Daniel Zajfman

Prof. Daniel Zajfman received a BSc (1983) and a PhD (1989) in atomic physics from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. In 1991, he joined the Weizmann Institute's Department of Particle Physics (now the Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics), after concluding his postdoctoral research at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. Since 2001, he has also been an external member of the Max Planck Institute of Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, and from 2005-2006, he served as Director of that institute. In 2006, he was elected the tenth President of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Prof. Zajfman's research focuses on the fundamental understanding of molecular dynamics and structure, as well as with the dynamics of ions in traps. He is the incumbent of the Simon Weinstock Professorial Chair of Astrophysics.

Résumé

The curious strategy of curiosity-driven research

"Nothing has changed the world more than the advances in science. Today, scientific innovation is also a strong driver of modern economies. This has had profound implications as how we support scientific research, and how we try to drive the scientists themselves, and focus them, toward specific goals which are relevant to our present-day problems, or market opportunities. However, this focusing effect tends to distort, and in fact even destroy, one of the major engine behind innovation: Free Scientific Curiosity.

How much freedom should scientists have in order to foster the next scientific revolution? Are they allowed to take enough risk? Can we guess the future that science will provide us?"