Waves Katchalsky-Katzir

  • Issue: June 1993
  • Designer: S. Dozorets
  • Stamp size: 40 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 187
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Born in 1913 in Lodz, Poland, Aharon Katzir-Katchaisky immigrated to Israel in 1922 with his parents and brother Ephraim.

During 1923-1948 the family resided in Jerusalem, where Aharon attended the Hebrew Gymnasium in Rehavia. In 1932 he commenced his studies at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. There he studied and carried out research in various areas of the life sciences. In 1936 he published, together with Prot. Bodenheimer. his first book, "Sons of the Sun", a guide to the butterflies of Israel.

In 1933 he joined the "Haganah" in Jerusalem.

In 1939 he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Hebrew University summa cum laude, and was appointed Senior Research Assistant in the Department of Theoretical Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry. He was now studying mathematics and physics, realizing the importance of these fields in life sciences.

In 1943, at the height of WWII, he published. together with Prof. Leibowitz and Dr. Brill, his second book "Innovations of Science during War". In 1947, together with Prof. Johanan Rattner, and with the blessings of David Ben-Gurion, he founded the Research and Development unit of the IDE - "Hemed".

In 1948, invited by Prof. Chaim Weizmann, he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, and founded the Department of Polymer Research, which he chaired until his murder, in 1972. Under his leadership, the department evolved rapidly info a center of excellence in this area. Polyelectrolytes served as models for macromolecular substances in the living organism.

His focus of interest shifted then to mechanochemistry, which constituted a wide theoretical background to muscle activity. He studied irreversible thermodynamics which goes beyond classic thermodynamics, analyzing not static systems, but the irreversible processes taking place, and the interactions with the surroundings. He then applied this new approach to describe the dynamics of life processes, and in 1965, together with Prof. Curran from Harvard University, published a book on this subject. His research and book also deal with membranes, which play a central role in the living organism. He was involved in brain research and in the relationship between cybernetics and artificial intelligence. In his last years he was especially interested in a new theoretical tool, network thermodynamics, which focuses on the interrelationship between processes, and which was also targeted at understanding the complex bonds in life processes.

Around these topics, Aharon Katzir-Katchalsky established a school of young scientists, attracted by his charismatic scientific personality and his brilliant lectures. His popular lectures on science, on the radio and in settlements, attracted a wide public to science. He greatly valued the involvement of science and scientists in social problems. In the last year of his life he wrote "In the Crucible of the Scientific Revolution", a book which reflects his general philosophical outlook.

Aharon Katzir-Katchalsky conceived the idea of the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities, and was among its founders.

His achievements received world wide recognition and prizes: The Weizmann Prize (1954); The Israel Prize in the Exact Sciences (1961); The Rothschild Prize in Chemistry (1972); Honorary Degrees from various universities abroad. Aharon Katzir was President of International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics, and a Foreign Member of the American National Academy of Science.

On May 30, 1972 Prof. Aharon Katzir was killed in a terrorist attack at Ben Gurion airport.

top top

Aharon Katchalsky-Katzir (1913 - 1972)