Cumran Vafa

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

vafaCumrun Vafa was born in Tehran, Iran in 1960 and graduated from Alborz Boys School. He came to the US in 1977 and completed  his undergraduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in physics and mathematics. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 under the supervision of Edward Witten. He then became a junior fellow at Harvard, where he later got a junior faculty position. In 1989 he was offered a senior faculty position, and he has been there ever since. Currently, he is the Donner Professor of Science at Harvard University.

Cumrun Vafa’s primary area of research is string theory. String theory, a subject that is about four decades old, is at the center of efforts by theoretical physicists to find a unified fundamental theory of nature. String theory provides a framework to unify everything we know about nature, including all particles and the forces between them, in a consistent quantum theory. This is an ambitious goal, given that it aims to describe physical phenomena involving scales 1025times smaller than the atom, as well as the cosmology of our entire universe, which involves a scale of about 1037times bigger than the atom. In a single theory, one studies the mysteries of confinement of quarks inside atomic nuclei, as well as enigmatic properties of astrophysical objects such as black holes.

Such an all-encompassing theory necessarily requires a tremendous amount of mathematical skill. In fact, most of the mathematics needed for string theory is not even yet developed. String theorists thus have the exciting task of building new mathematics as tools to explore new laws of physics. It is therefore not surprising that string theory is at the cross roads of many fields, including mathematics, particle phenomenology and astrophysics. Cumrun Vafa’s research has involved essentially all these aspects. Together with his colleagues he has worked on topological strings, trying to elucidate some new mathematics originating from string theory  and using these techniques to uncover some of the mysteries of black holes, particularly the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy. He has also applied these ideas to particle theories by geometrically engineering quantum field theories, as well as solving the strong coupling dynamics of confining theories  and geometrizing string theory defects.  His recent work involves applying these ideas to come up with stringy predictions about what the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at Franco – Swiss border may potentially discover in the near future.

Dr. Cumrun Vafa,  was elected as a new member of The National Academy of Sciences on April 28, 2009. Members are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.


20th Century Muslim Scientists — Sameera Moussa

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

220px-SameeraMoussaSameera Moussa was born on March 3, 1917 in Egypt. She was an outstanding Egyptian scientist. In 1939 she graduated from Cairo University with Bachelor of Science degree   in radiology .  She was appointed first as a demonstrator but because of her ability she became  Assistant Professor at the university, she was first woman to hold an  university post in those days. Sameera Moussa completed  her PhD  degree in England on atomic radiation. Being the first women to obtain a Ph.D. degree in atomic radiation, she earnestly sought to make nuclear treatment available for every one. During her  visit to America on Fulbright scholarship  she was invited to visit a place of interest in  August of 1952. On her way to  the place she was going she had car accident.  The car fell down  40 feet down hill which killed her immediately. The  accident was a mystery because the body of the driver could not be found at the place of  accident.  It is believed that   driver  jumped from the car just before it went down. The mysterious death of Sameera  led  people to believe that it was a planned assassination, most probably  the Israeli Mossad.

Here in England while she was pursuing  her studies she devoted her time and efforts to learn more about  the  peaceful use of  radioactive atom in combating cancer, especially when her mother went through a fierce battle against cancer. Throughout her intensive research, she came up with a historic equation that would help break the atoms of common  metals such as copper.

With an overwhelming drive to impart her knowledge to those who crave for it, she sponsored  an international conference under the banner “Atom for Peace” where many scientific figures were invited. The conference made a number of recommendations for setting up a committee for the protection against the nuclear bomb hazards in which she was an active member.

Sameera Moussa received  the Fulbright scholarship in  Atomic Radiation Program and came to  University of California at Barkley where she did some significant work in her field  . In recognition of her outstanding work and deep knowledge  she was allowed to visit the US secret atomic facilities. The visit raised vehement debate in US academic and scientific circles as Sameera was the first non US citizen  to have access to such facilities.

She  was offered the opportunity to receive Green Card so she could stay here in USA but she  turned down the offer and preferred to return home to pursue her dream of harnessing atomic power for peace and the welfare of all humanity. But her life was cut short by the planed accident otherwise  she could done a lot of work in her field of research. The Egyptian government have dedicated her name to the Atomic Department of the National Research. Her library has been donated to the university which have her own writings on Madame Curie, human struggle and other themes.