Ask a materials scientist: Will Iran have democracy?

June 25, 2009

It’s a dream of mine to start a column called, “Ask a condensed matter physicist.”

Muhammad Sahimi is a materials scientist, and that's close enough for me.

Close enough: materials scientist / chemical engineer Muhammad Sahimi

This would be sort of like Slate‘s advice column, “Dear Prudence,” except the answers would always begin by framing the ethical problem at hand in terms of a generalized Ising model, sort of like when Steven Strogatz blogged about the differential calculus of love.

My unsatisfied longing may explain why I was charmed by the following passage from Declan Butler’s Nature News story, “Iran diaspora responds to protests.”

Despite the repression, researchers are surprisingly optimistic about the eventual outcome of the protests. “I am completely optimistic that Iran will be a democratic state sooner than many think,” says Muhammad Sahimi, a materials scientist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, “The path will be difficult, but I have complete faith in the Iranian people’s courage and willingness to continue the struggle.”

I’m a little disappointed Sahimi didn’t mention reaction barriers or glass transitions, but at least it’s a start, y’know?

Here’s Sahimi on Iran’s nuclear program circa 2003; on why we shouldn’t attack Iran; and the hidden complexities of the election drama.

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