Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The killing of a physicist in Tehran

The top story on the Times web site today is about the assassination of a physicist at Tehran University.

A remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle killed an Iranian physics professor outside his home in northern Tehran on Tuesday, state media reported, blaming the United States and Israel for the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. One state broadcaster, IRIB, quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that “in the initial investigation, signs of the triangle of wickedness by the Zionist regime, America and their hired agents are visible in the terrorist act” against the scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi.

... The Web site of Iran’s state television declared the bombing a “terrorist act by counterrevolutionaries and elements of arrogance,” a reference to the United States. Security forces are investigating, The A.P. quoted the report as saying.

The United States and western allies have been pressing Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment program, which Tehran insists is solely for civilian purposes to produce electricity. But the West fears Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon that would threaten Israel and upset the regional power balance.

Last year, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia; Iran accused the United States of helping to kidnap him.

After Tuesday’s explosion, the government’s supporters and opponents traded accusations and claims that the scientist had supported their camp.

Here is a picture of the victim. My condolences to his family and friends.

His recent publication list (below) does not suggest he was involved in the bomb program, although you never know what people do in their spare time. If I had to guess I would suppose he was killed for being pro-reform.

49. Non-Douglas-Kazakov phase transition of two-dimensional generalized Yang-Mills theories, Eur. Phys. Jour. C 51 (2007) 193 [pdf]

50. Asymptotic behavior of $\omega$ in general quintom model, Gen. Rel. Grav. 40 (2008) 107 [pdf]

51. Klein-Gordon and Dirac particles in non-constant scalar-curvature background, Int. Jour. Mod. Phys. A 23 (2008) 1613 [pdf]

52. Quantum induced w = -1 crossing of the quintessence and phantom models, JCAP 0901 (2009) 035 [pdf]

53. Remarks on generalized Gauss-Bonnet dark energy, Phys. Rev. D 79 (2009) 063006 [pdf]

More details at the blog post here. Coincidentally, I first learned quantum mechanics (during high school) from the Iowa State University Professor Hauptman mentioned at the link. He is a high energy experimentalist and his work has no near-term military applications.

When I was growing up my father, a professor, had graduate students from Iran. I remember attending a traditional Iranian wedding. One of the students pointed to another guest, saying to me, "Look, he is SAVAK" -- referring to the Shah's secret police.

1 comment:

Ian Smith said...

"If I had to guess I would suppose he was killed for being pro-reform."

I suppose Steve would also guess that Allende committed suicide, yet doubts that Oswald acted alone.

Does Steve also read his horoscope? Probably.

Despite his Chinese parents he's become an American.

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