Photo of Yakir Aharonov

Yakir Aharonov

  • National Medal of Science
  • Physical Sciences

For his contributions to the foundations of quantum physics and for drawing out unexpected implications of that field ranging from the Aharonov-Bohm effect to the theory of weak measurement.

Yakir Aharonov on the etymology of quantum mechanics

The pioneering work of physicist Yakir Aharonov has had an impact on the foundations of quantum physics and myriad fields ranging from quantum mechanics to string theory.

Aharonov discovered the theory of weak measurements, a new approach to measuring minute particles that, while slow and painstaking, created smaller disturbances among those particles. The measurements opened new doors.

“We find that with weak measurements, we can remove the disturbance, and see new things,’’ he told an interviewer in 2011.

Aharonov is perhaps best known for teaming with David Bohm in 1959 to formulate the Aharonov-Bohm effect, which holds that a charged a particle is influenced by a magnetic field with which it has not come into contact with.

Born in Israel, Aharonov earned a doctorate from England’s Bristol University in 1960.

He has held teaching and researching positions at a number of universities, including Tel Aviv University, the University of South Carolina, George Mason University and Chapman University.

He has received numerous awards during his career, including the 1998 Wolf Prize. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

By Robert Warren