As a fan of the classic TV series Star Trek Next Generation, I’m always on the lookout for Israeli inventions that were once only in the imagination of science fiction writers. Just recently, the Jewish State has made some “out of this world” advances in science, medicine and in several other areas.
One of my Star Trek favourites was the tractor beam. Technion Professor Mordechai Segev has now proposed negative radiation pressure to create a tractor beam and move small objects. The theory comes from the same branch of physics that can be used for another Trekkie “invention” - invisibility cloaking. But whereas both these are still only theories, Israel’s Lexifone has already produced a prototype of the Star Trek Universal Translator and demonstrated it recently on Israel’s Channel 10 TV. (Hebrew video clip, but intuitive to understand - or use Lexifone!)
In Star Trek almost anything could be cured, apparently without drugs. Today, Israel’s pioneering work with non-invasive Deep Brain Stimulation (TMS) is treating dozens of conditions, including Parkinson’s Post Traumatic Stress, Depression. Now Israeli medical scientists have found that TMS can even reduce the craving for cigarettes significantly and help quit smoking. Meanwhile Israeli children with anxiety disorder are being cured without drugs, using a computer program providing a therapy called Attention Bias Modification (ABM).
Our next generation could live much longer following the discovery of NRG-1. Dr. Dorothee Huchon of Tel Aviv University was part of an international team that discovered the neuroprotecting protein whilst performing genetic analysis on the mole rat. But Dr. Sarel Fleishman of the Weizmann Institute isn’t even waiting for discoveries. He has developed a method of combining proteins to form brand new molecules that don’t even exist in nature. The method could be used to design a variety of new drugs, including those to combat diseases for which current drugs are ineffective. However, possibly Israel’s most sensational medical success for the next generation was demonstrated when ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) sufferer Rabbi Refael Shmulevitz was given ‘NurOwn’ stem cell treatment from Israeli biotech Brainstorm. After only one month, Rabbi Shmulevitz has regained the ability to walk and talk. (Israel Channel 2 News, but with English sub-titles).
Israel’s Spacecom has just announced that Israel Aerospace Industries is to build Israel’s next generation communications satellite - the Amos 6, scheduled for launch in 2015. It will incorporate new technologies that represent a significant leap forward in Israel’s space capabilities. Our feet can stay firmly on the ground, however, with IBM Haifa’s next generation of software applications. Despite the name, the world’s first “augmented reality” mobile app is for shoppers. Consumers can use their mobile device cameras to browse supermarket aisles and receive personalized product information, recommendations and coupons.
As the school year ended, several members of our next generation in the South had miraculous escapes as one of 100 terrorist rockets slammed into their bus stopminutes after they boarded their school bus. Young students had more positive news, however, when World ORT KadimaMada, launched the Advanced Center for Science and Technology, at the Sha’ar HaNegev Experimental School. The centre will enable students to study and conduct experiments at the cutting edge of science and technology. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided a big motivational boost when he announced a new $1 million Genesis Prize to be awarded to Jews who win global recognition in science and the arts. The goal of the prize is “to emphasise the contribution of Jews to world history and draw the younger generation of Jews closer to the State of Israel and Jewish identity.”
There are many Israeli-Arabs who also see a great future for their next generation living peacefully in the Jewish State. TopCenter, the Hot Spot for Haifa entrepreneurs has joined up with Mati Haifa to help train Israeli-Arabs who want to make it in the hi-tech industry. And Muslim woman Anet Haschaya has been vehemently encouraging Israeli Arabs to enlist in the IDF. Anet said, "Arabs in the country must give more of themselves to get more." Anet’s son Deddo recently completed two years in the Duchifat Battalion; her daughter Suha serves in the IDF Education Corps, and 19-year-old Hussam hopes to join the Golani Brigade.
We hope that our next generation benefits from all the clean energy and wealth produced from Israel’s natural gas reserves. Just as the 2.3 billion cubic meters Noa natural gas field began flowing, 2.3 trillion cubic feet of gas has been discovered at the Shimshon (Samson) well. Israel Chemicals Ltd’s Fertilizers unit announced that they are building a 250-megwatt gas-powered power plant to replace its diesel and heavy fuel oil plant. And Israel’s best friend Canada has offered to help develop its vast resources. Canada’s Natural Resources Minister said, “We have the experience, we have the expertise and they have the need”.
To finish, here are two personal messages from mothers who attended the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. Hannah Katsman and Keren Leibovitch ask us to remember that the cornerstone of the Jewish State of tomorrow is the family.
Here’s to the success of the next generation.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.