Prof. Yossef Dothan - Obituary

updated: 28.09.2017


Physics Today, July 1991


Yossef (Joe) Dothan, a professor of physics at Tel Aviv University, passed away very suddenly from cardiac arrest on 20 May 1990, at the age of 50.


Yossef was born in Petach Tikva, Israel. In 1961 he received his BSc and MSc from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His PhD dissertation, on νe scattering, was written under the supervision of Amos de-Shalit and completed more than a decade before direct experimental studies of this reaction were performed.


Yossef worked out many successful predictions of the eightfold way of Murray Gell-Mann and Yuval Ne'eman and pioneered applications of diffractive models to elementary-particle interactions. He was particularly happy with his "unitary parity," the extension of G-parity to SU(3).


During his stay at Caltech (1964-66), Yossef invented the dynamical groups and spectrum-generating algebras, subjects that became a lifelong passion for him. He improved low-energy theorems, investigated the octet enhancement scheme and invented methods for deciding the important issue of the spin of the Ω-. He was an inspiration to his collaborators and was always ready to lend a helpful hand. He once volunteered not to apply to a summer school so that I would be able to attend.


At Tel Aviv University, whose faculty Yossef joined in 1966, and during visits to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis-St. Paul, the University of Texas at Austin, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Duke University, Yossef continued working on a broad variety of subjects, such as soft pions, electromagnetic effects, current algebras, dynamical groups and multilevel systems. He studied solitons and tunneling with his student Herbert Neuberger, and he rediscovered the geometric (Kähler) fermions, a subject that he went on to develop with Thomas Banks and David Horn. Recently his research interests had come to focus mainly on chiral (σ) and Skyrme models, on which he collaborated extensively with Lawrence Biedenharn.


Yossef was a scientist of extremely broad abilities, able to collaborate equally well with theoretical chemists and with particle experimenters. His knowledge of mathematics was remarkable, and so was his willingness to teach it to his colleagues. He also contributed invaluably to the development of educational programs in science at our university.


Yossef's merits were not limited to his achievements in physics and his scholarly excellence. He was a truly honest and principled person, devoted to family, students and friends. He always gave the right advice and helped many make the right decision. His friends all over the world will always miss him.



Shmuel Nussinov

Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv, Israel

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