This is really ridiculous. We are writing a paper with a friend and collaborator of mine who is a NMR specialist at a prominent university in the US. He just came back from India after a stay of more than two months. He said that his original trip was planned for only a month. So why did it take so long?
Apparently, his visa was delayed. The fine folks at the US State Department saw the dreaded word "nuclear" in his job description. Alarm bells went off in their experienced minds. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance? Surely this is suspicious. Off they went doing s background check for more than a month. In the end of course they found nothing. But my friend had to stay for an extra month, delaying his work here, not to mention our own work.
This is outrageous. NMR is one of the most important techniques ever in chemistry, biology, materials science and drug discovery. For crying out loud, life-saving MRI is based on it. Every single day, hundreds, if not thousands of papers are published in journals worldwide that involve the use of NMR in one way or the other. Four Nobel Prizes have been awarded to NMR scientists. My own PhD. thesis is mostly based on the interpretation of results obtained using NMR (I have mentioned about it here) NMR has nothing remotely to do with atomic bombs.
But the bull-headed rocks at the State Department cannot even distinguish between the "nuclear" in NMR and that in "nuclear weapons". Why can't they hire specialists who actually know something basic about science (and common sense) instead of randomly spouting gut reactions and going ballistic every time they see the word "nuclear"? In some ways, it would give people like me sadistic pleasure to think of all those floor scrubbers in the department running around trying to find out if I have a Jihadist background. But as everyone knows, unfortunately in the end the person who will lose the most will be me.
Despicable, and it reminds me of Goverdhan Mehta's shoddy treatment at the American consulate. But considering the ultimate authority they answer to, we can trust them not to look at trivial things like facts and details.
At least now I know what word to not include in my job description when I file for a Visa. "Magnetic Resonance" will have to do. Sigh.