Hooman Majd Explains Iran’s Role in the Arab World
Hooman Majd was born in Tehran, Iran in 1957, and lived abroad from infancy with his family who were in the diplomatic service. He attended boarding school in England and college in the United States, and stayed in the U.S. after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Majd had a long career in the entertainment business before devoting himself to writing and journalism full-time. He worked at Island Records and Polygram Records for many years, with a diverse group of artists, and was head of film and music at Palm Pictures, where he produced The Cup and James Toback's Black and White.
He has written for GQ, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Observer, Interview, and Salon, and has been a regular contributor to The Huffington Post from its inception. A contributing editor at Interview magazine, he lives in New York City and travels regularly back to Iran.
Question: How do other Arab countries regard Iran?
Majd: Well, Syria and Lebanon is very good. Syria is a very close ally, it’s the only Arab country that supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq war, all the way back at 1980. Its relations with other Arab countries is ebbs and flows, it could be very good at times, it could be very bad at times. Right now, it’s not very good with Egypt, it’s not very good with Bahrain, there was a bit of problem recently ‘cause a former official in Iran claimed Bahrain as part of Iranian territory, Morocco just broke off relations with Iran, a lot of the Sunni countries in the region have been for 30 years, they’ve been weary of this powerful Shiite country. In the early days of the revolution, one of the reasons that Saddam Hussein invaded, with the support of all the Arab countries and with the money given to him by the Arab countries, invaded Iran was the idea of, you know, let’s clamp down on this Islamic revolution ‘cause it’s a dangerous thing, these people could come into our country or they could stir trouble among the Shiites… Saudi Arabia has 3 million Shiites for example who are an underclass in Saudi Arabia so there’s a weariness of Iranian power partly because they’re not Arab, it’s the Persian Empire, they have a long history, it’s the only country in the region, only nation in the region that’s been a country for longer than a 100 years as a nation’s state. So there’s weariness but Iran has made efforts in the past under President Rafsanjani and then following that after… under President Khatami, there was a great effort to mend relations with Saudi Arabia with a lot of the other countries in the region and they were successful with that, under Ahmadinejad it’s been a little bit bumpier I would say. Egypt is a specific problem going all the way back to the Al-Sha’b, being admitted into Egypt by Anwar Sadat, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, there’s a major boulevard in Tehran named after Anwar Sadat’s assassin, there’s a billboard of him as a martyr hero, the Egyptians have always said, “You have to change the name of that street,” the Iranians at one point said, “Okay, we will,” but it’s still there, the name of the street and my cousin’s office is there, I’d go there all the time. Those are little issues that are problematic for the Egyptians and they feel that the Iranians are, you know, supporting anti-Egyptian forces throughout the region and Egypt is an important Arab country. Now, that said, there are… you know, Ali Rafsanjani was a speaker of Parliament when to Egypt last year, Khatami has been to Egypt, there has been efforts to fix the problem of the relations between Egypt and Iran, Saudi Arabia the same thing, whenever there’s a problem, you know, somebody goes to Saudi Arabia or the Saudi Arabia foreign minister comes to Iran so they try to work it out but in general there’s a weariness among the Arab populations… Arab leaderships, sorry, in the region, a weariness of the Iran leadership and the power that Iran has.
Question: Could Iran’s secularism be a model for the rest of the Arab world?
Majd: Is it a model for other countries, I mean, I would say that it might be a model for Iraq to some degree, Iraq doesn’t want to have what they call the Vela De Fatti which means the rule of the jurisprudence which is the supreme leader, they have their supreme leader, they don’t call them a supreme leader as the Ayatollah Sistani who is the most senior cleric… almost the most senior cleric on Islam, perhaps in all of Shia Islam, who the government of Iraq will never do anything that he’s against so he is in a way supreme leader but he doesn’t get involved in politics generally, so they… the prime minister of Iraq, the president of Iraq will go and see Ayatollah Sistani lives in Najaf and kind of get his blessing for elections, for this, for that. Iraq, maybe, as a Shia country, it will be a majority Shia country anyway and if you leave on like a courtesan, it will be a majority Shia country could kind of look to Iran a little bit in terms of how they view Islam and how Islam is able to be… I mean, Iraq is actually traditionally been more fundamentalists than Iranians when it comes to Shia Islam, oddly enough and there are things about, you know, liquor stores and being bombed and stuff like that. Well, of course liquor stores don’t exist in Iran but everybody drinks so maybe the can learn that, they don’t to make it so public and everybody just quietly drinks.
The writer describes Iran’s relations with Syria, Egypt, and Iraq.
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.