ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۷ فروردین ۹, جمعه

Announcement

There will be a two day meeting on high energy physics phenomenology. PhD students working on high energy physics are especially encouraged to participate. The topics include:

- Neutrino Physics
- Leptogenesis
- Electroweak Symmetry Breaking
- Various Higgs Models.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۷ فروردین ۸, پنجشنبه

Priorities

To make a reasonable choice for voting, we have to first determine what are our priorities and what are the most important plans we expect the politicians to carry out.
From any perspective I look, my first priority is stability and then economic growth. Of course, stability is a pre-requisite for both economic and scientific sustainable development.
As a result, I would not vote for any radical candidate whose controversial policies might stir turmoil. I will vote to candidates that tend to give firm plans rather than disclose the misdeeds of their rivals even if they are right about their claims.
As far as disclosing family and personal scandals are concerned, I believe nobody's personal life is my business! About financial scandals, I still think such kind of revelation is more destructive than preventive. What is the outcome of all these revelations?! Experience shows that the "big" heads will transfer their money to Swiss banks and only minor accomplices receive punishments. In the process, the subsequent instability deteriorates the economy.
Such kind of revelations are also harmful from the political perspective. A politician must be a master of compromise. S/he should compromise with anybody who wields power to meet demands of the citizens who have voted for her/him.
So I will vote for someone who although herself/himself from financial point of view is fairly decent but is willing to compromise with all wo/men of power and capital.
Perhaps, what I am saying sounds like a surprize to those who know me in person , because I am an individual who very hardly compromises, even if that means I will lose many privileges. But this is as far as all is at stake is my own personal privileges. If I am in a situation that my decision might put some other individual's privileges at risk, I certainly reconsider being stubborn.
It is not just politics. When you assume some responsibilty, even as small as the chairmanship of a science department, that involves other people, you do not have the luxury to boast " I never compromise
You are a failure if you don't and your failure makes others suffer.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۷ فروردین ۵, دوشنبه

The school

In reply to one of the comments on the previous post, I mentioned that the nationalist movement and its achievements could not be possible without the constitutional movement taking place half a century earlier. I should explain what I meant by this claim, especially that we all know that the leaders of the movement had all sorts of ups and downs with the parliament and even attempted acts which were considered an infringement of the constituition at the time.
What I mean is that the leaders, long before the movement, had learned the necessary skills as parliament members. Of course the parliament was not perfect. It had many shortcomings and was harassed by the king and other powers over and over; however it served as a school for the talented ones.
Suppose the constituinal movement had not taken place and Mosaddeq and his friends after obtaining their PhD in Europe returned to the same backward feudal society of before the consititutional movement. No matter how smart and illuminated they were, after a while they would lose their spirit and would become one like many others. Even that restricted democracy brought about the opportuinity to learn the skills and find out how in practice what they have learned in classroom has to be applied in real political life.
That is very important! Only those can bring about profound reform that have already rolled up their sleeves and done something at a smaller scale. I am skeptical of all who promise to change the world up-side down without any practical experience as an insider before. Even if they are not imposters, in practice they will find out things are not so easy that they had thought of. I prefer someone who already worked in the system and displayed reasonable competence and knows the unwritten laws of the sophisticated mechanisms behind the scenes.
Exactly because of such considerations, I personally prefer to stay out of politics and
restrict my activity in this field to voting for those who, in my opinion, are better than the rest.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۲۹, چهارشنبه

Back in my time...

Although in the early years after revolution and during Khatami's term in office, atmosphere of the universities in Iran was extremely politics-oriented and politically polarized, in the first half of 70's (right before Khatami elected for presidency) political apathy prevailed in universities.
When I entered Sharif Univ. most of my colleauges were more indifferent about politics than they are now. In those years, I read a book on the history of the constitutional movement (Engelaab-e mashroote) and became aware that how much sacrifice has been made to make the vote a possibility, I started to believe that ignoring this right is a sort of ingratefulness to those men and women who have put everything they possessed at risk to make this happen.We are taught not to throw away even smallest fragments of bread. Of course, we know that small parts of bread will not solve the food crisis in the world. But, bread is a symbol of blessing and has to be respected. Symbols are important! For me, my vote holds the same place of honour as fragments of bread do. I would have been particular about storing the fragements of bread even if, while I had only bare bread for dinner, the rest of the world were enjoying lobster and caviar.
Please don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting voting is a religious or even patriotic duty.
For me voting is completely a personal choice. For me, voting is a symbol and symbols are important! I emphasize again that I am not trying to convince anybody to vote. Otherwise, I would have chosen a different wording! I am just expressing my personal opinion.


As I mentioned in the beginning of the present post, the indifferent mindset of early 70's passed and was replaced by politics-dominated atmosphere of after the "dovvom-e khordaad" era. It is likely that the present phase will also pass and lead to another politically polarized period. Learning each other's opinions on politics in a cool atmosphere can make us immune against potential clashes in a heated one.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۲۸, سه‌شنبه

Balance and maturity

In early years after revolution as well as during Khatami's administration, the Iranian society was quite politically sensitive. They closely followed the political news and engaged in heated political debates in many occasions. Politics dominated the mindset of educated class and undermined non-political arts, peotry, literature, humanity sciences and, to some extent, unfortuantely, even physics.In early months that Shahin and I had returned from abroad to Iran (which was the last year of Khatami's presidency), it often happened that some people in the middle of a quite serious physics seminar started talking politics. Shahin and I strongly protested against such a trend and (at the cost of falling from grace!!) we put an end to it. Yes, in fact we fought to make this change but this change would not be possible if the younger generation did not support us.

Too much of politics can pollute scientific atmosphere. On the other hand, complete apathy towards politics has its negative consequences, too. There must be a balance. The question is what is the balance and who has the right to determine it. As Sa@di has said "hame kas aql-e khod be kamaal binad-o farzand-e khod be jamaal!"But, we must be aware that anybody who proclaims himself as the gauge for "balance is no different from the one who claims he has the truth and the whole truth and therefore has a divine right to lead. Such people and such claims are dangerous.

In an established scientific atmosphere where there is a natural academic hierarchy, balance is in the air and this question does not arise.
Let me explain what I mean by natural academic hierarchy. In an established stable scientific institute, more senior people (even though might not anymore be active)have considerably higher insight about both science and science administration. No matter how smart younger ones are or how hard they work and educate themselves, still their insight does not equal those of the more senior people. The reason is simple. In such institutes,only the professors reach seniority that are smart, devoted to work and have accumlated experience in research and scientific administration for a lifetime. Of course, younger generation can have new ideas that are encouraged by the senior people if their insight tells them the idea is worth investing on. Such senior people "aardhaashoon-o bikhtand, alakaashoon-o aavikhtand". They are mature enough not to wage war against junior people or make a fuss over nothing. In case the junior ones make a mistake or cross a line, through a face to face conversation and a little of explanation they make them aware of their mistakes.
In such an atmosphere and with such seniors who can set the example, the balance is already determined.

In a less established atmosphere, the balance should be determined through discussion and reaching a consensus.

New year is approaching. Happy new year to all of you. As the new year's wish,I hope that we can work next year towards achieving a better established atmosphere such as the one I described. This is not possible unless we try to have a more mature behavior than we had before.
I am telling this mostly to myself rather than anyone else.By making it public, I will feel stronger obligation to keep trying.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۲۶, یکشنبه

Motivation for writing

I am not writing these series of posts on my political standpoints to persuade the readers to agree with me. First, I know that I will not be able to do so and second, it is pointless because a few votes do not change much the outcome of any national election. I am writing these series to achieve a better mutual understanding. Considerable number of people within my circle read Hamvarda so if we reach a mutual understanding, it is less likely to have tensions on political issues in future. Such tensions, as you can imagine, are quite harmful for any progress so it is worth spending time and energy to reach a mutual understanding.Notice that mutual understanding is different from having consensus.I may disagree with your viewpoint and you may disagree with mine.But, if we have mutual understanding we also aknowledge that each of us has own reasons. I should appreciate that you are not a traitor by voting or not voting to someone or some party that I support. You are not stupid or ignorant, either. You just think differently and you have the right to do so.


Second reason for writing is a practice for constructive debate.I am no politician but eventually I have to sit down in many councils of smaller scale for decision making.So, I have to practice for that. We should practice to be able to debate to reach a reasonable solution without letting emotions or our egos come before the undertaking.One of the shortcoming of fellow Iranians (especially physicists among them) is that they do not debate to reach a solution or even expand their horizons.Their primary goal from debating is to show off their skills in conversation and their ability in finding fault in the arguement of the person sitting before them and then attack him/her through this fault. This might be a good game but does not lead to any constructive result. I am writing these series to learn how to deal with such debaters.
Last but not least, I write because I like writing.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۲۴, جمعه

Fresh from ballot

Well, voting must be over now. Unlike the previous elections, this time, as far as I know there was not so many heated debates and clashes around the election. Despite all the drawbacks that we all are aware of, I believe the lack of emotional behavour is a blessing. It means we can sit down and think more profoundly about what we actually want. What are our priorities? To achieve our goal what kind of politicians we should elect.Then we can check how much the available options can fulfill our expectation.
In retrospect, I think all the emotions that were excited during previous elections were bound to end in disappointment. Most voters did not know what they were looking for. They were looking for change but did not know in what direction.
They were uttering words like democracy, without having a clear perception of its meaning.
In a series of posts I would like to address this question.
I will tell you what I, as a citizen living inside Iran and as a physicist, expect from the politicians that I vote for.
I will not point out any special person or party. I have not taken an oath of supporting any of them. I will vote for any candidate who I believe can fulfill a larger part of my expectations.
My posts are going to be in English so non-Iranians are also welcome to join the discussion.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۲۳, پنجشنبه

On the merit of voting

Fellow Iranians here ask me would I have voted if I was in Iran. My answer, which surprizes them, is " of course, yes". Yes, I feel regret that I am not going to be able to vote tomorrow. I would have made a list of the candidates that propose relatively well-defined plans for addressing the economic problems in Iran. If the plan sounded reasonable and if they had shown satisfactory capability in their previous responsibility, I would have voted for them.

I am not interested in candidates who claim that they are the heroes who are going to fight against the Mafia.
Or those who claim they have "relatively" liberal views.
I dislike those that to gain credit, draw a monstrous image of their rivals.
I prefer a woman or man with firm economic plans and great managerial skill even if her/his viewpoints are quite different from me.


I have always avoided to write about politics in Hamvarda, but, after all, political issues affect our life, too. I think some general discussion is not bad provided that it does not take over every thing. My criterion for talking or not talking politics is to be aware of the possibility of being manipulated by different candiates . In fact, most of those who run for parliament are manipulative. They make such a fuss as if in case they are not elected, the world will end. I am skeptical about such claims and avoid those who claim that they have a divine duty to run for a seat in parliament to rid us from their monstrous rivals.


I believe we should address the question in particular cases separately. As far as political apathy is concerned
my answer is the following: In the past, those who had claimed to be heroes who fight against monstors, in practice, have not considerably done better. So, people feel their vote would not make any difference.
But, in my humble opinion, the solution is not indifference and boycotting the polls. To solve the problems ONE BY ONE, we should look for more professional rather than heroic candidates. In the end I add, we should not demand every change from politics. Most of problems can be solves only ONE BY ONE and by ordinary citizen through community work.
That is why I do not like over-emphasis on politics and believe
that we should not allow politics to dominate everything.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۲۲, چهارشنبه

3/14



Next Friday is 13th of March. In Americans style of writing dates (month/day), it reads 3/14.
Yes, Pi! Our old friend from elementary school,"se adad sahih o chaahaardah"!
So, Americans call 14th of March "the Pi day".
It happens to be Einestein's birthday, too.
Recently, they have declared this day the "international physics day".
I think it is a good idea to start celeberating the Pi day in our little community in Iran from the next year. We can have cookies, music and poetry program and etc.
However, we should make sure the celeberation is not going to be an extra burden on the secretaries and other staff. They are already exhausted by finishing up their work at office and spring cleaning (Khaane-tekaani) back at home. We can sieze this opportunity to thank them for one year of hard work and show them how much we care about them.
Any ideas for starting a new tradition which hopefully will be fun?
Some physics-oriented poetry, cartoons , some toys, ....

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۲۱, سه‌شنبه

Sharing my happiness

There is a piece of news that gives me great joy so I would like to share it with you.
You may read about it here.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۱۸, شنبه

عشق کیلویی چند؟

چند وقت پیش مطلبی نوشته بودم که در آن استدلال کرده بودم که وقتی کار ارضا کننده و جالب باشد دست مزد کمی به آدم می‌دهند. اما اخیراً متوجه شدم که آزمایشی انجام شده که به گونه‌ای عکس این موضوع را نشان می‌دهد. یعنی اینکه وقتی دست مزد کم باشد، آدم به خودش تلقین می‌کند که کارش جالب است. آزمایش به قرار زیر است:
دو گروه را به صورت تصادفی انتخاب می‌کنند و هر دو گروه را وادار می‌کنند که کاری کسل کننده را انجام بدهند و در ازای انجام این کار کسل کننده دستمزدی دریافت کنند. گروه اول تنها یک دلار در ساعت دریافت می‌کردند در حالیکه گروه دوم خیلی بیشتر از آن، یعنی بیست دلار در هر ساعت دریافت می‌کردند. در کمال تعجب، گروه اول احساس می‌کردند که کاری که انجام می‌دادند جالب بوده اما گروه دوم آنرا کسل کننده یافته بودند.
چون من این کار را دوست دارم دستمزدش کم است یا چون دستمزدش کم است من این کار را دوست دارم یا اینکه چون من این کار را دوست دارم گشنه می‌شوم و چون گشنه‌ می‌شوم وبلاگ می‌نویسم اما نمی‌خوابم زیرا که کسی پول نمی‌دهد تا من بخوابم بنابراین من عاشق خوابیدن هستم ...

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۱۷, جمعه

Women's day, Italian style

Inspired by the famous Italian movie with title "Divorce, Italian style" I have chosen the above title for this post. Addressing all the various forms of celeberating women's day by various Italian communities and sub-cultures is beyond the scope of this post. Some of these groups have pacifists inclinations; some are
political; some have humanitarian concerns and etc.
I will just tell you some anecdotes.
In the recent three year, I happen to be in Italy in March. In the last two years I was attending workshops. The organizers have arranged the program such that the banquet of the meeting coincided with 8th of March. In one of these meeting, most of the participants were young post-docs. The celeberation was all about having fun after a long day of attending seminars and physics discussion.
Although , 8th of March is called "women's day" but in fact men were having more fun as this naming offered them a subject and more freedom to make stupid jokes like the ones you often hear back in Iran.
The participants in last year's meeting were mostly senior people. The meeting itself was organized by an old lady.
She is a renowned experimentalist who has currently an emeritus professor position. She had been a leading figure in various experiments which some of them were ground-breaking for the
high energy community.
Women's day in this meeting was mainly about having fun, too. However, it was also considered an occasion for honoring this lady.
After dinner toasts were proposed in her honor by some old
colleagues.
The compliments were informal; instead of mentioning her many achievements in research and administrative work. They just pointed out aspects in her character which can be considered as flattery and implicit criticism: how assertive she was, how impossible it was to reject her commands as a subordinate, how quickly she pointed out the faults in work and etc. All with a joking tone! And in the end, they added that they admired her in "every respect" from the moment they first met. The emphasis was on "in every respect" that caused mock and joking protest from the audience.
O! These old people!
This is "women's day" the way it is celeberated in the international high energy physics meetings held in Italy.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۱۵, چهارشنبه

Examplary potato





During certain periods of time, it becomes quite fashionable to name days of year after different groups. In this particular day, the authorities associated with the government introduce examplary member of the group and honor him/her by showing him/her on TV, giving presents and ....
Labour's day------>Examplary factory worker


teacher's day----> Examplary teacher


This was very popular during the soviet time in Russia.
In fact, by this practice, the women's day had been commerated every year in Russia.
I was first tempted to say that this is the way totalitarian governments act.
They find some docile member of that group which is considered safe for the government and introduce him/her to others
to follow as an example.

But then I realized it is more complicated than that.

Introducing examplary woman or mother used to be quite fashionable in US of America
fifty years ago.
Back then the mentality of Americans were quite different from now.
During 60's and 70's, because of liberal social movements, the mentality of people
in America changed.
The Americans today think quite differently from the way they did
before 60's about race, family and gender roles in the society.

As a result, introducing examplary mother or woman, for majority of educated
men and women in the USA does not make any sense anymore.
They just laugh at the idea.

In any way, celeberating women's day in west is still quite popular but not in that old fashion way of introducing examplary woman or so.
As I wrote before, instead of govermental authorities, communities such as
a group of colleagues commemrate the women's day by throwing small parties or giving flowers and etc.

Women's day celeberated by physics community does not slightly resemble the women's in
Iran (neither the official one celeberated on Hazarte Fateme's birthday nor the one on 8th of March organized by the women activists).



I am not suggesting to have a woman's day in our institute or in universities.
I am writing these series to emphasize that there is another way of
looking at the issue.

ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۶ اسفند ۱۲, یکشنبه

8th of March



Eighth of March, as you may know, is the international women's day.
In recent years, a circle of feminists in Iran organize demonstrations on 8th of March which
are quite controversial. Like many other activities in Iran, the 8th of March programs are mostly oriented towards politics.
(However, unlike many other activities, women's activities are not purely political which in my opinion deserve appreciation.)
In fact, 8th of March was originally political, organized by socialist women about
hundred years ago. However, these days in different countries, women and men
commemorate it in different ways: In some countries, with flowers; in others with
slogans, fists and clubs. For a brief review
see this website


It is always said that there are many similarities between Iranians and Italians.
However, when it comes to 8th of March I always remember the following verses by Hafez (what a pity I do not have Farsi fonts here!):


Jam-e mey-o khoon-e del, har yek be kasi daadand

dar daayere-e gesmat oza@ chenin baashad

dar kaar-e golaab-o gol, gesmat azali in bood

k-in shaahed-e baazaari v-aan parde-neshin baashad.


I am not judging which one is better. I am personally quite content with my
own providence. I did not wish to be born anyone else or anywhere else!

I wrote this long introduction to point out that, apart from nations, the
sub-cultures within a nation sometimes have their own way of celeberating 8th of March. The high energy physics community has also its own way of commemorating this day.
I will write about it in my next post.



The above photo
of the "siah chashm Kashimiri" is the courtesy of
this website.