Nobel laureate, Caltech professor Ahmed Zewail dies at 70

The Nobel Prize laureate for chemistry, Egyptian-American scientist Ahmed Zewail of the California Institute of Technology, pioneered a revolution in chemistry by using rapid-fire laser flashes that illuminate the motion of atoms in a molecule.

Nobel laureate and Caltech professor Ahmed Zewail died Tuesday (August 2, 2016) at the age of 70.

The renowned chemist won the Nobel Prize in 1999 for his developments in femtoscience, which made it possible to the observe atoms in motion at an extremely small time scale. The San Marino resident served as a professor of chemistry and physics, as well as the director of the Physical Biology Center at Caltech.

“Ahmed Zewail was a great man for chemistry, for science and for society. All of us at Caltech grieve his loss,” said Jacqueline K. Barton, the leadership chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, in a statement.

Zewail, born in Damanhur, Egypt came to Caltech in 1976 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Following his Nobel Prize, Zewail and his research group developed “4D” electron microscopy, an even more advanced time measurement of atomic scale events.

The author of 600 articles and 14 books received more than 100 International prizes and awards in his lifetime, including state honors in Egypt and France. He was member in science academies and societies around the globe.

“Ahmed was the quintessential scholar and global citizen,” said Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum in a statement. “He spent a lifetime developing instruments that interrogate nature in fundamentally new ways, and defining new directions that cut across the physical and biological sciences. Ahmed’s fervor for discovery never abated and he serves as an inspiration to colleagues and generations of students.”

The accomplished scientist believed strongly in giving back to society.

He was outspoken about the political situations in his home country. He was approached about running for president in Egypt, though he declined, saying he would rather stick to truth and science rather than politics.

He established the Zewail City of Science and Technology, modeled after Caltech, on the outskirts of Cairo to spur scientific innovation following the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

“Knowledge acquisition is a concept that is woven into the fabric of Islam and was the springboard of success of its empire centuries ago,” Zewail wrote in April in an article on the institute’s website. “But to regain prominence in today’s world, that concept must re-emerge, transforming the culture in ways necessary for the charting of a new and promising future, and that is a prime goal of Zewail City.”

Zewail has served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, as a U.S. Science Envoy to the Middle East and as member of the U.N. Scientific Advisory Board.

“We have to help in anyway with liberty and justice,” Zewail said in February at an all-day symposium celebrating his 70th birthday, where he stressed scientists must give back to society.

The celebration featured four other Nobel laureates and a number of experts in their fields discussing the future of science and humanity.

Zewail is survived by his wife, Dema Faham, and four children, Maha, Amani, Nabeel and Hani.

( Source: Pasadena Star-News )


Wikipedia - Ahmed Zewail (1946 - 2016)

Biography - Ahmed Zewail - Educator, Chemist, Scientist

Nobel Prize - Ahmed Zewail

YouTube - Ahmed Zewail receives his Nobel Prize (1999)

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