Various sites claim that Dr. Mahmoud Hessaby, a senator of the previous Iranian regime, was a student of Albert Einstein.

For example:

Hessaby was the sole Iranian student of Professor Albert Einstein

However, this has been disputed.

For example, his Wikipedia talk page:

I removed the text that Dr. Hesaby was a student of Albert Einstein. Other than a single picture and lots of hearsay, I haven't been able to find a credible source proving that he was a student of Albert Einstein.

Was Mahmoud Hessaby one of Einstein's students?

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    This could be a semantic quibble about the meaning of the word student. In common academic usage, it would mean that Einstein was Hessaby's doctoral advisor. Hessaby's Wikipedia page says he received his PhD from the University of Paris around 1928. I haven't found any evidence that Einstein was ever employed by that university, which would normally (though not invariably) be the case if he were advisor to a student there. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 17:59
  • ‏@NateEldredge: It is said that Hessaby was a student of Eisntein for (at least) three years and Einstein had quotes about Hessaby and considered him as a prominant student in Princeton university. I don't think that student means a PhD student in this case. Probably it means a student who attended his classes regularly. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 19:02
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    "It is said" --- by whom, and where? Note that Einstein did not join Princeton until 1933, and it would be very unusual to call Hessaby a "student" when he already had a terminal degree. If they actually worked together, one might call them "colleagues" or "collaborators". Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 20:01
  • @NateEldredge: This is was I have found: "The doctor has been three years with Einstein. A period of one year and a two-year period. Laboratory of the University of Chicago to the doctor really put Einstein recommendations." This is a google translate of part of ... Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 20:25
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    The references I have been able to find indicate that Hessaby was probably an assistant to Einstein, at Princeton or elsewhere, during a sabbatical or similar break. He got his PhD in 1927, in France. The real way to check would be to see his committee members. His thesis is up here, but only available in hard copy. translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://… Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


He wasn't Einstein's student, according to the most reliable reference I found:

Meanwhile, in a trip to Princeton in 1947 he had the opportunity to meet Albert Einstein, discussing his scientific activities with him (Ḥesābi, 2000, pp. 127-33).

This is from an encyclopedia entry: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hesabi-mahmud

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    Encyclopedia's are secondary or tertiary sources. Ideally, we should follow it back to the source, which is: Maḥmud Ḥesābi, Rāh-e mā, goftārhāʾi az Sayyed Maḥmud Ḥesābi, Tehran, 2000. Has anyone access to that? The encyclopedia author notes that some of Ḥesābi's claims need to be cross-referenced against independent sources.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 1:45
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    @Oddthinking. The plural of encyclopedia is encyclopedias.
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 22:45
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    @fdb: Yes, I have an errant apostrophe. Sorry.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 2:17

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