Groundbreaking quantum lab at Istanbul University closed after fire breaks out
İdris Emen ISTANBUL / Radikal
The state-of-the-art quantum lab was built in 2012 at a cost of $6 million.Officials have decided to shut down a groundbreaking quantum lab at the Istanbul University after it broke down when a fire erupted in the facility, prompting acrimony over mismanagement of the valuable research asset.
The lab, at which scientists perform measurements in low temperatures and on the magnetic field, was one of only three of its kind, with the others operating at Harvard University and the Max Planck Society in Germany.
It was built in 2012 at a cost of $6 million for experiments by master and PhD students at the Science Faculty.
However, officials at the university said Turkey’s science watchdog, TÜBİTAK, had rejected their demands to improve safety at the lab.
Professor Afif Sıddıkı, who was responsible for the lab, submitted his resignation May 13 as all the projects were suspended by TÜBİTAK after the lab became unusable following the fire.
“I am tired of fighting. I am exhausted at desperately struggling behind this many filthy men,” said Sıddıkı as he announced his resignation to family and friends on his Facebook account.
The deacon at the Science Faculty launched an investigation into Sıddıkı for his comments on social media, punishing him by freezing his status – assistant professor – for six years.
According to claims, TÜBİTAK will not provide new funding and the inactive lab is poised to be turned into a working office.
Eleven students working at the lab were been suspended when it broke down. One of the students, who published several articles in science journals, has started to teach at a religious vocational school (İmam Hatip) in Antalya.
“We established the lab with our own efforts. But all the projects were suspended when it was closed. I lost my job and my friends lost their scholarships. Now I have to teach for eight liras an hour,” Metin Kendirik said.
The breakdown of a state-of-the-art lab has raised new questions regarding workplace security in Turkey as mismanagement has even hit the most modern of facilities.