APS News

June 2005 (Volume 14, Number 6)

International News

Iranian String Theorist Delivers Beller Lecture, Promotes International Collaboration

By Ernie Tretkoff

Iranian physicist Hessamaddin Arfaei delivered the Beller Lecture at the APS April Meeting in Tampa. In addition to his research in string theory, Arfaei has worked hard to establish interaction between Iranian scientists and the international scientific community, and he is continuing to encourage more international collaboration.

Arfaei is a professor of physics at the Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, and an associate director at the Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics (IPM).

Hessamaddin Arfaei
Hessamaddin Arfaei

The Beller Lectureship supports a prominent international physicist each year to attend the March or April APS meeting. Arfaei had been invited to deliver the Beller lecture last year, but was unable to attend because the war in Iraq made it difficult for him to travel. This year, he said he had no problems. Because the United States has no embassy in Iran, Arfaei had to travel to Milan to get a visa to come to the meeting, but he said the visa application process went smoothly and he was approved promptly.

Arfaei, a noted string theorist, was probably the only person who traveled from Iran to attend the April Meeting, though he said he met two Iranian students at the meeting who were already in the US. He says he would like to encourage more scientists to travel to each other’s countries to attend conferences.

The APS is now partnering with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences to work to increase scientific cooperation with Iran. While in the US, Arfaei met with the APS, the AAAS, and the NAS to explore ways of increasing scientific cooperation between the US and Iran. These discussions were designed to launch a dialogue and help identify priorities and opportunities for strengthening cooperation and collaboration. Arfaei was also a featured speaker at the 30th annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy in Washington, DC, April 21-22.

Arfaei earned his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1976. He then returned to Iran and has been there since 1979. For several years after the Iranian revolution he was entirely isolated from the international scientific community, he said. But since 1984 things have improved dramatically, and continue to improve.

Though there is still a long way to go, Iranian science is rebuilding, said Arfaei. For instance, just after the revolution Iranian researchers were publishing around 500 scientific papers a year, and the number is now around 3500.

Science education in Iran is quite good, said Arfaei, but as in many developing countries, there is a problem with "brain drain." In fact, he said, most of the talented scientists choose to leave Iran, especially experimentalists who want to work on projects at large facilities that don’t exist in Iran.

Arfaei said it is important to have collaboration between Iranian and American scientists. "You need contact with other people," he said. More joint conferences and other opportunities for contact and collaboration would be a good step, he said.


APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff

June 2005 (Volume 14, Number 6)

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Articles in this Issue
New Experiment Casts Doubt on Elusive Pentaquark
April APS Prize Recipients
APS Picks Grand Prize Winner in PhysicsQuest Competition
Did Einstein Get it Wrong?
Newest Topical Group Holds Sessions at 2005 March Meeting
RHIC Detects Liquid State of Quark-Gluon Matter
New Results Hint at Strangely Magnetic Proton
Global Event Celebrates Physics on Anniversary of Einstein's Death
The Back Page
Globalization of Science Brings Visa, Workforce Issues to the Fore
Scientists Make First Measurement on Ni-78 Half-Life
Deep2 Data Suggests Fine Structure Constant Doesn't Change
Human Rights Session Mirrors Einstein’s Lifelong Interests
Four APS Presidents Remembered In Council Resolutions
Pais Prize Debuts at April Meeting.
Council Statements Address Research Funding, Power Lines, and Advice for Congress.
International News
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Washington Dispatch
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science