Exploring the Physical World
Our Achievements

Exploring the Physical World

Science for the benefit of the physical world.

From the earth beneath our feet to the stars we wish upon, the physical world around us is still a mystery – and the Weizmann Institute’s curiosity-driven scientists are working to understand it. In a world’s first, our archaeologists discovered a way to precisely identify and analyze prehistoric ashes, and found a highly pure, well-preserved source of DNA in fossilized bone. Our materials scientists and structural biologists found that bone and shell actually form in similar ways. Our astrophysicists actually watched – for the first time – as a massive star, later estimated at a mass of perhaps 200 suns, went supernova and became a black hole. Our hydrologists created a model of groundwater movement that can aid development of sound environmental policy, such as after an oil spill. From learning about the past to shaping the future, the Weizmann Institute of Science is exploring new frontiers to reveal how the world works.

Weizmann by the Numbers

  • Our scientists identified a potentially habitable planet just four light years away 
  • We found that more than 50% of the dust fertilizing the Amazon rainforest comes from one African valley
  • Over 800 simulations revealed that Earth՚s one moon may be made from many smaller moons 

Selected Achievements

Imagine science that discovers a new kind of supernova and helps explain the universe.

Weizmann astrophysicists and an international team discovered a new type of supernova. Levels of calcium and titanium in the explosion indicate that the supernova was a nuclear reaction. This event could help explain mysteries such as the prevalence of calcium in the universe and in our bodies.

Imagine science that can shed light on the lost worlds of the past.

Weizmann’s Prof. Steve Weiner and colleagues found fossilized DNA that may be better preserved and less prone to contamination with modern DNA. They showed that DNA fragments preserved in crystal aggregates within fossilized bone can be isolated and studied, giving us improved insight into our past.

Imagine science that explains the ecological abundance found in the Amazon rainforests.

Weizmann’s Prof. Ilan Koren found that over half of the mineral dust that air currents carry each year from Africa to the Amazon basin comes from a single small valley in the Sahara. This dust, measured using satellite images, provides the nutrients necessary for the rich biology of the rain forest.

Imagine science that defines the strongest force in nature.

Weizmann scientists took part in the research that proved the existence of gluons in 1957. Gluons are the particles responsible for the strongest force in nature – the force that holds the nucleus of the atom together.

Imagine science that aims to answer the biggest questions in the universe.

Weizmann scientists are part of the international consortium examining some of the biggest questions in the universe at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), such as identifying the Higgs boson. The LHC, which is underground near Geneva, is the largest, highest-energy particle accelerator ever built.

Imagine science that can explain the creation of a black hole.

In a first for astrophysics, Weizmann scientist Prof. Avishay Gal-Yam, collaborating with colleagues at San Diego State University, observed as a star estimated at a mass of 200 suns exploded. The scientists were ultimately able to confirm that the massive star turned into a black hole.

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