Guia Covid-19
Imprimir Republish

Herch Moysés Nussenzveig

Herch Moysés Nussenzveig: Beyond the rainbow

A student of the phenomena of light, the physicist presents his project of re-launching scientific kits for children and adolescents.

Léo RamosAmong researchers, Herch Moysés Nussenzveig may be better known for his work in optics. Since the 1960’s, this native of São Paulo state who graduated in physics from the University of São Paulo (USP) and who has lived for almost 50 years in Rio de Janeiro, where he currently teaches at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), researches two of the most beautiful phenomena in existence: rainbows and aureoles.

The first, whose colors appear in the order we all know, arises in the sky when sunrays are deflected from their path and spread through droplets of water into the atmosphere. As for the luminous circles of the second, they are rare, but one can see a photo of one on page 16. They are produced thanks to a property of light that most people are unaware of, called tunneling, Nussenzveig concluded in 1969 in a theory he has recently completed with new evidence.

However, learning about this 77-year old physicist just through his optics work is not enough. From the very start of his career, Moysés, as his friends call him, always worked hard at teaching physics: he organized courses, wrote a collection of books that are still used in universities, created physics departments and helped to organize the structure that finances Brazilian research.

During the military regime, while living in the United States, he did what he could to help researchers that were the victims of political persecution. He welcomed those who had to leave the country, denounced to the international scientific community what was going on here and organized protests that reached president Arthur da Costa e Silva.

Within his family, he is surrounded by science. His two brothers are physicians. One of them, Victor, is an internationally renowned immunologist, known for his studies on malaria; his wife, Micheline, is a chemist; and his three children are also researchers: Helena is a mathematician, Paulo is a physicist and Roberto is a biochemist.

About three years ago, Nussenzveig set himself a new challenge: to reissue the science kits of the 1970’s that encouraged children and adolescents to become researchers. Despite the difficulties encountered, he has not considered quitting. “It’s the best thing we could do for education over the next few years, to establish a sound basis for the country’s development,” he states.

Read below the main segments of the interview Nussenzveig granted Pesquisa FAPESP on May 28, in his apartment, in the Copacabana district of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

You are a member of the group that is working toward re-launching the science kit sold in newsstands in the 1970s. How is this project doing? Were you familiar with the kits? I have never seen one. I only know that they used to be made by the Editora Abril publishing house.
At the time, Isaias Raw had done some wonderful work at Funbec [the Brazilian Foundation for the Teaching of Science] and had prepared the kits, but with local distribution, on a modest scale. He contacted Roberto Civita [the Editora Abril publisher], who decided to create a project, Os Cientistas [The Scientists]. The kits were very well made; they came in little Styrofoam boxes and each issue was dedicated to one of  history’s great scientists. The most important part was made out of simple material, but it had to work well to enable the purchasers of the kit to replicate crucial experiments of the scientist that had led to the fundamental laws in some scientific area. For instance, there was a kit about [the English physicist and chemist, Michael] Faraday. To test the law of induction, the kit included a magnet, a wire, a bobbin and batteries. Everything had to be assembled by the child who had bought it. The issues came out every fortnight and included a leaflet with the scientist’s biography and the history of the discovery. It also came with instructions on how to assemble the device and what should be measured, besides questions about the results.

Was this successful?
It was fantastically successful. At the time, my children were in Brazil and they loved these kits, which had been designed for middle school students. When I thought about recreating the project, three years ago, I was part of DNA Brasil [an institute established by the Ralston Semler Foundation to discuss development strategies for Brazil], along with many renowned scientists. I found that several of them had turned to science thanks to the kits, including [Carlos Henrique de] Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s scientific director, and Jerson Lima and Silva, FAPERJ’s scientific director. I presented the proposal to the group and it was approved. We contacted Sergio Rezende, the minister of Science and Technology, who liked the idea, and Isaias Raw, who agreed with the re-launch. We planned an initial meeting, including Civita and Isaias. My idea was to establish a coordinating board comprising scientists willing to fully support the project.

This is not easy.
We have been meeting since 2008. The idea is to get this into newsstands, and Abril can provide nationwide distribution. This would ensure the kits getting to a village in the Amazon Region, just as they would get to São Paulo. The fundamental point is that children find out about the kit so that it arouses among them the enthusiasm for doing something with real objects. These experiments, as occasionally happens in laboratories, don’t always work out. One must discover why they didn’t work and fix them. This is what is lacking in science instruction in Brazil. There are almost no labs in the middle schools, but nothing can replace this.

LÉO RAMOSSet of lenses that are to be part of the science kit LÉO RAMOS

Who is involved in the project?
We have formed a kind of scientific board. Besides Isaias, there was Myriam Krasilchik, from USP?s School of Education. In biology, Mayana Zatz and Eliana Dessen. In physics, besides myself, there is Vanderlei Bagnato, from USP in São Carlos. In astronomy we have Beatriz Barbuy and, in chemistry, Henrique Toma. We communicate with Brito Cruz, who doesn’t have the time to attend the meetings very often. We have already held quite a few meetings and prepared a list of the kits and what they should contain. Right from the first meetings I felt that to render the project financially viable, we would have to get MEC, the Ministry of Education, to participate. MEC has made the publication of the journal Ciência Hoje [published by SBPC, the Brazilian Society for Scientific Progress] feasible, by buying Ciência Hoje das Crianças [the children’s issue of the journal] to distribute in schools. The idea is that MEC would do something similar with the kits. There is a large number of government schools and this might make it cheaper to sell the kits in newsstands. Isaias and Civita agree with me that it would be useless to only have the kits in the schools, because they would probably end up collecting dust in a drawer.

Why?
The teachers are not prepared for this. It’s entirely different to have something that the child is obliged to do from something the child plays with, discovering things along the way.

Something the child does with pleasure.
That is what is missing. Motivation. This will influence instruction because the child does what it says, then has a doubt and takes it to school. This child will provoke the teacher, who will have to learn in order to respond. What is being done, which is to retrain teachers and train new ones, is important. However, it’s a decade-long project. Meanwhile, one wastes children’s huge potential, as they could be motivated. When Brazil manages to make industry understand that the development of cutting-edge technology is fundamental in order to compete in the current world, there won’t be enough manpower.

It’s a problem that starts way back, in elementary school.
Our manpower is so poorly educated that it won’t know how to perform simple tasks, because in some types of service everything is computerized. That is why we believe this project is crucial. Civita was so enthusiastic about it that at first he said he’d finance it without MEC. At the end of last year, however, he said that he would need MEC support and, to this end, he proposed a project for the classroom, rather than for sale in newsstands, which rather changes the project’s essence. It was a severe blow, but we decided to present it to BNDES [the National Economic and Social Development Bank], which, through the Funtec Technological Fund provides non-refundable grants. At least for the first few years, the project will have to be government-funded this way and with the support of MEC, which would acquire the issues unsold in the newsstands and send them to the schools. Even if the project were only implemented in the Southeast states, it would still require a R$10 million investment, at least. In newsstands, it is expected to retail for R$15 to R$20, the price of a magazine.

How many kits will be in this collection?
From 15 to 20, encompassing all the areas. An integral part of it is a telescope called the Galileuscope. I bought one for US$15 in the United States. The company would make it for less in Brazil, making it feasible to put it into the kits. In São Carlos, Bagnato has been trying to get a microscope manufactured at an affordable price.

You haven’t given up.
No way! By late July, we will hold a meeting at USP to prepare a video to show to BNDES. The prototype of the first kit, made by Bagnato, is on my desk. There is nothing in the world to compare to this project. In the medium-term, this could give rise to a for-profit company to distribute it even in other countries. There is a worldwide shortage of something like this. The problem is that in Brazil our situation is worse than the average in developed countries. If BNDES buys the idea, this is the best thing we could do for education in the next few years, to establish a sound basis for development in the country.

Changing subjects, I’d like to learn about your path in physics, which, actually, didn’t start in physics.
I almost started in movies. I was one of the organizers of what could have been Brazil’s first movie festival, at the São Paulo Art Museum, in 1950.

Why did you choose mathematics?
At the Aliança Francesa school of French, I took a two to three year literature course. In the last year, the school got a scholarship from the French government, to be awarded by means of a competition. This consisted of writing an essay on, if I remember correctly, the cultural legacy of France. I won the award, a trip and a one-year scholarship to study anywhere in France. I had my doubts between attending the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques, in Paris, or doing mathematics. I chose mathematics and took a one-year course called Mathématiques Générales, at the Sorbonne. Because of a colleague, Ernest Hamburger, who was working with Oscar Sala to set up a Van de Graff accelerator at USP, I switched to physics. I spent part of my undergraduate years as an experimental physics trainee. After the third or fourth year of physics, I became interested in theoretical physics. I was lucky because a foreign visiting professor appeared at that time, an important American physicist, David Bohm.

He had worked with J. Robert Oppenheimer, the coordinator of the American atom bomb project, hadn’t he?
He had worked with Oppenheimer and was one of the pivots of the interrogation in which Oppenheimer was questioned about security. Bohm had reputedly been a communist. They often questioned Oppenheimer about David Bohm; I have the transcript of these interrogations. Bohm moved from California to Princeton and was requested to make a statement to the Anti-American Activities Committee of [senator Joseph] McCarthy. On Einstein’s advice, Bohm refused and the university fired him. It was a disgrace for Princeton to have done that. I taught at the University of Rochester for 10 years, where a similar case occurred. However, the university president, a right-wing friend of Nixon, didn’t fire the professor and said: “This goes against academic freedom.” He gave a better example than Princeton. Bohm came to USP with letters of recommendation from Einstein and from Oppenheimer. The department head was Mario Schönberg. Every now and again Oppenheimer was questioned about having given a recommendation for a communist, Bohm, to work with another known communist, Schönberg. However, it was lucky for me.

How did you meet him?
Bohm taught an excellent theoretical physics course as well as my first quantum mechanics course. He continued to suffer political persecution here, however. When he arrived in Brazil, he went to the American Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, where they asked for his passport and said they wouldn’t return it until he went back to the United States. He became a naturalized Brazilian and when he travelled to Israel, at the invitation of Technion [the Technical Institute of Israel], it was with a Brazilian passport. Then he went to London, where he married an Englishwoman. Many years later, his mother was seriously ill and he wanted to visit her in the United States, now holding British nationality, but the visa was denied. To replace Bohm, we got another foreigner, professor Guido Back, an Austrian physicist who had graduated at the time when quantum mechanics was being established. At the time, the number of important physicists was no greater than a few dozen and he had been through all the major institutes and laboratories. He knew those who had established quantum mechanics. In the 1940s, when France was under [German] occupation, Beck was interned in a camp for foreigners. There’s a letter from Max Born to Einstein, asking for financial help for Beck, who had managed to escape to Portugal; from there, thanks to an invitation from Argentina, he went to the Córdoba observatory. He spent several years in Argentina and was one of the founders of the Argentine Association of Physics.

What happened next?
Beck came to Brazil and joined CBPF [the Brazilian Physics Research Center, in Rio de Janeiro], at the time a privately owned institution. When Bohm left, Beck was invited by Schönberg to replace him and spent two years in São Paulo. Upon getting to USP, Beck asked Schönberg to appoint a student to work with him, and Schönberg appointed me. So I changed from experimental physics to theoretical physics and started my PhD, which only existed at USP at that time, with Beck. I wrote my thesis on the field of optics and the theory of diffraction. Beck sent the thesis to Max Born, who was in Scotland, and then an odd thing happened. Emil Wolf, one of the great names in optics, was working with Born and was invited to go to the University of Rochester, in New York state. When he was about to board, Born said to him: “I just got this thesis; as you’re going by ship, read it during your trip.”  Later, it was Wolf who invited me to Rochester, when I was at Princeton.

LÉO RAMOSPrior to that, you spent some time in several European institutes.
I spent one year in the Netherlands, mainly in Utrecht,  a leading institute.  I also spent some time in Birmingham, which had Europe’s most famous physics department, with the great physicist Rudolf Peierls, plus some time in Zurich, with another famous physicist, Res Jost. I returned to Brazil in 1960, joining CBPF. Although it was in the private sector, it had federal support. Every year the Federal Congress would vote on CBPF’s budget. When inflation got out of hand, the CBPF budget collapsed. In 1963, a senior professor was earning US$60 a month, equal perhaps to about US$300 today, so Beck recommended that I leave the country.

So this was the start of your work in the United States.
I got an invitation from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University and, in September 1963, I moved there with Micheline and our daughter, Helena, who was four months old at the time. At the embassy’s recommendation, we got permanent visas, but our intention was to stay there for a year or two and then come back. Soon thereafter Darcy Ribeiro organized the University of  Brasilia [UnB] and invited Roberto Salmeron to organize the UnB institutes. While passing through the United States in February or March of 1964, Salmeron invited me to become a professor in Brasilia. In principle, I accepted. However, Micheline asked me: “Listen, Roberto, isn’t it too unstable?” and he said: “Don’t worry, I talked to Darcy before coming over here and he said that there is an absolutely solid military scheme, the government is solid.”  That was when I thought: “If I’m going to stay in the States for only a short while, I’m going to try somewhere else before I go back.”  I wrote to Oppenheimer and he said I could spend a year at Princeton.

Meanwhile, things were getting more complicated in Brazil.
When the University of Brasilia was invaded and all the professors fired, Micheline and I thought: “We can’t go back now.” That was when Emil Wolf, who had read my thesis on board the ship, invited me to be a visiting professor at Rochester. In 1965, we moved there and in 1968, I came to Brazil to teach some courses on quantum optics at PUC in Rio de Janeiro. I believe it was one of the first in the country. Sergio Rezende himself [the current minister of Science and Technology] said that he started to work on a related subject thanks to this course. Meanwhile, we kept postponing our return to Brazil and, at Rochester, the New York state government created a position called the Albert Einstein Professor, to attract people of a very high grade to teach in New York. Elliott Montroll, a great physicist, accepted the position, created the Institute of Fundamental Studies and invited me to join it. This was in 1968. That very same year, I got a letter from a PUC colleague saying that the best physics student had been expelled because of decree 477, which required that students considered subversive be expelled. This student was Luiz Davidovich. In the letter, my friend asked whether I could receive Davidovich at Rochester. It was not the admission period, but I talked to some colleagues and they accepted.

Did you get other invitations?
In 1969, I got another invitation to return to Brazil to be the A in Impa [the Pure and Applied Mathematics Institute], which had no applied mathematics area. Again, I accepted. In April 1969, when Maurício Peixoto got to Rochester to discuss my return, I got a telegram from Ernest Hamburger, who was the chair of the Brazilian Society of Physics, saying that [Jayme] Tiomno and José Leite Lopes had been made to retire. I went to the airport to talk to Peixoto, showed him the telegram and said: “Under these circumstances, I cannot accept the invitation.” The situation was dramatic and I tried to do something to help the persecuted scientists.

They were the first generation of physicists that had trained in Brazil.
Tiomno, Leite Lopes and Schönberg, all of them had to retire. The telegram I got was dated April 27 and on the following day I wrote to Robert Marshak, a professor at Rochester and a member of the United States Academy of Sciences, talking about the political persecution of Brazilian scientists and saying that 69 professors had been fired from universities.

Was this sort of action common among Brazilian researchers abroad?
To the best of my knowledge, I did this in the United States, and Salmeron did it in Paris. I contacted the scientists I knew, informing them of what was going on in Brazil. Soon thereafter, the board of the American Society of Physics sent a letter to the Brazilian ambassador, Mário Gibson Barbosa, commenting that Leite Lopes and Tiomno had been persecuted and asking that they do whatever they could to defend them. I have a huge file that I hesitated to bring back to Brazil, because when I returned, in 1975, it was still unsafe to have these documents here.

At that time, the dictatorship was starting to become more lenient.
It was already referred to as mild. Based on the contacts I had made, a lot of protest telegrams had been sent. One of them went straight to Costa e Silva [Arthur da Costa e Silva, then the President of the Republic], signed by virtually all the professors from the Rochester physics department. I also wrote an article for Science about the “Migration of Latin American scientists,”  because these persecutions were also occurring in Argentina. A few years later, the New York governor, Nelson Rockefeller, visited Brazil and [Chen Ning] Yang, whom I had met at Princeton and who was a Nobel Prize laureate, asked me what he and Rockefeller could do about this. At Yang?s request, Rockefeller talked to Costa e Silva.

reproductionAureole: created by the tunneling of lightreproduction

How did you manage to return to the country?
In 1975, [José] Goldemberg, who headed the Physics Institute, invited me to return to USP. I sat an exam for senior professorship and imposed one condition: to create a theoretical physics department, which ended up being called mathematical physics. I started teaching graduate courses, but I soon realized that the most important course was actually the undergraduate one, in particular basic physics. As I lacked a text that I felt was suitable, I decided to write my own.

 So is that how the Curso de Física Básica [Basic Physics Course] series came into being?
As I taught the course, I would write notes on the different themes. Enio Candotti, who taught at UFRJ, heard about this and kept asking me for copies to use in his lectures. Partly at his insistence, I wrote the entire course.

While you were at USP, you headed the Physics Institute, didn’t you?
At that time, Goldemberg had stepped down from the position of director of the institute and, according to its internal rules, the senior professors were automatically candidates for the position of director. I had created the Mathematical Physics Department and wanted to consolidate it. One day, I get to the institute and they tell me that the Diário Oficial [Government Gazette] had published my appointment as director, without my having been consulted. I sent a letter to the mathematician Valdir Oliva, who was the university’s president at the time, saying that I didn’t accept it. He told the institute that if I didn’t accept, he’d appoint a sort of intervenor. My colleagues put me against the wall and I was obliged to accept. It was during this time that I started sitting on the advisory committee for physics of CNPq [the National Scientific and Technological Development Council]. At that time, people were beginning to talk about amnesty and I, at the request of SBPC, was on the commission that delivered the amnesty project concerning professors retired through the AI-5 Institutional Act, those 69 people, to the minister of Justice, Petrônio Portela. As head of the institute, I was able to invite Schönberg to return to USP. During my term, around 1980, the São Paulo state governor, Paulo Maluf, pulled a fast one on FAPESP by coming up with a different interpretation of the law that established the Foundation’s funding. I launched a campaign from the institute to the University Board of Governors to protest against the government. Knowing USP and its Board of Governors, this was not a trivial matter. Eventually, the government backed off. In 1981, I was still at USP when I was elected chairman of the Brazilian Society of Physics. Argentina was in the process of getting rid of its military dictatorship and the Argentine Association of Physics invited me to a meeting, the first one held under a democratic regime. On this occasion, the atomic project of the Argentine military for building a bomb was discussed. I returned from the meeting with the chairman of the Argentine Association and we came up with the idea of making a joint statement by the two societies recommending that the physicists of both countries not take part in projects with a military purpose. Here, I established the Monitoring Commission on Nuclear Issues, comprised of Luiz Pinguelli Rosa, Fernando de Souza Barros and Sergio Rezende, to look into the existence of a military project in Brazil. Pinguelli and Barros discovered, during the Collor administration, the well in the Serra do Cachimbo and got Collor to admit that there had been a project.

Was anything ever tested there?
No. Everything was blocked. The Brazilian Society of Physics and the Argentine Society of Physics played an important role in this story. A mutual inspection project between the two countries was created.

Why did you leave USP?
I was in the limelight there because of this statement from the University Board and I was shocked when I found out about the USP “maharajas,”  which led to my leaving it.

Was that when you joined PUC in Rio de Janeiro?
I joined PUC as a visiting professor and later I became a senior professor. During this time, I was appointed by the Academy of Sciences to sit on a joint commission with SBPC that aimed at advocating research and the financing of projects. During the dictatorship, the people in charge of the Science and Technology budget were from Seplan, the Planning Bureau, under minister Delfim Netto. Seplan, with the participation of an economist, Luiz Paulo Rosenberg, and  Claudio de Moura Castro, did a project to reformulate research financing in order to make changes in Finep, CNPq and Capes. It would have been a disaster. The situation was already bad, because the scientific community didn’t take part in the approval of the budgets. A commission that brought together SBPC, ABC and, at first, Seplan, started to show what it wanted to do. We managed to mobilize the scientific community and to present another proposal, reformulating the statutes of CNPq and of Finep, and creating a deliberative board for each, with the participation of the scientific community.

You were trying to bring the researchers into CNPq to help decide how to invest the money.
Exactly. Our project led not only to the establishment of the CNPq deliberative board but also influenced the creation of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Almost as a form of punishment, they elected me the scientific community’s representative on the first board. I also helped to write the CNPq’s internal rules.

What role did you play in the creation of Pronex, the finance program for centers of excellence?
When I joined the CNPq deliberative board, I decided to present this idea, which was the result of one of the last things I had done in Brazil in 1963, before moving to the United States. José Pelúcio Ferreira had created Funtec, Finep’s predecessor, having been inspired, partly, by the articles that Leite Lopes was writing on the importance of financing science for economic development. The first project for Funtec support of graduate work was written by Leite Lopes and me. All graduate studies in Brazil are the offspring of Funtec and Finep. Pelúcio asked me to issue a formal opinion about a request submitted by IFT, the Theoretical Physics Institute of São Paulo, which is now under Unesp. At the time, it was private. The idea was to create a form of support for such an institute. Pelúcio said: “Why don’t you take a look at the French system of associated laboratories?”  In France, I talked to Pierre Jacquinot, who had founded the laboratories that were associated with CNRS. I liked the idea and proposed it to IFT, which turned it down. However, inspired by these discussions, I felt that the most serious problem of Brazilian research financing was long-term instability. That was when I presented the idea of Associated Research Entities to the deliberative board; it was approved around 1985.

So although they’re private, the institutes could get federal financing, right?
The idea was that this should involve long-term projects of at least four years, and that they should be renewable. The story of  how this project led to Pronex is published in an interview of mine with Ciência Hoje. After the ministry had been created, with the election of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, this turned into a demand by the scientific community. Fernando Henrique was sensitive to this and created the program, maintaining the essential points. The program was called Pronex, a name I disliked.

Why?
One of the reasons is that it conveys the idea that it would have to be of an extremely high level to join this group. And that wasn’t what it was all about. And neither is it in France. The idea was that the good institutes get stable financing. This wasn’t meant to select two or three. Fernando Henrique hoped for no more than some 20 or 30 centers in the country. However, in the first project there were 77 and in the second, 84. Pronex was the source of the National Institutes of Science and Technology. One of the core ideas was to conduct a national evaluation of research. The projects are presented throughout the country and only the best ones are chosen, with evaluation at an international level. I was on the coordinating commission of the first Pronex and we sent many projects abroad for assessment, asking that the strictness of the evaluation be akin to that applied to a National Science Foundation project. This improved the way in which the projects were assessed. I also took part in the evaluation of the institutes of CNPq and of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

What type of institute did you evaluate?
All the institutes, such as Impa, CBPF and Inpa in the Amazon Region. We evaluated institutes all over the country and made recommendations. One of them is that they should be run similarly to the current Inpa, based on management contracts and greater autonomy. At the National Conference of Science, Technology and Innovation, held in Brasilia in May, the scientists’  chief request was to reduce the red tape surrounding the importation of scientific material.

And why did you move to UFRJ?
My last change of institution took place some 15 years ago, when the FNDCT [National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development] support for PUC’s Technical and Scientific Center in Rio de Janeiro came to an end. As a result, the senior physics professors at PUC moved to UFRJ. Before joining URFJ, its president at that time, Nelson Maculan, had invited me and Jacob Palis to take part in an advanced studies institute. I have never wanted to be in such an institute because in general there is little interaction with the university and the students. Instead, we created Copea, the Coordinating Office for Advanced Studies Program. Its role is to promote interdisciplinary research in cutting-edge subjects that would not be addressed by the university otherwise. This is a worldwide trend. We also felt it was important to hold conferences open to the public and to have one’s own research group. And as this had to focus on a cutting-edge area that did not exist previously at UFRJ, I decided to set quantum optics aside and created the Optical Tweezers Laboratory.

I’m curious to hear about the rainbow and the aureole theory, which you started working on in the 1960’s.
There is far more recent work. An article on the aureole theory is about to be published in Scientific American. The rainbow and the aureole are two of the prettiest phenomena in nature.

What is an aureole?
The best way of describing this is to show it. You can observe it from airplanes. You have to know the Sun’s position and be able to locate the plane’s shadow on the clouds. With luck, you will see the plane’s shadow and, around it, what looks like a circular rainbow. It isn’t. It’s an aureole, which is different. You can see several concentric rings. The order of the colors is different. One of the great names in optics, Joseph von Fraunhofer, proposed that this might be a sort of reflection on the cloud. He was wrong. The explanation results from tunneling, an intriguing phenomenon. Light can behave as wave or as a particle. As a particle, in would be unable to penetrate the droplets of water. As a wave, it goes through the surface by tunneling. Within the drop, it reverberates before emerging by tunneling and producing the aureole.

Was this the work that won an award?
I won the Max Born award in 1986 for the rainbow and aureole theory. However, at the time, a substantial part of the explanation of the aureole was still missing, and it accumulated over the years. The final demonstration that it is a tunneling phenomenon is one of my latest works.

Republish