Jacob Nissim Israelachvili (19 August 1944 – 20 September 2018), ז”ל.

Jacob Israelachvili (FRS, NAS member, Tribology Gold Medal recipient) passed away on Thursday. He was perhaps the most famous contemporary scientist in the field of adhesion, friction, and hydrophobicity, known for his invention of the Surface Force Apparatus and for his textbook “Intermolecular and Surface Forces.” I found an interesting article about him written in 2006, soon after he was elected an NAS member at the PNAS website.

I happened to be a reviewer of his last PNAS paper “Rates of cavity filling by liquids” PNAS (2018) 115:8070-8075. PNAS is a very prestigious journal of the National Academy of Sciences. In an unusual manner, PNAS publishes names of reviewers next to the names of the authors. It was great honor to serve a reviewer of such an article.

I met Israelachvili once in 2003 in Ohio, and I asked him about his unusual Georgian-Jewish last name (ისრაელისშვილი in Georgian or ישראלשוילי in Hebrew). He said that he originated from a noble family of Georgian rabbis, seven generations in Jerusalem.