Saturday, June 12, 2010

Professor Hesabi: a glance at the incredible life

Mahmoud Hessaby was born on the 23 February 1903 in Tehran. Both his parents, Goharshad and Abbas were from the beautiful city of Tafresh, located in central Iran. He is the second child of his family, having an older brother only a year above him.

He married at a high age, 47, to Sadigheh Haery and has two fruits in his colorful and vivid life: Iraj (the older son) and Anoosheh (his beloved daughter). Before the world fare welled this extraordinary man on behalf of his pure spirit and accomplishments, he also had the pleasure of seeing his two grandchildren: Parishad and Parsa.

Prof. Hessaby has been merited university degrees in the fields of Persian Literature, Mathematics, Astronomy, Biology, Law, many branches of Engineering and finally settled with a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics. Prof. Hessaby is the only Iranian student of the mighty Proffesor Einstein and has been tagged the "Father of Physics", "Father of Modern Engineering" and "Father of Modern Science" in his country. No wonder some refer this man as a "polymath".

Now that we've had an overall view of Prof. Hessaby's amazing achievements, let's have a closer look at his childhood.

The miraculous story starts when Mahmoud is only 4 years old. "one day, early in the morning my grandfather," recalls Prof. Hessaby in a book written by his son, Iraj, "who was a very high rated person in politics, came to our house. He told my father that he has to go to Shamat, which in those days included the current Syria and Lebanon, in order to take on the role of the Consol at the Iranian Embassy. The Consulate was located in the capital of the land, Beirut and my father had made up his mind for our whole family to move there. 

"Although I was very young at that stage, I still remember the negative sense and feeling in my mother". 

Professor Hessaby's mother, Goharshad, was a very loyal and faithful woman and he paid her great respect all through his life. She taught Professor Hessaby religious believes and customs and literature, so that he had memorized the Quran (Islamic Holy book) and Divan Hafez (the collection of Hafez's poems) completely and was familiar with Boostan and Golestan of Saadi, Ferdoosi's Shahnameh, and Molavi's Masnavi. 

Perhaps, it was due to these early preparations that Mahmoud Hessaby graduated with a Bachelor's Certificate in the field of Persian Literature at the age of 17.

Of course in those days the means of travel wasn't a 747 airbus or a luxurious bus or train. These trips were concurred by foot and as many dangers laid in the way, a "team" of companions were also paid to come along. This team included a few men with guns and a few men who were called "chavooshi"s. 

The "chavooshi"s had a good voice and sang a song according to the mood of the passengers and the condition of the trip. This relieved the passenger's tiredness and also helped keep a co-ordinate rhythm in the movement of the horses/camels. The "chavooshi"s and the armed men, stayed up all through the night, to guard the camping area and alert the others of any possible danger.

Anyhow, after a period of over a year, stopping in a few cities on the way, they reached Beirut. After about a year or so in the capital of Shamat, Professor Hessaby's father decided to return to Iran in order to receive a higher rank and position. So Mahmoud, his mother and brother were left in the house they had been given at the Consulate all alone.

But fortunately, the Consulate had a very nice and trustworthy keeper who was also the guard and lived along with his family in a small house in the far corner of the Consulate yard. He was also from Tafresh and became a very close family friend.

Meanwhile, back in Tehran, Professor Hessaby's father had found a way to reach his wishes. He had met and married one of the women in Shah's (the ruler of Persia in those days) close family. Prof. Hessaby's father, Abbas, asks his new wife to grant a higher rank for him from Shah; she accepted but also sets a harsh condition which was, Abbas's first wife and two children must be wiped out of his life.

Any normal "father" would never dare do such a thing to his children and wife but this one was too much into wealth and rank that he attempted this mission three times consequently but with the great sacrifices of Prof. Hessaby's mother, and god's will, the three pigeons managed to push life along.

In the first attempt, Abbas had cut the wage he used to send every month for his family and also ordered for them to be kicked out of the Consulate home. So for a few years, their situation in Beirut was terrible, so that Prof. Hessaby's mother sold her jewelry and other precious belongings to be able to buy the daily requirements. The Consulate guard was also great help; especially from the day which Prof. Hessaby's mother had a sudden stroke and so became paraplegic.

The third time that Mahmoud Hessaby's father had attempted to dissolve his family members, he persuaded his first wife to come along with him to Tehran for a short while. His aim was to separate the children from their mother.

The first part of the voyage was taken by ship and at one stage, Goharshad realized the evil plan of his husband and smacked her head to a metal column of the ship, due to which great bleeding was resulted. And with this amazing sacrifice, she got off the ship and returned to her two precious sons back in Beirut.

"Although my mother was in a very bad situation, she had made up her mind to send us to school. But with which money? Anyhow, with a lot of help from Ali, the Consulate guard, my brother and I were enrolled in a Christian School in Beirut under specified circumstances."

"I was 17 years old when I received my Bachelor's degree in Persian Literature at the French University of Beirut, but there was no descent workplace to be employed at. It was in those days which I met a French doctor who had come to Beirut to construct a laboratory. I became very interested in his work and decided to study Biology. So at the age of 19, I graduated from the same university and started working with the Frenchman. But, in those days no one believed in a "laboratory" or "hospital", neither the patients nor the doctors and specialists."

"One day, I was at a restaurant with my new colleague and he proposed that for someone who is earning money for a family, this work won't do and its better to get employed by a French company."

"So, I was about 22 years old when I graduated from the American University of Beirut in the field of Civil Engineering and was employed by a French industry. In my first assignment, I was sent to a very far off place. The weather was harsh, there were wolves and other wild animals in the area and worst of all I had to sleep in a tent every night. I always lit a fire before I slept at nights for warmth and protection, and those nights which there was heavy rain or wind, I lit it inside the tent and would leave the tent door open a slight bit to be able to take in some air. It was one of these nights that a Malaria mosquito stung me. My situation was getting worse and worse by the day until one of the workers brought help from town and with some medications I was back up and rolling."

Now that we are on the topic of diseases, let's take a look at the few disorders which Prof. Hessaby was hooked on to other than Malaria: Prostate, Myocardial problems and Pneumonia. In regards with his eyes, he had Cataract and wore number 13.5 Myope glasses as his eyes were very weak. He had been prescribed to purchase glasses at an early age but considering their situation, they couldn't afford it and so his eyes became weaker as the years passed.

Although, Prof. Hessaby involved himself in different sports and exercises, such as mountain climbing, soccer, cycling and swimming – by the way, he became an approved lifeguard in his youth.

Prof. Hessaby's son, mentions in his book that "My father was confident and fluent in a few languages other than his mother-language, Persian: French, English, Arabic, Italian, Greek, Latin, Turkish, German and also a few historic languages of Persia. In regards with German, he studied every night for 38 years until he became completely skilled.
Overall he had great determination …."

Mahmoud Hessaby recalls in the book of "Master of Love" that, "after I was completely cured from Malaria, I finished the mission I'd been given and then I was promoted to an executive role for the same company in Paris. So my mother, brother and I moved to the beautiful French capital."

"The conditions for me and my brother were fortunately all set and so both of us started studying in the field of Law. The experiences I gained in this stage aided me a lot in the conferences I attended later in life."

"But I still looked for a more challenging field, so I went towards Mathematics and graduated after 2 years." But still his inner magnet of science wasn't convinced and pulled this mighty mind towards Astronomy and started working at a research center in the French Alps."

The next field of study he decided to undertake was Electrical Engineering which he studied at the École Superieure d'Electricité and graduated in 1925.

You might be wondering why someone would jump from field to field and not just specialize a single area of science. Prof. Hessaby's son also expresses his astonishment and surprise in this regard in the book, " wonder my father wears such thick glasses; it’s a result of his tremendous studying and determination. Can someone do such thing with out love?" 

And perhaps it was due to this love that even as he was lying on the hospital bed in Geneva in his last moments of life and at the age of 89, he held a book in his hands.

Professor Hessaby explains this as his sense of curiosity, "In life, the amount a person knows in comparison with the amount he doesn't is like a droplet in a vast ocean. Time rolls and stops for no one, so it's regretful to waste time. Its only when one studies that she/he realizes its importance and value."

"Art and skill is the spice of life." he quoted.

Anyhow after his graduation in Electrical Engineering, he was employed by the French National Railway and started working in the Electric Locomotive Maintenance Department.

"I thought to my self that this field isn't proper for a "curios" person,…" so with the guidance of one of the world's famous physicists, Professor Fabry, he started studying Physics. After Prof. Fabry saw the results of Mahmoud Hessaby's pre-screen test, he said – as mentioned in the book: "You have a very scientific personality and I think you'll do great in this field."
And so he did.

Now that the topic of Physics is on the line, it's worthwhile to have a look at the list of physicists which Prof. Hessaby had been in contact with. Great scientists such as Schrödinger, Bohr, Fermi, Born, Dirac and of course Prof. Einstein.

Now, let's take a brief glance at the meeting with Prof. Einstein. Prof. Hessaby had been appointed to meet Prof. Einstein at the Princeton University for discussing his theory of “Infinitely extended particles”.

Professor Einstein's reaction by hearing this theory was great but thought it needed more work so appointed Mahmoud Hessaby a laboratory in order to build on his project.

Anyhow, after a few years of investigation and experimentation, he presented his results for Prof. Einstein and so the theory of Infinitely extended particles became approved by the leading physicist of the world. It was following this approval that France's highest rated scientific medal, the medal of the Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur was merited to Prof. Hessaby. The medal of the Officier de la Légion d'honneur has also been awarded to this incredible scientist due to his amazing scientific efforts.

After his theory was confirmed, Prof. Hessaby returned to his home country, Iran and continued his scientific and later on executive and political efforts.

Mahmoud Hessaby closed his eyes to the world he had lived in and spectacularly enriched, on the 3 August 1992 in the Geneva Cardiac Hospital but as requested, was buried in motherland, Tafresh.

The main resource of this essay is the book of Master of Love – in Persian – written by Prof. Hessaby's son, Iraj and first published in 2002.
So I think it's a good idea to conclude this essay using the last paragraph of this remarkable book:

"I lay foot and after a short drive, I reach Tafresh. I sit beside Professor Hessaby's grave and look back to all the efforts, morality and pure soul and spirit of this astonishing character. I take a look back over my shoulder at the horizon, in the hope of the rise of more Hessabys."

(the above photo is of me - Parham - in front of the sign which points to Tafresh, Professor Hesabi's home town and the location of his tomb.)

The following points are according to the Dr Hessaby Institute, directed by his son, Iraj:

1) His accomplishments:

• Founding the Highway Engineering school and teaching there from 1928
• Survey and drawing of the first coastal road-map between Persian Gulf ports
• Founding the "teachers college" and teaching there from 1928
• Construction of the first radio-set in Iran (1928)
• Construction of the first weather-station in 1931
• Installation and operation of the first radiology center in Iran in 1931
• Calculation and setting of Iranian time (1932)
• Founding the first private hospital in Iran (Goharshad Hospital) in 1933
• Writing the University carechair and founding Tehran University (1934)
• Founding the Engineering school in 1934 and acting as the dean of that school until 1936 and teaching there from then on
• Founding the faculty of science and acting as its dean from 1942 to 1948
• Commissioned for the dispossession of British Petroleum Company during the government of Dr Mossadegh and appointed as the first general manager of the National Iranian Oil Company
• Minister of Education in the cabinet of Dr Mossadegh from 1951 to 1952
• Opposing the contract with the consortium while in the Senate of Iran in 1954
• Opposing the membership of Iran in CENTO
• Founding the Telecommunication Center of Assad-Abad in Hamedan (1959)
• Writing the standards charter for the standards Institute of Iran (1954)
• Founding the Geophysical Institute of Tehran University (1961)
• Title of distinguished professor of Tehran University from 1971
• Founding the atomic research center and atomic reactor at Tehran University
• Founding the atomic Energy center of Iran, member of the UN scientific sub-committee of peaceful use of member of the international space committee (1981)
• Establishment of Iran's space research committee and member of the international space committee (1981)
• Establishment of the Iranian music society and founding the Persian language Academy

2) Key publications

• Hessaby M, Model of an Infinite Particle, JOURNAL DE PHYSIQUE ET LE RADIUM 18 (5): 323-326 1957
• Souchay P, Hessaby A, Confirmation et Nature de Faibles Acidites des Acidites Periodique et Tellurique, BULLETIN DE LA SOCIETE CHIMIQUE DE FRANCE 20 (6): 614-621 1953
• Hessaby A, Souchay P, Etude des Periodates et Tellurates de Lithium, BULLETIN DE LA SOCIETE CHIMIQUE DE FRANCE 20 (6): 606-614 1953
• Souchay P, Hessaby A, Existe-T-IL des Sels Basiques Dargent, BULLETIN DE LA SOCIETE CHIMIQUE DE FRANCE 20 (6): 599-606 1953
• Hessaby M, Theoretical Evidence for the Existence of a Light-Charged Particle of Mass Greater than That of the Electron, Physical Review, Vol. 73, Issue 9, p. 1128 (1948). APS
• Hessaby M, Continuous Particles, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 33, No. 6, pp. 189-194 (1947).
• Hessaby M, Continuous Particles, Proceedings of the American Physical Society, Minutes of the Meeting at Montreal, June 19-21, 1947,

3) Research and Writing

His research and writings included:


• The Hessaby Dictionary
• Dictionary of Iranian Names
• Articles for the Establishment of the University of Tehran-1933
• Treatise on "Our Path"-1935
• Physics textbook for first year in high school-1939
• Minutes of the meeting of the National Academy of Science-1947
• Rules for the University of Tehran Budget-1961
• The New Physics and the Philosophy of Ancient Percia-1963
• Genealogical Tree of the Hessaby Family-1967
• The Power of the Persian Language- 1971
• "Complete Poetical Works of Hessaby", from the 17th century-1975
• "Roots of Persian Words"-1989
• "Specialized Terms in Physics"-1961_1990
• Dictionary of "French Verbs-Persian Verbs"
• "The how of Iranian History"
• Research on and Interpretation of the Poetry of Hafez
• Research on the "Golestan" of Saadi
• Research on the Poetry of Baba Taher
• Research on the "Shahnameh" of Ferdowsi
• "In Memory of Albert Einstein" on the occasion of his death (1955)



• "Electrodynamics"
• "Electric Eye"
• "Viewpoint in Physics", University of Tehran, 1961
• "Magnetic Eye", University of Tehran, 1966
• "Solid State Physics", University of Tehran, 1969
• "Quantum View" University of Tehran, 1979


• Doctoral dissertation "Sensitivity of Photoelectric Cells", Sorbonne University Press, 1927
• Thesis in "The Interpretation of Dubrois Waves", in French, 1945
• "Structure of Essential Particles of the Nucleus of an Atom in Einstein's Theory of Relativity", Princeton University, 1946
• Article on "Connected Particles", National Academy of Science, U.S., 1947
• "The Effect of Matter on the Path of Light" as co-researcher at the Nuclear-science Institute, Chicago, 1947
• "The Correction of Newton's Law of Gravity". "Maxwell's Law of the Electromagnetic Field" 1947
• "The Effect of Matter on the Path of Light and the Deviation of Light Waves on the Surface of Matter", Nuclear Science Institute, Chicago, 1947
• "The Deviation of Light Waves in the Presence of Matter", research at the University of Chicago, 1948
• Continuation of research on "The Structure of Essential Particles of the Nucleus of an Atom", University of Tehran; laboratory research on "The Transmission of Light through Matter" College of Science, University of Tehran - Thesis on "The Theory of the Diffusion of Infinite Particles", University of Tehran, 1997
• Research on the formula for the Law of Gravity
• Research on the formula for the Law of Electrical Attraction
• Research on the formula for the Law of the Electromagnetic Field
• Research on the breakage of light near solid matter
• Research on lasers
• Research on nuclear magnetic resonance

4) Institutes which Prof. Hessaby studied at:

1) Childhood and early youth: his mother, Goharshad
2) The Christian French School, Birut, Lebanon
3) American College of Beirut, Lebanon
4) American University of Beirut, Lebanon
5) French University of Beirut, Lebanon
6) University of Paris, France
7) Sorbonne University, France – alongside Prof. Fabry
8) Princeton University, America – alongside Prof. Einstein


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  2. eradatmande hamishegiye ostad hesabi hastam v be ishan eshgh mivarzam