Dr. Mohamed El Naschie (Arabic: محمد النشائي) is pseudoscientist crackpot who makes grandiose claims about being a "paradigm-shifting" high-energy physicist. He also claims that he deserves the Nobel Prize several times over, and has been nominated for it, but that it has been denied him because he's Egyptian, Muslim, and named Mohamed. He does not tolerate criticism and has earned a reputation as a legal bully.
El Naschie was born on October 10, 1943 in Cairo to one of Egypt's richest families, from which he inherited great wealth. He owns fabulous properties in Egypt, Germany and England. He earned a doctorate in civil or structural engineering from University College London in 1974, but has no physics or math degree, not even an undergraduate one. For a few years he published conventional, unremarkable engineering papers. But he soon decided he'd rather be a theoretical physicist than an engineer.
El Naschie is the founder of a nonsense theory of "fractal Cantorian space-time" that he calls "E-Infinity theory". By founding the Elsevier journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals (CSF) in 1991, and being its Editor-in-Chief, he managed to publish hundreds of numerological screeds disguised as real physics. As Editor-in-Chief, he was able to avoid peer review for himself, and to publish otherwise unpublishable papers for favored acolytes. In this way he attracted a dozen or so loyal followers, the "E-Infinity group" or "Brotherhood" as we call them on El Naschie Watch. The most famous, or infamous, member other than El Naschie himself is Prof. Ji-Huan He of Donghua University in Shanghai. Ji-Huan He has called El Naschie "The greatest scientist since Newton and Einstein". Another well-known member is Prof. Otto Rössler of the University of Tübingen, who made the news with warnings that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN might make a black hole that would swallow the Earth.
In Egypt, El Naschie played a world-famous scientist for many years. Egyptian media and the general public respectfully accepted him at face value, with few exceptions. Some real scientists in Egypt and the Arab world saw through him, but nobody paid them much attention. Outside the Arab world few had heard of him. By 2008, however, his shenanigans began to draw international attention.
Very recently sectors of the Egyptian press have become noticeably skeptical of the Great Man. For an example of this, watch part three of the Elbeet Beetak interview. El Naschie squirms uncomfortably under Khairy Ramadan's questions.
Here, in chronological order, are the major events in the recent history of Mohamed El Naschie:
- February 6, 2008. El Naschie is kicked off Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's scientific advisory committee for mysterious "personal reasons".
- May, 2008. Zoran Škoda, a mathematical physicist in Zagreb, Croatia, sends letters to members of the CSF editorial board asking whether they agree with El Naschie's self-publishing editorial practices. Škoda is threatened with legal action by CSF legal advisor "P. Green", who is actually an El Naschie sockpuppet (as will become clear four years hence).
- June 17, 2008. Jerzy Jurkiewicz, Renate Loll and Jan Ambjorn publish "Using Causality to Solve the Puzzle of Quantum Spacetime" in the July issue of Scientific American. El Naschie's fans or sock puppets spam the online comments, claiming El Naschie's ideas were stolen.
- November 9, 2008. John Baez publishes "The Case of M. S. El Naschie" on the n-Category Café blog, in response to a comment from Zoran Škoda. Later, around February 9, 2009, Baez takes the post down, fearing El Naschie's lawyers. An angry El Naschie representative had called U.C. Riverside where Baez works. Jacques Distler also takes down his criticism of El Naschie.
- November 27, 2008. Quirin Schiermeier publishes a one-page Nature news article, "Self-publishing editor set to retire" announcing El Naschie's departure from Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, based on Zoran Škoda's investigations. El Naschie's spokesman H.G. Böhm immediately issues a denial: "Prof. El Naschie does not intend and in fact will not step down from his position as Editor-in-Chief." El Naschie soon sues Nature in London. See El Naschie vs. Nature BOMBSHELL! for the status as of 12 June 2011, and El Naschie loses; Nature wins and Interesting parts of Mrs Sharp's judgment for the July 2012 conclusion.
- January 8, 2009. Christoph Drösser, in Die Zeit, publishes an article critical of El Naschie. El Naschie subsequently sues Die Zeit in Hamburg, ultimately forcing them to make small changes to the article. But the outcome of the suit is bad news for El Naschie.
- February 8, 2009. The El Naschie Watch blog begins.
- March 2, 2009. El Naschie is conclusively forced off the editorial board of Chaos, Solitons and Fractals with a publisher's note in the journal itself. Elsevier, the publisher, later fires the entire editorial staff and re-launches the journal. Later still, the first articles appear.
- March 3, 2009. For the first time, El Naschie acknowledges the existence of El Naschie Watch, slamming it in an Egyptian newspaper interview.
- April 16, 2009. El Naschie supporters or sock puppets threaten to kill me.
- June 30, 2009. The Guardian publishes an article making fun of El Naschie's use of Chaos, Solitons & Fractals as his personal vanity journal, and of his penchant for collecting photos of himself in the company of real scientists. (At the time Marc Abrahams wrote the article, it wasn't yet known that El Naschie sometimes used photoshop to create the pictures.) Improbable Research also carries the story; and later another one.
- December 12, 2009. Douglas N. Arnold, the president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) calls out El Naschie and Ji-Huan He for unethical impact-factor manipulation of their respective journals. Arnold calls the cases "appalling" and "clear-cut".
- January 12, 2010. RationalWiki writes derisively about El Naschie. A sock puppet named Mimi Youssef issues a legal threat. RationalWiki consults with El Naschie Watch and stands firm.
- February 8, 2010. El Naschie Watch reveals that a photograph on the front page of El Naschie's Web site portraying him in an intimate beach scene with three Nobel Laureates is a photoshopped fake.
- March 22, 2010. El Naschie Watch reveals the identities of the shadowy Brotherhood.
- April 7, 2010. Unable to publish physics papers in peer-reviewed journals, El Naschie gives up and starts publishing a daily political column in Rosa Al-Youssef (Arabic) [Rosa links now redirect because the paper folded]. Ironically, his May 7, 2010 column concludes thusly: "I'm a scientist and not a specialist in political affairs." His column, like everything in Rosa Al-Youssef, is sycophantic toward Hosni Mubarak, who has been the Egyptian President for thirty years.
- April 12, 2010. El Naschie Watch finds an Arabic interview with El Naschie from the Egyptian TV show Elbeet Beetak. We add subtitles in English, German, Italian and Spanish and post it on YouTube.
- May 17, 2010. We catch the great man making contradictory claims about his father's background. He tells Egyptian audiences that his father was among the Free Officers who founded the Arab Republic of Egypt. He tells Qatari audiences the opposite; and that in fact the new government treated his monarchy-supporting family badly. We also reveal that he has been falsely claiming to be a recipient of Egypt's State Appreciation Award. See these four posts for details: The Free Officer lie, El Naschie's State Appreciation Award lie, Complete English translation of the Al-Doha piece, and A reader finds the Egypt State Award winners list.
- May 20, 2010. An El Naschie Watch operative discovers that El Naschie's 1974 doctoral thesis, "The role of formulation in elastic buckling", has mysteriously disappeared from University College London.
- June 2, 2010. Mohamed El Naschie and Ji-Huan He are fired from the editorial board of the Arab Journal of Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences. El Naschie Watch was instrumental.
- August 28, 2010. A friend of El Naschie, Prof. Itamar Procaccia, admits that El Naschie "is a complete crook science wise."
- September 15, 2010. El Naschie Watch discovers the location of El Naschie's two-million pound house in England. He had long been using a post office box to hide his address. Later we find more of his properties. See this, this, this and this.
- September 16, 2010. El Naschie, through citation scamming, single-handedly propels Alexandria University to 4th place for research impact, in a worldwide ranking of universities.
- September 17, 2010. Christoph Drösser publishes another article critical of El Naschie and Ji-Huan He in Die Zeit.
- December 3, 2010. President Hend Hanafi of Alexandria University appoints El Naschie to an emeritus-type position in the physics department. This is a scandal, because El Naschie Watch warned her about him.
- May 1, 2011. El Naschie's last column appears. He and Rosa Al-Youssef's Editor-in-Chief were fired after the Egyptian revolution.
- June 12, 2011. El Naschie tells the court in the Nature case that he has no money. A few days later he tells the press he has fifty million dollars to contribute to a nuclear project.
- September 5, 2011. El Naschie announces his candidacy for President of Egypt.
- October 31, 2011. El Naschie v Nature trial begins, initially without El Naschie.
That brings us up to date.
El Naschie calls himself a professor, but he isn't one, or wasn't until the December 3, 2010 appointment (see timeline). For years he claimed affiliation with the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. Prof. Michael Green of Cambridge caught wind of this and in September 2000 had him banned from the arXiv, so it's hard to imagine El Naschie being able to publish any more of his pseudoscientific nonsense.
Instead, El Naschie has returned to Egypt from England, and become a political columnist, Mubarak toady, and nanotechnology promoter. (He has no more specialist expertise in nanotechnology than he does in high-energy physics.)
El Naschie often drums up sympathetic anger by blaming his lack of a Nobel on the United States and Israel. He has been supported by Saad Khalifa, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc of the Egyptian Parliament in a debate over whether El Naschie should serve as a scientific advisor to President Mubarak.
He says Mossad's out to get him; that by a stray bullet on the shore of the Nile in Cairo he might meet his end. The implication is that Mossad will assassinate him and make it look like an accidental or random shooting. This is mentioned in the Elbeet Beetak interview and in this Egyptian TV Guide.
El Naschie insinuates himself into the company of Nobel Laureates for his photo collection, and if the results are unsatisfactory he photoshops.
Most regard El Naschie as a con-man, but some think he is merely delusional.
Further introductory reading:
- El Naschie Watch Cliches 101
- Why Mohamed El Naschie invites ridicule
- The many titles of Dr. M.S. El Naschie
- El Naschie Biography
- Our Mission; Our Vision
- Why are you doing this?
Extra Credit. Dr. Mohamed El Naschie was made a "Distinguished Fellow" in a ceremony at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in 2002 and mentions it whenever he can. It was an elaborate event with hundreds in attendance including Nobel Laureates and world press. But "Distinguished Fellow" doesn't mean what El Naschie wants you to think it means. The story is complicated but fascinating. If you have mastered El Naschie 101, here's an advanced homework assignment for extra credit. Read Fortasse pecunia olet interdum and then this update.