Moshe (Ehezkel) Carmeli

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15 June 1933
Baghdad, Iraq
27 September 2007
Beer Sheva, Israel

Moshe Carmeli was an Iraqi-born Israeli mathematician who worked in various areas of mathematical physics.


Moshe Carmeli's parents were Eliahu and Naima Carmeli; he was one of their seven children. He finished high school in 1948, then he remained at home for a year during which time he read most of Baghdad's library books.

In 1950 he immigrated to Israel travelling through Iran, to be followed by his parents a year later. He enlisted in the Israeli Air Force where he met people who told him a lot about physics. Moshe was fascinated by what he heard and quickly learned the basics of the subject. Right away he knew that he wanted to study physics so he enrolled in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1960 he received his Master Degree in Physics from that university, his M.Sc. studies being supervised by Nissan Zeldes. On 17 August 1961 he married Elisheva Cohen; they had three children, Eli, Dorith and Yair. At the same time he began to work on his doctoral thesis under the supervision of Nathan Rosen who had been a student of Albert Einstein. Carmeli finished his D.Sc. from the Technion, Haifa in 1964. Among his publications at this time are The motion of a particle of finite mass in an external gravitational field (1964), Has the geodesic postulate any significance for a finite mass? (1964), Semigenerally covariant equations of motion. I. Derivation (1965), Semigenerally covariant equations of motion. II. The significance of the "tail" and the relation to other equations of motion (1965), Motion of a charge in a gravitational field (1965), The equations of motion of slowly moving particles in the general theory of relativity (1965), and Equations of motion without infinite self-action terms in general relativity (1965).

In 1964 the Carmeli family moved to the United States and, between 1964 to 1965, Moshe was a Visiting Research Associate at Lehigh University and Temple University. During 1965-1967 he was a Research Associate at the University of Maryland. He carried out his research in general relativity and gravitation, and lectured in Lehigh University, Temple University and then in the University of Maryland. In the year 1967 he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland. Between 1967 and 1972 he was a Research Physicist and also Senior Researcher at the Aerospace Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. During his time in this post he published papers such as Group analysis of Maxwell's equations (1969), Infinite-dimensional representations of the Lorentz group (1970), and SL(2,C)SL(2, \mathbb{C}) symmetry of the gravitational field dynamical variables (1970). His own summary of this last paper is as follows:-
We represent the spin coefficients and the Riemann tensor in the form of linear combinations of the infinitesimal generators of the group SL(2,C)SL(2, \mathbb{C}). This representation is similar to the way Yang and Mills write their dynamical variables in terms of the Pauli spin matrices. The spin coefficients take the role of the Yang-Mills-like potentials, whereas the Riemann tensor takes the role of the fields.
In 1972 the Carmeli family returned to Israel, and Moshe was appointed Associate Professor of Physics in the Physics Department of Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva. He became Professor in 1974. He was thus the first full Professor in the new Physics Department of Ben Gurion University. Between 1973 and 1977 he was the Chairman of the Physics Department. He became Albert Einstein Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1979.

He worked at the Physics Department as a researcher and lecturer until his retirement. After retiring he continued his scientific research. Carmeli's field included gravitation and gauge field theory, the theory of spinors as applied to physics, Einstein special and general relativity, and astrophysics. He developed his own cosmological relativity theory, both special and general, in which the age of Universe is postulated as constant, just as the speed of light is in Einstein's theory, and the velocity of receding galaxies is considered as a new independent variable. In this five-dimensional brane world theory the results of Einstein's theory are obtained and the tests are fulfilled. In addition it gives new results. Tully-Fisher is a well known experimental law which describes the movement of stars in galaxies. It is obtained theoretically without the use of hypothetical Dark Matter. The theory is used by scientists in their research in different fields of theoretical physics, such as astrophysics and hydrodynamics.

Carmeli was author and co-author to more than 120 research papers and 9 books. His 10th book was published after his death. These books include: (with Shimon Malin) Representations of the rotation and Lorentz groups : An introduction (1976):-
... written as a textbook for undergraduate students of mathematics and natural sciences who are studying group theory;
Group theory and general relativity : Representations of the Lorentz group and their applications to the gravitational field (1977):-
... the first book to found the theory of general relativity on the principle of gauge invariance;
Classical fields : general relativity and gauge theory (1982):-
... based on lectures given by Carmeli at the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the State University of New York at Stony Brook and at the Ben Gurion University. It contains an exposition of the theory of classical gravitational and gauge fields;
Statistical theory and random matrices (1983):-
... a profound and rigorous presentation of the local and global properties of fermion systems in very large spectroscopic spaces, where exact shell model calculations cannot be performed;
(with Kh Huleihil, one of Carmeli's former Ph.D. students, and E Leibowitz) Gauge fields : Classification and equations of motion (1989):-
... contains a discussion of some topics concerning classical Yang-Mills fields;
(with E Leibowitz, and N Nissani, one of Carmeli's former Ph.D. students) Gravitation: SL(2,C)SL(2, \mathbb{C}) gauge theory and conservation laws (1990):-
... devoted to the formulation of Einstein's theory of general relativity as a gauge theory with the SL(2,C)SL(2, \mathbb{C}) group as the gauge group;
Cosmological special relativity : The large scale structure of space, time and velocity (1997):-
... which puts forward a new mathematical formulation of cosmology in the limit of negligible gravitational field;
and (with Shimon Malin) Theory of spinors : An introduction (2000):-
... which gives an introduction to the theory of spinors for the general physicist, not only for workers in general relativity. It is based on lectures given by the authors at Ben Gurion University.
Carmeli received many awards and honours. He received the US Air Force Outstanding Awards in 1969 and 1972. Between 1979 and 1982 he was Vice-President of the Israel Physical Society, then being elected President from 1982 to 1985. He was an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society from 1972 and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1977. He was also a Member of the New York Academy of Sciences from 1980. Moshe Carmeli was a Visiting Professor and Member of the Institute for Theoretical Physics, SUNY, Stony Brook, 1977-78, and again in September and October 1981. He was a Visiting Professor and a Faculty Member at the University of Maryland during 1985-86, a Visiting Scientist at the Max Planck Institute, Munich during July and August 1980, and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste on ten separate occasions. In November 2004 he was an International Visiting Scholar at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. His career and research achievements were summarised by Victoria University as follows:-
Astrophysicist Moshe Carmeli is Albert Einstein Professor of Theoretical Physics at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel. He has also done important work at the University of Maryland and for the US Department of Defense as well as being involved in the nomination process for the Nobel Prize in Physics. Re-envisioning Einstein's theories of Special and General Relativity and building on the work of Edwin Hubble, Dr Carmeli has suggested that the universe's expansion must be constantly accelerating, and that time is therefore relative; in other words, it can only be measured relative to the position and velocity of the measurer. This also means that time must have moved more slowly in the past when the universe was smaller and moving more slowly. Carmeli's work has posed an intriguing set of problems for theoretical physicists and has even been investigated by scholars for its philosophical and religious implications. He is currently on sabbatical at the University of Victoria doing research on subatomic particles with the University of Victoria physicist Fred Cooperstock, with whom Dr Carmeli has a longstanding personal and professional relationship.
Julia Goldbaum writes [1]:-
Several days before he died, we were working together on his last book. In spite of his weak health condition, he showed great interest in this topic. Then I went home, and we agreed that I would come to work more after the holiday Yom Kippur. Next evening, when the holiday was over, I called to ask when should I come to work, and his wife said that Moshe was in hospital. He passed away several days later, in the first day of another Jewish holiday: Sukkot.

References (show)

  1. J Goldbaum, Moshe Carmeli, Personal Communication (3 September 2008).

Additional Resources (show)

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update December 2008