Tag Archives: Research

Jew of the Week: Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk

Jonas Edward Salk (1914-1995) was born in New York to poor Russian-Jewish immigrants. His own dream was to be a lawyer, but his mother pushed him to enter the field of medicine. Salk decided to do research instead of becoming a physician, driven by a vision to help all of mankind rather than just a few patients. However, because he was a Jew, Salk was barred from working at many institutions. Nonetheless, during this time he developed an influenza vaccine that was widely used by the US army. Eventually he found his way to work in cramped quarters in the basement of Pittsburgh’s Municipal Hospital. A grant from the Mellon family allowed him to build a proper virology lab. It was there that Salk developed the polio vaccine in the post-war epidemic that plagued the world. Before the vaccine was introduced in 1955, polio killed over 3,000 people and left over 20,000 paralyzed every year in the US alone! One of the most famous victims was President Roosevelt, confined to a wheelchair for much of his term in office. It was said that “Apart from the atomic bomb, America’s greatest fear was polio.” Salk worked tirelessly to create the polio vaccine, labouring sixteen hours a day, 7 days a week. When asked who owned the patent he replied “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” Salk received the first-ever Congressional Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom. More significantly, his achievement inspired a dramatic increase in government funding of medical research. In 1960 he founded the Salk Institute, a world-reknowned centre of medical research. Salk also published several books, and is considered the father of the field of “biophilosophy”. He spent the last years of his life trying to find a cure for HIV/AIDS.


Words of the Week

A denigrating attitude toward others while inflating one’s own importance makes one lose all his spiritual gains, God forbid.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Hayom Yom, Iyar 20)

Jew of the Week: Bob Kahn

The Father of the Internet

Bob Kahn – Father of the Internet

Robert Elliot Kahn was born in New York in 1938. After receiving a Ph.D from Princeton, and working at AT&T Labs, he joined ARPA, the US military’s massive research branch. There he led the team that developed ARPANet, which came alive in 1972 when twenty computers went online. Realizing the significance of this tremendous achievement, he moved on to develop a protocol that would allow all computers in the world to be connected. He wrote out the blueprint for TCP – Transmission Control Protocol. A man named Vinton Cerf joined him to develop this system [Vint Cerf is possibly a descendant of Jews himself, as “Cerf” is a last name common to Jewish-Hungarians]. Together they created TCP/IP, which serves as the backbone of the internet to this day, allowing computers to communicate with one another and exchange packets of information. Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf have therefore been titled “the Fathers of the Internet”. In 2004, they received the Turing Award for “pioneering work on internetworking, including… the Internet’s basic communications protocols… and for inspired leadership in networking.” The two have also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest award in the US). Interesting: Bob Kahn initiated what may be the largest single research project in history, the Strategic Computing Program, which cost over a billion dollars – in the 1970s!


Words of the Week

And at that time there will be no hunger or war, no jealousy or rivalry, for the good will be plentiful, and all delicacies available as dust. The entire occupation of the world will be only to know God… the people of Israel will be of great wisdom. They will perceive the esoteric truths and comprehend their Creator’s wisdom to the full capacity of man, as it is written (Isaiah 11:9): “For the Earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God, as the water fills the seas.”

– Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 12:5)