Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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.