You may have noticed that most of the people in the Noteworthy Algerians section are dead. The ratio so far is 25 dead to 6 alive. Perhaps a whole life is needed before someone can be considered noteworthy. This post about Dr. Nidhal Guessoum is an attempt to balance things.
Nidhal Guessoum is an Algerian astrophysicist. He received his BSc in theoretical physics from the University of Algiers (USTHB), his MSc in physics and theoretical astrophysics PhD in 1988 from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). He worked as a post-doc at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center before returning to Algeria. He taught at the University of Blida from 1990 to 1995 and left again the country to Kuwait where he taught at the College of Technological Studies till 2000. He is now a professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Sharjah.
Guessoum is very active trying to develop the Arabs’ interest in astrophysics. He’s got, together with his student Abdelaziz Al Zarouni, a show on YouTube named Alkawn which tries to explain space related topics to the public. He also published an article in Nature where he called for an Arab astronomy renaissance.
Another of Guessoum’s interests is the relationship between science and religion (mostly Islam). His book “Islam’s Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science“ falls within this topic. It is usual to hear him in the midst of the infamous yearly debate about Ramadhan moon-sighting.
Too bad that Nidhal Guessoum has left Algeria. He wrote on his blog the following:
During my time in Algeria, various social and administrative conditions prevented me from carrying on my collaborations with my colleagues in the States. I was only able to make a few-weeks visit to CEA/Saclay, an important research center near Paris, France. When I moved to Kuwait, I resumed my collaboration with Reuven and Demos at NASA/GSFC, spending several weeks each summer between 1995 and 1999, which enabled me to “restart my engine…”
“Restarting the engine” means it had (been) stopped while he was in the University of Blida. A state too many Algerians know unfortunately…