Iranian scientist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a particle physicist at the University of Tehran, was assassinated today, according to multiple media reports. The Guardian said that "the manner of his death was as meticulous as it was disturbing." A remote control bomb apparently was attached to a motorcycle parked near Ali-Mohammadi's home. The resulting blast took the life of the 50-year-old physicist in an instant.
It's been said that he was a supporter of the Iranian opposition movement, the possible reason why he was killed.
Curious about his work, I pored through his journal papers written over the past two years, half expecting controversial information on nuclear physics.
Instead, Ali-Mohammadi appeared to have been very interested in theoretical physics issues. I fully agree with Michio Kaku's assessment of his academic work. Kaku, a high-energy physics professor at City College of New York, told the Associated Press today, "Nuclear
physicists interested in bomb-making would have no interest in these
papers. These papers are highly abstract."
Ali-Mohammadi, for example, explored what makes up the universe. In one paper, he wrote that evidence supports that "our universe has accelerating expansion and it is composed of dark energy (73%), dark matter (23%) and baryonic matter (4%)." He then went on to explore what dark energy might be and how it might work.
Dark energy isn't something that we can see, as the term implies. Instead, like gravity, it's inferred based on interactions between astronomical objects. It exerts a negative pressure, so the theory helps to explain various space events.
In other papers, Ali-Mohammadi explored ideas concerning gravity and the belief that our universe continues to expand at an accelerated rate. While I never met him, his writing hints at a cool, intelligent tech geek, equally skilled at both math and physics. (Mathematical equations fill most of his journal paper pages.) He seemed to have relished mulling over big, theoretical issues and probably would have enjoyed long discussions about things like "Avatar."
If Ali-Mohammadi did work on nuclear bombs in his spare time, the evidence certainly isn't in his published journal work.