Tag Archives: Mechanics

Jew of the Week: Menachem Mendel Schneerson

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Menachem Mendel Schneerson – The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) was the 7th and final Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. From an early age he was focused on the well-being of others, diving into the Black Sea to save a drowning boy when he was just 9 years old. After marrying, he settled in Germany, where he studied math, physics, and philosophy at the University of Berlin. Simultaneously, he began writing commentaries on the Torah. With the rise of the Nazis, Rabbi Schneerson moved to France in 1933, and studied mechanics and engineering at ESTP, then enrolled at the world-famous Sarbonne and studied math until the outbreak of World War II. In 1941, the Rebbe finally made it to America. Immediately, he went to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to help the war effort, and was on the team that supplied the U.S.S. Missouri battleship. By 1942, Rabbi Schneerson began taking charge of Chabad. He reluctantly accepted the title of Rebbe in 1951. Over the years, he launched many campaigns to reignite Judaism globally. He sent thousands of emissaries, called shluchim, around the world, setting up Chabad houses on every continent (except Antarctica, for now), thereby putting kosher food, warm hospitality and prayer services always within reach for Jews anywhere in the world. He was a noted kabbalist, and gave countless penetrating discourses. He touched the lives of thousands of people, and inspired countless more. In 1983, the US Congress established the Rebbe’s birthday as “Education Day”. Posthumously, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Words of the Week

You must approach a fellow Jew as though you are the King’s servant sent with a message to His most precious child.

– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jew of the Week: Stan Ovshinsky

Inventor of (Almost) Everything

Mr. Ovshinsky made your life a lot easier

Stanford Ovshinsky (b. 1922) was born in Akron, Ohio to Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Belarus. Instilled by his father with a sense of working for the good of the public, Ovshinsky went on to invent over 400 things for which he holds patents. He first created a special high-speed lathe that was used in the war effort to rapidly produce artillery shells. In 1951 he moved to Detroit to work in the auto industry and invented, among many other things, electric power steering. Besides mechanical engineering, Ovshinsky studied a diverse array of other subjects and one of his main focuses was neurophysiology. He was able to fashion a model nerve cell that was hailed as a breakthrough in nanotechnology. He also discovered what became known as the “Ovshinsky Effect”, which led to the development of rewritable CDs, DVDs and flat-screen displays. Ovshinsky is most famous for his work in batteries and solar cells. He invented the rechargeable (Ni-H) battery, and shattered all expectations by creating a 30 megawatt solar generator at a time when even 5 megawatts was a dream. Although he is nearly 90 years old, Ovshinsky continues his work, mostly on photovoltaic cells, with the express goal of making fossil fuels obsolete. He has been compared to both Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, and is often called the “world’s most important energy visionary.” TIME Magazine named him “Hero of the Planet” in 1999. He has won countless awards and published over 300 scientific papers. His latest thin-film PV invention may soon be powering all of your devices, but you’ve probably never heard of him (until now). His humility can be summed up in his own words: “I’m not going to tell you about it, I’m just going to show you”.

Update: Sadly, Stanford Ovshinsky passed away on October 17, 2012 – five months after this piece was originally posted.

Words of the Week

Study the past if you want to define the future.
– Confucius