Thursday, October 6, 2011

Technion President on the 2011 Nobel Prize.

From the President

Welcome to this special edition of TechnionLIVE with which we share with you our joy and excitement over this week's announcement that Distinguished Prof. Dan Shechtman is to receive the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. With this, Dan becomes Technion's 3rd Nobel Laureate in chemistry. The announcement also brings new accolade to our department of Materials Engineering - which has recently gained repute as a leading center worldwide in the science of matter. Indeed, Danny's discovery in April, 1982 unveiled a whole new class of matter. Just when science had moved into a kind of closure with established laws regarding the material world, a young, insignificant scientist began publishing the opposite. The idea of quasicrystals - observed by Shechtman on sabbatical in 1982 - was an affront to material science, and was fought to the end by Nobel Laureates such as Linus Pauling. 

Yet Danny clung to the truth as if it was a rock in a sea of rejection.

Danny did his 1st, 2nd and 3rd degrees at Technion before joining the Technion faculty. Technion is his home, and supported him in his vigilant adherence to scientific truth then, just as today it joins him to celebrate the world's highest honor. The career and characer of Dan Shechtman reflects so much of what we love about Technion and its scientists. Loyalty to objective, basic research; a grounded, thorough ability to prove controversial results; an ability to think "out-of-the-box"; and in scientific terms: excellence, courage and pure Chutzpah.

The wonderful news comes as we open our 100 year cornerstone centennial year. 70 years (to the month!) after the first cornerstone of Technion was laid, Danny discovered Shechtmanite. 30 years later, the breakthrough has brought Shechtman the world's highest scientific honor.  In a manner of speaking, Shechtmanite - or the discovery of quasicrystals - was embedded in that first rock - the Technion cornerstone. It was a rock on which 100 years of progress, teaching, wonder and innovation would be built. The cornerstone today reverberates with the miracle of matter, where the beautiful "Shechtmanite" - perfect in its quasiperiodic form - unveils a myriad of new possibilities and a new century of hope and manifestation for Technion, Israel and the world.

Technion President Peretz Lavie (left)
with new Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman

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