U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House
Israeli scientists Yakir Aharonov, and Amnon Yariv will be presented with U.S. National Medal of Science awards by Barack Obama at the White House later this year. Photo by AP
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Two Israeli scientists will be among 10 recipients of this year's U.S. National Medal of Science. The Israelis, Yakir Aharonov, a world-renowned quantum physicist, and Amnon Yariv, an international expert on lasers, will be presented with the award by U.S. President Barack Obama later this year.

Aharonov, 78, is an emeritus professor at Tel Aviv University who became famous as one of the two namesakes of the Aharonov-Bohm effect, together with physicist David Bohm, describing a phenomenon in which particles are influenced by forces far removed from them.

Aharonov has been considered a leading candidate for the Nobel Prize in Physics in recent years for his work on quantum mechanics. He is also on the faculty of Chapman University in the United States.

Aharonov told Haaretz of his excitement over his invitation to the White House and the opportunity to talk to Obama. He said before he was notified that he would be awarded the medal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation called for permission to conduct a background check. He received another call about a week ago from the president's science adviser notifying him that he would be awarded the medal.

Yariv is currently on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology, where he specializes in electro-optics. In the 1970s, together with two of his students, Yariv established Ortel Corporation, a manufacturer of components for cable television. Ortel was sold in 2000 to the American communications equipment maker Lucent Technologies for $2.95 billion.

Yariv will receive the award for his work in photonics, which is the study of the generation and transmission of light, and for his accomplishments in quantum electronics.