Themightofthe­bum­ble­bee

It is cre­at­ing that could fight ter­ror, has and is with mass cir­cum­ci­sions. And all within the past year — Is­rael’s 64th

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

THE IDF may soon have a new se­cret weapon — killer bees.

The US army is fund­ing re­search by Is­raeli sci­en­tists into ways of con­rolling the move­ments of a range of in­sects.

Tiny drones are the dream of mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers and they be­lieve aero­nau­tics ex­perts at Tel Aviv Univer­sity are close to de­vel­op­ing ways of con­trol­ling the move­ments of creepy crawlies from afar. The sci­en­tists, aided by their coun­ter­parts at the Tech­nion — Is­rael In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy — are look­ing at which elec­tri­cal sig­nal op­er­ates which mus­cle in var­i­ous species.

With this in­for­ma­tion in hand they send their own elec­tronic sig­nals to the mus­cles and con­trol their move­ments. And in­stead of con­trol­ling the in­sects in­side lab­o­ra­to­ries, as they are in ex­per­i­ments, in fu­ture they will do so us­ing re­mote con­trol de­vices.

As it cel­e­brates its 64th birth­day, Is­rael is the in­no­va­tion cap­i­tal of the world. Is­rael’s pi­o­neer­ing med­i­cal re­search leads the world. Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple die each year from in­fec­tions picked up in hospi­tal but Bar-ilan Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Aharon Gedanken is work­ing on pulling the rug from un­der the in­fec­tion-caus­ing bugs by mak­ing hospi­tal tex­tiles an­tibac­te­rial. His spe­cial coat­ing is ex­pected to work on hospi­tal sheets, cur­tains, and gowns.

Mass pro­duc­tion is no pipe dream — Dr Gedanken leads a con­sor­tium that is de­vel­op­ing the equip­ment with a £10 mil­lion g r a n t f r o m the Euro­pean Union.

Is­rael­ishave also turned tra­di­tional med­i­cal skills into a life-sav­ing ex­port.

Over the past five years, doc­tors world­wide have be­come con­vinced that cir­cum­ci­sion dra­mat­i­cally helps re­duce con­trac­tion of HIV/AIDS. Agen­cies in­volved in fight­ing the dis­ease be­lieve that ev­ery five to 15 cir­cum­ci­sions per­formed in Africa will pre­vent one per­son con­tract­ing HIV/AIDS. Last year the UN and US an­nounced a five-year plan to in­crease cir­cum­ci­sion on the con­ti­nent.

But ex­pe­ri­ence in the kind of mass cir­cum­ci­sion op­er­a­tion needed ex­ists nowhere — ex­cept for Is­rael. When the Iron Cur­tain fell and im­mi­grants from for­mer Soviet coun­tries headed to Is­rael in the 1990s, some 100,000 men re­quested brits, and Is­rael met the de­mand.

Jerusalem-based non-profit Op­er­a­tion Abra­ham to-day sends a steady stream of Is­raeli doc­tors for stints in Africa, where they help train lo­cal med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als in speedy-but­safe cir­cum­ci­sion.

When it comes to in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, Is­raeli prow­ess is renowned world­wide, and the lat­est big-hit­ting piece of in­no­va­tion comes from a com­pany called Pow­er­mat.

In re­sponse to the ten­dency of smart­phones to drain bat­ter­ies quickly, en­trepreneurs at Pow­er­mat have come up with wire­less phone charg­ing. The tech­nol­ogy elim­i­nates the need to carry a plug-in charger and con­nect a phone to a socket, and in­stead al­lows you to slap it down on a charg­ing mat and suck in the power wire­lessly.

In the past year, the firm has forged part­ner­ships with Du­ra­cell and Gen­eral Mo­tors, and as of Jan­uary has the rapper Jay-z in­vest­ing in and pro­mot­ing it.

Poverty ex­perts have long dreamed of re­liev­ing hunger by giv­ing the needy ac­cess to fish, but un­til now, this has nor­mally only been pos­si­ble close to nat­u­ral bod­ies of water. Even fish farm­ing, rais­ing fish in ar­ti­fi­cial pools, is re­liant on the sea to dis­pose of wastew­a­ter, as to keep fish healthy, some of their water must be changed daily. But Is­raeli com­pany Grow Fish Any­where has de­vel­oped bi­o­log­i­cal fil­ters and spe­cial bac­te­ria that treat the water, and al­low farm­ers to raise healthy fish with­out “flush­ing” their pools.

Its tech­nol­ogy is al­ready in use in Is­rael, where fish farm­ers us­ing it say it makes eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal sense. The com­pany now hopes to make in­roads in the fish mar­ket into Europe and Amer­ica.

Is­raelis are no slouch when it comes to win­ning No­bel Prizes, and Dan Shecht­man won the coun­try its tenth No­bel Prize in Oc­to­ber.

Mr Shecht­man dis­cov­ered that atoms in solids are not, as pre­vi­ously be­lieved, al­ways ar­rangedin­sym­met­ri­cal pat­terns, but also oc­cur in non-sym­met­ri­cal pat­terns. These non-repet­i­tive for­ma­tions be­came known as “qua­sicrys­tals” — and now rep­re­sent a branch of sci­ence stud­ied world­wide. As a re­sult of its tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess, Is­rael is fast be­com­ing a global hub for the high-tech in­dus­try.

As if to prove it, Google, Orange and WPP will take part in what is be­lieved to be the largest ever Uk-is­rael busi­ness event in June.

Spear­headed by trade or­gan­i­sa­tion UK Is­rael Busi­ness, In­no­vate Is­rael will con­nect more than 50 growth stage tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies with 200 of their UK and Euro­pean coun­ter­parts to share ideas, knowl­edge and cre­ate part­ner­ships.

The con­fer­ence is be­ing co-chaired by in­ter­net en­tre­pre­neur Marc Worth and Yossi Vardi, doyen of the high-tech world. Also tak­ing part are Wonga boss Er­rol Damelin, Brent Hober­man, founder of last­minute.co­mand­mark Read, the head of dig­i­tal at WPP.

Ideas ga­lore: from an in­sect army to wire­less smart­phone charg­ers and the dis­cov­ery by No­bel Prizewin­ner Dan Shecht­man ( be­low left) of “qua­sicrys­tals” ( their struc­ture, above), Is­rael has a re­mark­able record in in­no­va­tion

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