Tens of scientists gathered at the Technion in October in order to celebrate Prof. Ruben Pauncz’s 90th birthday and discuss the latest developments in the field of theoretical chemistry. Prof. Nimrod Moiseyev, who organized the event, said that “for a long time quantum physics was sealed within the borders of physics. In the 1950s Prof. Pauncz was one of the pioneers in applying quantum mechanics in the field of chemistry and in molecules.”
Prof. Pauncz, who taught at the Technion for 32 years, gained world recognition through his research studies in the field of quantum chemistry. He was born in Hungary and already at a young age was appointed a senior lecturer at the University of Szeged. At the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution (1956), when he was 35, he escaped Hungary together with his son (aged 2 and a half) and his pregnant wife. They crossed over illegally into Austria and contacted the Israeli embassy, which quickly sent him and his young family a taxi. Within a few days he arrived in Israel, without anything and with no knowledge of Hebrew. Prof. Pauncz went to the Technion, took his articles out of the library and went with them to Prof. David Ginsburg. Within a very short time he joined the Technion’s faculty. “Here I found a warm home and wonderful friends, and all the rest is history,” he said during the evening to mark his birthday.
Prof. Pauncz learned Hebrew quickly and half a year after coming to the Technion was already lecturing in Hebrew. For 35 years he traveled every summer to lecture in Sweden and Florida. He wrote five books, all on the subject of quantum chemistry and published tens of papers.
Dr. Uri Landman of the Virginia Technical Institute, who was Prof. Pauncz’s doctoral student, spoke about his wonderful teaching abilities. “His lectures always seemed to have been made up as he went along but I know that he invested many hours in them. I have never met a lecturer whose words were so clear.”