Hundreds of alumni from the Faculty of Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science gathered on campus on September 13 for the Faculty’s first-ever reunion. For those who spent several significant years here, the evening was a chance to reconnect with their former classmates, instructors, and fellow investigators.
Alumni and their spouses heard from the Dean of Physics, Prof. Yossi Nir, on the Faculty’s history and many achievements, and from Dr. Hagar Landsman, a research associate in the Department of Particle Physics
and Astrophysics, who had recently returned from a second voyage to Antarctica. Dr. Landsman is a member of the international “IceCube” research team, which is responsible for the operation of a unique type of telescope that tracks particles called neutrinos.
Prof. Avishay Gal-Yam of the Institute’s Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics addressed a question that sparks the imagination of physicists and non-physicists alike: Are we alone in the universe? Then Khen Shalem, a 2005 Physics graduate and award-winning film director (his short film, Abe, won the 2007 Academy of Television
Arts & Sciences College Television Award) spoke about his journey from Rehovot to Hollywood and from science to film.
He presented the video clip he directed especially for this evening, with the Israeli musical duo TYP—Ivri Lider and Johnny Goldstein. Filmed at the Institute and titled Touching Something No One Found, the clip is a musical experience that features 11 of the Institute’s young and veteran scientists discussing physics and research.
Feedback from the alumni was overwhelmingly positive, and generated reminiscences. Said Prof. Ilan Ben-Zvi, who studied at the Institute from 1965-1970, obtained an MSc and a PhD in nuclear physics under the
supervision of Prof. Gvirol Goldring: “We had a very lively, tightly knit group of graduate students, postdocs and faculty members working together in great harmony and enthusiasm. Time and physical separation left few chances to meet this wonderful group; it was a great pleasure to meet many of these friends and colleagues again,” he said.
For the past 24 years, Prof. Ben-Zvi has been working in accelerator science, and today serves as the head of the Accelerator R&D Division and associate chair of the Collider-Accelerator Department at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and as a Brookhaven Professor at the Physics and Astronomy Department.
Dr. Adiv Sprinzak graduated from the Weizmann Institute in 1969; his research involved the Van de Graaff accelerator, which was new to Israel at the time, and is still running today. He said, “Seeing my fellow students at the alumni event stirred memories of the experiments we ran in the accelerator, for 48 hours at a time, over months.” Dr. Sprinzak says that these were formative years, in which he and others devoted most of their time to research and creative work. “The quality and excellence we had aimed for in our research at the Faculty of Physics is clearly recognizable in the actions and accomplishments of all the friends in the wonderful meeting on the lawn outside the Wix Auditorium,” he said.
Daniel Ashery is a professor of physics at the Tel Aviv University, whose connection to the Institute began in 1963, when he arrived on campus to conduct doctoral research.
He obtained his PhD in 1966, and since then, throughout his long and remarkable career, has maintained close ties to the Institute’s physics research community. He participated in the Faculty of Physics first-ever reunion, and said: “Although I’m here at the Institute quite often to meet and work with close associates, it was a delightful occasion to catch up with many good friends. The talks were interesting, not just for physicists, and I would be happy to return on future similar occasions.”