Netanyahu Meets With Israeli Nobel Laureate, Is Given Chemistry Lesson

Dan Shechtman, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel in chemistry, explains discovery to Prime Minister, who promises larger investment in higher education.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted Nobel Prize winner Dan Shechtman at his office on Thursday, and received a chemistry lesson from the Israeli.

At the meeting, Netanyahu asked Shechtman to teach him about the findings that earned him the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Using a blackboard, Shechtman drew a diagram of his discovery - quasicrystals - a chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible.

Netanyahu told Shechtman that because of his government's investment in education, he can promise that many more Israelis will win the Nobel prize. Earlier on Thursday, Shechtman referred to the extensive government cuts to Israel's higher education budget throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century, telling Israel Radio that "we felt humiliated as scientists."

"It didn't seem that the State of Israel saw any importance in our work, and that manifested itself in massive budget cuts," Shechtman said, adding, however "that the educational system has taken recent steps, as opposed to previous periods which were very bad."

Netanyahu said in the meeting that the government has added NIS 7.5 billion to the higher education budget.

The prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.45 million) was the third of this year's Nobel prizes, following awards for medicine on Monday and for physics on Tuesday.

Israel has an impressive showing when it comes to Nobel winners, with 10 laureates in its 63-year history. Most recently, Israeli scientist Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute won the same Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2009, for her work on the ribosomes. Three Israeli politicians have also won the Nobel Prize for peace - Menachem Begin in 1978, and Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994.