History of the Physics Department
Before the University was established, there were in the
area quite a number of young people who had a first degree from
various institutions, and were eager to advance further in their
To answer this need an "institute for higher learning" was
established. Teachers came to teach from the various universities
and also from two local institutes: The Desert Research Institute and
the Nuclear Research Center. A number of Physicists started teaching
higher degrees for students in different fields of engineering and
Dr. Hagai Shaked (presently Emeritus Professor in the physics department)
was the first teacher and gave the first lecture at this new establishment
on April 14th,1964. It was a mathematics course for biology graduate students.
Among those who came to give courses in physics, were
Professors Hanoch Gutfreund and Dan Amit from the Hebrew University.
Professor Yakir Aharonov From Tel Aviv University took a partial position at
the physics department and participated in the establishment of an advanced
In 1967 a regular program for higher education was established under
the supervision of the Weizman Institute and the theses advisors were a
joint team from the Weizmann Institute and local faculty member.
In 1970 the Physics department as part of the "University of the Negev"
(later renamed Ben Gurion University) was formally created. Professor
Nathan Rosen, professor of physics at the Technion, arrived
to fill temporarily the position of dean of the new faculty of science.
In this capacity he was responsible to the
recruitment of the first full time members in the newly created department.
The first chairman of the teaching commitee was the late
Professor Gideon Erez.On the 27th of June 1972 the department (together
with the whole faculty) was accredited to bestow the Bachelor degree in physics.
This was followed in 1974 by an M.Sc. and in 1978 by a Ph.D.
In the beginning the first laboratories were housed in a hostel,
called 'The house of HIAS' which the city leased to the university. Some of
the first courses were given in nearby shops which had been converted
into temporary classrooms.The department had also offices
in the nearby Zohar Hotel. Additional buildings were built on the
grounds of 'Beth HIAS', but the housing situation became very accute.
Planning for a permanent regular university campus was already started
in the early days. The Beer Sheva
municipality decided on the area, situated in the northern part of the city.
In 1974 the physics department moved to the new campus. But there was still
a shortage of space, so that the offices and laboratories were spread
all over the campus. It was only in 2008 that the department moved into
its own physics building.
Some members of the department are also members of the Desert Research
Institute in Sdeh Boker. To improve ties between this group and the rest of
the department Professor Baruch Horowitz instituted a program whereby
there would be get-togethers of the groups at Sdeh Boker which would
include overnight stays and social programs.
Some senior members of the department have also taught physics for
many years in the School for Remedial Studies ( Mechina) . Professors Yigal
Horowitz, Shaul Mordechai and Shaul Goren served as 'merakzim' of physics.
The Mechina was highly successful and provided the opportunity to thousands
of students to go on and study in the Faculty of Technology.
- SOME OLD PICTURES
- SOME DOCUMENTS AND MEMORIES
- In Memmory of deceased department members.
- SOME PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE BUILDINGS(Photographed by Bruriah Thieberger)