blog. I'll try to follow up with more in the future; I realize these first questions are a bit superficial.

Q: How would you describe the scientific situation today in Iran? Do you feel researchers there are up to date on current progress, or is there a gap? Is the government serious about scientific research?

Almost all governments of developing countries have a lot of financial problems and they have to choose where to spend money.

In a few countries such as India and China, the government spends a lot of money for research on purely scientific projects. Other countries don't spend so much money as they have lots of problems to solve. In Iran the financial situation is not so good and there is not enough money to solve these kinds of problem and so scientific research is not similar to the west. I am sure there is gap in some topics.

Q: How popular is physics in Iran (say, versus engineering)? What do the brightest students in Iran tend to study?

Many high school students like physics, however they don't choose physics as their first choice.

The brightest students choose: Medical subjects, Electrical eng., Mechanical eng. and Civil eng. because they may get a job more easily in the future. I mean these subjects are more secure from the economical point of view. Someone with a BSc or even a PhD in physics won't be able to find a job easily.

Q: What is the attitude of scientists in Iran about nuclear weapons development?

Nobody likes nuclear weapons and everyone wants to live in a world without nuclear arms. People in Iran hate war. Iran had 8 years of war with Iraq and people don't like war as they know its consequences. People in Iran are against nuclear weapons.

Q: What is the general attitude of scientists towards the US, the West, etc.?

They like to have scientific relations with all countries.

Q: Can you characterize academic ties to developing countries like India and China? Comparable to those between Iran and the West? Increasing faster?

There is not too much academic interaction between Iran and India or China. There is a little bit more interaction between Iranian scientists and western countries.

Q: The same question for economic ties.

There are strong economic ties between Iran and China (not with India). This is not strange: you go anywhere in the world for shopping and you will see "made in china" almost everywhere. However, economic relations between Iran and Europe are much stronger.

1 comment:

anon said...

oh steve. at it again with:

"What do the brightest students in Iran tend to study?"

Of all majors I wouldn't be surprised if the one with the highest average sat score was physics BUT the smartest students NEVER study physics or any natural science.

The smartest people I've known have studied:

international relations
"social studies"

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