me and my model!

6 08 2008

[By Shideh]   I am sitting inside a round building with a big centrifuge and my model that has become like a friend (sort of like Tom Hanks and the Volleyball named Wilson in the movie Cast Away!)  I am here to run an experiment as a part of a research project.  I have stayed over night monitoring this model (for the past week) and get to rest for a few hours during the days while someone else covers for me.  In the process, this little model has taught me a lot!  It’s interesting how a lifeless thing can teach us important lessons some times.  Or perhaps it’s me being alone at nights having the opportunity to think and reflect…  Who knows?

 

 

My model and I are sitting in this big round building right now in the middle of no where and are thinking about the significance of the word “patience”.  This experiment cannot happen without lots and lots of patience.  It seems it’s an important lesson as we all mature.  When it’s dark and scary outside, my model and I think about what songs can make us feel better and how funny it is that life has brought us here!  We get depressed some times, frustrated at the world for long hours of work and no sleep.  Then we start to smile at each other again and think about how I am being trained to be patient.

My model is sitting here quietly as it is slowly filled with water and as I prepare some of the instrumentation and learn about the electrical system here. I sing to it sometimes and I wonder if anyone can hear me.  The person who cleans this building arrives at 7am and every time he is startled to see me here!

 

While I work at nights over my beloved model that I have created from scratch, I think a lot about everything that I don’t normally have time to think about.  Most recently, I have been thinking about the concept of creativity.  I read a book called “Jame’e Shenasi Nokhbeh Koshi” in Persian many years ago which is about the historical failure of Iranians to encourage reforming minds (like Hasanak Vazir, Amir Kabir, or Mossadeq).  According to this book, not only don’t we encourage creativity and reform, we also kill motivation in anyone who has the slightest desire to improve the system.  Among many other things, this book argues that Iran became a “user” society at some point in history and has been copying the west ever since.  I wondered then if there was much hope for a society with such a fate.  I wonder today…

As pessimistic as this book sounded when I read it a while back, it opened my eyes to the realities of our society, realities that we do not want to know about, realities that we will not acknowledge to foreigners or even to our children.  These realities may have been exaggerated to some extent in this book, but it takes a bold mind to even think about the failure of a society to create, not to mention writing about it.  I must mention though, that creativity in all branches of arts and some scientific fields have always been strong in Iran; the question is if the culture or the society as a whole restricts and puts a burden on this creativity.  As engineers, is it possible to find a solution for this social problem? Perhaps if you mix our talents with those of a social psychologist, historian, economist, and political scientist, you can come up with an effective and long-lasting solution to this apparently cultural failure.  Any solution though will take many generations to have a significant effect – which again reminds me of the word “patience” taught to me by my model.

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8 responses

8 08 2008
fjv

Dear Shideh,

1- Could you possibly explain a bit on your “research project” including your ” beloved model” ?
2- Who’s that book by? ( Jame’e Shenasi…)
3- As believed by many these days, we’ve turned to a sort of peculiar nation. While taking a pride in our glorious past culture, civilisation, splendour,…we have not much to be proud of these days. Instability & disorientation make up part of our present personality. There seems PATIENCE & HOPE remain to be the only cure to our grief.

Thank you to touch on a touching subject.
fjv

10 08 2008
Nazy

Salam Shideh Jan:

How very exciting! How is it turning out? Are you back yet? Here’s wishing you success in your project, as you practice patience my friend! I couldn’t begin to understand the stuff you’re doing but I understand when people have a goal, a project, to which they are devoted and committed, and how important it is for that goal to be achieved. I wish you all the best my friend. Come and have lunch with me in Berkeley sometime.

10 08 2008
Nazy

And remind me to tell you about what I think about that book and all the things some Iranians say about Iranians. Brace yourself for an opposing point of view! Iranians must stop looking at themselves and their lives and their history in such self-deprecating ways. More over lunch!

11 08 2008
Shideh

Dear fjv,
thank you for your comment. Here’s a website where you can get more info about my research: http://research.eerc.berkeley.edu/projects/liquefaction_effects/
It has not been updated for the past year though, but it gives you an idea.
I’ll find the book and will tell you who wrote “Jame’ Shenasi Nokhbi Koshi.”

stay in touch and have a great day!

11 08 2008
Shideh

Dearest Nazy joon,
It’s great to hear from you. Thanks for visiting us on TehranShake. How are you? I will be back in Berkeley in about a month and will look forward to a lunch with you. What a great idea.

But please write about your view when you get a chance. A positive view is much needed. I am usually very hopeful and positive about our culture and progress. Things are degrading so fast recently though, that I cannot help criticizing some of the aspects of our culture or society. But I am waiting for opposing views and cannot wait to hear your thoughts.

Hope to hear from you soon,
khoob o khosh baasheed

21 08 2009
Amirata

Dear Shideh,

Giving a soul to the lifeless centrifuge model is very interesting for me as I am also familiar with this kind of modeling. The story and specifically its relation to the policy of Iran is expressed beautifully. There is also a story from Prof. Hesabi about motivation killing in third world countries:
The story is about the time Prof. Hesabi used to teach in Norway and once was asked by one of his students: “The third world where you came from, how do you define it?” and he apparently came up with an spontaneous answer which he said in his memoirs that as years passed he appeared to become more certain about it. The answer was this: “Third world is the place where your house will be destroyed if you try to build your country and if you try to build your house you shall try to destroy your country”.

22 08 2009
Shideh

Dear Amirata,
thanks for your insightful comment.
Are you also a Geotechnical Engineer? Do you use centrifuge testing?
Dr. Hesabi has described the third world quite accurately I guess. Very interesting. Thank you

30 08 2009
Amirata

Dear Shideh,

I am also Geotechnical Engineer and familiar with this kind of physical modeling. I may perform centrifuge tests to know about dynamic soil-structure interaction in my PhD dissertation. I would be very grateful if I could use your invaluable experiences in this regard.

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