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Professor Shimon Haber speaks on Machines and Man

Using his career as an example of how an aeronautical engineer ends up studying the fluid mechanics of the human lungs, 2010 Technion Society of Australia Theeman Scholar, Professor Shimon Haber, introduced a capacity crowd at the TSA October meeting to the evolving world of science.

Professor Haber described his early years as a child from a poor family of Polish Shoah survivors growing up in Israel and how assistance from the Technion gave him the opportunity to qualify as an aeronautical engineer, ultimately completing his doctorate.


His early career was in an elite unit of the Israeli Air Force where he played a key role during the 1973 Yom Kippur War designing and implementing a modification to Skyhawk fighters that resulted in reducing to what up until then had been heavy losses of planes and pilots from S7 ground to air missiles. He and his team worked for 72 hours without a break, constantly aware that every hour of delay was resulting in loss of life. He says this was the point where he became a ‘man’.


He is recognised throughout the world for his work in fluid dynamics and particularly biological flows and low Reynolds Number flows. He candidly acknowledges that he is an applied mathematician and that his work in ‘slow flows’ largely arose because they leant themselves to mathematical modelling.

Professor Haber gave a number of simple examples to illustrate his research and demonstrate that at the micro-particle level many actual phenomena are counter intuitive. He explained that this was important, for example, to the understanding of the inhalation and efficacy of medicinal drugs.

In conclusion, he talked generally about the crucial role that the Technion plays in the life of Israel. He cited the fact that almost every piece of infrastructure and building was the result of the work of Technion graduates.

The function was held in the home of Nicky and Peter Franks.

Professor Haber’s visit to and collaboration at the University of NSW was made possible by the TSA Theeman Fund. For nearly 40 years the TSA Theeman Fund has made possible the exchange of academics between the Technion and Australian universities.