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Amos de Shalit


Amos de Shalit was born in 1926 in Israel. He studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and completed his PhD at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Afterwards, he did research at Princeton, Stanford, and MIT and spent time at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Science located in Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border) and at Hebrew University.

De Shalit founded and served as the first head of the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Nuclear Physics. He later served as the Institute’s Scientific Director and Director General. A few months before he died he became Head of a new Department of Science Teaching at the Weizmann Institute and devoted much of his time to researching methods of and sorting out problems of science teaching. A former fighter with the Haganah during the 1948 War of Independence, de Shalit was a devoted Israeli citizen and envisioned widespread and effective physics and science education in Israel. This included concern with the social implications of science and teaching reform.

De Shalit was a theoretical physicist whose work mainly concerned nuclear science. He earned the Israel Prize for Natural Science with Igal Talmi in 1965 for his work on the nuclear shell model. He was among the first to promote the study of high energy particle beams for studying nuclear structure. He was highly involved in CERN’s experimental synchro-cyclotron program. Shortly before his death he accepted the position of consultant on CERN’s “Physics III” Committee which was concerned with the SC program. Together with Professor Weisskopf, he began to host a series of international conferences at CERN in 1963 on High Energy Physics and Nuclear Structure. De Shalit published several books: Nuclear shell Theory along with Igal Talmi, Theoretical Nuclear Physics, and Nuclear, Particle and Many Body Physics.

De Shalit died on September 2, 1969 at the age of 43 from acute pancreatitis, yet his legacy and memory live on in Israel and throughout the world today. De Shalit High School is a high school and two junior sister high schools located in Rehovot. Many students who attend De Shalit High School participate in programs at the Weizmann Institute.

The Amos de Shalit Foundation was formally established in 1974 on the fifth anniversary of the death of its namesake. The Foundation's main goal is to foster an increased awareness of the important role of science amongst Israeli youth.

Sources: Amos de Shalit Foundation, CERN Web Archives, De Shalit High School, Who’s Who in Jewish History by Joan Cornay and revised by Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok