Issue No. 5 | 01.01.1970
From the Quark to the Cosmos - Part 2
Seventy Years of Physics in Israel (1928 – 1998)
In our previous editions of PhysicaPlus Online (1, 2 and 3) we have published under the column "Jewish Physicists" brief excerpts from the booklet entitled "From the Quark up to the Cosmos" by Prof. Yuval Ne'eman, which was issued by the National Academy of Science In 2000. The first chapter gives an insight into the Jewish contribution to physical sciences during the Middle Ages and the New Era.
The main part of the booklet is devoted to the birth of Physics research beginning with the Hebrew settlement in Erez Israel at the turn of the 20th Century, its development after the establishment of Israel and up to the latest achievements, and future challenges. In view of the ongoing International Year of Physics 2005, our readers will, no doubt, find special interest in this important publication by Prof. Ne'eman, one of the most prominent physicists in Israel. In this, 5th Issue of PhysicaPlus, we offer our readers the second part of the booklet (see the 1st part in the 4th Issue), dealing with the birth of physics in Erez Israel.
About the Author
Prof. Yuval Ne'eman was born in Tel Aviv in 1925. In 1945, he completed engineering studies at the Technion. He was active in the Haganah and fought on several fronts during the War of Independence. When the war ended he was appointed to a senior position in the General Staff. In 1960 He retired from the IDF. Upon completing his studies he was appointed Science Director of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission.
Prof. Ne'eman made breakthroughs in atomic physics concerning the elementary particles, when he identified the ordering principle, which determines their properties (unitary symmetry). In 1962 he solved the riddle of the mergence of unitary symmetry and showed that it results from the compositeness of elementary particles, with specific constituents (later named "quarks") representing an additional structural level. He was a member of the Atomic Energy Commission from 1965-1984 and an advisor to the defense minister and the chief scientist at that ministry. Since 1964, Prof. Ne'eman has been a researcher at Tel Aviv University, where he set up the School of Physics and Astronomy, initiated the Faculty of Engineering, the Institute for Strategic Studies, the Institute of Space Studies (now the Planetary Sciences Department) and the Wise Observatory near Mitzpeh Ramon. In 1971-1975, Ne'eman served as the President of Tel Aviv University. His research and contribution to the study of physics and space earned him the Israel Prize, international awards and honorary membership in the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. He has written hundreds of articles and published 25 books. Alongside his scientific activities, he was actively involved in the political life of Israel. Prof. Neeman initiated the establishment of the Tehiya political movement, was elected to the Knesset on the Tehiya party list and was the first science minister. He later set up the Israeli Space Agency, which he headed, and was the minister of energy and infrastructure.