Did you know that 8 Israeli scientists have won the Nobel Prize during the last 10 years? Documentary filmmaker, Uri Rosenwaks, has created a series of 5 short episodes (each 35 minutes), entitled The Nobelists, that provide personal in-depth portraits and, at the same time, some understanding of the scientific discoveries themselves. These scientists represent varied facets of the Israeli experience -- new immigrant, holocaust survivor, bereaved parent, single parent, and different ends of the political spectrum.
1. Dan Shechtman, from the Technion, was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his "discovery of quasi-crystals which created a new cross-disciplinary branch of science." Shechtman talks about how chance brought him to discover these crystals and how he had to persevere when there was such a negative response to his discovery, both in Israel and abroad, until his discovery finally received global acceptance. Recently, he ran for president of Israel and had some support among the general population, but in the Knesset, where the president is chosen, surprisingly he received almost no support.
2. Robert Aumann, from the Hebrew University, won the 2005 prize in economics for his work in Game Theory.
3. Avram Hershko, Aaron Ciechanover and Irwin Rose won the 2004 prize in chemistry for their discovery of a system for the controlled breakdown of protein in cells.
4. Daniel Kahneman was awarded the 2002 prize in behavioral science economics for his research into how and why people make illogical choices. I found this episode to be the most fascinating probably because I have more understanding of psychology than I do of chemistry. Prof. Kahneman explains that people are often willing to take a very unreasonable risk of a much greater loss in order to avoid a sure loss. This has far-reaching applications in understanding economics (such as the stock market) and international trade.
5. Michael Levitt, Arieh Warshel and Martin Karplus received the 2013 prize in chemistry for the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems.
This fascinating and in-depth series is available from RuthDiskin Films.