Raphael D. Levine
Wolf Prize Laureate in Chemistry 1988
Raphael D. Levine
Affiliation at the time of the award:
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
“for their incisive theoretical studies elucidating energy acquisition and disposal in molecular systems and mechanisms for dynamical selectivity and specificity”.
Professor Raphael D. Levine is one of the pioneers, and a leader of worldwide recognition, in the modern theory of chemically reactive collisions and unimolecular reactions. He has played a central role in the application of the principles of quantum mechanics to the description of physical change in a reaction from a microscopic point of view, introducing many new concepts and terms which became standard to this area. His pioneering works include the quantum theory of absolute rates, the first quantal treatment of molecular photodissociation, elucidation of the role of resonances in reactive molecular collisions, the theory of collision- induced dissociation, and (most recently) the foundations of dynamical stereochemistry.
Recognizing the insufficiency of the microscopic approach to fully comprehend the dynamics of too complex systems, Levine formulated a novel theoretical method for analysing the dynamical selectivity and specificity of molecular reactions, based on ideas borrowed from thermodynamics and information theory. His “surprisal analysis” (brought forth in 1972 in collaboration with Richard Bernstein and Avinoam Ben-Shaul) became a major analytical tool in the study of reaction dynamics, and spread into diverse branches of science such as nuclear physics and molecular biology. Levine’s achievements in applying the ideas of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics culminated in their synthesis in his recent introduction of the algebraic approach to reaction dynamics, based on the maximum entropy principle.