In Memory of Professor Mahmoud Hessaby: The Sole Iranian Student of Albert Einstein

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Iran Chamber Society

Professor Mahmoud Hessaby, Born in Tehran in 1903, was educated in a Beirut school. His family hailed from Tafresh, a Central Iranian city, had moved to the Lebanese capital in 1907. They were in a poor financial situation. He received religious instructions and studied Persian literature from his devoted and learned mother. He memorized the Holly Quoran by heart, developing a strong belief in it. He also read the great poetty of Hafez, Sa'adi, Ferdowsi, Molavi, etc.

His Studies in high school coincided with the commencement of the First World War, and therefore the French schools, including the one in which he was studying, had to closed down.

After two years, he went to the American College of Beirut, graduating with a bachelor's degree of Art and Science at the age of seventeen. He obtainded his biology degree at the age of nineteen, and then continued his studies in Civil Engineering. He then studied Medical Science, Mathematics and Astronomy. As a graduate of the Engineering School in Beirut, he was admitted to the "Ecole Superieure d'Electricite "and graduated in 1925. At the same time, he was employed by the French Electric Railway Company.

He continued his research in Physics on "Sensitivity of Photoelectric Cells" and received his PHD in physics at the age of 25. He was well acquainted with the traditional Iranian music as well as the classical Western music and played piano and violin skillfully.

He was active in sports and as a youngster earned his living pardy by acting as a swimming instructor and a life guard at the Mediterranean coast in Beirut.

During his life, he held various important scientific and cultural positions. He also founded many cultural and scientific centers in Iran, such as the Civil Engineering School and the Teacher's College in 1928, the first Iranian Meteorological Station in 1931, the first radiology center in 1931, the first private hospital called Goharshad ", named after his mother, in 1933, Tehran University and its Faculty of Sciences in 1934, the Telecommunication Center of Assad Abad in Hamadan in 1959, The Geophysical Center of Tehran University in 1961, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the Iranian Music Society and the Academy of Iranian Literature.

His other cultural and scientific services include the first survey of Iranian coastal road-map at Persian Gulf setting the Iranian time in 1932, writing Tehran University's charter, acting as the Dean of Technical Faculty of Tehran University from 1934 to 1936, acting as the Dean of Science Faculty of Tehran University over the periods 1942 - 1948 and 1951 - 1957, heading the delegation for dispossession of British Petrolium Company during the Government of Dr. Mosaddegh, First General Manager of National Iranian Oil Company, acting as Minister of Education in Dr. Mosaddegh's government from 1951 to 1952, writing the charter for Iranian Standard Institute in 1954 and Iranian representative in United Nation's Scientific Sub-committee of Peaceful use of Outer Space from 1960 to 1967. He continued lecturing at University for 3 working generations, instructing 7 generations of students and professors.

He had a good command French, English, German and Arabic languages and he also knew Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Pahlavi, Avesta, Turkish and Italian, which he used for his etymological studies.

25 research papers, articles and books of him have been put to print. His theory of "Infinitely Extended Particles" is well-known among the world scientists. The medal of "Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur", greatest French scientific medal was awarded to him for his theories.

Hessaby was the sole Iranian student of Professor Albert Einstein, and during his years of scientific research he had meeting and discussions with well-known scientists such as Schrodinger, Born, Fermi, Dirac, Bohr and scolars such as Russel and Andre Gide.

During the Congress of" 60 Years of Physics in Iran "the service rendered by him were deeply appreciated and he was entitled" Iran's Father of Modern Physics.

He died on 03 September 1992 while under medical care at Geneva Cardiac Hospital. He was buried in Tafresh, according to his wish and will.


According to the Dr Hessaby Institute, essentially an institution run by his son, the following were some of 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 nuclear power, 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

Source: Iran Chamber Society

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