The Emet Prize is awarded to Igal Talmi for his pioneering and decisive contribution to deciphering the atomic nuclear structure and its components via algebraic and composite theory methods, and for his tremendous scientific contribution to the development of subatomic physics in Israel.
Prof. Igal Talmi was born in the Ukraine in 1925 and made Aliyah that year to Kfar Yehezkel. In 1943 he began his study of physics and mathematics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and in 1947 completed his M.Sc. During the War of Independence, he served in the Jerusalem Brigade and later in the Science Corps. When the fighting ended, he was sent by the government to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology to complete his doctoral studies. Starting in 1952, he spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University. On his return to Israel he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science as one of the first researchers in its Nuclear Physics Department. From 1959 until his retirement in 1994, he was a professor in the Department, and since then has been professor emeritus. Over the years he served as Department Head and as Dean of Physics.
Prof. Talmi’s research dealt mainly with the structure of atomic nuclei, which consists of protons and neutrons that move inside the nucleus. The particles’ motion may be approximated by the “shell model” in which they are affected by a common force – the average of all the forces active in the nucleus and additional attractive forces between every two particles in the nucleus. He developed a method that uses experimental data to obtain information on these forces and he succeeded in deriving a general formula for energies of nuclear states. Together with his students, he calculated exactly the energies of nuclei and successfully predicted the results of subsequent experiments. His research showed how the features of the forces between the particles determine the variety of nuclear shapes.
Over the years, Prof. Talmi was a visiting professor at Princeton and other universities. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (since 1963) and has chaired its Division of Sciences. His scientific work has earned him awards including Tel Aviv’s Weizmann Award in, 1962, the Israel Prize in 1965, with his colleague Prof. Amos de-Shalit, the Rothschild Prize in 1971 and the Hans Bethe prize of the American Physical Society in 2000.