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February 21: The Night Driver

Lawrence Bush
February 21, 2017
Herschel Leibowitz, a neurophysiologist at the University of Wisconsin and at Penn State who did innovative research in the field of perception — in particular, identifying how drivers dangerously misidentify what they're seeing at night and at twilight — was born in York, Pennsylvania on this date in 1925. Leibowitz fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II before resuming studies in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia. By the time of his retirement in 1995, he had more than 250 scientific articles to his credit on basic visual-perception issues regarding size, distance, motion, stress, and peripheral vision in aviation, traffic safety, motion sickness, child development, and more, conducting research that notably blended theoretical and practical knowledge. Leibowitz also served on many government and industry advisory boards. It is due to his work and activism that most U.S. roadways are now lighted at night and lined with visual markers, like reflectors, for guidance. He died at 85 in 2011. "You can't see a damn thing in the dark!" --Leibowitz's Law

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.