Yuval Ne'eman (May 14, 1925 – April 26, 2006), was an Israeli physicist and politician.

He was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, graduated from high school at the age of 15, and studied mechanical engineering in the Technion. At the age of 15, Ne'eman also joined the Hagana. During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 Ne'eman served in the Israeli Defense Forces as battalion deputy commander, then as Operations Officer of Tel Aviv, and commander of Givati Brigade. Later (1952–1954) he served as Deputy Commander of Operations Department of General Staff, Commander of Planning Department of IDF. In this role, he helped organize the IDF into a reservist-based army, developed the mobilization system, and wrote the first draft of the Israel defense doctrine. In 1958–1960 Ne'eman was IDF Attaché in Great Britain, where he also studied for a Ph.D. in physics under supervision of Abdus Salam in University of London. In 1961, he was demobilized from the IDF with a rank of Colonel.

One of his greatest achievements in physics was his proposal (in 1962, independently from Murray Gell-Mann) of the classification of hadrons through their SU(3) flavour symmetry—today known as the quark model. He also made other important contributions to particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology and the philosophy of science.

Ne'eman was founder and director of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel-Aviv University from 1965 to 1972, president of Tel-Aviv University from 1971 to 1975, and director of its Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies from 1979 to 1997. He was also the director of the Center for Particle Theory at the University of Texas, Austin from 1968 to 1990.

In 1969, he received the Israel Prize in the field of exact sciences and the Einstein Medal for his unique contribution in the field of physics. In 2003, he received the EMET Prize for Arts, Sciences and Culture for his pioneering contribution in the deciphering of the atomic nucleus and its components, and for his enormous scientific contribution to the development of sub-atomic physics in Israel. [1]

A strong believer in the importance of space research and satellites to the country's economic future and security, Ne'eman founded the Israel Space Agency in 1983 and chaired it almost until his death. He also served on the Atomic Energy Commission from 1965 to 1984 and held the position of scientific director in its Soreq facility. Ne'eman was chief scientist of the Defense Ministry from 1974 to 1976.

In the late 1970s, Ne'eman founded the Tehiya movement, a Likud breakaway party, in opposition to the Camp David talks that paved the way for peace with Egypt and the evacuation of Yamit. In 1982–92, he served as Tehiya representative in the Knesset. Ne'eman founded the Ministry of Science and Technology and served as its minister in Yitzhak Shamir's government.

He passed away at the age of 81, on April 26, 2006 in Tel Aviv, due to an acute stroke. He left a wife, Dvora, a son and daughter, and a sister, Ruth Ben-Yisrael.


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Biographies of Physicists and Astronomers