Emet Prize Laureates

Prof Harry (Zvi) Lipkin

2009 Laureates of Emet Prize

In Category: Exact Sciences
In Field: Physics


Prof Harry (Zvi) Lipkin

Jury Statement

“The EMET Prize is awarded to Professor Harry (Zvi) Lipkin, one of the fathers of nuclear physics research in Israel for his pioneering research in the investigation of the interactions between radiation and matter in the physics of elementary particles, for his contribution to scientific education in Israel, for his contribution to establishing centers for nuclear research and for his contribution to Israeli society in the struggle for Soviet Jewry.”


Professor Harry J. (Zvi) Lipkin was born in New York in 1921.

He graduated from Cornell in Electrical Engineering and obtained a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton in 1950. He then made Aliyah and soon was among the founders of the Nuclear Physics department at the Weizmann Institute. In 1960 he was acting head of the department. He consulted at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and reviewed proposals for gamma ray lasers for the US Defense Department. He was Visiting Professor in the leading universities and research institutions in the world.

In nuclear physics he developed a model now called the "Lipkin Model" in scientific literature studying the symmetries of nature and their breaking. He published approximately 500 articles containing new and original results in nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, theory of Moessbauer effect and elementary particle physics. His scientific contributions include ground-breaking work on the quark model and the use of symmetries in the investigation of strong interactions.

In the 1950's he was one of the founders of nuclear reactors in Israel, a senior member of the group that established centers of nuclear research and an advisor to Shimon Peres, then Director General of the Ministry of Defense.

During the struggle for Soviet Jewry he maintained active contacts with Jewish "refusenik" scientists and used his wide contacts to recruit top scientists in the world, including many Nobel laureates, to pressure the Soviet leaders. In recent years he has been active in improving systems for teaching reading in first grade.