Enjoy your Herod Complex!
Y. S. Kim
Department of Physics, University of Maryland,
College Park, Maryland 20742
- The Herod complex appears most commonly in referee reports saying
"I could not solve this problem. How could you?" Then the referee
becomes wild. In one of the reports I received, the referee said
he/she would kill himself/herself if my claim is correct.
It would be more interesting if I mention some specific persons.
If anyone tells me I am behaving like King Herod, I become
flattered. Thus, I am not offending anyone if I tell he/she behaves
- I started reading Wigner's 1939 paper on the Lorentz group when I was a
graduate student (1958-61), but did not finish reading it until I wrote a
book with Marilyn Noz on the Poincare group in 1985 (published in 1986).
Then I started going out with Wigner, and developed a conference
series known as the Wigner Symposium. This did not sit very well
those who thought they are closest to Wigner.
As you can see from the photo I took in 1984, Louis Michel deserved to think he was the person closest to Eugene Wigner. Indeed, I was at the receiving end of Michel's Herod complex while I was running the first Wigner symposium at the University of Maryland in 1988. He was quite wild.
Michel had been the central figure in a bi-annual conference series called "Symmetries in Condensed Matter Physics" held near Poznan, Poland. In 1995, I was invited to this conference to talk about Eugene Wigner. Because the conference organizers were not aware of Michel's Herod complex, they placed my talk before Michel's. If you knew Michel as many of you do, you could guess what riot this created.
- Yes! Louis Michel was a very kind person and was very kind to me
personally. I am in a position to entertain his Herod complex. In
2005, the 9th meeting of the Wigner Symposium will take place in Poznan
where Michel exercised his Herod complex to me ten years earlier.
I would like to propose that we dedicate a session or sessions to
Louis Michel. Please let me know if you agree with me. After all,
Louis Michel was a brilliant physicist.
Poznan was the first capital city of Poland and is a beautiful city with its rich history.
- The Herod complex can sometimes serve as a driving force for one's research.
I was thoroughly pampered during my high school years. In this 1954
photo, I am wearing my high school uniform and shaking hands with General
Maxwell Taylor who was the commander of U.S. forces in Korea consisting
of 350,000 combat-ready U.S. troops. Taylor later served as the chairman
of joint chiefs during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. He designed
the military invasion plan including a nuclear confrontation with the
- This photo entitles me to have my own Herod complex. In 1965, everybody
in physics was talking about Roger Dashen as a genius. Due to my
Herod complex, I had to do something about it. This led to what is
known today as the Dashen-Frautschi fiasco.
Click here to see what
really went on.
Indeed, the word "Herod Complex" can settle many quarrels among physicists. If you have your own Herod complex, it is yours to enjoy.
- firstname.lastname@example.org by Y. S. Kim.
The images of the Infant and Herod are from "The Picture Bible" (David C. Cook Publishing Co., Elgin, Illinois, U.S.A., 1978).