STORIES
Scientists

Ahmed H. Zewail

by Omar Tarek from Cairo

Ahmed Zewail (Yahoo)
Ahmed Zewail (Yahoo)

Ahmed Zewail, a man respected and admired by Egyptians near and far, was born on February 26, 1946, on the banks of the Rosetta Branch of the river Nile, in a town in the El Beheera district called Disoq. It is 60 km from Alexandria, where he was raised and eventually studied at the University of Alexandria.

His father was liked and respected by the community - he was helpful, cheerful and enjoyed his life. He worked for the government and also had his own business. His mother, a good-natured, contented person, devoted all her life to her children and, in particular, to Ahmed. He has stated that she was of key importance to his "walk of life" because of her kindness, total devotion, and natural intelligence.

King of Scotland giving the award to Zewail (Nobel Prize site)
King of Scotland giving the award to Zewail (Nobel Prize site)

He continued his studies in the United States and graduated in 1974 with a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. After two years at the University of California at Berkeley he was employed at Caltech where he holds the Linus Pauling Chair of Chemical Physics. Zewail is an Egyptian and American citizen.

On October 13, 1999, The Royal Swedish Academy for Sciences awarded Ahmed Zewail the Noble Prize in Science as he discovered something amazing.

"Professor Zewail is using a technique that may be described as the world's fastest camera. This uses laser flashes of such short duration that we are down to the time scale on which the reactions actually happen – femtoseconds. One femtosecond (fs) is 10–15 seconds, that is, 0,000000000000001seconds, which is to a second as a second is to 32 million years! This area of physical chemistry has been named Femtochemistry.

Femtochemistry has enabled us to understand the underlying mechanisms of why some chemical reactions occur but not others, and why reaction rates and yields are dependent on temperature. Inspired by Zewail’s pioneering experiments some 10 years ago, scientists the world over are studying processes with femtosecondspectroscopy in gases, fluids and solids, on surfaces, in polymers and in biological systems. Applications range from how catalysts function and how molecular electronic devices should be designed, to the most delicate mechanisms of life processes and how the medicines of the future should be designed and produced."

Ahmed Zewail is an example of those who strive to be HEROES in the world we are living in. One of the most famous men in the world was brought up in one of the simplest of Egyptian families. I have learned from him many things. Perhaps, he is my candle of hope.

Page created on 3/29/2007 9:10:31 AM

Last edited 3/29/2007 9:10:31 AM

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Related Links

Ahmed H. Zewail
- Winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry - 1999
Ahmed H. Zewail: - a biography from Wikipedia.

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