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Iranian particle physicist assassinated

Masoud Alimohammadi, a professor of elementary particle physics and a staunch supporter of the 1979 Islamic revolution, was killed by a bomb attached to a motorbike in front of his home in Northern Tehran today. See NY Times, CNN, and Google News.

Of course, my feelings were very mixed before I collected enough information to be convinced that this physicist probably had nothing to do with Iran's wrongdoings. After that, my emotions are close to a sorrow - although I didn't know him.

The guy has worked on two-dimensional WZW models, fusion rules, SL(2,R) black holes, two-dimensional gravity, two-dimensional gauge theory, quantum groups but also dark energy, quintessence, and many other topics directly adjacent to those that many of us know. Although the topics were very "Western", his papers didn't become too famous (but SPIRES show a few papers close to 50 cits).

I am somewhat skeptical about Israel's or America's being behind the attack, and if they have been behind the attack, I doubt that the assassination was sensible. These two-dimensional topics are pretty abstract, mathematical, and detached from our four-dimensional world of observable phenomena and I have some doubts whether this guy could be too useful for the nuclear program - especially the weapon program.

So if the security forces are responsible for his death and unless some special, surprising intelligence emerges, I would give the assassins thumbs down. On the other hand, I do feel that the assassinations of their key nuclear folks could be the most human way to stop the nuclear threat coming from Iran.

Some sources now actually argue that he was a supporter of Hossein Mousavi's opposition which would hint at the "official circles" as the culprits.

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reader Unknown said...

Hi Lubos,

I don't think Alimohammadi was involved in the nuclear programme in any way. He worked solely on two dimensional quantum field theories and, more recently, cosmology.

Apparently he was also supported Mousavi in last year's election.

Best, David

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear David, thanks but these things are written (with details) in my article - and most of them were in it from the beginning.

reader Unknown said...

in the name of God
O People of the Scripture! Stress not in your religion other than the truth, and follow not the vain desires of folk who erred of old and led many astray, and erred from a plain road.
After the failure of all its hostile policies, it currently resorts to the physical elimination of Iranian nuclear scientists.The Iranian nation will firmly protect nuclear achievements of the country.This dark point will be recorded in the history of US crimes against the Iranian nation.

in the name of God
The Jews say: Allah's hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will. That which bath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them, and We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguisheth it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters.
If only the People of the Scripture would believe and ward off (evil), surely We should remit their sins from them and surely We should bring them into Gardens of Delight.
If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord, they would surely have been nourished from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them there are people who are moderate, but many of them are of evil conduct.
Say: O People of the Scripture! Ye have naught (of guidance) till ye observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto you from your Lord. That which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them.But grieve not for the disbelieving folk.
Lo! those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabaeans, and Christians whosoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.
We made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We sent unto them messengers. As often as a messenger came unto them with that which their souls desired not (they became rebellious). Some (of them) they denied and some they slew.
They thought no harm would come of it, so they were willfully blind and deaf. And afterward Allah turned (in mercy) toward them. Now (even after that) are many of them willfully blind and deaf. Allah is Seer of what they do.

Those of the children of Israel who went astray were cursed by the tongue of David, and of Jesus, son of Mary. That was because they rebelled and used to transgress.
They restrained not one another from the wickedness they did. Verily evil was that they used to do!
Thou seest many of them making friends with those who disbelieve. surely ill for them is that which they themselves send on before them : that Allah will be wroth with them and in the doom they will abide.
If they believed in Allah and the Prophet and that which is revealed unto him, they would not choose them for their friends. But many of them are of evil conduct.
Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who , believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters. And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud.
When they listen to that which hath been revealed unto the messenger, thou seest their eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the Truth. They say: Our Lord, we believe. Inscribe us as among the witnesses.
How should we not believe in Allah and that which hath come unto us of the Truth. And (how should we not) hope that our Lord will bring us in along with righteous folk?
Allah hath rewarded them for that their saying. Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever. That is the reward of the good.

reader Unknown said...

Dear Dr.Lubos
Thank you for your blog
I have a comment about the following
"On the other hand, I do feel that the assassinations of their key nuclear folks could be the most human way to stop the nuclear threat coming from Iran"
Do you think if Arab countries started targeting Israeli nuclear scientists, would the world justify
what they are doing?
As the western world see Iran as a threat, Arab countries share the same fearing regarding Israel?
I don't see targeting scientists human at all.
My Regards

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Eman,

thanks for your comments. Well, I am not an Arab which might be the reason why I don't share the thinking you attribute to the Arabs but do share the thinking you attribute to the West. They're not "equally" valid. One of them is correct and the other one is wrong.

First, Israel probably has its nuclear weapons already. It's too late to target Israeli scientists.

Second, it's clearly not what the assertive Muslims want, anyway. Israel is dangerous for them by its very existence, because it shows that Allah doesn't have and can't have the control even over the Middle East, so He clearly can't control the world. They're bothered by the very existence of a state of a highly achieved nation - the Jews - and they want to remove it off the map. We've heard many of these things and continuing terrorist attacks at various places show that these are not just words.

This threat - especially from Iran - must be taken seriously because millions of lives could be at stake. 20th century nuclear technology in the hands of 1st-millenium-style religious bigots is simply a dangerous combination that must be prevented. It's being prevented by a combination of diplomacy and military decisions that could include bombing of the military sites in Iran and probably bigger ones in the future. This could bring some casualties. Assassinations of the individuals who actually do this research could be more human - a question would be whether it would be enough. It's surely not perfectly human, but there are no perfectly human solutions to certain big enough threats that Israel and the West is facing.


reader Mitchell said...

A report from Alimohammadi's funeral.

reader Unknown said...

sHello Dr.Lubos
I think the west don't understand the arab world well. I am an Arab. Arabs is bothered from Israel, because it occupied an Arab Land. Israel has been established by expelling the natives(palestanians)out of their homeland. Before 1948 Israel was not on the map. There were only palestanians.
I don't call for expelling jews from palestine, but a fair solution for Israeli people and palestanians.
There are alot of Arab christians who share the same fearing towards Israel, they are not muslims to think they want God to control all the middle east.
I don't hate jews, they are my human fellows. But I wouldn't at all support any kind of unjustice toward any race .

And what Israel is doing with palestanians is for sure unjustice.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Eman,

please try to learn how to spell "Palestinians" (which is nothing else than Arabs who live on the full territory of Israel).

Israel was not on the map in 1947 but only Jews were on the de facto (cultural and political) map in 1000 BC, 10 BC, 100 AD, and so on.

1948 is closer than the dates above - but all of them belong to the distant history. We live in 2010 and Israel surely IS on the map. Could you please kindly notice and stop assuming that it's not on the map and/or dreaming that it is not on the map?

I think it's very obvious that the existence of people like you in an alive form is a direct threat to the lives of millions of Jews who live in their old homeland.

Best wishes

reader Unknown said...


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