Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dr. Farouk al-Baz, originally an Egyptian to the core, is a world scientist who has contributed

Dr. Farouk al-Baz
scientist for all ages

Dr. Farouk al-Baz, originally an Egyptian to the core, is a world scientist who has contributed over four decades a great deal of scientific research that has changed our concepts and visions about the cosmos and the planets, in the depths of the earth and the unlimited vistas of space.
Born in Egypt in 1938, Farouk al-Baz completed his education and obtained B.SC in chemistry and geology from Ein Shams university in the same year he left for the United States where he got M.SC from faculty of Mining and Minerals, Mioussuri University in 1961.
Then he obtained his PH.D in economic geology in 1964 and gained honorary membership of several national and international societies as well as fellowships of the U.S geological societies the American Union for the progress of sciences, the Explorers Club in New York, University Club of Boston and Cosmos Club in Washington.
Dr. Farouk al Baz has published more than 200 scientific research and wrote 6 books, mainly about the moon, space pioneers and Apollo space shuttles.
He is appointed a visiting professor in several American and Arab universities, supervising post-graduate studies and giving lectures in several technical institutes worldwide.
Farouk al-Baz lives with his American wife and four daughters in the United States. Currently, Dr. Farouk is occupying the post of the principal of the Space Research Center in Boston University.
"Al-Itihad" newspaper met Dr. Farouk and interviewed him on a number of issues.
Q: There is always a question about your not obtaining the Nobel Prize despite your major achievements in the moon conquest.
A: My brothers wonder the same. Simply, the Nobel Prize does not embrace geology. Therefore, no geologist can get it.
Q: You and your siblings, except one, all got Ph.D. what is the secret behind that success, though you were brought up in an ordinary way?
A: Only three of us got Ph. D. and the rest got university degrees and senior posts. The reason was my father's unlimited keenness to education that he considered the key of life. When I was abroad I was enlightened by his views, and his concern was to advise us not to change and remain Arab in essence and ethical in customs and behaviour.
Q: Tell us about the circumstances of your moving to America and your work in NASA. A: It was customary for Egypt to send missions for higher studies to Russia at the time of President Nasser, and my brother Osama suggested to wait till I got a scholarship from Europe or America, out of his experience from his visits to Russia and America as a diplomat. Finally, I got a scholarship from the United States where I got my Master and then the Doctorate.
In fact, I prepared my self to set up a school for economic geology after several visits to the mines in the mountains and vallies in several states of America.
I also studied in Germany to get acquainted with mines in Europe. Then I returned to America and joined NASA in Washington, for they needed geologists to study geological reports from spaceships on the moon. Later, I was appointed supervisor in charge of training the space pioneers in geology and physiological instructions.
Q: How were you viewed as an Arab by American colleagues? What was their view about geologist in general?
A: Their view to geologists was unpleasant. I remember when I asked a colleague to tell one of the space pioneers to come to meet a geologist called Farouk al-Baz to give him training about geology, he considered the matter as a joke, asking who that Baz is (laughing). Generally, they had some apprehensions and misgivings about me as Egyptian especially when I was nominated the Secretary General of the committee in charge of specifying the landing areas on the moon surface.
At last they were convinced that the best is selected until he makes a mistake leading to his being fired.
The situation remained as such, and during the six space shuttles of Apollo, I was the chairman of that committee as well as Head of the committee in charge of training the pioneers on geology until the Apollo project was completed.

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