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  • Writer's pictureDavid L. Thompson

Lighting One REALLY BIG Candle

Updated: Oct 16, 2018

In this post, I want to explore the scientific accomplishments of the Jewish people. Many of the most accomplished nuclear physicists down through history have been Jewish and many of them were key players in the largest and most dramatic scientific and engineering accomplishment of our time - the Manhattan Project; creating nuclear fusion, the heart of the atomic bomb. The names Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer (Scientific Director of Los Alamos - oversaw the entire scientific portion of the Manhattan project), Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate Isidor L. Rabi (also founder of nuclear magnetic resonance - MRI), all very well known and all Jewish. All were central to the effort of building the one weapon that would end the second world war. But Einstein gave us more than an equation that described the relationship between mass and energy - the relationship which makes a nuclear bomb possible. He saw space and time in an entirely new way and gave us his General and Special Theories of Relativity. Other Jewish scientists of great note are Niels Bohr who helped define the structure of the atom (back to physics again!), Jonas Salk - the person who discovered the Polio vaccine, Sigmund Freud - the founder of psychoanalysis and Karl Marx, who's teaching of social structure still continues to have a significant impact on how people around the world choose to live their lives. And then there is one of my favorites, Karl Sagan. Anyone who grew up in the 70's will remember Karl and his famous 'billions and billions...' phrase. He gave us all a view of the cosmos that instilled awe and a sense of majesty that few other's could ever hope to mimic.

I mentioned above that there were two Jewish Nobel Prize Laureates working on the Manhattan Project. Well, I found it interesting to discover that 20% of all the Nobel Prize recipients down through the years are Jewish. That number increases to 31.5% if you look specifically at the more modern era, focusing on the interval between the years 2000 and 2013. This accomplishment is made more startling by the fact that Jews make up approximately 0.2% of the world's population. There has been a lot of speculation as to why Jews are so predominant in the Nobel Prize categories. Some suggest that it is the Jewish tradition of questioning everything from a very young age. It is part of their culture. It is said that 2 Jews will have 3 opinions. Whatever the explanation is, the fact that Jews have made significant contributions to science, and life on this planet, is unquestionable.

In my next post, I hope to pull the previous posts together in a way that shows how life in the Middle East could be so much better for all concerned, if only...

This continues to be a whirlwind tour through Middle Eastern history, but it all helps to set the stage for the conflict that is at the heart of 'Dark Harvest'. I hope that you will return and join me once again on this continuing journey. I will post twice weekly.

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