APS News


Indian Physicist Incarcerated for Four Years

I read the article by Ernie Tretkoff on the deportation of a physicist with great interest. You may perhaps like to learn of a case I got involved in a couple of years ago. It arose from a phone call to the physics department at the University of South Carolina, which I picked up more or less by accident. This led to a situation which would be unbelievable even in a Kafka novel.

The lady is of Indian extraction, but graduated in physics both in India and the Manchester University and Institute of Technology. She has worked in Saskachewan and the University of Arizona.

Somehow, she entered the United States illegally from Canada and was caught. The details of this are not clear to me, since she was here legally previously. She has now been incarcerated for upwards of four years, and is presently awaiting deportation to India. I intend this to be brief, so I won't go into details—such as how she got a black eye after being hit by an inmate at an institution where she was held here, which is a combination jail, hospital and lunatic asylum. I visited her weekly, and they kept her sedated on drugs. I am no psychiatrist, but she appeared normal and rational to me; especially when not on drugs. She had an English boyfriend in Canada, who is presently teaching English as a foreign language in Taiwan. Last week he came over here and married her, so when she gets back to India, she hopes to leave for Taiwan. I found her a most intelligent and interesting person.

Since she has no computer in jail, in communicating with her husband, she phones me and I email him. This should soon stop, since he now has a telephone. I would be happy to supply any more information should you desire.

Ron Edge
Columbia, SC

Plea for Help is a Cop-out

I'm glad that the editors of the Zero Gravity column have recognized that the recent columns have been male-oriented, if not chauvinist.

I don't understand then why you chose to run another un-amusing and chauvinist article, "The Sleep- Retardant Properties of My Ex-Girlfriend". Despite your entreaty for submissions "from a female point of view," you don't seem to really care about making your column less male dominated.

Why does science humor have to have any relation to gender anyway? I enjoyed the column a few issues ago that had jokes about the differences between mathematicians, engineers, and physicists. I'm sure there is plenty of good-quality science related humor out there, and to point your finger at women and complain that we aren't providing any is really a cop-out.

Hoping you'll make me laugh again.

Ariel Michelman Ribeiro
Bethesda, MD

Ed. Note: This month's Zero Gravity is the first of a number that we received in response to our plea. We hope you like it.

Zero Gravity Equals Zero Morality

You reached a new low in your "Zero Gravity" of February 2004.

Apparently, because it is supposed to be funny, the "zero morality" you talk about is all right. I strenuously disagree.

Philip J. Hart
Idaho Falls, ID

Ed. Note: Readers who may have forgotten what was in the Zero Gravity in February can read it online..

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette